• Enjoying the simplicity of Herrnhut

    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…

  • May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders he has shown you…

    It’s a strange few weeks at IBTS, with a lot of the teaching staff in travels of all sorts. I’m just back from a week at Northumbria Community, our good partner-friend. Some years ago, I was part of the group visiting them in their previous Mother House at Hetton Hall, but otherwise mostly cought up during the annual Northumbria Community Week at IBTS. (By the way, all are welcome to the next Week in March 2013 – details to be provided soon!). Not that long ago, Northumbria Community had to move – their old building was being sold. A wonderful new possibility appeared when they were contacted by people wanting…

  • “GOING IN AND GOING OUT: SPIRITUALITY AND MISSION” CEBTS 7th FORUM

    The Consortium of European Baptist Theological Schools (CEBTS) is a great organisation I am proud to have belonged to since its inception in 2001. It did away, at a stroke, with the “old” paternalistic approach of the EBF Theological Assistance Group which assumed institutions in the “west” could help those in the “east” and has created a network of equal partners supporting one another in a common endeavour to provide quality theological education throughout Europe and the Middle East.  It was a bold move to get rid of Tag in 2001and develop CEBTS,  as many wanted the old way of doing things and some beyond Europe criticised this fresh and…

  • Of the President and his tie

    The EBF has a new President – the Revd Hans Guderian from Germany. He’ll be inducted today at the closing service of the EBF Council, replacing the Revd Valeriu Giletchi from Moldova who has served as the EBF President for the last two years. I first encountered Hans as an avid postal stamps collector, but perhaps another collection might be surfacing at the present. You see, during much of this meeting he has been wearing a very fun tie – from India, he said – with bright elephants on green background. So in one of the coffee breaks, a discussion evolved about this (usually the only) major accessoir for men…

  • Baptists in Nazareth

    So the European Baptist Federation meetings in Nazareth have started. We had a warm opening service yesterday night in Nazareth Baptist church. Apart from ‘O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder,’ all other songs were of Arabic origin (including the one we sometimes sing at Šarka Valley Community Church – ‘Salam’ – which we sing with translation into English: ‘help us your peace to understand’…) – so a lovely flavour of the local church, which also included a sermon by one of our graduates, Azar Ajaj (Dean of Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary). The Baptist church is located in the Arabic part of the city, whereas our hotel is…

  • Being encouraged

    At the close of the SICRIE workshop, participants were invited to take part in Sunday worship in some church in Sofia. Eight of us, on the invitation of the Revd Theodor Oprenov, worshipped together with the Baptist community at the First Baptist church on Osogovo street. Accidentally, the service coincided with the 130 year celebration of the Baptist movement in Bulgaria, and the preacher was Dr Neville Callam, the General Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance. Greetings were also shared by Revd Tony Peck, General Secretary of our own European Baptist Federation. Theodor (known to most as Tedy) invited also to share some of the experiences and insights learned during…

  • Contrast time, learning time

    For over a year now, IBTS, alongside other three partners from the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Northern Ireland and Lithuania has been involved in a project called SICRIE, sponsored by the EU’s Grundvig programme. The partners meet four times during the course of the project. The first meeting took place in Prague last November; another one in Northern Ireland in May of this year; and yesterday, together with other colleagues, I have returned from the third which took us to Sofia, Bulgaria. Actually, not just Sofia. Divided into three different groups, we saw Plovdiv, Stara Zagora, Rila Monastery and work with Roma community in Sofia itself. Plovdiv, where I went with…