Isaac Friesen is the 2017 winner of the A. James Reimer Award. He is a PhD candidate in the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto. Isaac’s interdisciplinary research examines cultures of interfaith coexistence and everyday ethics in provincial Egypt. He is currently in the process of writing his dissertation which is titled “Navigating Tradition in Provincial Egypt: The Avenues and Ethics of Muslim Crossing into Coptic Spaces”.
Isaac became passionate about the Middle East during his three-year service term with Mennonite Central Committee in Egypt. He is a member at his hometown Waterloo North Mennonite Church, and now attends Toronto United Mennonite Church. Isaac is an associate at TMTC and has presented at two TMTC Scholars Forums in recent years. He looks forward to a lifelong collaboration between his academic work and the institutions of the Mennonite Church.
Responding to the award, Isaac writes:
To receive this award means so much to me. My life has been profoundly shaped by the theology and ethos of the Mennonite Church, and I regard my research as a form of peace work. At a time when tropes of religious and civilizational clash increasingly dominate popular discourse and state policy around the globe, I am deeply grateful to be supported in my promotion of understanding.
The A. James Reimer award is given annually to a Mennonite student completing an advanced degree program at the Toronto School of Theology or another local university, who actively participates in TMTC programming. The award was established to recognize the work of A. James Reimer in establishing the Toronto Mennonite Theological Centre. TMTC provides a Mennonite presence at the Toronto School of Theology in order to engage in theological conversation at an advanced degree level as well as to support Anabaptist students pursuing advanced degrees.