Archive for September, 2014

First Promotion at VU of IBTS Centre Student

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

The 9th of September 2014 saw the first defence and promotion (graduation) at the VU of an IBTS Centre Amsterdam PhD student, Jon Hardin. DSC_0146-001 On this occasion in the Dutch style, Jon publicly defended his PhD thesis: ‘Creating Convictional Community: Missional Spirituality in the Moravian Community of Bethlehem Pennsylvania, 1741-1762’ and was awarded the title of ‘Doctor’.


His supervisor Tim Noble writes:

Jon Hardin, from the USA, first started as a student on our old doctoral programme in Prague in 2006. From the beginning of his studies, he was interested in the Moravian community that was established at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in the mid-eighteenth century. Initially he was interested in combining it with reflection on the missional calling of the church in contemporary America, but he was persuaded by his first supervisor, Ian Randall, to concentrate on how the Bethlehem community itself in the period from its foundation until 1760 expressed and deepened its missional spirituality.

There is a lot of material on this community, which is good for a PhD student, but also somewhat daunting, and despite having to deal with a serious illness that made study impossible for several years, Jon kept up at an impressive rate of work. He was able to read and organise the material into a series of chapters looking at the worship, hymnody, community meetings, prayer and art of Bethlehem, and how they spoke to the founding missional vision of the Moravian community.DSC_0097-001

In all this Jon was helped by Ian Randall, and later Tim Noble, as well as by a leading American Moravian scholar, Craig Atwood. In 2013 Jon transferred to the doctoral programme of the VU University in Amsterdam, and from the VU side, Prof. Piet Visser added his expertise, and equally importantly his knowledge of the VU system.

Jon submitted his doctorate in early 2014, and it was read by a group of five readers, all of whom were happy to pass it for defence. So it was that Jon came to be in the Aula of the VU University, where he was able to respond fluently and on the whole convincingly to his five examiners, all of whom pronounced themselves satisfied with his response. This was highly deserved, as Jon had produced a very solid, carefully argued, well-written and convincing study that fully merited the award of the title of doctor of theology.DSC_0119-001

“First Fruits” is the title of a painting by a Moravian artist that Jon used as the basis of his final chapter. In the rather splendid setting of a Dutch doctoral promotion, with its formulae, ceremonials and impressive clothing, Jon has written his own name into the history of both IBTS Centre in Amsterdam and the VU University, as the first fruits of the partnership between the two institutions. We all hope it is the first of a ripe harvest, and we salute Jon for his excellent achievement. (Tim Noble)





New Academic Year Launched

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

The new academic year at IBTS Centre Amsterdam began with enjoyable sunshine and engaging discussions. An intensive teaching session took place in the new premises at Postjesweg 175.175

The DMin students were the first to arrive, then new master and doctoral students continued with modules: ‛Critical Thinking, Academic Research and Writing’, ‛Interpretations: Bible, Theology and Society’ and ‛Faith and Reason’. Students emphasised three aspects of what they experienced: international climate, academic challenge and Christian fellowship.DSC_0134-001

Students from Ghana, Croatia, Canada, USA and Cuba, and certainly from Holland, confirm the continuity of the international dimension of this learning community. A Croatian Filip Grujic summarised:

The first weeks of IBTS instensive lectures at Amsterdam were full of challenging study in the atmosphere if international fellowship. It was an enriching experience to explore important theological topics in the context of wider perspective of colleagues coming from three different continents.

A special event, underlining the acadmic quality of IBTSC, was the graduation of Jon Hardin with the PhD degree. The promotion took place at the aula of the Free University Amsterdam. (More on this in a later post).DSC_0099-001

As is characteristic of IBTSC, worship is an integral part of research and study. The students described the fellowship and common prayers as uplifting. Mary Pokuaa from Ghana:

I am impressed with the environment, the receptive nature of professors and the entire IBTSC community. This is an opportunity to gain knowledge and to reflect on my faith and ministry.

Another student from Ghana, Kofi Owusu-Ansah, added:

I recommend this programme for all Christians seeking higher level education. This helps to put you on the cutting edge in ministry.

First time in the IBTSC history a student from Cuba, Adianes Villalonga, has joined the student body. She taught us all to pray ‛in a Cuban way’ – feeling the presence of God and ourselves, and being thankful for the gift of life – and she commented:

It is an open door to a source of knowledge, wisdom and prayer. Professors encourage me to study hard if I want to be useful in my country, and my fellow-students make me experience the intercultural Baptist challenge. And I always feel serenity during our time of prayer.

Ray Harms-Wiebe from Canada seconded that:

The perspectives of the international faculty and students have already enriched my spiritual journey and I look forward to the coming years with anticipation.

Not being a native speaker of English, and while writing this blog entry, I checked some of the words. Merriam-Webster Dictionary explains that one meaning of  ‛launch’ is ‛to put a boat or ship on the water’. New IBTSC academic year is launched… I find this symbolism surprisingly fitting.T Pilli

Toivo Pilli

Bursary Scheme

Friday, September 5th, 2014

175 At the IBTS Centre we are aiming to provide affordable and accessible post-graduate education in an international Baptist context.  We see such theological education as not simply informative but trans-formative. While some costs are higher for students in Amsterdam other costs of study are less expensive.

Be this as it may, the national and personal situations of students may mean that such education is simply unaffordable. We at present have two students for whom this is the case. They are already involved in significant ministries in their countries. They are supported by friends, family, and home churches for travel and accommodation but cannot pay for fees. The IBTS Centre can try and absorb some of these costs but our capacity to do this and make the programmes of study sustainable is very limited.

One way in which individuals, institutions and churches can help is by donating towards bursaries to help cover the fees of such students.

You can either make a one off, or a regular donation marked as:

an ‘unspecified bursary’ for allocation by IBTS Centre to most pressing present situations

a ‘specified bursary’ towards a particular individual

It may be as a Church or an individual you would like to support a particular student through a course of study and to receive information and be put in contact with such a student. This can be a rewarding experience for both creating lasting contacts and friendships. If you would like to know about the students who we have at present seeking bursaries please be in touch with me directly.

All donations marked as bursaries will only be used for paying the fees of students who cannot afford it and sums will be acknowledged. If we receive bursary donations beyond present needs we would gather those monies to make them available for future bursary use.

The IBTS Centre Amsterdam also still welcomes general donations towards our work in order to enable us to offer affordable and accessible post-graduate education to all in an international context. These can be marked simply as ‘donations’.

All donations can be made directly to our bank account:

Bank Account: IBTSC, (IBAN) NL34 RABO 0181 6602 02 (Swift: RABO NL2U)

Stuart Blythe.