IBTS in the Netherlands

It’s been a busy time for the summer remnant of IBTS! Probably most of the readers of this blog have guessed the reason: we’ve been celebrating the 400th anniversary of the founding of the first Baptist church at Amsterdam400. It has been a marvelous time – nearly 900 sisters and brothers from Europe and other parts of the world convening at the RAI centre and sharing the joy and the lessons of the past 400 years. There was a spirit of reflective festivity but without pompousness – at least this is how it seemed to me.

For IBTS folk, it was also the time of meeting lots of different people at the Theological Education area and the IBTS stall – selling books (some new talents in advertisement emerging amongst us!..), chatting with past, current and potential students (specifically meeting with a group of Rueschlikon alumni), hearing people sharing their memories of the pictures in IBTS Unique (a coffee-table book released for our Diamond Jubilee), and just enjoying all those various new and old contacts and themes.zolpidem tartrate Generic Ativan “buy cheap valium”
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Keith and Parush convened a seminar on approaches to Theological education, which, though taking place in an afternoon when, I suspect, a number of us would have been struggling with staying awake, was unexpectedly enlivened by a strange interruption of some folk coming in and reading to us a spooky passage from Revelation.  Turns out this is some peculiar group specialising in disrupting Christian gatherings, and they have tried to enter into different seminars and workshops and main meetings in order to pass their message about our upcoming demise. Guess this is how some people get their fun in life! (It would have been great had they turned up in the workshop of Carlos Martinez, an excellent Baptist mime from Spain – you can just imagine the sort of conversation he would have held with them!)

On the last night of the event, Keith interviewed our graduate and the General Secy of Armenian Baptists, Asatur Nahapetyan on church growth and mission, also presenting him with the MTh diploma right there on the stage. Our own Ian Randall was prominent with his Communities of Conviction, a book on Baptist beginnings in Europe he’s written specifically for this event.

We also had a short EBF General Council meeting, during which the situation of IBTS was discussed. Though there was some frustration about the shortness of time available for such an important questions, there was a clear affirmation of how much IBTS has meant for so many of the Baptist Unions, and a concern about making sure it continues to serve in this capacity in the future years. A consultation will be held in the autumn, with all of us hoping and praying that the best ways forward will be clear and smooth enough.

Busy as this time was, we all found some time to enjoy at least the bit of Amsterdam, including visiting the Baker street where Smythe and Helwys’ group started to gather as Baptists and the Mennonite Church which still records their names from the time when these English religious refugees found shelter and help from the Mennonite community.

Amsterdam400 finished on Sunday night. Our new van, considerably lighter after much of materials have been sold and distributed, and also with fewer passengers, safely returned back to its home in Prague. A few of us have stayed on in the Netherlands, taking part in the BWA Annual Gathering. So the next blog entry is likely to be about the BWA fun!

– Lina

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