The following post is from CBF Interim Global Missions Coordinator Jim Smith.
On behalf of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Global Missions, I am writing to express our support for the International Baptist Theological Seminary’s move to Amsterdam, Netherlands.
In 1976, I visited IBTS’s Ruschlikon, Switzerland, campus the first time. I was serving as a Missionary Journeyman with the Southern Baptist Convention, and I vividly remember walking among the reflection pools that led up to the old manor building. Over the years, I visited the campus many times for various retreats and consultations. It was the hub of European Baptist life.
In the early 1990s, the Baptist theological upheaval happening in the United States reached its way across the Atlantic Ocean to the seminary. In 1991, IBTS lost funding from the SBC and struggled to meet its new financial challenges. Fortunately, the newly formed Cooperative Baptist Fellowship recognized the great value of IBTS and began a “Keeping the Promises” campaign to raise financial support for the seminary. Fellowship Baptists gave generously to support the school.
During the past two decades, I have felt honored to be a part of the partnership between CBF and IBTS. After resigning from the SBC and joining the community of Fellowship Baptists, I served as a trustee with IBTS governing board from 1993-2009. I served alongside some Baptist giants in Europe, who were intellectually astute and big-hearted. And in 1996, when the seminary decided to move to Prague, Czech Republic, I had the privilege to witness this beautiful partnership in action. More than 1,000 Fellowship Baptists traveled to Prague and worked to prepare the new campus for students.
The move to Prague has been a good one for IBTS and Baptists around the world. The seminary shifted its academic focus (ending its bachelor studies and offering master’s and doctorate level degrees), attracted new students and professors and met the theological education needs of an entire region.
Now, recognizing the new realities of religious higher education and the future needs of the European Baptist Federation, which is made up of more than 50 unions and conventions, the seminary is set to move again ‒‒ to Amsterdam. The exciting thing about this move is that it’s not just a new location for an existing program. The Amsterdam campus will provide a quantum leap in collaborative studies, enabling a library to be housed and utilized and a partnership with the Baptist Union of the Netherlands seminary.
I predict that once again Fellowship Baptists will support our valued education partner in Europe. We, as Fellowship Baptists, offer our prayers and encouragement as IBTS enters a new chapter in its ministry.
CBF Interim Global Missions Coordinator