Archive for November, 2012

Care for Creation

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Living in the beautiful Sarka Valley, it’s nearly impossible not to be reminded of the beauty of our Creator’s work, and also not to think about our part in sustaining and developing that beauty by becoming co-creators. As you know, we’ve tried to do it in a variety of ways – not only by offering courses on Creation Care/Church and Environment, but also by incorporating it in our worship life and community activities. One of them has been our annual Environment Month – and the last one has just ended. So at its end, and before the Advent Season begins, here are some pictures, especially for those of you who would have loved to be with us but couldn’t. (And I’m sorry re strange sequence of pictures – how to get them in proper order was beyond me!)

– Lina

We celebrated the birthday of our two favourite worms, who regularly treat us to chats on life in a compost and life in general!

A competition was launched


...And voting for which gifts to the Christian Aid will me made out of the money 'saved' during campus cleaning. Result: 2 goats, 2 chicken "packages", 2 floating gardens, 1 sheep, 1 duck present. If you want full details of "when and where" go to

Another award for the Eco-Competition

Awards for the Eco Competition

After good workout cleaning the campus, it's nice to be welcomed by Oksana for a bowl of soup

The cleaning team!

Campus cleaning

Candle-making workshop: work in progress

Candle-making workshop: The result, whilst the wax is setting

Candle-making workshop: the work starts

Preparing for the workshop of making candles out of old wax and crayons

Candle-making workshop: The Rector came to check what we're up to

Candle-making workshop: Final result! (If you happen to be around in the Guest Lounge any time soon for coffee, you'll see one of the candles burning)

Enjoying the simplicity of Herrnhut

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

I recently visited Herrnhut in eastern Saxony, home to the world-wide Moravian Church. This church, earlier known as the Unitas Fratrum (Unity of the Brethren) places its anticedents in the proto-reformation concerns of Jan Hus in 14th century Bohemia. After the martyrdom of Hus by the Catholic authorities at the Council of Constance, the Unitas Fratrum came into being to continue his reforming concerns of sharing the eucharist in both kinds, the liturgy in the vernacular and a move away from priestly celibacy.

Following the Battle of Bila Hora in 1620 (see earlier post), the suppression of such protestant groups continued by the Catholic Emperor and King of Bohemia. In 1722 a small group arrived on the state of Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, who protected them and allowed them to build a new town, Herrnhut, on his lands.

It was fascinating to visit the “Congregational Hall” in the centre of the town, painted white inside with white benches and a small table covered with a green cloth from which the liturgy is directed. In the past brothers sat on one side of the chapel and sisters on the other, but today the seating is not so restricted. Around the Congregational Hall are other buildings, a centre for Diaconal work, residences for single brothers, sisters and widows and family homes. There is an excellent museum showing Moravian interior furnishings of the 1800’s , a gymnasium named after Zinzendorf and an educational centre named after Bishop Jan Amos Komenius (1592-1670), the famous Christian educator and important spiritual thinker (author of the fascinating “Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart”).

Between Herrnhut and Zinzendrof’s now neglected Manor house at Berthelsdorf is the Moravian cemetery. Sitting on a hillside where gravestones are all laid flat, again brothers in one section of the cemetery and sisters in another with no family graves. Stark in its simplicity, but quite beautiful in its setting.

Here in Herrnhut is the home of the Loesung, or Daily Watchword. They are exponents of the Agape meal, or “love feast”. There is also a new modern facility making the Herrnhuter Stern, the Advent star in geometrical form a rhombicuboctahedron, which adorns many homes in Europe during Advent and Christmas and a very large version of which always hangs in the tower of the restored Frauenkirche in Dresden. It was the Fetter Lane, London, Moravian congregation to which the Anglican priest, John Wesley went and where his heart was “strangely warmed”.

Herrnhut on a crisp November day had a message in its simple style of an important way of following Jesus in community, with a basic liturgy of the Word, a common life and a missionary spirit.

One of the smaller Christian World communions with under one million members around the globe, at Herrnhut I gave thanks to God for their existence and for the gifts of faith they have freely shared with the wider Christian family.

– Keith

People on the journey

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

That’s what we’re supposed to be as disciples of Jesus, and most of the time we consent to it mentally. Or sing about it: “We’re a travelling, wandering race, we’re the people of God” Loving the world just as God does, but never too set to ignore a fresh call of God, and a fresh task.

Our real convictions about being a travelling race, however, come to test when the idea of a significant move becomes more than a theological idea. As you know, that’s exactly what is happening with IBTS at the moment: leaving, very reluctantly, our wonderful ‘castle’ and starting life in a very different setting in West Amsterdam. For all those involved, it is a journey of change – including the local church whose 1960s building needs to be significantly remodelled in order to become a new ‘tent’ not only for IBTS, but also the Dutch Baptist Union and the Dutch Baptist Seminary. So yesterday involved a meeting of all these parties for whom the ‘Herdenkingskerk’ – the Baptist ‘church of rememberance’ – will become a new home.

As you can see, it is an exciting, if not straightforward, challenge. How to make the existing space welcoming, warm, and sufficiently flexible to serve the varied needs of the yearly ebbs and flows requires quite a bit of thinking, discussing, and dreaming. I was really encouraged by the choice of the architects made by the Dutch Baptists – they were eager to listen and understand how we all ‘tick’ and relate, and open to dream together and explore different options in order to find the best way forward. I’ve always been interested in the connections between spirituality and environment, including the relationship between the interior setting and church/seminary/intentional community life, so it’s exciting to be a part of such work.

And then moving from the interior to exterior, there’s another reminder of the world we’re journeying in. Standing right at the main doorstep of the church, accross the street you see an ‘Ummah Supermarkt’. That ummah – a Muslim community centered around the idea of faithfulness to Islam – is a strong presence in this bustling European city where IBTS is about to make a home, as it is in many other parts of Europe already. Quite a challenge before us, and I’m grateful for some thinking we have already been able to make through some conferences and a module exploring the way of living among the people of Muslim, as well as other, faiths. But that’s certainly only a beginning.

Next time I’m at Herdenkingskerk and have a little more time, I’ll make sure to visit the Ummah Supermarkt, and to explore other features of the vicinity.

“Don’t get too set in your ways,

the Lord said,

Each step is only a phase,

the Lord said”…

(‘Moses, I know you’re the man’, by Estelle White 1925-))

– Lina