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Successor named to Amish expert, Donald Kraybill

Nov 16th, 2015 | By | Category: Front Page, News

ELIZABETHTOWN, PA – Dr. Steven M. Nolt, widely recognized for his scholarship on the history, life and culture of the Amish and Mennonite communities, has been appointed Senior Scholar at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown (Pennsylvania) College. The professor and prolific author succeeds Plain Sect researcher Dr. Donald B. Kraybill who retired as Senior Fellow from the Young Center this past July.

“Don Kraybill, as the recognized Amish expert, has greatly advanced the scholarship of Pietist and Anabaptist groups,” noted Elizabethtown College President Carl J. Strikwerda. “And Steve Nolt, a worthy successor, will build on this knowledge in significant ways. … Elizabethtown College is proud to have a scholar as distinguished and prolific as Steve joining the researchers at the Young Center.”

As an author, coauthor and contributor, Nolt has been involved in the writing of 14 books, as well as more than 100 professional articles, book chapters, essays and encyclopedia entries. His books include, “A History of the Amish,” “Seeking Places of Peace: A Global Mennonite History” and, written with Karen Johnson-Weiner and Donald Kraybill, “The Amish,” a definitive study of the group’s contemporary cultural diversity.

Nolt also wrote “Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy,” with Kraybill and David Weaver-Zercher, about the Amish school shooting in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. The book was selected as a Best Book of 2007 by Publisher’s Weekly and as a Best Spiritual Book of 2007 by Spirituality & Practice.

“I’m delighted that he is joining the Young Center team,” said Kraybill of his coauthor. “He is the premier social historian of North America’s Amish and Mennonite communities. His presence and scholarship will enhance and upscale the Young Center’s contribution to Anabaptist studies worldwide.”

Nolt’s most recent work, “The Amish: A Concise Introduction,” is scheduled to be published in spring 2016, and he is under contract with Columbia University Press to write “Anabaptists in America,” as part of the Columbia Contemporary American Religion Series.

In addition to writing, Nolt has offered his expertise as a book review editor, series editor and contributing editor and has served on the board of editors and directors, as a council member and as an academic advisor for a variety of reviews, films, journals, magazines, studies and manuscripts focusing on the Anabaptists and Pietists.

“Steve’s prolific writing in numerous books, articles and editorial projects as well as demonstrated effectiveness as a teacher make him an ideal scholar for this position,” said Jeff Bach, director of the Young Center. “Steve brings strong gifts as a scholar and a teacher, which will enable him to serve well in the position of senior scholar at the Young Center, I look forward to working with him.”

Nolt has spoken across North America and in Europe on subjects as diverse as mental health care among the Amish, the Mennonite peace witness and Pennsylvania German religion and ethnicity.

A Lancaster, Pennsylvania, native, he graduated from Conestoga Valley High School and earned his bachelor’s degree from Goshen (Indiana) College, where he has been a professor of history since 1999. He earned master’s degrees from University of Notre Dame and the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary and holds a doctoral degree in history from the University of Notre Dame.

At Goshen, Nolt has taught various American history courses, classes in the history of Mennonites and the Amish and courses on immigration, ethnic history and Christianity in the United States and Canada. Partnering with colleagues in sociology, anthropology and religious studies, Nolt’s research has often been interdisciplinary and collaborative. Field work has taken him to dozens of Amish settlements across seven states and into Ontario.

Nolt also directed Goshen’s Study-Service Terms in the People’s Republic of China for two semesters and was chair of the College’s History and Political Science Department.

He has been awarded more than a dozen grants and fellowships including a National Endowment for the Humanities Collaborative Grant, Notre Dame Presidential Fellowship, Institute of Mennonite Studies Summer Research Grant and a Kauffman Foundation Grant.

The newly appointed Senior Scholar is a member of the Organization of American Historians, the Immigration and Ethnic History Society, the Conference on Faith and History, the Elkhart County (Indiana) Historical Society and Lancaster (Pennsylvania) Mennonite Historical Society.

Before his appointment to Goshen, the professor was a visiting assistant professor of history at University of Notre Dame, a sessional faculty member at the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary and a visiting instructor and a Young Center Snowden Fellow at Elizabethtown College.

Nolt presently resides in Goshen with his wife and two daughters. He will begin at Elizabethtown on July 1.

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