Keston Institute

Keston Institute

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The Keston Institute is an organization dedicated to the study of religion
Religious studies
Religious studies is the academic field of multi-disciplinary, secular study of religious beliefs, behaviors, and institutions. It describes, compares, interprets, and explains religion, emphasizing systematic, historically based, and cross-cultural perspectives.While theology attempts to...

 and communist countries, at Oxford
Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

, United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. It was founded in 1969 by Rev Canon Dr. Michael Bourdeaux.

History


In the 1950s, Michael Bourdeaux spent a year in Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 as a part of the first wave of British exchange students; soon he found 41 Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

es still functioning out of the 1,600 before the Russian Revolution in 1917, this prompted him to take up the cause of those persecuted for their religious faith .

Eventually in 1969, he founded at Chislehurst
Chislehurst
Chislehurst is a suburban district in south-east London, England, and an electoral ward of the London Borough of Bromley. It is south-east of Charing Cross.-Toponymy:...

 the 'Centre for the Study of Religion and Communism' together with Sir John Lawrence, with the help of Professor Leonard Schapiro and Professor Peter Reddawayunder. In the early 1970s he bought the old parish school on Keston
Keston
Keston is a part suburban, part rural area of the London Borough of Bromley, England. It lies on the edge of Hayes Common, to the northwest of Greater London's border with Kent.-History:...

 Common and the centre was renamed Keston College. Later it broadened its purview to include formerly communist countries with its main concerns being the former Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and the Eastern Bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

 . Over the years it played a key role in the revival of Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

, and has become leading voice on religious freedom in former communist countries, with an emphasis on the former Soviet Union . Eventually the enterprise was relocated to Oxford.

In 1984 Michael Bourdeaux won the Templeton Prize
Templeton Prize
The Templeton Prize is an annual award presented by the Templeton Foundation. Established in 1972, it is awarded to a living person who, in the estimation of the judges, "has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical...

. Its current chairman is Xenia Dennen.

Since 2007, the Keston Institute's archive and library is under the care of the 'Keston Center for Religion, Politics, & Society' at Baylor University
Baylor University
Baylor University is a private, Christian university located in Waco, Texas. Founded in 1845, Baylor is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.-History:...

, Waco, Texas
Waco, Texas
Waco is a city in and the county seat of McLennan County, Texas. Situated along the Brazos River and on the I-35 corridor, halfway between Dallas and Austin, it is the economic, cultural, and academic center of the 'Heart of Texas' region....

.

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