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Bechtel Lectures

Bechtel Lectures in Anabaptist-Mennonite Studies

The 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.

2018 Lectures

David Weaver-Zercher is the guest lecturer for the 2017-18 Bechtel Lectures in Anabaptist-Mennonite Studies.

Public Lecture  |  March 1 at 7:30 PM  |  Conrad Grebel University College
“One Generation Away: Martyrs Mirror and the Survival of Anabaptist Christianity”

Anabaptists have long worried that they won’t succeed in passing their faith to the next generation. Why then regale their teenagers with stories that correlate Anabaptist faith with social shame and physical torture? Thieleman van Braght’s seventeenth-century martyrology, Martyrs Mirror (originally called The Bloody Theatre) has been put to many uses over the years, but few have been as common as the spiritual formation and education of young adults. This lecture will explore the longstanding nexus between Martyrs Mirror and Anabaptist youth culture in both traditional and more assimilated Anabaptist communities.

Panel Discussion  |  March 2 at 7:30 PM  |  Conrad Grebel University College
“Mennonites and the Media: Telling Mennonite Stories Today”

What is it like to be a creator of Mennonite media content today? What are the challenges of telling Mennonite stories? Who gets to tell Mennonite stories? How do we respond when the “non-Mennonite media” gets it “wrong”?

Panel members include Sam Steiner, Sherri Klassen, Johnny Wideman, and Katie Steckly.

David is currently a professor of American religious history at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania. His writing is focused on portrayals of the Amish from an outsider's perspective. His publications include, The Amish in the American Imagination (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001); Writing the Amish: The Worlds of John A. Hostetler (Penn State University Press, 2005); and a coedited volume with Diane Zimmerman Umble, The Amish and the Media (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008).

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.