EAAA Library Conference in the Ukraine

April 4th, 2018

IBTS Centre is a member of the Euro-Asian Accrediting Association, an organisation that was founded to help (theological) educational institutions in Eurasia reach international standards and to provide them with accreditation that is in accordance with their academic and spiritual level. For over 20 years they’ve been doing an excellent job, and there is much more to come!

In March, they organised a library conference in the Ukraine for all the librarians of the participating schools. I was privileged to be present at this conference as a representative from both IBTS Centre and BETH. The two day conference took place at Kremenchuk Evangelical Seminary, located in the city of Kremenchuk, which is about a 5-6 hour drive to the southeast of Kiev. In attendance were approximately 50 people, including librarians from various institutions in the Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Moldova and Central Asia. We stayed at the seminary and our sessions took place in one of their class rooms. Good food was provided by the kitchen staff.

We had a very full program with excellent presentations by many of the participants. They ranged from very practical (library arrangement, organization) to very technical (cataloguing standards, working with Koha), making this a very useful conference for every participant. I was asked to present my personal experience in working with distance learning students. In addition to the official programme, we also had a chance to present our institutions and libraries to each other. This taught me that you should have metal shelving in a library, because then you will at least still have something left after a fire!

This conference could well be the first step towards founding an official Eurasian theological library network. The plan is to organise a similar conference next year, so perhaps in a few years’ time we’ll be able to welcome representatives of this network at the annual BETH conference.

Before and after our travels to Kremenchuk I spent some time with our good friends at the Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary in Pushcha Voditsa on the outskirts of Kiev (see image below). Many of the staff at UETS are (former) students of ours and it was very good to (re)connect with them. Thank you, UETS, for your hospitality!

And I wouldn’t be a librarian if I wouldn’t have come back with a suitcase full of books!

Pieter van Wingerden (Librarian IBTS Centre Amsterdam)

Dr Anthony R. Cross (Adjunct Supervisor at IBTSC) Lecture Trip to Ukraine, February 2018.

March 16th, 2018

 At the invitation of the All-Ukrainian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists Churches (AUC ECB), and its First Vice President, the Rev. Igor Bandura, Dr Anthony R. Cross visited Kiev and the headquarters of the Baptist Union in the nearby city of Irpin.  Addressing members of the AUC ECB council and the leaders of the Ukrainian Baptist educational institutions Dr Cross explored themes from his three most recent monographs: Recovering the Evangelical Sacrament: Baptisma Semper Reformandum (2013); “To communicate simply you must understand profoundly”: Preparation for Ministry among British Baptists (2016); and Useful Learning: Neglected Means of Grace in the Reception of the Evangelical Revival among English Particular Baptists (2017).

Rev. Dr Sergiy Sannikov

One of the papers Dr Cross delivered will be translated and published in the journal Theological Reflections: Euro-Asian Journal of Theology, as will an interview conducted by Oleksandr Geychenko, a Professor at Odessa Theological Seminary. Dr Cross also presented a paper at an ecumenical day conference at Dragomanov University, Kiev, on ‘Crucial Issues of Contemporary Theology: Recent Trends in the Development of Liturgical Theology’, organized by the Rev. Dr Sergiy Sannikov, a lecturer at the Odessa Baptist Seminary, a former member of the Board of Trustees of IBTSC, and also a member of the Executive Committee of the EBF. With the participation of Dr Sannikov and other Ukrainian Baptists in attendance, the day conference was yet another opportunity which showed the breadth and depth of Baptist theology, commitment to unity, liturgy, and dialogue, and is a timely reminder that there are many such opportunities for productive ecumenical engagement if we have the vision to share in them.

As of 1 January 2018 there were 2,600 churches and groups, 320 church plants, over 110,000 members in the AUC ECB, with weekly worship attendance of around 200,000. The AUC ECB is served by six seminaries, four institutes, and eleven regional colleges. Dr Cross reports that here there are great opportunities for Baptist churches, colleges and seminaries in the West to seize, not only for prayer, but to foster and develop links with Ukrainian Baptists as a genuinely and fruitful two-way reciprocal relationship which will further build Christ’s church and the spread of the gospel.

Dr Anthony Cross

Reflecting on his visit Dr Cross encourages prayer for the seminaries and colleges in the development and spread of reflection on theology and practice in dialogue with the global Baptist community as well as for the situation in the East of Ukraine, for the churches in uncontrolled territories which are required to register according to new regulations set in place and the relief aid to refugees and people in need in the occupied territory.

A more detailed report on the visit is available http://www.ibts.eu/newsletters/

Conference in Minsk

December 19th, 2017

Toivo Pilli, Director of Baptist and Anabaptist Studies at IBTSC Amsterdam, participated in an international conference in Minsk on 9 December 2017. EBF General Secretary Tony Peck  (UK) and Mateusz Wichary (Poland) also offered papers. The conference was organised by Minsk ECB Theological Seminary and the Institute of Evangelical Faith (Pentecostal seminary). Bringing together about 90 pastors and scholars from Byelorussia, Lithuania, Poland, the USA, and other countries, the conference commemorated the 500 years of the publication of parts of the Bible in Byelorussian and the role of Francysk Skaryna. The first book, the Psalter, translated and published by Skaryna in the Old Belorussian, was printed in Prague in 1517.

Leonid Michovich dedicates Skaryna Hall during the Minsk conference.

Toivo Pilli’s presentation ’The Bible and the Revival: An Estonian Case Study’ focused on the use of the Bible in the 19th century Pietistic Revival in Western Estonia, then part of Tsarist Russia. The revivalist believers not only used the Bible for devotional purposes and for preaching, they also used Biblical texts to interpret their newly found focus on repentance and new birth, baptism upon personal confession of faith and congregational understanding of the church. The Bible also helped these believers to explain persecution and to balance outbursts of religious emotionalism, guiding the movement towards more sustainable and stable patterns of worship.

The topics of the conference, however, included a wider panorama: the legacy of Protestant Reformation, and the use and interpretation of the Bible in the life of evangelical churches, such as the Baptists, Pentecostals and others. Within one day, in three topical tracks, 25 academic papers were delivered.  IBTSC Amsterdam continues to have close and friendly links with Minsk Theological Seminary.

Recruiting a new Director of IBTSC

November 10th, 2017

 Job title: Director of the International Baptist Theological Study Centre (IBTSC) Amsterdam

Location: The Baptist House, Postjesweg 150, 1061 AX Amsterdam.

IBTSC Amsterdam exists to help train leaders and conduct research that can aid the Christian church in its mission and ministry in Europe and beyond through internationally focused, European based, baptistic theological education. IBTSC’s primary areas of research and education lie in Anabaptist/Baptist histories and theologies, Missiology, and Practical Theology – Identity, Mission and Practice.

IBTSC is constituted as a Dutch Association (Vereniging) and is a collaborative partner within the Faculty of Theology of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam for the delivery of a PhD programme. IBTSC is also an approved partner of the University of Manchester for an MA programme.

IBTSC is looking to appoint a suitably qualified person to the post of Director of IBTSC who will carry forward the IBTSC commitment to deliver high quality theological education and research from a baptistic perspective in an international context. As well as developing researchers, educators, and leaders who can serve the mission and ministry of churches in Europe, the Middle East and beyond, IBTSC desires to facilitate learning and theological reflection in and for the churches, pastors and theological leaders of the EBF member bodies.

Application process

Full details of salary, responsibility and duties, and person specification as well as an application form are available by contacting the IBTSC Administrator, Marianne van Zwieten (administrator@ibts.eu) or calling +31 20 210 3025.

Applications must be completed and returned by 28 February 2018.

Interviews will be held on 19-20 April 2018 in Amsterdam.

Appointment of a non-EU candidate will be subject to approval of a visa/work permit.

News from IBTSC

September 25th, 2017

At a meeting of the Board of IBTSC on September 21, David McMillan was appointed as Interim Rector following Stuart Blythe’s departure. David has been involved with IBTS and IBTSC for some years managing the relocation of IBTS to Amsterdam and establishing IBTSC as a legal entity in the Netherlands.  David and his wife Dorothy are members of BMS World Mission, seconded to IBTSC.

We recently produced a newsletter with lots of latest developments including the move to the new Baptist House.  Click on the picture to read the newsletter.



IBTSC Amsterdam Rector, Stuart Blythe, to take up new post with Acadia Divinity College, Nova Scotia, Canada.

July 24th, 2017

Revd Dr Stuart Blythe, Rector of IBTSC Amsterdam will be leaving IBTSC to take up a new position as Associate Professor in the John Gladstone Chair of Preaching and Worship at Acadia  Divinity College.

Dr Blythe is the first Rector of IBTSC Amsterdam, taking up the post in 2014 and steering the institution through the critical period of establishing the operation in Amsterdam.  Over the past three years Dr Blythe has successfully overseen the new partnership with the Faculty of Theology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the first successful PhD promotions. In addition he has overseen the new relationship with Manchester University in the provision of the Masters programme.

Commenting on Dr Blythe’s resignation, chairman of the IBTSC board, Revd Dr John Weaver, said:

We are deeply indebted to Stuart for the leadership he has provided during the formative years of IBTSC in Amsterdam. His commitment to the students, the staff and delivery of high quality academic programmes has been outstanding. We are very sorry to lose him but recognise that this new position with Acadia provides a unique opportunity for him to develop his specialisation in homiletics. We wish Stuart every success for the future.

In his letter of resignation Dr Blythe noted that IBTSC has been successfully relocated from Prague in terms of programmes and that in the next few months the final physical relocation to the new Baptist House in Amsterdam will also be complete. Dr Blythe said:

I think that the team at IBTSC have achieved a remarkable amount in the last three years. Student numbers on the PhD programme remain good, something of a new narrative has been written, and there is the potential for a long term sustainable future. I wish nothing but the best for IBTSC. I consider this institution in its first incarnation as one of the most significant influences in my life.

Dr Blythe will take up his new position in Acadia at the end of September.

Congratulations to IBTSC Alumnus

May 18th, 2017


We are please to copy and carry this announcement from American Baptist Churches USA and to Congratulate a recent alumni of IBTSC Amsterdam.

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 5/9/17)—On Monday, May 8, the Board of General Ministries met at Springhill Suites in Chicago to elect Reverend Dr. Lee B. Spitzer to the position of General Secretary of American Baptist Churches USA. Dr. Spitzer’s name was brought forward to the Board of General Ministries by the General Secretary Search Committee. Over the past several months the Search Committee had interviewed numerous candidates. After much prayer, discernment, and deep discussion, the committee identified Dr. Spitzer as the candidate best suited to lead American Baptists forward.

Gill’s Promotion

May 12th, 2017

He is smiling now. We are pleased to announce the successful PhD defence and ‘Promotion’ of Gil Dueck at the Vrije Universiteit which took place on Wednesday 10th May. Gill’s Thesis was entitled: ‘A Transformative Moment:
Emerging Adult Faith Development in Conversation with the Theology of James E. Loder’. We extend our congratulation to Gil and to his family, his wife, parents, and children who traveled to be present.

We also congratulate his IBTSC supervisor Dr Parush Parushev and his Vrije Universiteit supervisor Prof. Dr Fernando Enns. Not present on the day we also extend our congratulations to his co-supervisor Prof. Dr Nancey Murphy.

A good day.