Archive for May, 2010

The Ministry of Women

Monday, May 17th, 2010

The Baptist Union of Great Britain has accredited women for ministry since 1918. This is not universally the case in Europe though Baptists in Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and in some other regions support this stand. In other European countries it is clear women exercise leadership and ministry even if Unions do not always acknowledge this fact publicly.

The Baptist Union of Great Britain has recently reaffirmed its stance and this has provoked lively debate – at least on the sites of British Baptist bloggers! For example, here and here.

At IBTS we have been privileged in that many EBF Unions have sent exceptionally gifted women to study with us and develop their gifts as leaders, missiologists, theologians and preachers. To help them develop and hone their gifts is an immensely satisfying aspect of our ministry.

What causes me concern is that having supported, affirmed and recommended young women to us for further formation some Unions seem not to know how to use such God-gifted women when they return to their home situations. At this point I am a classic Anabaptist believing God calls women and men into His service and that gifting, not gender, is key. We now need Union leaders to carefully think through what they are doing when they write such letters of affirmation.

– Keith

Gensec’s Europe Matters

Friday, May 14th, 2010

You may be interested to check this blog to follow Tony, the General Secretary of EBF, on his travels throughout Europe and elsewhere.

Oxford Impressions

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

As my study leave is coming to its close, many people want to know my impressions: what I liked best, what was most memorable, what was the most surprising, etc. That got me thinking, and, as usual, reflecting on it by writing (during lunch break, in case my supervisors are interested!)

Of course, Oxford is a special place when it comes to studying, reading, and writing. A bit like IBTS being a hub where you may stumble upon all sorts of Baptists, this place is always full of all sorts of academicians, public figures and otherwise famous people giving a talk here or there. One of my highlights was probably hearing Archbishop Desmond Tutu preaching at an evensong at St John’s College: a simple, yet so moving a message about the ever-outrageous implications of incarnation and what it means for the “mixing of religion and politics.”

One important factor making a difference to being at Oxford is having a ‘home,’ which I did through the hospitality of Regent’s Park College. But that also made me even more conscious of those who are ‘homeless’ – both in terms of a spiritual community, leaving their marvellous intellects wondering wherever the wind may blow, and those literally homeless, even in the very centre of Oxford. There are jugglers, who usually sit next to the doors of Pussey House. Quite a few of the homeless are selling “The Big Issue” – a magazine which has been created on order to help the homeless start earning some income (similar to  “Novy Prostor” in the Czech Republic). Walking the same routes daily, I got to know the sellers a bit. All of them have a different take-on. I can recognise them by voice and each one’s specific phrases: “Will anybody take care for the homeless?” “Would you spare some change?” “Help me to get a place to sleep tonight!” Others, with a streak of humour, sing out the title – “The BiiiiIIIIG ISSSSssssue!” Some have dogs – different dogs on different days – appealing perhaps to dog-lovers such as I, except that I’ve “adopted” a man who sells his Issues silently. Just standing there on his assigned corner, and never producing a sound unless you engage him in a conversation and want to hear his story. (more…)

British Baptist Assembly

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

I have been “watching” and reading about the Assembly in Plymouth at a distance. For many years I chaired the planning committee which organised the Assembly so I know both the joys and sorrows of gathering so many people together and trying to get a good “mix” of celebration, inspiration and debate in which as many people as possible can participate, so the organisers always start with my sympathy.

Observing from a distance it was great to see three Master of Theology alumni of IBTS on the main stage. Lina Andronovienė presenting her father’s excellent history of Baptists in Lithuania; Helle Liht and Beth Jackson taking part in leading the worship.

Do you notice something about the list? Yes, three younger women! Glen Marshall’s blog has a worrying comment on the night when minister’s were accepted onto the list of BUGB covenanted ministers – that the majority looked old and male! Well, clearly, IBTS bucks the trend providing a European alternative to the apprarently prevailing male-focused UK scene.

– Keith

Assembling of British Baptists

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Well, even though still on study leave, I felt it difficult to keep quiet and at least want to say ‘hello’ from the annual Assembly of the Baptist Union of Great Britain. It’s been a very good occasion to have conversations with various people interested in what we are doing in Prague, and to meet more friends I already know from Prague than I would have expected! The motto of the Assembly is ‘One World, One Mission’, and has been reflected on from different angles.

On Saturday, we had an enjoyable meeting of IBTS friends – a warm gathering of people who had been on our campus as students, teachers, tourists, on their sabbatical, for a conference or for some other purposes, as well as some who have never been but continue to keep us in their prayers and are raising questions how friends of IBTS in Britain could provide a more active support and promotion of IBTS (something we would be delighted to see happening). (more…)