The Network has organised various conferences over the years.
In May 1993, we met in Manchester to reflect on the demise of Christendom in Europe and the implications for the church and its mission.
In October 1993, we met in an Anglican theological college in Nottingham to learn from the early church and its pre-Christendom witness.
March 1994 found us at Bristol Baptist College, asking questions about Anabaptism and local church practice. Then in May 1994, we held our first residential conference at the Hutterian Bruderhof in East Sussex.
Further conferences took place in Leeds in September 1995 on the theme “Roots for Renewal” and at the Wildfire Community in Worcestershire in April 1996 on “The Joy and Struggle of Creating Community.”
We returned to Bristol in May 1997 to explore the role of stories in building community and met in the West Midlands in November 1998 to consider the implications of becoming a Peace Church.
We held a different kind of conference in London in January 1998, to which we invited groups of leaders from about twenty churches who were wanting to explore the relevance of Anabaptism for their own congregations. A second conference of this kind was held in March 1999.
Our largest conferences to date were three events co-sponsored with the Northumbria Community, held in Oxford in April 2000, and in Bradford and Oxford in June 2001, exploring the Celtic and Anabaptist traditions. These were entitled “There’s Life in the Roots” and “Voices from the Margins”.
In 2002 we held four conferences. In March almost 100 people met in Amersham (Bucks) to explore the question ‘Who were the English Radicals?’ In June a fully subscribed residential conference considered what might be involved in ‘Re-imagining the Church’. In November we held two events in a single week: a conference jointly sponsored with the Baptist Union explored ‘Mission in Post-Christendom’ and a conference jointly sponsored with Men, Women and God and the London Mennonite Centre looked at the subject ‘Men, Women and God’s Word’.
In 2003 we took a break from organising conferences to concentrate on developing the Network in other ways. However, the Yorkshire study group organised an event in Barnsley in September called ‘Exodus’, exploring the issues involved in people leaving churches. We hope to run this event again elsewhere in the future.
In March 2004 we held a conference in Northampton on Anabaptists and Politics, entitled ‘A Subversive Manifesto’. In May 2005 we held another residential conference on the subject of Christian lifestyle, entitled ‘How then shall we live?’ and exploring Anabaptist insights into discipleship.
In October 2005 we were invited to hold a conference in York. Jonathan Blakeborough reported after this event: ‘At the request of York St John College, a college of Leeds University, the Anabaptist Network and Christian Peacemaker Teams held a day conference in York on Saturday 15th October entitled Workers For Peace: Anabaptist Perspectives on Being Church and Making Peace. The conference was chaired by Pauline Kollontai, a senior lecturer in Theology and Religious Studies at York St John, who is Jewish and previously an academic at the Peace Studies Department of Bradford University. Following a dramatic reading of the trial of Michael Sattler, Stuart Murray Williams, chair of AN, gave a keynote speech which introduced historic Anabaptism to an audience who largely had very little previous knowledge of the tradition. Tim Nafziger, CPT reservist, then gave a slideshow presentation of his experiences as a CPTer in Colombia earlier this year. Finally Pauline Kollontai chaired a question and answer session in which questions tended to focus on Anabaptist attitudes to peacemaking. Discussion was a times heated, including contributions from both a former WW2 veteran and a conscientious objector. With its interfaith dimension in an academic setting, this was a thought-provoking event.’
In January 2006 at the invitation of the East Midlands Baptist Association and in partnership with Urban Expression, we held a conference in Melton Mowbray on the subject Creating Church on the Margins. Juliet Kilpin and Stuart Murray Williams were the speakers.
In July 2006 we held a conference in Birmingham to launch Jonathan Bartley’s book in the ‘After Christendom’ series. The conference title was the same as the book’s: Faith and Politics after Christendom. Speaking alongside Jonathan were Andrew Bradstock and Simon Barrow.
In November 2006 we held a jointly sponsored conference at Cliff College in Derbyshire to explore the Anabaptist and Methodist traditions. The theme was Radical Discipleship and the keynote speaker was Martyn Atkins.
In May 2007 we held another residential conference at Barnes Close, near Birmingham. A fully-booked event enjoyed time together and an opportunity to reflect with guest speakers Alan and Eleanor Kreider on the theme of their forthcoming book, Worship and Mission after Christendom.
In May 2008 we held our largest conference yet. Co-sponsored with the Northumbria Community, New Habits for a New Era? explored the theme of ‘new monasticism’ and drew together an ethusiastic gathering from very diverse backgrounds for a day together in Coventry.
Papers from this event, and a summary of the day written by an enthusiastic participant, can be downloaded below.
Since 2010 our focus has been on developing the Anabaptist networks of organisations and communities, rather than organising conferences. In addition, Roy Searle and Stuart Murray Williams have presented ‘Prophetic Voices’ day events in various locations, exploring the contemporary significance of the Anabaptist, Celtic and new monastic traditions.
In 2011 a further development of the growing relationship between the Anabaptist Network and the Northumbria Community was a jointly sponsored residential conference in Whitby.
From 2011 the Network has partnered with the Mennonite Trust in organising a number of smaller regional events on various themes. These have included Reading the Bible after Christendom with Lloyd Pietersen in London, Portsmouth, Bristol and Manchester, The Naked Anabaptist in London with Karen Stallard and Stuart Murray Williams, and Multi-Voiced Church in London with Sian & Stuart Murray Williams.
During 2014 we organised two public debates – ‘Everyone thinks they’re open-minded’ in July with Simon Perry, author of Atheism after Christendom, and ‘Who would Jesus kill?’ in November with Tom Yoder Neufeld.
In March 2016 David Porter will be speaking at an event in London entitled ‘Can Enemies Become Friends?’