I am presently in Canada to participate in a ministers conference organised by the Canadian Mennonite University. It seems to me that there is a strong resonance in the reading of Baptist via McClendon/Stassen or just plain old anabaptist roots with Mennonites, although I am leaning what a varied group that they like we actually are.
As part of my trip I attended the launch of this book which offers some fascinating insights and may well make a contribution to the thinking of those who wish to come at issues from an Anabaptist (dare we say baptistic) perspective and yet engage with wider society and its institutions. I have bought a copy but know that both Parush and the library will want one also.
We have a number of students presently studying with us at IBTSC who come from a Canadian Mennonite background. At present they are all Mennonite Brethren rather than the Mennonite Church. CMU serves both groups.
As part of the trip I will have the opportunity to meet with the theology faculty at CMU and I hope that in the future collaboration at various levels between IBTSC and CMU on a broad shared common ground of ‘baptist’ will be possible.
I have also been struck by the way in which “donors” will support specific research into issues of church ministry and mission providing the finances for CMU staff to carry out the research. I hope that this is something that IBTSC as a research centre will be able to encourage in the future – specific financed projects of relevance to the mission and ministry of the church, supported by those who think that such issues are important, and carried out with the skills and personnel and academic credentials that IBTSC can bring to the task. Such a linking of the interests of the church in practice and IBTSC as a research centre into practice is something I am very keen to develop. In turn the emphasis on ethnographic research as a theological project is one that can provide a theological as well as a sociological approach for such research. This potential excites me as part of the IBTSC vision of providing research, researchers, and leaders who can serve the church in Europe and beyond.
Dreaming – perhaps rather than us simply having students come to us with their ideas church based individuals, organisations, unions, would finance projects of interest to them where we could then seek out and support individuals who have already shown some ability in an area (perhaps through a Masters) to carry out specific research that becomes their PhD project.
I know that sometimes people think that when ‘academics’ go on such trips that they are spending all their time at the beach rather than working – and I confess that this weekend I was on the beach at a lake near Winnipeg…