Bristol Baptist College, the Anabaptist Network (www.anabaptistnetwork.com) and the Mennonite Trust (www.menno.org.uk) are partners in the Centre for Anabaptist Studies, based at the college in Bristol, which was launched in October 2014.
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
- MA modules on Anabaptism
- Supervision of postgraduate research
- 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, Dr Linda Wilson and Ruth Gouldbourne.
The inaugural lecture of the Centre for Anabaptist Studies (on 8 October 2014) was given by visiting Canadian Mennonite scholar, Professor Tom Yoder Neufeld. His subject was ‘Anabaptists, the Bible and Violence’. You can listen to his lecture here.
The second annual lecture (on 18 November 2015) was given by Dr Toivo Pilli, who is on staff at the International Baptist Theological Study Centre in Amsterdam. His subject was ‘Anabaptists, the Bible and Discipleship’. You can listen to his lecture here.
The third annual lecture (on 22 November 2016) was given by Dr Mary Raber, a Mennonite mission worker in Ukraine. Her subject was ‘Recovering Compassion: Post-Soviet Insights for Anabaptists.’ A recording of her lecture is available on request.
The fourth annual lecture (on 21 November 2017) was given by Dr Ian Randall, a Baptist historian. His subject was ‘A Peace Witness under Pressure: The Bruderhof Community in England, 1936-1942.’ Notes of his lecture are available on request.
The fifth annual lecture (on Tuesday 12 February 2019) was given by Dr Lina Toth, who is on staff at the Scottish Baptist College. Her subject was be: ‘Singleness and Marriage: lessons from Jesus and the Anabaptists’.
The Centre for Anabaptist Studies offers six MA modules:
- Anabaptist Origins and Distinctives
- Anabaptist Ecclesiology and Missiology
- Anabaptist Ethics and Hermeneutics
- Pilgram Marpeck
- Menno Simons’ Foundation of Christian Doctrine
- Biblical and Practical Peacemaking
Alongside these there is a module on research methodology and students will also be expected to write a dissertation on an Anabaptist topic. The MA can be taken over 1, 2 or 3 years. A Postgraduate Diploma is also be available, consisting of the taught elements of the MA without the dissertation, and a Postgraduate Certificate, consisting of three modules. In addition, any of the modules can simply be audited (studied for interest) or can be studied as a ‘taster module’ by those considering further study.
These modules will be taught in two modes: in block weeks to enable students living some distance from the college to attend, and online for students beyond reach of the college.
Modules being taught in 2019-20
18-22 November 2019: Anabaptist Ethics & Hermeneutics
10-14 February 2020: Anabaptist Origins & Distinctives
27 April-1 May 2020: Menno Simons’ Foundation of Christian Doctrine
All six modules will be available by the beginning of 2019 (all but Biblical and Practical Peacemaking already are), as will the module on research methods. Students access these modules via Moodle (the college’s virtual learning environment). The module materials include readings, assignments and suggestions for reflection and short pieces of work. It is possible to start an online module at any point in the year.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Bristol Baptist College offers postgraduate research supervision (MTh and PhD). The director and associates of the Centre will offer supervision of research topics related to the Anabaptist tradition.
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 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 www.facebook.com/groups/anabaptiststudies/ , and a blog, which can be found at http://anabaptiststudies.wordpress.com/