Back in October, I had the great honor to participate in the ITP’s 40th Anniversary along with a COG delegation. Among the special guests were Dr. Michael Baker, Chancellor of Education & PTS President, Dr. David Ramirez, COG Assistant General Overseer, Dr. David Sang-Ehil Han, PTS Dean, Dr. Tony Lane, RTO Administrative Bishop, Pastor Lambert Delong, a pioneer of the Romanian-American relationship during the communist era and Dr. Lazar Gog. It was a great time of remembering and of re-visioning. One of the highlights of the event was the signing of an official partnership between ITP & PTS.
Faithnews.cc published Dr. Baker’s reflections on this historic event.
The celebration of the 40th year anniversary of Pentecostal Theological Institute in Bucharest (ITPB) in Romania was a timely occasion that helped strengthen, and make visible, the strategic alliance between the ITPB and Pentecostal Theological Seminary (PTS).
Similar to the “place” of PTS for the Church of God, ITPB is the only accredited theological institution sponsored, and entrusted, by the Romanian Apostolic Church of God (RACG)—the largest Pentecostal movement in Europe, that serves as the premier “hub” for the training of its ministry candidates. Those who complete their theological education and training at ITPB would be given the eligibility to serve as pastors, evangelists and other ministry practitioners at the local churches associated with RACG.
Acknowledging this, the closer alliance established between ITPB and PTS with the signing of Memorandum of Understanding has significant implications beyond its educational dimension. That is, the signing of the MOU will effectively serve as the shared “thread” that further strengthens, and helps cultivate, the existing relationship between the sponsoring churches, i.e. RACG and Church of God
Discerning reflectively about what took place at the ITPB’s 40th year anniversary celebration, Church of God Chancellor of Education and president of the Pentecostal Theological Seminary, Michael Baker, made the following observations:
1. Education is the crucial thread.
Insofar as theological education seeks to help foster and advance the training of present and future ministers within the faith tradition of the church, the health and vibrancy of the church’s premier theological institution seems to be of crucial importance for the viability of the mission of the church. The executive leadership of RACG seems to understand that clearly and has therefore unequivocally expressed their support of the ITPB and endorsed the signing of the MOU with PTS. There seems to be a deep level of intimate relationship between the administration of ITPB and the executive leadership of RACG. That the President of RACG signed the institutional MOU between PTS and ITPB was a clear indication of the level of intimate relationship as well as the church’s commitment for the ITPB.
2. Alliance is rooted in the “shared” faith orientation and theological convictions.
The institutional alliance between PTS and ITPB is primarily rooted in their shared faith commitments and theological convictions, i.e. the Holiness-Pentecostal expression of Christian faith. Their fervency in prayer, Scripture-centered worship, and devotion to the lifestyle of holiness are all evidences of what we, theological institutions and the sponsoring churches alike, share with one another. In order to advance the FINISH commitment of the Church of God, forming strategic alliances with like-minded theological institutions and their sponsoring churches such as ITPB and RACG seems to be a positive step to take and affirm.
3. Collaboration entails the sharing and leveraging of our resources.
The signing of the MOU between PTS and ITPB was prompted at the request of ITPB which, in order to satisfy the accreditation requirement of Romania Department of Education, needed to have in place the resources that can be provided by PTS. Furthermore, the quality of Pentecostal scholarship represented by the PTS faculty was what the faculty and the students at ITPB had coveted in order to help advance the Pentecostal scholarship of their own. The signing of MOU is then an instance where we are sharing our resources with our sister institution; at the same time, the resources we share with the ITPB become the “leverage” that works in our favor as it helps us move forward with, and concretely and tangibly realize, the global educational vision of PTS. With this effort, the global education network that PTS seeks to build becomes enlarged and strengthened.
4. Educational alliance cultivates a global community of Pentecostal leaders and scholars.
The upshot of the educational alliance between PTS and ITPB is that of taking a forward step in cultivating a global community of Pentecostal leaders and scholars. The benefits envisioned will be mutual in nature. Although ITPB would benefit from PTS in its sharing of faculty, library, and other educational resources, PTS will also benefit from ITPB in helping create a global network of Pentecostal leaders and scholars. Inasmuch as the signed MOU allows PTS faculty resources to be utilized in educating the minds and hearts of young ministry candidates at ITPB, the distinctive Pentecostal spirituality and theology that they represent and propagate will be deeply ingrained in their faith disposition and carried out in ministry praxis. If we acknowledge the fact that the RACG represents the strongest Pentecostal movement in Europe, our educational endeavor in shaping their ministry calling and vocation will result in a great return on investment both in the near and the distant future”