William H. Brackney

William H. Brackney (born 1948) is the Pioneer MacDonald Professor of Baptist Theology and Ethics at Carey Theological College in Vancouver, British Columbia. He is also the Millard R. Cherry Distinguished Professor of Christian Thought and Ethics Emeritus at Acadia University[1] in Wolfville, Nova Scotia and an ordained Baptist minister, presently accredited by the Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches and the American Baptist Churches, USA. He was previously the Dean of Theology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario[1] and has published numerous books and articles dealing with post-Reformation Protestant thought, particularly the Baptist and Radical Reformation traditions. Most recently, Brackney has done significant work in the areas of global ethics and human rights, and is currently the director of the Acadia Centre for Baptist and Anabaptist Studies.[2] He is also a regular columnist for websites focused on ethics.[3]

William H. Brackney
Born1948 (age 7071)
ResidenceGaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia, Canada
Academic background
Alma mater
ThesisReligious Antimasonry (1976)
Academic work
  • History
  • theology

Early life

Born in 1948 in Washington, DC, William Brackney is the second son of Samuel Harp Brackney and Mildred Braisted Pointer and attended Gabriel DuVal Senior High School in Glenn Dale, Maryland. His mother was of Methodist heritage; his father came from a line of Quakers; the two parents determined upon a Baptist orientation because of the outreach of a neighborhood congregation. The family's early years blended Southern Baptist and Northern (American) Baptist outlooks. William matriculated in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Maryland (College Park) with a scholarship to do astrophysics. In 1967 he was admitted to the honors program in history, and he defended a thesis in economic history, for which he received a BA (honors) degree.

He next completed an MA in religion from The Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Philadelphia in 1972.[4] in Philadelphia in 1972, being awarded a prize for his thesis in Patristic Evidences. He received a second MA from Temple University in Philadelphia, after which he earned the Doctor of Philosophy[4] (with distinction), his dissertation topic being Religious Antimasonry: The Genesis of a Political Party in 1976. Mentors for his doctoral work at Temple included F. Ernest Stoeffler (Religion) and Joseph G. Rayback (History). He earned a Certificate in Modern Archives Administration from the US National Archives and Records Administration in 1979. Throughout this period, Brackney served in leadership roles in Baptist and United Methodist churches in Texas, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and New York. He was ordained a Baptist minister in 1971, an elder in the United Methodist Church in 1976, and he carried recognition in the Wesleyan Church for a number of years, resulting from his appointment at Houghton College. Early in his career, he intentionally related to multiple denominational streams through his ministerial pursuits.

Academic career

William Brackney was an assistant professor in the History department of Houghton College for three years following his graduate studies, during which time he also served as the pastor of two United Methodist congregations in upstate New York (Limestone and Machias Charges). In 1979 he was appointed to the position of executive director of the American Baptist Historical Society,[5] and Archivist of the American Baptist Churches USA, service which lasted until 1986. This role also involved being curator of the Samuel Colgate Baptist Historical Collection. In this period he was also an associate professor in church history at Colgate Rochester Divinity School, as well serving on the senior staff of the American Baptist Board of Educational Ministries (BEM) in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. In 1986 he was named vice president and dean, and professor of the history of Christianity, at the Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.

For eleven years, from 1989 until 2000, Brackney was the principal and dean of McMaster Divinity College and was also the professor of historical theology.[1] Concurrently, he was dean of the Faculty of Theology in McMaster University. During this tenure he was also a member of the Historical and Theological Departments of the Toronto School of Theology, an ecumenical cluster of eight institutions conjoined to the University of Toronto, for six years. He left McMaster in 2000 to become a professor of religion at Baylor University,[1] also serving as the chair for the department of Religion and the founding director of Baylor University's program in Baptist studies. Brackney also served as an adjunct professor at Baylor's George W. Truett Theological Seminary and for two years was the pastor of Blue Ridge Baptist Church in Marlin, Texas.

In 2006 he was appointed a distinguished professor at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, and the following year he was named the first occupant of The Millard R. Cherry Chair in Christian Theology and Ethics at Acadia Divinity College, Acadia University, a position from which he retired in 2017. In 2017 he was appointed Pioneer MacDonald Professor of Baptist Theology and Ethics at Carey Theological College in Vancouver, British Columbia, also concurrently serving as adjunct professor of history and classics at Acadia University. Brackney's current research projects include "The General Baptist Movement in England 1606–1660" in Bibliotheca Dissidentium, and he serves as the General Series Editor of the Baptists in Early North America series, 13 volumes to be published from 2011 to 2018 by Mercer University Press, and is general editor of the Published Works and Select Writings of Walter Rauschenbusch 3 volumes (2018). He is also co-editing and contributing to a study of The Meaning of Poverty and the Poor in the World's Religions to be published by Praeger Publishing in 2018. Concurrent with his academic appointment, he has also served Baptist congregations at Harmony, Lower Sackville, Newport, and Billtown [Nova Scotia].


His published books include:


  1. "Dr. William Brackney". Acadia Divinity College. 2009. Retrieved 2010-10-09.
  2. "Acadia Centre for Baptist and Anabaptist Studies". 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-09.
  3. "Articles related to William Brackney". EthicsDaily.com. 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-09.
  4. "William H. Brackney". McMaster University. Retrieved 2010-10-09.
  5. D. Hollister; R R Bowker Publishing (1989). American Art Directory, 1989-90. R.R. Bowker. p. 203. ISBN 978-0-8352-2476-5. Retrieved 2010-10-09.
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