By Bob Allen
A Scottish Baptist educator and former pastor has been named rector of the International Baptist Theological Study Centre in Amsterdam, a school owned by the European Baptist Federation in the process of relocating from the Czech Republic.
The International Baptist Theological Seminary board of trustees voted unanimously to hire Stuart Blythe, currently interim principal of the Scottish Baptist College. Blythe, a 1989 graduate of the seminary then located in Ruschlikon, Switzerland, will be the first IBTS alum to lead the school established in 1949 to rebuild and unify European Baptists following World War II.
IBTS moved to Prague in 1997, in response to changes in the European Baptist landscape after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Last year, trustees responded to declining revenues and costs associated with maintaining an aging campus by voting to establish a Baptist house, embedded in VU University of Amsterdam, to concentrate on doctor of philosophy study in Baptist/Anabaptist studies and mission and practical theology.
The shift also recognizes that local seminaries have sprung up to offer undergraduate and master’s degrees, but there is a continuing need for doctoral studies. Baptist students could still study toward master’s degrees at IBTS, but they would be awarded by VU University, a public school started by Dutch Calvinists that already hosts several seminaries, including the Baptist Seminary of the Netherlands.
“Our churches in Europe and beyond face a challenging and changing missionary situation,” Blythe said. “My hope is that the tough thinking, research interests and students of IBTS will be able to support our churches as they seek courageously to bear faithful witness to Jesus Christ in their various contexts.”
Blythe received a Ph.D. in homiletics from the University of Edinburgh in 2009. On faculty at Scottish Baptist College since 2005, his primary areas of teaching and research are in practical theology. He has advised Scottish Baptists on adapting their mission and recently participated in the annual doctoral colloquium at IBTS Prague.
Parush Parushev, a native of Bulgaria who has served as interim rector since former rector Keith Jones’ appointment ended this year, commended Blythe’s selection.
“We feel he is already well known to us from his participation in the academic life of IBTS and from our personal contacts with him over recent years,” he said. “We have full confidence in his academic expertise and in him fitting into the communal sprit of IBTS. We hope he will feel that IBTS is his natural academic home.”
Blythe plans to remain as principal at Scottish Baptist College until his IBTS appointment begins in June.
Blythe previously had pastorates in Springburn and Kirkintilloch Baptist Church. He and his wife, Susanne, have two adult children.