Formed in 1992, the Anabaptist Network is a loose-knit, relational network of individuals interested in learning from the Anabaptist tradition. Many founding members encountered Anabaptism through Alan and Eleanor Kreider, Mennonite missionaries in England. In 2006 the Network comprised about 1500 people from all over Britain and from diverse church backgrounds.
The Network offers resources and perspectives from the Anabaptist tradition for reflection on Christian discipleship in a post-Christendom culture, where churches are on the margins rather than at the center. It encourages friendship and sharing of ideas between people wrestling with the challenges of this context and who are interested in this marginalized tradition. Above all, it wishes to stimulate and encourage faithful and creative forms of mission, church life and discipleship.
Study groups operate in various locations throughout Great Britain, the Network organizes regular conferences and theological forums, and it has an extensive and well-used website. A number of members have written books rooted in the Anabaptist tradition, including a major "After Christendom" series published in partnership with Paternoster Press. The Network also maintains links with other Anabaptist-oriented organizations, some of which grew out of the Network (e.g. Root & Branch Radical Christian Vision Network), and with Anabaptist groups in other nations. For twelve years the Anabaptist Network published a thrice-yearly journal, Anabaptism Today.
The Network has made visible the growing interest in the Anabaptist tradition in Britain and has encouraged further exploration. It has been a rallying point and opportunity for dialogue. People joining the Network frequently express a sense of "coming home" to a tradition that embodies their convictions and provides an integrating framework. Through the activities and advocacy of the Network the Anabaptist voice is audible in many ecumenical conversations about the future of the church in Europe.
In the late-1990s the Anabaptist Network developed a statement of its Core Convictions, summing up what those who had been involved in the Network for several years believed they were committed to. The following is a January 2006:
- Jesus is our example, teacher, friend, redeemer and Lord. He is the source of our life, the central reference point for our faith and lifestyle, for our understanding of church and our engagement with society. We are committed to following Jesus as well as worshipping him.
- Jesus is the focal point of God’s revelation. We are committed to a Jesus-centred approach to the Bible, and to the community of faith as the primary context in which we read the Bible and discern and apply its implications for discipleship.
- Western culture is slowly emerging from the Christendom era when church and state jointly presided over a society in which almost all were assumed to be Christian. Whatever its positive contributions on values and institutions, Christendom seriously distorted the gospel, marginalised Jesus, and has left the churches ill-equipped for mission in a post-Christendom culture. As we reflect on this, we are committed to learning from the experience and perspectives of movements such as Anabaptism that rejected standard Christendom assumptions and pursued alternative ways of thinking and behaving.
- The frequent association of the church with status, wealth and force is inappropriate for followers of Jesus and damages our witness. We are committed to exploring ways of being good news to the poor, powerless and persecuted, aware that such discipleship may attract opposition, resulting in suffering and sometimes ultimately martyrdom.
- Churches are called to be committed communities of discipleship and mission, places of friendship, mutual accountability and multi-voiced worship. As we eat together, sharing bread and wine, we sustain hope as we seek God’s kingdom together. We are committed to nurturing and developing such churches, in which young and old are valued, leadership is consultative, roles are related to gifts rather than gender and baptism is for believers.
- Spirituality and economics are inter-connected. In an individualist and consumerist culture and in a world where economic injustice is rife, we are committed to finding ways of living simply, sharing generously, caring for creation, and working for justice.
- Peace is at the heart of the gospel. As followers of Jesus in a divided and violent world, we are committed to finding non-violent alternatives and to learning how to make peace between individuals, within and among churches, in society, and between nations.
Mailing address: PO Box 70108, London N12 7DW United Kingdom
Telephone: 0845 450 0214
Website: Anabaptist Network
©1996-2013 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.
MLA style: Murray Williams, Stuart. "Anabaptist Network." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. March 2012. Web. 24 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/A5335.html.
APA style: Murray Williams, Stuart. (March 2012). Anabaptist Network. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/A5335.html.