Bechtel Lectures in Anabaptist-Mennonite Studies

LesterThe Bechtel Lectures in Anabaptist-Mennonite Studies were established in 2000 through the generosity of Lester Bechtel. As a devoted churchman with an active interest in Mennonite history, Lester’s dream was to make the academic world of research and study accessible to a broader constituency and to build bridges of understanding between the academy and the church. This lecture series provides a forum through which the core meaning and values of the Anabaptist-Mennonite faith and heritage might be communicated to a diverse audience and be kept relevant and connected to the rapidly changing world of our day.

The Bechtel Lectures provide the opportunity for representatives of a variety of disciplines and professions to explore topics that reflect the breadth and depth of Mennonite history, identity, faith and culture. Conrad Grebel University College is pleased to host this annual event.
 
Grebel offers condolences to Lester's family, as he passed away peacefully on January 24, 2021. Read Lester Bechtel's obituarary.

The 2021 Bechtel Lecture was held virtually, on Thursday, March 11, at 7:00 PM EST

Blackness, Whiteness and the Anabaptist 'Imagined Community' in Print and Mission

How did Anabaptists enter into the discourse of race in North America during the 19th and early 20th centuries? How did they negotiate, challenge and reproduce ideas of race in the forms of print, social interaction and mission activity? This lecture will focus on the racialization of Anabaptists, as reflected in denominational periodicals and newspapers, and on the ways in which preconceptions of blackness and whiteness informed Mennonite mission activity in the United States and Canada. 

Dr. Timothy D. Epp from Redeemer University will give the virtual 2021 Bechtel Lecture in Anabaptist-Mennonite Studies. Featuring a special musical performance by accomplished vintage and classic blues & jazz performer Diana Braithwaite.

Dr. Timothy D. Epp is associate professor of Sociology at Redeemer University. He hails originally from Rosthern, SK, and lives in Dundas, ON with his wonderful wife, youngest daughter and their very barky (but loveable) Brussels Griffon. His publications on Mennonites and blackness may be found in Journal of Mennonite StudiesConrad Grebel Review, and Wellington County History. In addition to Anabaptists and racial identity, his research interests include the discourse of spirituality in popular music, and the concept of personhood in relation to dementia care.

Diana Braithwaite
When Diana Braithwaite sings, you hear passion, with sultry stories of life beautifully expressed through music. Born in Toronto, Braithwaite is a descendant of the Wellington County pioneers in Canada. With roots in the southern United States her ancestors escaped slavery through the Underground Railroad and lived for four generations in Wellington County, the first African-Canadian pioneer settlement in Ontario.  Growing up, Diana spent summers in Montreal, Quebec, in a place called “Little Burgundy”, the historic African-Canadian neighbourhood where her father and the great jazz musician Oscar Peterson were both born. Dubbed “a national treasure” by JAZZ FM’s Radio host Danny Marks, Diana Braithwaite combines elements from Dinah Washington, Esther Phillips and others to create her own unique appealing and expressive blues style.

Read the Grebel news article here: Blackness, Whiteness, and Anabaptist Racialization

Bechtel lecture invitation


Save the date: The 2022 Bechtel Lecturer will be Dr. Sofia Samatar, professor of literature at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

 

Past Lectures

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Multimedia Videos

watch past lectures

Watch our special event videos: the Bechtel LecturesMennonite Literature series, the Eby Lecture, and the Sawatsky Lecture.