Sarah Johnson and Max Kennel win A. James Reimer Award

Friday, November 27, 2020

Sarah Johnson and Max KennelSarah Kathleen Johnson and Maxwell Kennel are co-winners of the 2020 A. James Reimer Award. Sarah is a PhD candidate at the University of Notre Dame and Visiting Fellow at the Toronto Mennonite Theological Centre (TMTC) and Max is a TMTC associate and PhD candidate at McMaster University.

Responding to the news that she would receive this award, Sarah says:

"I am honoured to receive the Reimer Award for a second time and especially to share the award with a colleague—an excellent reflection of the scholarly community fostered through the Toronto Mennonite Theological Centre. Anabaptist theological scholarship is necessarily collaborative, whether through conversation with current colleagues and faith communities, or in dialogue with those who have gone before us, including Jim Reimer, whose theological legacies we inherit and reimagine.

This fall, I celebrate the publication of the new hymnal and worship book Voices Together, and the accompanying Worship Leader Edition, as well as the launch of the Together in Worship website. I am grateful for financial support from sources like the Reimer Award that have made it possible to contribute to these three substantial multi-year projects primarily as a volunteer while in graduate school. In the months ahead, I look forward to turning my attention to the completion of my dissertation which is an ethnographic study of the ongoing roles of Christian worship in a changing Canadian religious landscape, co-editing a collection of essays on worship and power in Free Church traditions, and teaching an undergraduate Foundations of Theology course online at the University of Notre Dame, while continuing to support congregations receiving Voices Together."

Likewise, Max says:

"I met Jim only once at a community supper when I lived in residence at Grebel, and he graciously agreed to read some of my writing. His generous approach to me as a young undergraduate student left a lasting impression on my scholarly work, and his wide interests in philosophy, politics, and the study of religion helped to show me how Mennonite theology can be profoundly open to interdisciplinary inquiry.

In his preface to A. James Reimer’s posthumous book Toward an Anabaptist Political Theology, my supervisor Travis Kroeker responded to Reimer with his own “messianic political theology” that is “neither Catholic nor Protestant, neither Mennonite nor secularist, neither orthodox nor heterodox,” but instead a vision for building up our common world. Drawing inspiration from both of their work, I am interested in how Mennonites can sharply respond to social violence in ways that exceed capture by distinctions between religion and secularity, politics and theology, or church and university.

I am deeply grateful for this award because it will afford me time and freedom to complete my dissertation on philosophical, Mennonite, and feminist approaches to violence, as well as revisions on a book manuscript on postsecular approaches to time and history."

The A. James Reimer award is given annually to a student completing an advanced degree program at the Toronto School of Theology or another 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.

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