Saturday, 30 June 2012

In their own words...

This is how the Celtic Spirituality Pilgrims from North America, coordinated by Marlene and Stan Kropf from the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana, described their venture in the publicity leading up to their journey across Scotland, Ireland and England.

"During the Middle Ages, the practice of going on a pilgrimage satisfied a deep need for adventure, companionship, and spiritual renewal.  Today the reasons for traveling to holy places remain much the same.  Embarking on a journey with fellow-seekers after God an opening one’s self to new learning and adventures along the way can become a rich context for reflection, relationships and renewal.

"The 2012 Celtic Spirituality Pilgrimage will begin with several days of retreat on the Island of Iona in western Scotland and continue from there to historic Celtic sites in Northern Ireland and Ireland. In Dublin we will see the magnificent Book of Kells at Trinity College.  At Kildare and at Glendalough we will be guided on walking pilgrimages to places associated with St Brigid and  St Kevin.  From Ireland the group will travel to Lindisfarne, northern England’s holy island, and to the historic city of Durham.  The pilgrimage concludes in Edinburgh, Scotland.  

"Although activities will vary from day to day, you can expect the pilgrimage to include daily experiences of morning and/or evening prayer; stimulating presentations on the Celtic Church and its spiritual traditions; quiet space for retreat; time for recreation and long walks; visits to ancient crosses; and many opportunities for conversation and reflection with other pilgrims."

The embryonic Exploring Anabaptism Scotland network is delighted to be helping with the hosting in Edinburgh, as the group arrive at the end of their journey and reflect on how to take what they have seen and heard back to North America.

We would also like to say a large thank you to Willard Roth, who for many years have cultivated this pilgrimage and the many connections it has made across Scotland, Wales, Ireland and England. The journey continues...

Friday, 29 June 2012

Mennonite pilgrims arrive in Scotland

A group of North American (mainly) Mennonites arrives in Scotland tomorrow, concluding a two week 'Celtic pilgrimage' across these islands, and taking in sites such as Iona, Rostrevor, Dublin, Glendalough, Lindisfarne, Dublin and now Edinburgh.

The group is coordinated from the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana, led by Marlene and Stan Kropf, and draws participants from the USA and Canada.

These pilgrimages have been regular bi-annual events for a number of years, previously led by Willard Roth and others. They aim to learn about the development of Celtic-influenced Christianity in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England, and to draw lessons for contemporary Christian practice.

In Edinburgh, the group will hear on Saturday evening from Ian Milligan, one of the initiators of the Exploring Anabaptism group in Scotland, and also a long-term leader of the Bert community church in Glasgow. On Sunday evening they will be addressed by Simon Barrow of the think-tank Ekklesia, who also helps coordinate the Anabaptist Theology Forum in Britain.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Join us on 9th August

Along with Ekklesia we are organising a conversation at the Edinburgh Festival of Spirituality and Peace between 5.30 - 6.45pm on Thursday 9 August 2012, at St John's Episcopal Church. This is at the junction of Princes Street and Lothian Road. The theme is 'Disorganised Religion'.

We live in an era in an age where people are inquisitive about spirituality, but distrustful or hostile towards "organised religion", especially in its Christian forms. But there are strong anti-institutional and non-hierarchical traditions in Christianity and beyond. Can Anabaptists, Quakers and nonconformists offer a new vision of faith and an alternative to top-down religion? Join the 'vast minority' to discuss what a radical reformation in the church has to offer.

Conversants: Ian Milligan (Exploring Anabaptism Scotland, Glasgow); Simon Barrow (Ekklesia, Edinburgh); Michael Marten ('Critical Religion', University of Stirling) and hopefully a woman from the Iona Community.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Our first 'cafe conversation'

The Anabaptist style of 'doing church' is less directed towards institutional expression, and more inclined towards different kinds of gathering and dispersal: the pattern seen in the Gospels.

So we in Exploring Anabaptism Scotland decided that it would be a good idea, following the example of Jesus' earliest followers in emphasising food and friendship around the table as a way of creating community, to hold a series of small "cafe conversations" rather than big speaker meetings - though we will be holding a 'Disorganised Religion' event as part of the Edinburgh Festival of Spirituality and Peace on 9 August 2012 - more on that in the sidebar (right), and to follow.

We will also be saying more about the "cafe conversations" idea as it evolves, and of course would welcome ideas about topics and venues. We are thinking about gatherings of no more than nine or ten people to start with, to keep it really conversational.

 The first cafe event took place at the Fruitmarket Gallery at lunchtime on Pentecost Sunday. There were six of us involved: Ian, Simon, Carla, Jamie, Donnie and Lesley Then there was an afternoon meeting with (another) Simon and Caroline at the less expected venue of the Whisky Society in Leith!

The emerging feeling is that it would be good to bring Anabaptist insights, reading and thinking into wider conversations in order to attract and engage a broader range of people. One of the significant questions we all face is Scotland's constitutional future, and what radical Christianity might have to say about a debate framed in terms which raise questions about identity, nation, church and other communities, social justice and much more.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Witness against nuclear weapons

Supporters of the new Exploring Anabaptism Scotland network joined members of Scottish churches at the 2012 Easter Witness for Peace at the Faslane at 12 noon on Saturday 16 April.

It was our first joint activity since deciding to 'formalise' the network in a frankly rather informal way!

The Catholic bishops in Scotland were represented at the act of witness for the first time.  He was joined by Rt Rev Alan McDonald, on behalf of the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, and Bruce Kent, Vice President of CND.

There was a shared act of worship outside the base, surrounded by barbed wire. Very symbolic. .  Music was led by members of the Wild Goose Resource Group.  The witness took place the day before Palm Sunday and involved a short procession with palm branches.

The event was organised by Scottish Clergy Against Nuclear Arms (SCANA). The Rev David McLachlan, Chair of Scottish Clergy Against Nuclear Arms, commented: “This will be an opportunity for Christians from different churches to meet together and to underline our belief that nuclear weapons are immoral and they should not be maintained or renewed.”

Friday, 1 June 2012


We are in the process of setting up this blog as an information source and exchange-point for those interested in Anabaptism, faithfully radical Christianity and 'disorganised religion' in Scotland.

The initial plans are for a series of "cafe conversations", around Edinburgh initially. There's also a discussion coming up on 9th August 2012 as part of the Festival of Spirituality and Peace in Edinburgh. Plus there's an Anabaptist Study Group in Glasgow.

A number of us also took part (along with members of the Iona Community and people of faith from a variety of backgrounds) in the Easter Vigil and walk of witness at Faslane. So although things are just getting going, you can see that there's a lot happening already! We also have good friendships and links with the Mennonite Centre Trust and with the Anabaptist Network In Britain and Ireland. Have a look at some of the links on the right hand side of this page.

Meanwhile, watch this space... and leave us a message if you're so inclined.