Meet the Blythes

dsc_0836 Introducing… Stuart and Susanne Blythe. Stuart is our boss here – the Rector of IBTSC Amsterdam. He moved here in 2014 from his previous job as acting Principal of the Scottish Baptist College. Stuart and Susanne have a long history with IBTS, having studied at the first IBTS location in Rüschlikon (Switzerland) during the late 1980s. Stuart then had ministries in Scottish Baptist Churches at Springburn and Kirkintilloch, before moving to teach at the Scottish Baptist College in Paisley. He has a PhD in Homiletics and has a passion for the art and practice of preaching. Stuart and Susanne both come from Glasgow, so they have a sense of humour and a range of vocabulary similar to our Norn Iron repertoire, though they have taught us some new words and interesting expressions we had never heard before! The Blythes have two grown-up children, Stephen and Kim-Michal, who both live back in Scotland. They also have a Big Dog called Japie who keeps them as busy as a horde of children. Susanne had a demanding career in nursing before taking early retirement and she now volunteers in the IBTSC library and in a charity shop where she gets lots of opportunities to use her impressive bank of Dutch language. She has also recently joined her husband playing the bagpipes, and Stuart is a member of a high quality Dutch pipe band. (Yes, there are several pipe bands here and they love all things Scottish). piping-in-haggis-16

What do the Blythes like best about Amsterdam?:

Susanne – cycling everywhere (no hills), learning to play the bagpipes, having more time for the important things in life!

Stuart – cycling, canals, and the Dutch sandwich (a single sandwich in a plastic bag carried everywhere)

What do they miss most from Scotland?

Stuart – our children, square sausage, the weather (…snigger!)

Susanne – family and friends, Irn Bru, being understood when I speak Scottish

What are their hopes for the future of IBTSC?

Susanne – That it will have the same impact on the lives of the students and staff as Rüschlikon had on us over 30 years ago – strong bonds of friendship created among the students and the staff. I am thankful for the time I spent in Rüschlikon, being taught to think and consider issues in a way that was different to anything I had ever experienced before.

Stuart – To provide good research that helps the Church and to be a sustainable positive environment for learning. My hope is that the tough thinking, research interests, and the students of IBTSC will be able to support our churches as they seek courageously to bear faithful witness to Jesus Christ in their various contexts.

Find out more about IBTSC at

Love a good story?

enid-blytonDoes anyone remember Enid Blyton? Growing up in the McConkey household in the 1960s, we couldn’t get enough of her.  Our favourites were the Malory Towers books about girls in a posh boarding school in Cornwall and the Mystery stories where the ‘Five Find-outers’ always solved local mysteries before the bumbling village policeman, PC Goon. We read them over and over, even though we knew every twist and turn of the stories by heart. One time, when my sister was sick, Dad made her a lovely wooden bookstand to hold her Mystery books. It was her pride and joy for years! By the time I had become a primary school teacher in the 1980s, poor old Enid had fallen out of favour. It seemed her stories about white, middle-class English people who had cooks and housekeepers, tuck boxes and picnics with ‘slabs of chocolate and lashings of ginger beer’ were a bad influence on children growing up in a society very different from the world of Mrs Blyton. There were even rumours that she didn’t like children! So we changed our allegiance to Roald Dahl and I read my class the adventures of Danny, the Champion of the World, James and the Giant Peach and The Twits. james These were fantastic stories (dictionary definition: fanciful, remote from reality) but the children (and their teacher) all loved them just as much as we had loved the previous, now unmentionable author from my childhood. Fast forward another generation and the Big Cheese children’s author is JK Rowling with her Harry Potter stories – equally fanciful and remote from reality and equally loved by children. All three children’s writers were ‘of their time’ in terms of language and social attitudes, and I expect in another few years even JK Rowling’s characters will be regarded as out of date. A common feature of their stories is that they take children into a world (sometimes a really weird one) where they are not just mini-adults: they know things that adults don’t, they can do things better than adults and even take their revenge on evil adults. Now there’s a subversive thought that could be discussed further… 550x550_fit_five-on-brexit-island-80962 Anyway, Enid has now been rehabilitated through new editions and sanitised versions of some stories (like the Noddy favourites), and the recent centenary of Roald Dahl’s birth has seen a big increase in sales of his books. For those born in the fabulous fifties, there are even spoof Enid Blyton books with those nostalgic covers but with titles like Five on Brexit Island and Five go Gluten Free. Not sure Enid would approve, but there’s certainly something for everyone. Have a good read!