International Baptist Theological Seminary moves to Amsterdam
B e r l i n – The International Baptist Theological Seminary (IBTS) of the European Baptist Federation (EBF) in Prague is moving to Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and will become an International Baptist Studies and Research Centre. The decision was reached by a large majority by the EBF Council at their meeting in Elstal near Berlin on September 28. The decision was based on a proposal by the IBTS Board of Trustees. A breakdown of the three-part decision follows: 92% of the 77 delegates participating in the vote were in favour of selling the Jeneralka site in Prague the current home of the training centre, for the best possible price; 89% gave the green light for the move to Amsterdam, where a little used Baptist church is to be converted to a “Baptist House”, with studies planned to begin in the fall of 2014; and 85% voted in favour of the proposal to offer graduate studies (mainly doctoral) in the areas of Baptist and Anabaptist studies and practical theology.
In the debates preceding the decision it became clear that IBTS found itself in a very difficult financial situation in Prague. The past year showed a deficit of 306,000 Euros. Due to the financial crisis, decreasing donation income and rises in costs in the Czech Republic, IBTS has been in the red since 2008.
The move from Prague to Amsterdam will take place in close cooperation with the Dutch Baptist Union. The Union plans to have its headquarters in the “Baptist House”, and set up the seat of its Theological Seminary. The EBF will also move it’s offices there. According to Albrecht Boerrigter (Barneveld), General Secretary of the Dutch Baptists, trusting in God, they had already sold their former head office and rented office space several years ago. Due to the projected cooperation with the EBF, several “puzzle pieces” have now been put together. The director of the Theological Seminary of the Netherlands, Teun van der Leer (Amsterdam), welcomed the decision. Throughout the process, they had seen “many open doors”: “Jesus Christ has made this possible.”
The IBTS was founded in 1948 in Rüschlikon, Switzerland (near Zurich), by the missions department of the American Southern Baptists, as a pastor training centre. The seminary has been run by the EBF since 1989. In 1997, it was moved to Prague. Currently, 120 students are enrolled, most working toward a masters degree. The Rector of the school is Keith Jones of Britain, whose term of office ends in mid-2013. The EBF includes 56 Baptist Unions in Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia, with more than 800,000 members.