In September 2009, we moved to the Boston area so Bruce could begin his ThD studies at the Boston University’s School of Theology. When we left three years later (last July) he was officially ABD (All But Dissertation). After two years of course work and a year of comprehensive exams with two language requirements thrown in for good measure, all that is left is to write his dissertation.
While we were living in the USA, whenever he could manage it, Bruce headed out to Goshen IN where he went through the Mennonite Church USA archives looking for useful material. He spent weeks scanning letters and other documents into his computer so that he would have access to them when he was ready to start writing. Now he spends all his spare time working with those documents, reading and classifying. Bruce works at a standing desk that he had made according to his specifications (so his back won’t hurt from lots of sitting). We hope that it doesn’t take too long to finish this stage of research and writing!
The topic for this project is the work of Mennonite missionaries in South East Nigeria, especially Ed and Irene Weaver, beginning in the late 1950’s and the Christian movements with which they interacted. He will write about the forces which shaped the missionaries’ approach to their ministry as well as those which shaped the religious identity and expectations of Nigerian Christians.
Bruce began working in Nigeria in 2001 on a part-time basis while we were living in Cotonou, Benin. His interaction with the Mennonite Church of Nigeria motivated the desire to better understand the church there and how the Mennonite Board of Mission and later Mennonite Mission Network’s approach in West Africa was shaped by the relationships between missionaries and local Nigerian Christians of that time .