Archive for February, 2015

Six Months On…

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

We have now been operational in our Amsterdam for the past six months or so. The relocation of the library and set up of the offices taking place in August 2014. In the following months set up issues continued to demand a lot of time an attention. Simple things can suddenly become BIG – e.g. when you discover that the computers have been set up in a language you don’t speak! In some ways it seems longer than six months and at other times less.

Despite all that has been going on, building on the past with the support of previous and new colleagues a lot have been achieved in circumstances which can only be described as ‘complex change’.

Anna Robbins led the Acadia D Min teaching weeks in August 2014

Anna Robbins led the Acadia D Min teaching weeks in August 2014

Starting in August we first hosted the Acadia D Min intensive teaching weeks led by Anna Robbins.

This programme is one which we run in partnership with Acadia and offers high quality biblical, theological, and practical reflection suited to the tasks of ministry. The way which it is run also offers a genuine international experience. So it is worth making known. Please contact for information.

 

 

 

Following this we hosted in August/September a three week intensive teaching block for students undertaking our MA Degree with Manchester University or our Post-Graduate Certificate in preparation for PhD studies.

Students from Ghana, Cuba, Croatia.

Students from Ghana, Cuba, Croatia.

This MA programme has some considerable flexibility in delivery and while involving some intensive teaching block attendance also has some distance learning options. Please contact for information.

The second week of this teaching period included our first PhD graduation (Promotion) from the Free University (VU)a day in which several of us including the successful student Jon Hardin got dressed up for the occasion…

First IBTSC graduation at VU

First IBTSC graduation at VU

 

 

 

 

 

Curtis FreemanIn November we hosted the Hughey Lectures with Curtis Freeman followed by a well attended conference on Convictional Theologies. The Lectures were held at the VU and the conference in our own premises with lunch being provided for participants. Papers will follow later in the Spring/Summer published in our Journals in order to disseminate some of the research and thinking that is going on.

Nancey Murphy As well as Curtis Freeman we were please to welcome Nancey Murphy to this event as a contributor and were grateful for the of signed copies of the latest collections of McClendon’s works from which she read by way of recollection.

 

 

 

Then in January 2015 we held our annual research degrees colloquium attended by students and staff from around the world. Thinking HardThis included much valued input from Professor Pete Ward PeterWard01smallfrom Durham University .

 

 

 

 

With all these events the first six months has been fairly hectic. At times I am frustrated with a range of things we have not yet got done but when I stand back I am nothing but grateful to our colleagues, supporters, and God for all that has been achieved. The coming few months do not have quite the same intensity in terms of events but are required to allow us to develop supportive administrative systems and methods suited to our location and continue to sort out details like…who do you call when the mini-bus breaks down? In turn for me these months give the time to strategize beyond the immediate.

We are now moving firmly into our first full year of activity – January to December which will allow us to see what it is like to operate fully in our new context. Wwe remain grateful for your interest and support in IBTSC as we seek to provide research, researchers, and leaders which can aid the mission and ministry of churches in Europe and beyond.

 

 

CMU Ministers Conference

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

Over the past week I have completed an introductory talk  https://politurgy.wordpress.com/2015/02/ and a series of three bible studies at the ministers conference hosted by the Canadian Mennonite University.

CMU Campus

CMU Campus

On the Tuesday night I  attended a fascinating panel discussion on “Where did we lose you?” which involved a panel discussion on the declining participation of ‘millennials’ in Canadian churches. The panel participants were all of this age group born some time after 1980 and represented a number of church traditions and indeed none in that one panel member was an avowed atheist but with a concern for the life of the church! A question which this posed for me is when and where in our Baptist contexts are we creating such space for discussion, including a variety of voices, and attracting such a large turn out of interest?

On Thursday I participated in an oral communication class to discuss issues of persuasion concerning when and where persuasion becomes manipulation and coercion and as such does violence to others. This was a followed by a radio interview for a programme on radical change in the church where I was questioned on some of the statements I had made in the bible studies and discussions. One such issue was whether it was more important that the Church understands what others think about God or whether it is more important that he Church knows what it thinks about God. Of course both are important but if one is to be given priority I think it is what the church thinks about God. This is the ‘ground’ from which we can evaluate other belief and in turn our own. I also think that it is our own beliefs which if they are convictions which will most shape our own behaviour and response…anyway that is something of the flavour.

Engaging in Discussion

Engaging in Discussion

On Friday I preached at chapel on the theme: “I don’t want to be good” … as for the sermon…we you had to be there…then I had a meeting with some of the theology faculty talking about IBSC programmes.

We have also been kindly hosted throughout this last week by friends and faculty members at CMU – so thanks to all…

Canada

Monday, February 9th, 2015

I am presently in Canada to participate in a ministers conference organised by the Canadian Mennonite University. It seems to me that there is a strong resonance in the reading of Baptist via McClendon/Stassen or just plain old anabaptist roots with Mennonites, although I am leaning what a varied group that they like we actually are.

As part of my trip I attended the launch of this book which offers some fascinating insights and may well make a contribution to the thinking of those who wish to come at issues from an Anabaptist (dare we say baptistic) perspective and yet engage with wider society and its institutions. I have bought a copy but know that both Parush and the library will want one also.

toward an anabptist political theology

We have a number of students presently studying with us at IBTSC who come from a Canadian Mennonite background. At present they are all Mennonite Brethren rather than the Mennonite Church. CMU serves both groups.

As part of the trip I will have the opportunity to meet with the theology faculty at CMU and I hope that in the future collaboration at various levels between IBTSC and CMU on a broad shared common ground of ‘baptist’  will be possible.

I have also been struck by the way in which “donors” will support specific research into issues of church ministry and mission providing the finances for CMU staff to carry out the research. I hope that this is something that IBTSC as a research centre will be able to encourage in the future – specific financed projects of relevance to the mission and ministry of the church, supported by those who think that such issues are important, and carried out with the skills and personnel and academic credentials that IBTSC can bring to the task. Such a linking of the interests of the church in practice and IBTSC as a research centre into practice is something I am very keen to develop. In turn the emphasis on ethnographic research as a theological project is one that can provide a theological as well as a sociological approach for such research. This potential excites me as part of the IBTSC vision of providing research, researchers, and leaders who can serve the church in Europe and beyond.

Dreaming – perhaps rather than us simply having students come to us with their ideas church based individuals, organisations, unions, would finance projects of interest to them where we could then seek out and support individuals who have already shown some ability in an area (perhaps through a Masters) to carry out specific research that becomes their PhD  project.

I know that sometimes people think that when ‘academics’ go on such trips that they are spending all their time at the beach rather than working – and I confess that this weekend I was on the beach at a lake near Winnipeg…STA41723