Anabaptist Network of Organisations

Since the Anabaptist Network began in 1991, we have been aware of a number of organisations with similar values. Some are explicitly Anabaptist; others do not generally use this term to describe themselves but acknowledge the influence of the Anabaptist tradition. These organisations are involved in a wide range of activities – church planting, conflict transformation, training, media work, campaigning, etc. But links between them have grown through friendship and recognition of shared values and concerns.

For a number of years, some of these organisations related to each other via the ‘Root and Branch’ network. Representatives met periodically to share news and plan occasional joint initiatives. This network had ceased to function by 2009 and was succeeded in 2010 by an ‘Anabaptist network of organisations’. This section of the website introduces each of the participating organisations and provides links to their own websites.

Coordinator: Noel Moules

Noel Moules is the coordinator of the Anabaptist Network of Organisations.

Noel is the founder of ‘Anvil Trust’ and the originator and coordinator of its national training programme ‘Workshop: Applied Christian Studies’, which has been running since 1983 with well over 4500 participants to date. He has been involved in church leadership in several parts of the country. He is a founder member and trustee of the Anabaptist Network. Noel loves every kind of wilderness, hill walking, world music and the songs of Bob Dylan. He would describe himself as a ‘messianic anarchist’ and is passionately committed to non-violence, social justice and the integrity of all creation. He lives in Sheffield with Rowena to whom he has been married since 1971 and they have three adult children. He is currently writing his first book on Christian identity and destiny, entitled, Fingerprints of Fire, Footprints of Peace: a spiritual manifesto from a Jesus perspective.

Bridge Builders

Bridge Builders’ purpose is to encourage and promote mature and skilled leadership within the Church, and to effect a change in the culture of how disagreement, tension and conflict are handled in church life. Bridge Builders is working with a new strapline: Bridge Builders – Transforming church culture: the way leaders lead, the way conflict is handled. The goal is that the Church, by developing a new culture of peacemaking and conflict transformation, will better reflect the reconciling work of God in the world.

Bridge Builders’ principal activity is training church leaders to be more self-aware and effective leaders, and to find better ways to understand and handle conflict within the Church. In addition, Bridge Builders provides interpersonal mediation, group consultancy, and individual coaching and consultancy, to assist those facing escalated tension and conflict within the Church. Bridge Builders also trains others to provide such services, and coordinates a network of people who have completed its foundation training.

As well as running tailored courses on request, Bridge Builders offers a core training programme of longer courses comprising:
Transforming Church Conflict: a foundational training course for church leaders (with a special version of the course for senior leaders with oversight responsibilities).
Training of Trainers: a course that equips participants to be able to lead a one- or two-day workshop using Bridge Builders’ materials.
Mediating Interpersonal Conflicts: a course to train Christians in a structured mediation process to address interpersonal conflicts in the Church and beyond.
Consulting with Church Groups: a course that trains Christians to lead a consultancy process for groups facing escalated tensions.
Church Leadership and Family Systems: a course that helps leaders to reflect on their ministry in the light of their family background, from a family systems theory perspective.

Founded in 1996 as a service of the London Mennonite Centre, and growing out of Mennonite work in conflict transformation, Bridge Builders has established a strong reputation for its work among the leaders of many different church traditions in Britain. In September 2011 Bridge Builders was established as a charitable organisation independent of the London Mennonite Centre.

Website: www.bbministries.org.uk

Crucible

Christians across western culture are facing profound challenges and fresh opportunities. The long era of ‘Christendom’ is coming to an end. We now live in a plural society, with multiple religious options alongside the prevailing secular assumptions, in which Christianity has lost its position of dominance and privilege and churches are on the margins of society. Although we seem to be declining in numbers and influence, this context offers many new possibilities – if we have the courage and imagination to grasp them.

Crucible is for Christians with courage and imagination, who suspect:
*We need to operate as cross-cultural missionaries because we live in a cross-cultural mission context.
*We need to think creatively about incarnating the gospel and planting new kinds of churches in emerging and diverse cultures.
*We need to recover the biblical vision of shalom and reflect on how we live as followers of Jesus in light of this all-embracing vision.
*We need to pay particular attention to the margins, because we serve the God who frequently does new things there: on the margins of society among the poor and disenfranchised; at the margins of culture, where creative thinking explores new possibilities; on the margins of the familiar, the spaces all around us, neglected or ignored, but full of potential.

Crucible runs three intensive training weekends each year to equip Christians to follow Jesus on the margins. Two streams are available on each weekend. Each stream flows separately, but the subjects can be done in any combination:

Stream 1

After Christendom investigates the opportunities, as well as the challenges, that the end of imperial Christianity presents.
Urban Challenge examines the dynamics of mission and ministry in multicultural urban communities, where Christendom has faded first.
Creating New Churches offers resources for pioneering new churches – and new kinds of churches – in emerging cultures, and renewing existing churches.

Stream 2

Restoring Hope asks how, in light of God’s mission to bring shalom (peace) to all creation, we can live towards that hope and create communities of peace.
Becoming Human explores the dynamics of discipleship in a multi-everything culture and asks how we can become more fully human as followers of the Son of Man.
Jesus Unplugged imagines how we can re-tell the story of Jesus today in ways that connect with contemporary cultures.

Urban Expression, another member of the Anabaptist network of organisations, is the lead partner in the Crucible course. Workshop is another of the partners.

Website: www.cruciblecourse.org.uk

Ekklesia

Ekklesia is an independent think-tank seeking to examine the role of religion in a creatively critical way, and also to advance ideas in a range of policy areas from a forward-looking religious perspective. Ekklesia’s approach to issues of religion in the public sphere is primarily shaped by a strong theological and political critique of ‘Christendom’ – the historic collusion of institutional churches with governing authority and vice versa.

Through research, publishing and commentary, Ekklesia seeks to reinvigorate a different understanding of the church as an alternative-generating ‘contrast society’ within the wider civic order: one that is politically aware, intellectually curious, spiritually refreshing, theologically rooted, voluntarily associational and radical in its social commitment.

While remaining committed to a positive exchange between mainstream traditions (Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, Pentecostal and indigenous), Ekklesia naturally draws much of its specific inspiration from the dissenting strands within Christianity, not least the ‘historic peace churches’ (Quakers, Mennonites and other Anabaptists), some liberation theologies and non-conformism.

Ekklesia is ‘radical’ in its conviction that the Gospel subverts power and privilege, both personally and corporately. And it is ‘progressive’ in the sense that it sees change coming through risk-taking hopefulness, not through a destructive lust for security and certainty. In proposing a renewal of religious-political discourse, Ekklesia is especially concerned to develop the public significance of concrete practices like reconciliation, non-violence and peace-building, economic sharing, hospitality (welcome and inclusion), restorative justice, social equality, forgiveness, neighbourly freedom, the community of women and men, nurturing life as 'gift', environmental sustainability, and global solidarity with all those pushed to the margins.

Website: www.ekklesia.co.uk

London Mennonite Centre

The London Mennonite Centre's declared vision is to be 'a place of welcome, hospitality, resource and learning'. Presently we are based in Highgate, north London (close to the Tube station) and have a basement chapel, a couple of meeting rooms, a garden Prayer Hut, a library and bookstall, as well as guest rooms for short- and longer-term guests. All those visiting the Centre, which is served by a small residential community, are welcome to join us each midweek day for 11:00 Coffee, Lunchtime Prayers and 16:00 Tea. Come and meet us.

LMC was started as a student hostel in 1953, undergoing several changes, but has been a seedbed encouraging the development of the Anabaptist Network, the Bridge Builders conflict mediation service and Wood Green Mennonite Church, amongst others. Now as our large Edwardian building is increasingly outmoded to serve the needs of the wider Anabaptist movement, its sale is in hand with a planned relocation to more flexible, viable premises across London, but its ministry is continuing and expanding, with new projects envisioned. Watch this space.

Website: www.menno.org.uk

Peace School

Peace School is a year long programme exploring what it means to be a peacemaker in every area of life; personal, local and global.

The programme is designed for people to participant in alongside their every day lives through a combination of residentials and web-based activities. Starting with a week-long summer school, Peace School forms a community of learning where participants bring their own experiences and take something away from the experiences of others. The community then come together for four weekends during the year, and carry on discussions between gathered times through a blog and online discussion forum.

The programme is designed to give participants the resources to be peace and justice activists within their own spheres of influence. The programme content falls into 5 main areas;

* Theology and Values - Discovering a vision of the world that brings wholeness in our lives and creation.
* Spirituality and Character - Examining the strengths and qualities of personality that are the hallmarks of a shalom activist
* Principles and Strategies - Exploring some of the models and methods for bringing peace and justice into different situations
* Creativity and Expression - unlocking our potential to see, think and act creatively
* Stories of Us, God and Creation - Discovering live giving stories that motivate, challenge and inspire us.

Peace School seeks to survey the world through a Jesus-centred, Christian understanding of Shalom (peace). While the programme is designed for people wishing to explore Shalom from a Christian perspective we aim to provide a welcoming environment for people of any background or faith who want to explore the rich and fulfilling understanding of the Christian vision of peace.

There is no set price for taking part in Peace School; instead we lay out how much the programme costs on our website and ask each participant to decide how much they can contribute to take part.

For more information on Peace School and for our contact details please do visit www.peaceschool.org.uk.

Speak

SPEAK is a network connecting the emerging generation to campaign and pray on issues of global justice. Through bringing change to situations of injustice we aim to share our faith in our creator: God.

SPEAK combines campaigning and prayer because we believe that they make a powerful combination to bring social transformation. We believe in networking because only together, when acting and praying in unity, can we really make a difference.

SPEAK began in the UK and now connects people internationally. The thousands of people involved have already played a role in influencing key decisions and policies for justice.

SPEAK connects both individuals and groups. Local groups are central to the network, and there are now over 30 groups in the UK plus others in the USA, France, Spain, and a number of countries in Africa and whole other networks affiliated to SPEAK in Brazil, Holland, Sweden and Germany!

In the local group context we are aiming to unite our faith with our action. We campaign for change in unjust structures like unfair trade rules and the arms trade, and seek to connect others to our source of hope. We want to be a movement that follows Jesus in a radical way in personal discipleship as well as striving for social transformation. We want to bring together the personal and the social in a holistic way.

Through motivating and connecting our generation, we want to see a whole movement catalysed that will transform the Church and wider society. As young adults move into business, politics, charities and the church we want to see them equipped to bring change.

Involvement in the SPEAK network can range from using the "Pray & Post" cards to becoming a SPEAK Link or running a SPEAK Group in your university, college or local area.

‘At the end of the 21st Century most of us will have to repent, not of the great evils we have done, but simply of the great apathy that has prevented us from doing anything.’ (Martin Luther King Jnr.)

Website: www.speak.org.uk

Urban Expression

Under-churched, culturally diverse and economically deprived areas of the inner city continue to challenge Christians to engage in incarnational and contextual mission. Urban Expression is one response to this challenge. Since 1997 we have deployed small church planting teams in London, Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham, Stoke and Bristol, from which new churches are gradually developing. In 2007 Urban Expression Netherlands began and in 2009 Urban Expression North America was launched. We also have several mission partners involved in other contexts, and many associates involved in urban ministry and church planting across and beyond the UK.

Our mission statement reads: ‘Urban Expression is an urban mission agency that recruits, equips, deploys and networks self-financing teams pioneering creative and relevant expressions of the Christian church in under-churched areas of the inner city.’ We are a values-based agency and our teams comprise members from diverse Christian traditions. Although not explicitly Anabaptist (except for our North American sister agency), we are widely recognised as Anabaptist in ethos and approach. Our core values are relationship, humility and creativity.

Urban Expression is one of the sponsors of the Crucible course. Crucible is a training programme for Christians with courage and imagination, who suspect that:

Crucible, which ran for the first time in 2005-06, consists of three intensive training weekends each year to equip Christians to follow Jesus on the margins. Two streams of subjects are available on each weekend:

Stream 1
After Christendom investigates the opportunities, as well as the challenges, that the end of imperial Christianity presents.
The Urban Challenge examines the dynamics of mission and ministry in multicultural urban communities, where Christendom has faded first.
Creating New Churches offers resources for pioneering new churches – and new kinds of churches – in emerging cultures, and renewing existing churches.

Stream 2
Restoring Hope asks how, in light of God’s mission to bring shalom (peace) to all creation, we can live towards that hope and create communities of peace.
Becoming Human explores the dynamics of discipleship in a multi-everything culture and asks how we can become more fully human as followers of the Son of Man.
Jesus Unplugged imagines how we can re-tell the story of Jesus today in ways that connect with contemporary cultures.

Websites: www.urbanexpression.org.uk; www.cruciblecourse.org.uk

Workshop

Workshop is an exciting Christian learning experience designed to encourage and inspire you on your spiritual journey in today’s fast-paced, constantly changing, ever demanding world. It runs one weekend every-other month on a two-year cycle. Each of the twelve core weekends explores an important theme in detail. Each weekend is complete in itself, yet also links seamlessly with all the other weekends in the cycle. You can join the programme at any time and may continue as long as you wish. Come and simply do a single weekend of your choice, choose to do a cluster of weekends, or enjoy the full Workshop experience at a steady pace over two years.

Workshop weekends run at regional centres in London, Birmingham and Leeds. Each day runs from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm on both Saturday and Sunday. There are teaching times with group work and discussion, and forum times for questions and debate. The course is largely interactive. The learning space includes an area for those that prefer or need to relax whilst participating. Handouts are provided, with further substantial notes to support and develop the ideas presented in the learning sessions e-mailed to you following each weekend.

Workshop started in 1983. Each weekend is Jesus-centred in its approach to the subject being studied and in its understanding of values. It aims to stretch the mind and excite the heart and inspire a radical response. It is a safe environment where you are encouraged to think, reflect and question. A place where every person, question, insight and idea is valued. Participants will discover a greater insight into a faith that is biblical and historical as well as living and relevant, along with a creative spirituality that blends devotion, experience, reflection, action and insight. They will also learn the skills to think for themselves along with the ability to make biblical and Christian ideas relevant to life today. The course offers real debate about hard questions that are both challenging and true to biblical values, giving the confidence to discuss faith issues in a way that is relevant and effective. Participants will make friends and learn with others from a broad range of backgrounds and experience and together develop a passion for truth, hope and action that is shaped by peace, justice and love.

Workshop offers inclusive Christian learning in today’s diverse world. Everybody from16-years upwards is welcome, from every denomination, or none. It is open to mature church leaders and to those struggling with questions of faith and doubt. Workshop celebrates difference and diversity! It is ‘open access’ so learners do not have to have previous educational qualifications. All that is asked is that learners have a serious interest in the Christian faith and an eagerness and enthusiasm to learn.

Website: www.workshop.org.uk