Bristol Baptist College, the Anabaptist Network and the Mennonite Trust launched in October 2014 a Centre for Anabaptist Studies, based at the college in Bristol.
In recent years the Anabaptist vision has inspired Christians from many traditions as we face the challenges of post-Christendom and offered fresh insights on peace and justice, faith and politics, hospitality and community, church and mission, discipleship and biblical interpretation.
But there are currently few opportunities or resources for studying Anabaptist history and theology in the UK. We hope that the Centre for Anabaptist Studies will fill this gap.
In 2014 Bristol Baptist College inherited the library of the Mennonite Trust, the foremost collection of Anabaptist resources in the country. The college has access to scholars with the expertise to supervise research, produce further resources and develop programmes at various levels. The Anabaptist Network and the Mennonite Trust are the main connecting points for people in the UK interested in the Anabaptist vision and also have relationships with Anabaptist scholars in other parts of the world.
The work of the Centre includes:
• Public lectures and other events in Bristol
• Webinars accessible from anywhere in the world
• MA modules on Anabaptism
• Supervision of postgraduate research
• Book launches
• Maintaining and updating the Mennonite Trust library
• Visits from overseas Anabaptist scholars
• Projects in partnership with others
The founding director of the Centre is Dr Stuart Murray Williams, previously chair of the Anabaptist Network, currently chair of the Mennonite Trust and the author of The Naked Anabaptist, whose doctorate was in Anabaptist hermeneutics.
Honorary fellows of the college who will contribute to the work of the Centre include Dr Lloyd Pietersen, Ruth Gouldbourne and Dr Linda Wilson.
The inaugural lecture of the Centre for Anabaptist Studies took place at 7.30pm on Wednesday 8 October 2014 at Bristol Baptist College (The Promenade, Clifton Down, Bristol BS8 3NJ). The lecture was given by visiting Canadian Mennonite scholar, Professor Tom Yoder Neufeld. His subject was:
‘Anabaptists, the Bible and Violence’
Professor Yoder Neufeld retired at the end of 2012 from teaching at Conrad Grebel University College at the University of Waterloo since 1983. Among his writings are a commentary on Ephesians, Recovering Jesus: the Witness of the New Testament (a text book on Jesus, and more recently Jesus and the Subversion of Violence: Wrestling with the New Testament, exploring the way violence intersects with the New Testament, which was shortlisted for the Michael Ramsey Prize in 2013. There will be no charge for this lecture.
The Centre for Anabaptist Studies will offer three MA modules in the areas of Anabaptist origins and distinctives, Anabaptist ecclesiology and missiology, and Anabaptist ethics and hermeneutics (comprising 60 of the 120 taught credits needed for an MA). These modules will be taught in block weeks to enable students living some distance from the college to attend. The MA can be taken over 1, 2 or 3 years.
Alongside these will be a module on research methodology and a choice of two further modules. Students will also be expected to write a dissertation on an Anabaptist topic.
A Postgraduate Diploma will also be available, consisting of the taught elements of the MA without the dissertation.
Bristol Baptist College offers postgraduate research supervision (MPhil, MLitt and PhD). The director and associates of the Centre will offer supervision of research topics related to the Anabaptist tradition.
The Centre will offer six or more webinars (web-based seminars) during each academic year. These webinars are free and can be accessed via a home computer. They will last between 60 and 90 minutes, and there will be a mix of presentation and interaction. The webinars will all be recorded and so can be watched subsequently.
During 2015-16 seven webinars were arranged, each focussing on a core conviction of the Anabaptist Network.
Mennonite Trust Library
The collection of books, journals and other material previously housed at the London Mennonite Centre has been donated to Bristol Baptist College and from October 2014 will be housed in the college library.
This is the most extensive collection in the UK of resources relating to the Anabaptist and Mennonite traditions. The Mennonite Trust is committed to updating this collection year by year and is delighted that these resources will be readily accessible within the college library.
Anyone interested in consulting this collection should contact the librarian, Mike Brealey at Bristol Baptist College, The Promenade, Clifton Down, Bristol BS8 3NJ or email email@example.com.
For further information about any aspect of the Centre for Anabaptist Studies, to receive invitations to lectures, webinars and other events, or to enquire about studying at the college, please contact:
Stuart Murray Williams: Centre for Anabaptist Studies, Bristol Baptist College, The Promenade, Clifton Down, Bristol BS8 3NJ or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Centre for Anabaptist Studies also has a Facebook group, which can be found at http://facebook.com/groups/anabaptiststudies and a blog, which can be found at http://anabaptiststudies.wordpress.com