Archive for the ‘Moments from life at IBTS’ Category

Thanks to Richard and Jo-Anne

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

Pieter, Richard, and Jo-Ann

Over the years IBTS in its various incarnations has benefited from the support of volunteers who in a variety of ways have contributed significantly to the institution and its students in many different ways. This year we were pleased to welcome the contribution of Richard and Jo-Ann Matiachuk from Canada. After a visit earlier in the year we were delighted when at their own expense they came back for two weeks in October/November. During this period they brought their expertise in specific areas such as the library and in editing material for a future Journal. In both areas work began that will have longer importance. In addition, however, they were quite simply willing and ready to help out as we hosted the Nordenhaug lectures and then held our conference. Their presence and personalities enriched our common lives.

Richard (here pictured with Jo-Ann and our librarian Pieter) writes:

‘As for why we came to help … well we have been aware of IBTSC (and its earlier iterations) for nearly 40 years. We had heard the “school” had moved and brought the library with it (a major undertaking) and we knew there was a new librarian on site. I was working in a theological library, have been actively involved in mentoring librarians, have participated in leadership on a library association board and, have been committed to “giving back” to the profession.

We have always wanted to be involved in Christian ministry outside Canada. Jo-Ann and I are now at a time and place in our lives and careers where we can help outside our local context. And so we wanted to use our time, gifts, training (and some of our financial resources) to ‘give back’ to (invest in) a Christian work.

With our knowledge about IBTSC, our availability and your willingness to have us come help it seemed like a door had opened to be able to serve God’s greater kingdom work outside our local community.’

Our thanks to them and all the volunteers over the years past and present who enable the work of theological thinking from a specifically baptistic and international perspective to happen.

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.



Freedom and Person: Research Colloquium 2015

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

STA41705Over the past few days at the research colloquium in Amsterdam students have been presenting an update on their studies. Some are at the beginning of their studies seeking a focus and methodology to carry their work forward. Others are facing the challenges of writing and rewriting. All students are part time and doing their work while sustaining ministries in churches and colleges. The geographic range of students is wide. As part of the colloquium we also have various seminars for students and staff. Here Dr Tim Noble is presenting a piece of recent research on ‘Freedom’ drawing some theological links between Russian Orthodox Theology and Liberation Theology. The paper as ever was followed by questions, discussion, and a bit of debate. As the pictures will show Dr Andrew Kirk and Dr Jim Purves were ready to engage engage after thoughtful consideration!



Rector Update

Sunday, July 13th, 2014


On the 1st June 2014 I took over as the Rector of IBTS as it transitions to IBTS Centre Amsterdam. I come to this post after being a Scottish Baptist minister in two Churches over a fifteen year period and teaching at the Scottish Baptist College for the last nine.

DSC_0552 - Version 2 (1)

Since June I have managed to be in Prague for some important endings: the last graduation service, the last exam Board, the last shared prayers in the Chapel. I was grateful to be given the opportunity to offer the graduation address. Then as now I would suggest that worship, mission, and discipleship do not belong in one world whereas study, research, and academic rigour belongs in the other. Rather for those of us who study and those who teach in theological education our study, research, and academic rigour is an expression of,  and in service of,  worship, discipleship, and mission. In mentioning this service I express my thanks to all previous and existing staff and supporters of IBTS for that which has been built to this point and especially those for whom the present changes are especially hard.

I have also managed to be in Amsterdam for some beginnings such as the establishment of the library. I am pleased to say that I personally shelved some of them so when you visit and cannot find the book you want…it may be that I am to blame.


In turn in recent weeks I have had the opportunity to be at the CEBTS conference in Warsaw and the BWA annual gathering which took place this year in Ismir, Turkey. These have been opportunities to meet people, renew links, establish contacts. Some call this networking but I am a bit resistant to that idea. In networking a goal can be simply to serve ones own interests Rather I hope that in Christian community we form authentic partnership which are mutually beneficial, and established with common respect and purpose. This at least been my hope and experience of these two events. I have also been amazed at how many people in the EBF and indeed the BWA context claim IBTS as their educational home.

I am presently back in Amsterdam to participate in the beginning of our common life in Baptist House located for the coming years in 175 Postjeweg. Here I want to thank our Dutch partners for the help, support, encouragement, and welcome which they have given.

Although I am not yet fully relocated to Amsterdam which I hope to be by the 1st August one of the first things I did upon my arrival in June was buy a bike. To those who know me this was a bit of surprise! It has been a great decision, however, allowing me not only exercise but to learn my way about.Today I wanted to find out how long it would be to cycle between Baptist House in Postjeweg and the VU (the Free University) our collaborative partner for the awarding of PhD degrees. It is not too long a trip although a few wrong turns on this expeditionary journey meant that it took me a bit longer than would be expected normally!

It was a beautiful day. It made me aware as I cycled that while our new premises may not have the grandeur and glamour of either Rueschlikon or Prague that it is literally one minutes walk from the beautiful Rembrantpark. So for those who need the beauty to help with their theology we can still provide such.

Rembrantpark                                                               Rebrant spring

At the various conferences I have attended people have asked about my ‘vision’ for the future. To be sure I have ideas. I am both interested in learning and teaching and have a commitment to providing a good student experience. This said I think that a vision is reality filled with Christian hope and at the moment I simply learning the way things are in our new Amsterdam reality. Be this as it may I see the IBTS Centre Amsterdam at the very least continuing to aspire to bring a high quality Baptist theological education in an international context with an understanding of the gospel centred in Jesus Christ which emphasises the place of social care and justice as well as necessity for personal transformation. In this as ever I have the hope that we can make this education as affordable and accessible to as many people as possible.

In the middle of all that is happening in so many places in Europe I have at times been humbled and embarrassed when people have offered to pray for me and the future of IBTS. On the other hand the truth is that we need your prayer so we covet them and are grateful for them.


Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

We are in our season of transitions.  The Library has already removed from Jenerálka to Postjesweg in Amsterdam and David, Zdenko and Vladko are working hard on assembling it ready for the Academic Year 2014-2015.

Meanwhile on the Jenerálka campus the academic year 2013-2014 has to be put to bed. So yesterday (Monday 23 June) the Exam board dealing with Master of Theology degrees from the University of Wales met to review progress of the final batch of MTh students and to pass results on for verification at the University Exam Board meeting in Cardiff in the first part of July. We were delighted to have our Moderator, Dr Helen Costigane SHCJ, presiding and our External Examiner, Dr Ann Jeffers, with us. Unfortunately, no one from the University Registry could be present. This appears to be the last Exam Board for the University of Wales at IBTS as all continuing students are now at Dissertation writing stage.

On Thursday we will hold our first Exam Board for students now doing the MA in Baptistic Histories and Theologies validated by the University of Manchester. We look forward to having Professor David R Law (our Manchester University Moderator) and the Revd Dr Nicholas J Wood (Regents Park College, University of Oxford, External Examiner, with us on campus. Our thanks go to those who have served us so well as Moderators and External Examiners  over the past  sixteen years.

– Keith

A historic moment

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

We have just concluded our last University of Wales Exam Board for the Taught Degrees – here’s the Board itself celebrating this historic moment!

A huge thank you to all who contributed to the success of our UW MTh and PGCTh programmes – so many faces and names, both of the teaching staff and the students, are going through my mind right now…

Last UW Exam Board 2014 06– Lina

Coming for a Farewell

Monday, 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 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

Monday, 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.