An online library of Methodist and Wesleyan resources is now available to scholars across the world through a joint project of the Methodist e-Academy and the Global Digital Library for Theology and Ecumenism.
“We see it as a service to Methodist churches and institutions internationally,” said David N. Field, e-Academy coordinator.
GlobeTheoLib, a service of Globethics.net, is the world’s largest online library on ethics and theology with 4.5 million documents, said Christoph Stueckelberger, president and founder of Globethics.net.
Creating the Methodist and Wesleyan Studies Collection expands the library’s content and helps Methodists tell their story worldwide, Stueckelberger said. In return, the collection helps the library draw new members, he said.
The library already offers a collection on Catholic ethics and is preparing collections on Protestant ethics and Chinese Christianity. But he said he hopes the Wesleyan collection will “become the most comprehensive one . . . it unites theology and ethics and all other disciplines.”
The collaboration has Globethics.net providing the technical platform and the librarians, technical and theological expertise, while Methodist groups suggest content and structure, as well as giving marketing advice and financially supporting the collection.
Field has represented the World Methodist Council on the GlobeTheoLib consortium committee since 2011 and said he was impressed with the library’s potential to expand and develop online resources for theological education.
He suggested the new collection as a specific help to the Methodist e-Academy, an online supplementary education program for Methodist pastors or ministerial candidates in Europe. Field said 20 to 25 students have been enrolled in the e-Academy each year since the first class in 2011.
GlobeTheoLib offers a detailed and thorough search for all kinds of resources on the internet, he said. For example, the library’s computerized search programs can seek out individual journal articles, finding specific Methodist content in broader journals of theology or church history.Field said he immediately saw the benefits of a collection that could be accessed, developed and supported by teachers, learners, researchers and theologians around the world.
The library has contracts with commercial publishers and so could make resources available that scholars otherwise would have to purchase. All the material in the library is available free of charge, although to access some of the commercial content one first needs to obtain a free library membership.
Although e-Academy courses are taught only in English or German, “in principle, material in any language could be harvested by the software and included in the collection, and we will be actively seeking literature in other languages,” Field said. He said the e-Academy is especially interested in the major European languages, Asian languages such as Korean and Chinese, and “where literature is available, we would also include African languages.”
Scholars can upload their own documents, articles, dissertations, book or electronic links to the collection, broadening its scope exponentially, Field said. To facilitate this sharing, an advisory committee of Methodist educators from around the world will encourage institutions and scholars to contribute.
Anybody interested in having material included in the collection also can contact Field directly. United Methodist Discipleship Ministries has already uploaded many of the books it publishes.
Field said he is South African and so has a particular interest in providing resources in Africa, where schools have limited resources, in particular for Methodist theological education. He hopes that scholars and institutions outside the U.S. and Europe will make their resources available for the collection.
“For example, a seminary in the Philippines or in Africa could upload dissertations and research papers onto the platform, making their research available to a much broader audience,” he said.
The collection was launched at the end of 2016 and will be introduced to e-Academy students at its next residential seminar in February 2017, Field said. But the collection already is available online for anyone who wants to access it.
The initial collection work was financed by The United Methodist Church’s Central Conference Theological Education Fund, The Methodist Global Fund for Leadership Development and the Methodist Church of Great Britain, but Field said the library would like to expand the support base as it develops the resources further.
Keaton is a freelance writer based in Naperville, Illinois. News media contact: Vicki Brown, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or [email protected]. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.