Each January sees 36 Research Students and up to 12 Adjunct Supervisors descend on IBTS for the Annual Research Colloquia week when Baptist and baptistic scholars from around the world gather to discuss their doctoral dissertations as they prepare them for examination.
This January was extra special as we were also delighted to welcome the Dean of the Faculty of Theology at the Vrije Universeteit, Amsterdam (VU), Professor Wim Janse and the Professor of Baptist Identity and History, Professor Henk Bakker, together with Hugo Meijer, who manages the Master’s programmes to tell our doctoral students how welcome they will be at the VU, when IBTS moves there in the summer of 2014.
It was an exciting week with research projects presented on topics to do with Missiology – varying from how can Christianity interact with a deprived housing area in a United Kingdom city, through to the establishment of missional churches in mid west America and on to building Christian presence and witness amongst converts from Islam in a Middle Eastern country.
Historians were also in abundance looking at the life of Anabaptist refugees in central Europe, the expansion of the church to the far north west in the United States, the development and influence on discipleship training amongst youth in the eastern seaboard of Canada and the planting of the first Baptist community of Bohemia.
Theology was explored and interacted with including some of the leading baptistic theological thinkers such as James William McClendon Junior, Paul Fiddes and Glen H Stassen.
The multidisciplinary interaction was very special and amongst our conversant partners we had Professor Nancey Murphy (Fuller Theological Seminary), Dr Stuart Blythe (Scottish Baptist College), Dr Marian Carson (an Old Testament scholar), Dr Simon J Oxley (a former senior staff member of the world Council of Churches), Dr J Andrew Kirk (one of the leading missiologists in Europe), Dr Jim Purves (Mission and Ministry Adviser to the Baptist Union of Scotland) and the IBTS Academic team.
Conversations continued long into the night on key topics affecting Baptist life and mission in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and North America.
On the Friday, the research students presented outgoing Rector, Dr Keith G Jones, with a special book of mementos and in a moving ceremony laid hands on him and prayed for his future life and work.