Routes, Rubies and Roots

Route First we planned our route. Next we packed Monti to the gills – food, clothes, table and chairs, ten boxes of books and journals to be given away, IBTSC promotional banners and other conference materials. Then we were off on our two-week June/July European trip. We drove through the Netherlands into Germany, across Austria and finished up the next evening at a campsite on the southern side of Vienna. Monti had a rest there for the week, while we travelled in and out of the city by bus and train to our conference – the bi-annual Consortium of European Baptist Theological Schools (simply known as CEBTS). There were 21 of us, representing 13 different colleges (from UK, Netherlands, Portugal, Denmark, Spain, Germany, Romania and Estonia), and the conference was a chance to meet and get to know each other, discuss our schools’ challenges and also find out how our different institutions prepare students for Baptist ministry and leadership. There were speakers, discussions, prayer times, a trip into Vienna city centre and beautiful meals provided by the staff and volunteers at the Baptist Donauhof Centre.  It was a good week and, as we were responsible for organising it, we were relieved that all went well (as we say in N. Ireland, it ‘passed off peacefully’!). Then it was time to wake Monti and start off for our next destination – Zürich in Switzerland. This time we stayed on a campsite on the shores of Lake Zürich – which sounds idyllic and was a lovely setting; however, most of Europe seemed to be staying on the same site, including a bunch of teenagers who pitched their tents right beside our van. We were there for the annual gathering of the Baptist World Alliance, so again we used public transport and let Monti sleep beside the lake. On 4th July we celebrated our ruby (40th) wedding anniversary and had a lovely lunch with some friends at the BWA event. They had sneakily (with help from our Sarah) got hold of some of our wedding photos and made a nostalgic card… it was a really nice surprise. On our last morning in Zürich we made a pilgrimage to Rüschlikon – the original location of IBTS when it was formed in 1949, long before the move to Prague and the recent move to Amsterdam. Dot at Ruschlikon The college occupied a lovely old house set in the hills above Lake Zürich and must have been a beautiful place for those early students who came here just after WW2 to learn to live, study and work together with other Baptists from across war-torn Europe. Today it is a conference centre and the college chapel is home to an international, English-speaking Baptist church. It was very special to visit the place where IBTS began, before climbing back into Monti for the long drive back to Nieuw Vennep. We clocked up almost 3,000 km in 14 days and Monti was well ready for his annual MOT – due the day after we returned. And, of course, he passed!