EPTA Chair visits Ukraine
In early June 2017, William Atkinson travelled to Kiev, Ukraine. He went partly on EPTA business, in order to talk about the work of EPTA at the Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary. He discovered that this seminary had been an institutional member of EPTA in the past, and was encouraged to discover that UETS is more than willing to reinstate its membership. He also had an opportunity to meet a faculty member at the similarly named Ukrainian Evangelical Seminary, and he hopes to develop contacts with that seminary next time he is in Kiev, probably in January 2018.
One other EPTA-related matter that came to light was the need in Ukraine for books for seminary libraries. He received an appeal that when libraries at Western-European seminaries and colleges are offered books that are too old, they consider receiving them and passing them on to such nations as Ukraine. He will discuss this matter with the EPTA Executive group.
As well as these EPTA matters, what occupied his attention in Kiev was preaching at a commissioning service of this year’s graduating residential students at UETS, giving an interview for the UETS website, and attending a book launch. This was of two books, translated into Russian and published together by Colloquium Publishing in Kiev. One was James Dunn’s famous book, Baptism in the Holy Spirit, originally published in the UK in 1970, and the subject of much debate within Pentecostalism, and the other was William’s 2011 book, Baptism in the Spirit: Luke-Acts and the Dunn Debate, which as its subtitle indicates reviews that 40-year debate. The book launch went very well, which was most encouraging for UETS, which had never organised one before. William is particularly grateful to his host, Sergei Flugrant, for the work he put into putting William in touch with the publisher, and for making sure the book launch was such a success.
REPORT FROM NORWAY
In late May 2017, William Atkinson visited the Norwegian School of Leadership and Theology in Oslo, where he was hosted by EPTA member Tommy Davidsson, who works there as an Associate Professor with responsibility for subjects such as Historical Theology and Pentecostal History. The Norwegian School of Leadership and Theology is a jointly run Baptist/Pentecostal college, teaching in both Norwegian and English. Tommy also has another connection with EPTA, which is that he used to work at Continental Theological Seminary, which has long had close ties with EPTA.
Sadly, the School was out of term time, and so William was not able to meet any of their students. He did meet several faculty members, however, and was struck by their warmth and enthusiasm. He met them at a day conference considering the theology of baptism, where he had been invited to give a paper. William’s paper was on ‘Baptise and Other Liquid Metaphors in New Testament Pneumatology’. He also gave a response to the other keynote speaker, the Baptist Anthony Cross, also from the UK.
William came away impressed by the School’s ecumenical arrangement between Baptists and Pentecostals, their cooperation with one another, and their desire to see each other succeed. What they have in common was much more obvious to him than anything that might tend to separate them. May the School continue to flourish.
William was also impressed by the hospitality he was offered. Tommy generously gave his time over the weekend, showing William one or two of the sights of Oslo, and making sure William did not go home hungry!
REPORT FROM GERMANY
William Atkinson, Chair of EPTA, visited the European Theological Seminary at the end of April 2017. This was partly to spend time and ‘talk shop’ with EPTA Treasurer Dr Carl Simpson, who works as the Dean there. However, William also took the opportunity to give a guest lecture with the title ‘Part of Something Bigger’, to attend a student cell group and a staff prayer meeting, and to preach in the midweek seminary chapel service, on 2 Timothy 4:17. He also met for the first time the Principal of the seminary, Dr Paul Schmidgall. William was struck by Paul’s charm and ease, and really enjoyed a further impromptu meeting with Carl and Paul on his final morning there.
The seminary is run by the Church of God and serves a truly international group of students. Much teaching and college life is conducted in English—just as well, given how poor William’s German is! So William was able to enjoy chats with students over the meal table as well as times with various members of staff. Carl also made sure William felt very much at home—aided by his wife Jackie with her British teabags!
William was quickly impressed by the relaxed friendly atmosphere in the seminary. Nothing there feels like a strain, and there was a great sense of love shared within the community, expressed in prayer, testimony and support. William was, like all visitors no doubt, taken by the scenery: ETS is in the heart of the Black Forest South of Stuttgart, and the views from its buildings are tremendous. Paul may hold the record for having the best view in Europe from a seminary office window!
ETS has had a long history with EPTA, being a founding institutional member, and having hosted EPTA’s annual conference in the past. There is every reason to believe that a highly fruitful relationship will continue long into the future.
REPORT FROM BELGIUM
EPTA Chair William Atkinson visited Continental Theological Seminary, Belgium, at the end of February 2017, at the invitation of EPTA member David Courey. David is the Dean of Graduate Studies and the Chair of Systematic Theology there. As part of his role, he had organised a theological colloquium on the subject of secularism in contemporary Europe, and William gave a paper. In fact, David asked him to present the same paper that he had given at the 2016 EPTA conference, on ‘The Miraculous Element in Lukan Missiology: A Challenge to Current Pentecostal Mission in Europe’ (now published in JEPTA 37:1, April 2017, pages 2–12).
The colloquium was a great success, with excellent papers given by students and graduates, as well as by other visitors including EPTA’s own William Kay. CTS is a thriving and important school serving an international community in two languages, and it is to be hoped that relationships between this seminary and EPTA can continue to be fostered in the years to come.
While in Brussels, William also had the opportunity to preach at the Lighthouse Christian Center, a largely Filipino church meeting in the city centre, and to attend the Christian Center, a large international church in the south of the city. Here, he met briefly with Daniel Costanza, Executive Director of the Pentecostal European Fellowship, who is also an Associate Pastor at the Christian Center. Here too he bumped into a couple who had worshipped many years ago at Kensington Temple in London, when William was one of the ministers there—the world is a small place!
William was given a very warm welcome at CTS. He greatly appreciates the hospitality of the Coureys, in whose apartment on campus he stayed while in Brussels, and the kindness of Dr Bob Welch, a New Testament lecturer, who with his wife met William when he arrived and took him to the Christian Center.
William forgot to take any photographs while in Brussels, and so the photos below are taken from the CTS website!
Stanka Vladev, from Bulgaria, has been involved in a serious car accident. We hear she is undergoing surgery for damage to her back. Please pray for a full recovery for her, and also for her husband, Konstantin, and their children.
Those who attended our conference in Sofia last year will remember Stanka, who did much of the organising for that conference and gave a paper on the history of Pentecostalism in Bulgaria.
Update: EPTA member Stephen Hedges visited Stanka in hospital on 7th March and sends the following report:
She was doing much better than we had expected. The scar on her forehead has faded considerably and it was our opinion, that in a month of two, most people would not even be aware that there was a scar on her forehead. She is still in a lot of pain, but that is to be expected. However, she was able to get out of bed (and get back into it) by herself. The only difficulty she is having is that since she cannot turn her head, nor move it up or down she has to use her hands to feel where things are. When we left she walked with us to the lift (elevator) and it was clear that she has no difficulty with walking.
Today (Wednesday) the doctors removed the 27 stitches (sutures) from the back of her head and neck, and released her (discharged her) from the hospital. The surgeon recommended against taking an ambulance to Sofia, saying the ride in a car would be much smoother.
I talked to her by phone when she was about 1/2 way home, aside from the fact that the motorway (highway/interstate) is far from smooth, she was glad to be getting home. I would think that it will take her a few days to get back into a schedule, but as soon as she can she will contact each of those who sent greetings to her.