Festschrift honour for Ruth Gouldbourne
The Baptist minister, historian and theologian has been presented with a set of essays to honour the contribution she has made to Baptist life
At the beginning of July Ruth Gouldbourne turned 60. She has been a Baptist minister for more than 30 years, ministering in churches in Bedford, London and Cheadle Hulme, as well as being a tutor at Bristol Baptist College. An Associate Fellow of Spurgeon's College, she is also Senior Research Fellow of IBTSC Amsterdam, and a Research Fellow of Bristol Baptist College. She has served the Baptist Union on the Baptist Women in Ministry and Training group, the Covenant 2000 Committee, the Working Groups on Membership, and Superintendency, as well as the Baptist Historical Society. Internationally, she chaired the Academic Board of the International Baptist Theological Seminary (IBTSC) and its Board of Trustees, and her ecumenical commitment has included sitting on the World Council of Churches' Faith and Order Commission, and serving Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.
Her friends Anthony R. Cross and Brian Haymes spent two years putting together a book of essays – a Festschrift – to honour the contribution she has made to Baptist life. Re-Membering the Body - The Witness of History, Theology, and the Arts in Honour of Ruth M. B. Gouldbourne was duly presented to Ruth during an online church service she was leading, with many of the contributors present. (Unfortunately Anthony was not well enough to attend; very sadly he died on 22 July.)
The book opens with an appreciation of Ruth’s life and ministry by her father Derek Murray, a Baptist minister in Scotland. It then brings together people from her time in Bristol, London and her association with the IBTS. Chapters range from a study of 2 Cor 3 to women and ministry, from whether Proverbs is a misogynist text to an engagement with gender dysphoria, from a sermon by Martin Luther King at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church to Shakespeare and spirituality. Contributors include Lina Toth, Michael Peat, Steve Holmes, Karen Smith, Paul Fiddes and more.
Few people receive an honour such as this before their retirement, and co–editor Brian said, ‘When Anthony Cross and I began exploring the possibility of a volume honouring Ruth Gouldbourne we received nothing but enthusiastic support and encouragement. Scholars, friends and colleagues were all eager to write and contribute. The range of topics covering history, theology, ministry and the Arts, reflects the range of Ruth's work thus far. Each scholar's work is testimony to the high regard and appreciation many of us have of her.
‘Ruth Gouldbourne is simply one of the outstanding ministers of this generation. She has had to face several forms of prejudice as challenges to her sense of calling. She has responded to them all with perseverance, faithfulness and consecrated service in Churches, Colleges, ecumenical engagements and political and social contexts. Her encouragement of others seems inexhaustible. Her scholarship is rich and searching, her public ministry inspiring and her pastoral care deeply Christian.
‘At the presentation I stressed what is the truth, namely that this book is an act of thanksgiving, a work of deep gratitude. It has been a privilege to have prepared this volume in her honour.’
In response, Ruth, now minister at Grove Lane Baptist Church, Cheadle Hulme, said, ‘I am completely overwhelmed; Festschrifts are for grown ups and proper academics! I am grateful beyond words to those who have edited and contributed, and learning so much from what I read. The essays are wide-ranging, fascinating and give evidence of the continuing deep scholarship among us, that is one of the treasures of our community. Thank you to everybody.’
Re-Membering the Body - The Witness of History, Theology, and the Arts in Honour of Ruth M. B. Gouldbourne is published by Wipf and Stock and is available here
A discount of 40 per cent is available with the code GOULDBOURNE for a limited time.
The official book launch will take place at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church and online, 13.30-15.00, 4 October 2021 and will include responses to this significant book in honour of Ruth's significant ministry amongst the Baptists.
Further information and tickets (online and in-person) are available here.