Archive for January, 2014

Chips and More Chips

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Not the edible variety but electronic chips. In Amsterdam a chipkaart enables you to use the metro, trams buses and trains. You load lots of euros onto the card and it gets subtracted each journey you make. It feels like traveling for free and it’s only when you have to recharge your card that you’re reminded it isn’t. In the Student Hotel you are given a round blue key fob. You don’t need a real key as the chip inside it opens the doors from the public area and the door to your bedroom. To buy anything at the hotel’s restaurant (called The Kitchen!), you can only use a debit or credit card – chips again. You can buy edible chips but only by using an electronic chip. And to go back to where I started (or just to keep on traveling), you need the chip in your debit or credit card to recharge your chipkaart.

Chips may make life easier. That is until your bank takes the money from your account.

– Simon

Feeling Welcome

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Simon Oxley shares some of his impressions of the Colloquium:

Two welcomes, one hoped for and one unplanned, were highlights the Research Colloquium in Amsterdam for me. The hoped for welcome came from the faculty and administrative staff of the VU. They turned out in force to meet us when we had a mass visit early in the fortnight. Then several professors came one by one to listen to and then discuss progress reports by students. It was very reassuring and encouraging to see the confirmation that IBTS is a valued partner.

The unplanned welcome came in an urban walk, part of the students’ Migration and Dislocation conference in the middle of the colloquium. A group of us was exploring the immediate neighbourhood of the church that will become the Baptist House. We walked by a mosque and looked in. Instead of being told that it was Friday prayers and they were busy, we were welcomed in, offered tea and engaged in conversation – fortunately for us some of them spoke English! We accepted an invitation to observe their prayer. We learnt about the Moroccan community and their perception of the neighbourhood. I hope that there will be an opportunity sometime for us to return their hospitality. The question that I’m left with is what would happen if a group of Muslims exploring my neighbourhood turned up just before Sunday worship.

– Simon

Migration and Dislocation

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

This is the theme of the IBTS student conference taking place in the middle of our doctoral colloquium. Great stuff, and lots of thoughts: about various situations of dislocation today; our own (personal and communal) attitudes, gut-level reactions and responses to migrants; our reading of biblical narratives – either to support  our position and defend the space we inhabit, or to accept the challenge they put to our reading of today’s realities.

– Lina

Breaking the bread in Amsterdam and Prague: The Eucharist in two kinds and two places

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

On Wednesday 22 January the traditional IBTS Wednesday Eucharist was celebrated in two places – physically divided in space and weather (dull and damp in Amsterdam, snow falling steadily and creating that special beauty of fresh-fallen snow on the Prague campus).

In Prague a remnant met around the table in the chapel which has been the venue for such a weekly event since 1998. Meanwhile, the IBTS Research colloquia met for the first time to break bread in the Baptist House. Both groups were gathered around a simple table. Both gatherings used IBTS plates and chalice, both used wine from the vineyards around Mikulov, which the Anabaptists cultivated and restored in the 1500’s; and both used bread baked in a local bakery “just round the corner” from the Jenerálka campus and the Baptist House.

Both groups prayed for the other worship table meeting. Though divided in space, there was a deep unity in affection and celebration. Perhaps there will be only two such occasions in the story of IBTS (the Eucharist next Wednesday being the second) as by summer IBTS will move from Prague to Amsterdam? Whether that is the case or not, this was a special moment marking yet another “bridge” between Prague and Amsterdam.

– Keith and Lina


New Beginnings in Amsterdam

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

The Annual IBTS Research Colloquia has opened, not, as it has been over the past decade, in the Prague Campus, but in the Baptist House in south Amsterdam. The, as yet unreconstructed, Baptist House has been cleaned up by a volunteer team and we are now sat in the meeting room and worship room catching up with the life of IBTS “in transition”.

The opening session featured input from the so-called “trinity” of Rectors – Keith Jones (1998 – 2013), Parush R Parushev (2013-2014) and Stuart Blythe (2014- ). Parush commented that whilst IBTS still believes in the Swiss Train theory of time keeping, experience in the Netherlands so far indicated the same precision is not always possible, but during the colloquia we would work hard to operate within the historic approach of IBTS !

 Keith reported on arrangements to secure the provision of a Masters degree in “Baptistic Histories and Theologies” with the University of Manchester. All has now been approved and the first students registered or transferred to this programme. It incorporates most of the “old” modules previously offered with the MTh programmes of the University of Wales.

Stuart then commented “I don’t start until June”, but went on to say he is looking forward to working with everyone and in these coming days learning everyone’s name !

Parush (as someone who first academic discipline is mathematics) then gave us some statistical information.

  • Five doctoral students graduated in the 2012-2013 academic year.
  • Eight students are still registered in the University of Wales doctoral programme, five of who are in the exit phase of completing writing or submitting.
  • Twenty three students have been transferred from the University of Wales to the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam (VUA)
  • We have a total of twenty seven students who will be reporting to the colloquia over the next ten days.

So, we had a real sense of a fresh beginning in a new setting in Amsterdam which doctoral student, Mike Pears, encapsulated in the opening worship for our 2014 colloquia.

– Keith 

Not To Make You Envious, But…

Friday, January 17th, 2014

…we’re being spoiled rotten by our volunteer Sasha, who’s just returned from the Ukraine to help us for a few more weeks. Again, not to make you envious, but here are some photos. And yes, these are current photos – seems IBTSers can’t keep away from IBTS, even when they move to a different country!


New Year, New Day, New Opportunities

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Happy New Year to all our blog readers!

Skander, our MTh graduate from Sweden, used to repeat this pretty much each morning: “new day, new opportunities”. I thought about him this morning when Norbert (who had studied together with Skander) led us in our morning prayers reflecting on what may be awaiting us all this year. May we all look to the coming days of 2014 with trust in God’s goodness and love, and with peace and excitement for the opportunities and challenges that may be awaiting us.

Here’s one opportunity you may be interested in:

We are looking for a volunteer (or two) to help us out for a few months (starting with the end of January-beginning of February). The work will involve different kinds of tasks, but will certainly require a good deal of manual work. Given how long getting a visa takes, it would probably have to be someone who doesn’t require one… So, if you would like to volunteer (yourself or perhaps someone else:)) – give us a shout!

Praying God’s blessings upon you all,

– Lina