TRANSFORM off to a flying start in Vienna!

TRANSFORM off to a flying start in Vienna!

EBF press service - March 21, 2017

After many months of preparation, planning and prayer, the EBF Younger Leaders’ Programme TRANSFORM held its first meeting in Vienna, Austria, from 15-18 March. The programme was originally proposed by the EBF General Secretary Tony Peck, in the context of considering future leadership patterns in the life of the EBF. It has been headed up by a Steering Group chaired by Teddy Oprenov, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Bulgaria and himself a participant in earlier EBF and BWA younger leaders’ programmes.

Present in Vienna were six men and five women who had been identified by their Baptist Unions or Conventions as having gifts and potential to exercise leadership in a wider setting with an international dimension. They came from all major regions of the EBF, including Armenia, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Great Britain, Lebanon, Turkey and the International Baptist Convention. In their professions they included pastors, youth workers, teachers of English, students, a lawyer and an architect. All of them are already involved in some form of leadership or service in their church and/or Union.

The programme will take place over 30 months with five meetings together. Each participant is assigned a mentor who will meet regularly with his/her mentoree online.

In the first meeting together the focus was on ongoing Christian discipleship as the basis for effective leadership. The main sessions were led by Einike Pilli and Stuart Blythe, Rectors of the Estonian Baptist Seminary and the International Baptist Theological Study Centre, respectively. Members of the TRANSFORM Working Group led other seminars and the worship times with a lot of discussion and interaction. There were also opportunities to see at first hand the leadership in mission work of the Austrian Baptists, especially among refugees and asylum seekers. There were times to relax, build friendships and learn informally from one another.

Also present were Laura McDaniel and Sonia Habimana from Virginia Baptists in the USA. Their own programme for young leaders, ‘Uptick’ had served as an great encouragement and inspiration to the EBF when planning TRANSFORM.

EBF General Secretary Tony Peck commented, “TRANSFORM has been so long in the planning that we could hardly believe that we had arrived at the first meeting. But it was an inspiration to watch a group of young leaders who did not know one another begin to relate together and to engage seriously with the call of Christ on their lives in terms of ongoing discipleship. I have a conviction that men and women belong together in effective Christian leadership so it was good to see our Unions nominating almost equal numbers of each for this programme.

I am so grateful to the hard work of all the members of the TRANSFORM Steering Group headed up by Teddy Oprenov and so ably supported by Yanita Georgieva as administrator. We ended the first meeting hugely encouraged by engaging with such a gifted group of young leaders. We are very aware of our responsibility to develop the Programme in such a way that they are better equipped to be effective God-inspired leaders who can cross borders to meet the challenges of being the church in contemporary Europe and the Middle East. We want to grow leaders who really can ‘make a difference’ for the Gospel.”

The next gathering of TRANSFORM will take place in Yerevan, Armenia in September, at the same time and place as the EBF Council.

Photos: EBF