Rev. Dr William P. Atkinson
Hello! I am delighted to be granted the privilege of serving the Association as its Chair, having been voted into office at the 2016 annual conference in Sofia. I want to take this opportunity to tell you a little about myself and to tell you something of what I do in the role.
Born in 1961 and having grown up in London, I studied medicine in Edinburgh. After working briefly as a medical doctor, I heard God’s call to church ministry and took up a position on the ministry team at Kensington Temple, London. While there, I gained a Master’s Degree in Theology from London Bible College.
In 1997, I became Principal of Regents Theological College, the college of the denomination with which I have been ordained since 1990: the Elim Pentecostal Church. While at the college, I pursued a PhD with Edinburgh University, completing this in 2007. In the same year, I moved back into local church ministry in south-east England. Since 2011 I have worked at the London School of Theology, where for some time I was a Vice-Principal. I continue there as a senior lecturer in Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies. I am on the Board of Advisers of the Foundation for Pentecostal Scholarship, and have written several books as well as both scholarly and “popular” articles.
I’ve been married to Alison since 1983, and we have two sons: Iain, married to Maggie; and Stephen, married to Hélène. Alison and I live near London and enjoy walks and meals out together, as well as getting together with family and friends. I love the natural world in both town and country, and am particularly interested in birds, though all nature fascinates me, as does human interaction with it in farming, conservation, and so forth.
Having served in the two contexts of local church and theological college, I sense that God wants me to devote my remaining years to furthering the cause of Pentecostal scholarship (among other things!). I believe that God’s outpoured Spirit touches the mind as much as the heart, and that those of us of a more “intellectual” bent can be fervently Pentecostal while also being conversation partners about theological matters with the wider church and indeed the world. We have something to offer, and I want to make my own contribution to that offering and to raise up the next generation of thinking, loving Pentecostals – not to mention Christians of all shapes!
With that in mind, my favourite work at theological college is supervising research students. I love my own research and writing too, and sometimes wish I had more time for it! I hope that what I write helps people to love God more, think more clearly about the Lord, and perhaps do a bit of writing themselves. I hope that my time in office as Chair of EPTA has the same results, and that I can pull together, as EPTA has always successfully done, thinking Pentecostals and others who take an interest in Pentecostalism.
In my role as EPTA Chair, I travel round Europe fairly regularly to meet EPTA members in their own environments, see how they are serving God in their context, and discuss together how EPTA can strengthen their hand. We also sometimes have ideas together about how we can stimulate and strengthen the work of EPTA. The visits are often combined with speaking at conferences, lectures to students, or preaching in churches. I also visit people and institutions that are not yet linked to EPTA, and share about its ministry in the hope of widening participation in it.
As Chair, I am hugely grateful for the work of the other members of the executive committee, whom you can read about below. In particular, as I am now in my last year as Chair, I am delighted that Simo Frestadius, Vice-Chair, has been elected to take over from me as Chair in July 2020. I commend his growing ministry to the association.
With best wishes in Christ,
Rev. Dr Simo Frestadius
Simo is European: born in Finland and has lived in the UK since his early twenties. He is Pentecostal: being part of Pentecostal churches in Finland, Tanzania and the UK, as well as being an ordained minister within the Elim Pentecostal Church. He is Theological: an academic, he is Dean of Undergraduate Studies at Regents Theological College, UK and has lectured there since 2009. He also has a PhD on Pentecostal epistemology and rationality from the University of Birmingham. He enjoys the Association of EPTA, where he feels at home as a Pentecostal academic. He believes in the mission and purpose of EPTA and its potential for the academy, church and society in Europe.
Prof. Wolfgang Vondey
Wolfgang (PhD Marquette University), originally from Germany, is Professor of Christian Theology and Pentecostal Studies at the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, where he also directs the Centre for Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies. He has taught for twenty years in America, most recently at Regent University, where he founded and directed the Center for Renewal Studies. His research focuses on systematic and constructive theological themes through the lens of Pentecostalism, including interests in religion, pneumatology, ecclesiology, and the intersection of theology and the sciences. He is co-editor of the series, Christianity and Renewal-Interdisciplinary Studies (Palgrave Macmillan), and of Systematic Pentecostal and Charismatic Theology (Bloomsbury). His most recent books include Pentecostal Theology: Living the Full Gospel, which won the Pneuma Award of the Society for Pentecostal Studies in 2018, as well as Pentecostalism: A Guide for the Perplexed (2013), 2 volumes of Pentecostalism and Christian Unity (2013 and 2010), and Beyond Pentecostalism: The Crisis of Global Christianity and the Renewal of the Theological Agenda (2010).
Dr Bob Welch
Originally an atheist, and chemistry major about to graduate from Fresno State University in California, USA, Bob turned to Christ in 1977 and entered Biblical studies at California Christian College, finishing his B.S. in Biblical Languages in 1981. Soon thereafter, he prepared with Assemblies of God World Missions USA to become a foreign missionary planting new pioneer churches in Japan as well as spearheading evangelism after the 1995 Kobe earthquake and leading the Missionary Field Fellowship. After three churches were planted (over a twenty-year span), and along with his wife Karen, Bob sought a Master’s degree in the UK at Mattersey Hall, graduating in 2006. Feeling deeply the need to leave Japan to transfer to Europe, Bob began doctoral work with his supervisor Dr Jenny Read-Heimerdinger at Bangor University, Wales, and finished with a Phd in 2015, focusing on textual critical studies in the Greek manuscript of Codex Bezae in the Gospel of Luke. Now a professor of New Testament and Chair of Practical Theology at Continental Theological Seminary, Brussels, Belgium, Bob continues to give presentations at conferences such as CTS Colloquiums, SPS Conferences, and EPTA, as well as teaching on the Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at CTS from 2009 to present. Various articles are now published as well as specific studies in the Bezan text with more planned for the future.
Stanka was born in 1975 and became a believer in 1991. She holds an M.Th. in Biblical Studies from the University of Wales, and a masters degree in social work. For 15 years she was a member of the Pentecostal Faculty of the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute in Sofia, and lectured in Old Testament Studies, including the Hebrew Language and Christian Ethics. She also worked there as a translator and chief librarian. She is determined to grow in her teaching ability in the areas of the OT and Hebrew Language.
At present, she is part of the team revising the Bulgarian Bible Society version of the Bible – the Old Testament in particular. The work requires considerable knowledge of the Hebrew language, ancient history and culture, as well as high ability to communicate the meaning of the original text in the modern Bulgarian language.
She serves as a member of the board of the Bulgarian branch of Scripture Union and assists with translation and editing work for the publications of the organization, as well as with Bible training for staff and volunteers. For a number of years, Stanka served in both teenage and student Bible competitions in several capacities. Teaming up with her husband, Kostadin Vladev, she is doing Bible training for some churches in Bulgaria, including recent church plants among the Gypsy minorities.
Further Executive Members
Rev. Phyllis Thompson
Phyllis has been on the EPTA committee since 2011. She currently co-ordinates the New Testament Church of God Heritage Centre located in Northampton, England. She was the Education Director for her denomination in England and Wales from 2007 -2018. Prior to this role, Phyllis served her Church as Associate Pastor at Mile End Church, where she led the small group ministry. She has over 30 years’ experience in education, specifically Christian education, adult and development education and in this capacity has developed and facilitated training programmes for trainers in community, further and higher education in the UK and Europe. Phyllis is a published writer. Recent publications include her contribution to Faith of our Fathers edited by Donald S Aultman and Steve Land (2009 Pathway Press) and Challenges of Black Pentecostal Leadership in the 21stCentury edited by Phyllis Thompson (2013 SPCK).
Pasi has been on the EPTA committee since 2011. He has been the Assistant Director of Iso Kirja College located in Keuruu, Finland since 2016. Prior to this role, Pasi served as Iso Kirja’s Director. He has two masters degrees and studies in educational administration and leadership. During his time of leadership Iso Kirja College programmes got validated by the University of Wales and a new partnership with Alphacrucis College, Sydney, Australia started in 2015.
Pasi has served as a member of the Consultative Committee between the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Pentecostal Churches in Finland since 2006. He is also a member of the World Alliance for Pentecostal Theological Education Board of Directors since 2013. His publications include How Can Mission Organizations And Training Institutions Find Synergy For Designing Effective Mission Training Curricula? Finland As A Case Study. JEPTA-journal, Vol. 32 No. 2 (2012.1), jointly authored with Dr. Arto Hämäläinen.