This weekend Ruth Gouldbourne will make the journey from London to IBTS in Prague to chair the IBTS Board of Trustees and she will do it with the absolute commitment she has shown since she first joined the Board over ten years ago (for the detailed history of IBTS see Carol Woodfin An Experiment in Christian Internationalism – A history of the European Baptist Theological Seminary, Macon, GA: Baptist History and Heritage, 2013).
Ruth first served as a member of the Academic committee of the Board, and then when Emmanuel Wieser completed his term as Chair, the European Baptist Federation Council appointed Ruth in his stead. Ruth would say to us that this type of task is not one of her natural and extensive gifts. She is an outstanding scholar and Anabaptist historian; she is an excellent preacher and worship leader (she is one of the ministers of Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church in London, which has always had excellent preachers). Yet, those of us who have witnessed her chair some intense and complex meetings of the Trustees and cope with a wide range of Trustees drawn from different traditions of governance would say she has been an amazing person holding the IBTS Board together and ensuring the work got done and always within the time frame of enabling people to get their Saturday early evening flights home.
Ruth, with Iain her husband, is a devoted and committed supporter of all that IBTS stands for – the vision of a worshiping community leading to high quality academic work for the sake of the churches. Ruth delivered the Hughey Lectures at IBTS in 1998 and her Whitley Lecture “Reinventing the Wheel – Women and Ministry in English Baptist Life” is often consulted by several of us. Ruth has lectured for IBTS, examined for IBTS and cares deeply about IBTS. We hope our connections with Ruth and Iain will continue!
At this moment, we pray for Ruth and the Board as they move forward the issues of transition from the beloved Prague campus to Amsterdam, as they consider the appointment of a new Rector and move on to complete the Academic team. Though Ruth continues in post as Chair until midnight on 31 December, late afternoon on 2 November will see her conclude her last “ordinary” board and on this blog site we salute Ruth, thank God for her and pray God will continue to bless her in her ministry.
– Lina, Parush and Keith