Coming for a Farewell

May 12th, 2014

Dear friends of IBTS,

Our times at the beautiful Prague campus are inevitably coming to the end. To say farewell, we will be once again holding our traditional Graduation Service. This will take place on Friday 30th May, and we would like to invite you – our students, alumni, faculty members, staff, volunteers, supporters, friends … – to take part! It will be the last occasion to celebrate another successful year and the academic achievements of our students here in Prague, and it would be lovely to have as many of IBTS friends present as possible. Do come to be part of this last festive gathering, to meet your friends, to walk Šárka valley and take some pictures of the courtyard for the last time.

We can offer special discounted accommodation prices for the graduation weekend – please contact Katka at krnacova@ibts.eu for further information and bookings.

If you are not able to come for the Graduation, but you would still like to visit the campus, contact us. We will be accepting guests until the end of July.

We are looking forward to seeing you!

- Katka

A Faithful Servant of God Gone Home

April 28th, 2014

2013-07-05 16.56.34As some of you may have already heard, a dear friend of IBTS, Prof Dr Glen Stassen has died over the weekend. We have been lifting him and his whole family in prayers in our IBTS morning circle almost daily over these last few weeks and months, but now that the news that he is no longer with us has hit, the pain of the loss is sharply present. We mourn our dear friend, even as we give God thanks for his amazing life.

A tribute from Glen’s former student and then colleague and co-author, David Gushee, can be found here. On the IBTS Facebook page, people are expressing their condolences and particularly mentioning Glen and David’s Kingdom Ethics, which several have taken into their hands again upon hearing of Glen’s death. “A Kingdom man,” as one of the IBTS students commented. Below are some of our thoughts and reactions upon hearing the sad news of Glen’s passing:

Parush Parushev: I lost not just a great theologian, but a brother, a wonderful friend, and a good man, in all aspects of this word. It is a huge personal loss, but what will also be sorely missed is his presence among us at IBTS. Glen was one of those who was wholeheartedly behind us and what we are doing at IBTS, and firmly believed in our vision. He will be missed dearly not only by the colleagues, but by his many students. He was always their greatest cheerleeder. I am deeply grateful to God for Glen’s achievements as a theologian and simply as a human being. He will be remembered, not only for the things he wrote, but for who he was.

Keith Jones: We remember Glen Stassen as a leading baptistic ethicist of his day, and as someone who gave the last twelve years of his life to supporting IBTS by promoting our work in many different places, by participating in conferences, delivering lectures for us and serving as a Research Professor.  Above all else, we remember him as a true friend and a warm Christian colleague. Whenever Glen was on campus with us, we benefited from the testimony of his thoughts, but just as importantly, his life. He was a true man of peace and demonstrated how theological reflection had to lead to committed action. We were proud to nominate him for the BWA Denton and Janice Lotz Human Rights award, and we rejoiced when he received this award in the Baptist World Alliance Gathering in Jamaica in 2013. We mourn his passing. We give thanks to God for Glen himself, his gifting as a theologian, and his example of dedicated Christian life and service.

Lina Andronoviene: I will always remember Glen as someone who absolutely believed what he said, and said only what he believed. This ‘childlike’ faith of the Gospel has taught me more about the way of Christ than many a sermon. And when it came to peacemaking – something that was so much at the heart of Glen’s thinking and writing – it was lived out in both small and big ways. I have witnessed him calming down a disgruntled tourist, and have heard him recount his involvement in the fall of the Berlin wall. It did not matter how small or great the conflict was – Glen believed that the Gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to work for peace, and that peace was possible. Glen and David’s Kingdom Ethics was extremely helpful in teaching the students, especially those from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. I have taught from it a number of times, and even last Friday, when, at a guest lecture, asked about my own encountering of following Jesus in today’s context, I could think of no better book to bring than Kingdom Ethics. What an example. What a legacy.

Ian Randall: Glen was a very good friend of IBTS. In 2011 Glen delivered the Josef Nordenhaug Lectures and the report on those lectures is worth quoting: ‘Guests, Board of Trustees, Students and Faculty have gathered to listen to Professor Stassen outline a clear model of incarnational discipleship. His lectures have challenged many prevalent attitudes in the church and promoted lively discussion on our baptistic heritage in our gathering, intentional, convictional communities which engage with the world.’ This was always what Glen wanted – to speak about discipleship in the world, to challenge prevailing thought, and to provoke deep discussion which led to action. An excellent tribute to Glen has been produced by David Gushee and I quote this paragraph which sums up a central and crucial aspect of Glen’s legacy: ‘Probably he will be best remembered for developing and then advancing just peacemaking, a Christian approach to preventing war that transformed the old conversation between just war theorists and pacifists and will mark a permanent contribution to human thinking and action to prevent the scourge of war. Glen developed hugely important new insights into the Sermon on the Mount, notably the triadic rather than antithetical interpretation of Matthew 5:21-7:24, with the keynote emphasis of each triad being transforming initiatives that enable faithful disciples to do God’s will rather than evade it.’ Doing God’s will rather than evading it – that was (and continues to be) the powerful challenge brought by Glen Stassen.

From IBTS to Scotland

April 14th, 2014

I am pleased to announce on the behalf of the academic leadership of IBTS that our dear colleague and Pro-Rector/Academic Dean Dr Lina Andronoviene has accepted the appointment of Lecturer in Practical Theology in the Scottish Baptist College.

We are delighted for the new opportunities opening up for Lina, but at the same time we regret that we are losing such a capable colleague from the full-time IBTS team. Lina first joined IBTS as a student in 2001 and then worked with us as a colleague in different capacities from 2003. Her holistic contribution to IBTS has enriched the academic and spiritual life of the community. We anticipate that Lina will continue to make a valuable contribution to IBTS in the years ahead.

We wish our colleague all God’s blessings on her life and academic pursuits in the service of God’s Kingdom.

The link to the announcement on the website of Scottish Baptist College can be found here.

- Parush Parushev

Rector

Director of Baptist and Anabaptist Studies appointed

March 28th, 2014

T PilliThe Board of Trustees of IBTS are pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Toivo Pilli as the new part-time Director of Baptist and Anabaptist Studies.

Dr. Pilli comes from Estonia where he is currently pastor of Tartu Salem Baptist Church and an associate professor at Theological Seminary in Tartu. He had previously been Director of Baptist and Anabaptist Studies at IBTS, Prague from 2002-2006. Dr. Pilli has experiences of historical baptist theology in an East European context, is concerned for baptist identity, and has demonstrated a good understanding of academic and spiritual mentoring that recognises the contextual needs of his students.

He will take up the post in Amsterdam at the beginning of August 2014.

Dr Stuart Blythe, the newly appointed Rector of IBTS, says he is “thrilled” at this new appointment.

 

Dr John Weaver

Chair of IBTS Board of Trustees

IBTS Book Club: The Sparrow

March 20th, 2014

In case you’ve missed it, IBTS now has a book club! The next book you’re all invited to read is Mary Doria Russel’s The Sparrow, followed by Anne Rice’s novel Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt.

Building new partnerships, working hard to get the paperwork right

March 10th, 2014

As a result of the decision of the University of Wales to cease validating institutions and its present downsizing, at IBTS we have been working hard at building new partnerships to replace this defunct collaboration with a once-great federal University.

Parush, Lina, Lydie and Tim have worked incredibly hard to “give flesh” to the relationship with the VU University in Amsterdam for our doctoral programme and with the University of Manchester for the MA in Baptistic Histories and Theologies.

Last week I accompanied Lina to the Religions & Theology Academic Panel which is a meeting of academics from the Department of Religions & Theology and the theological college partners (Nazarene Theological College; Cliff College; Luther King House Educational Trust; Spurgeon’s College and IBTS). Lina presented various changes to our MA programme to allow for a Postgraduate Certificate and a Postgraduate Diploma. The Chair of the Academic Panel commended Lina on the high quality of the materials submitted and suggested it might serve as a model for others !

IBTS has been exceptionally blessed to have two outstanding Academic Deans in succession – Parush and Lina – as we have steered through the trials of changing our validation and academic credentials. The whole EBF family should be very thankful to them for their outstanding and sterling work !

- Keith

 

Russian Baptists and Orthodoxy

February 12th, 2014

The doctoral dissertation of one of our alumni, Constantine Prokhorov, is now in print

 

Lady Library Has a New Friend

February 10th, 2014

Yet another impression from VU Amsterdam………this time about the library

Part of my last month‘s mission in Amsterdam was to visit the VU University and Theology Library, a new home for the majority of our doctoral students, and to explore various possibilities for them in regard to how to use the library most effectively, how to get a WiFi, where to order the books, etc. For me, it was actually a refreshment to be in the library and not to keep in mind MARC 21, AACR2, authorities, Z39.50 and other highly specialized library tasks.

Mind you, several things seemed very strange to a conservative part of my personality, such as students entering the library area with books in their coats, with bags, even with coffee and sandwiches. I really do not want to know how the books over which a student has just had a snack look like, but hey, it is the Dutch way of understanding academic freedom, certainly not part of my librarianship philosophy.

But, there is something more important, namely that IBTS has received a strong partner. In the area of learning resources and library this partnership has a different impact than accreditation perspective. You see, I always had (and still have) many ideas that could be implemented in the Library, but not all of them were suitable for such unique, but still small library as ours inPrague. Being a small library means that there will never be enough personnel and finances to start some projects, and for our small number of visitors and patrons many of them would not give much sense.

But I have always envied big libraries for having a sufficient humanpower and infrastructure to develop all their ideas and  to be able to provide the best possible service to students. In our Lady Library we were always student-oriented and made effort to provide as much service as we could, but I admit it was never the best possible service; what two (now only one) librarians and occasional volunteers can do could never  be compared with the work of several tens of librarians in a machinery as VU University library is. If you could just see the number of online resources that VU Library provides and enter the premises with almost perfect conditions for making a research and writing, you would see the advantages that a huge Library can provide to students.

Therefore after my short Amsterdam trip I am actually very optimistic regarding the future: we will still have the best collection of English theological books in the area, and better resources on doing research in Baptist studies, missiology and applied theology than anyone else, but our Library will always remain a small library with limited possibilities. Therefore, it is good that our Lady Library has a new friend who will help her with service and resources.

 - Zdenko Š Širka

Head Librarian