PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
Denver, CO
November 17-20, 2018

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Ecclesiological Investigations Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

This Unit is a part of the Ecclesiological Investigations International Research Network, which seeks to serve as a hub for national and international collaboration in ecclesiology, drawing together other groups and networks, initiating research ventures, providing administrative support, as well as acting as a facilitator to support conversations, research, and education in this field. Hence the Network exists to promote collaborative ecclesiology. The Network’s five fundamental aims are as follows:

• The establishment of partnerships between scholars, research projects, and research centers across the world
• The development of virtual, textual, and actual conversation between the many persons and groups involved in research and debate about ecclesiology
• Organizing and sharing in colloquia, symposia, and conferences
• Encouraging joint teaching and exchanges of postgraduate students and faculty
• The Unit seeks to publish the best fruits of all such collaboration in our new Palgrave Series, Pathways for Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue, as well as in the journal Ecclesiology (Brill), published in association with the Network. The Network is a “network of networks” serving a “church of churches.” See for more information.

Call for Papers: 

We invite papers on the following topics:

• Ecclesiology and Gender: Human Equality and the Unity of the Church(es)
In this session, we consider how gender questions influence division and dialogue, both between church(es) and within officially united churches and denominations. Such questions include the role of women and men in our communities, including ordination, the growth in experience of non-binary gender and transgendered persons, and questions of “gender ideology” and differing understandings of gender across contexts and cultures. We invite papers that explore how attempts to promote equal rights, responsibilities, and opportunities for all members of our churches have influenced the unity of these communities. These could include both continuing questions regarding the role of women in our churches, and more recent questions regarding how newer understandings of gender have affected the churches. We are interested in papers that explore the interplay between ecclesial concern to preserve the churches' theology and practices, and attempts to respond to new phenomena as signs of the times, and how those experiences affect unity between and within churches.

• The Church and Courage
As the AAR focuses upon the role of religion in the public sphere, we invite papers that focus upon the virtue of ecclesial courage in the public sphere. In 2018, we look back fifty years to the meeting of the Latin American Catholic Bishops at Medellín that solidified a public role for a church of and for the poor. At the same time, in an increasingly fractious and polarized world, we see opportunities and challenges for the churches to be courageous in their public mission. We invite papers that help us better understand the theologies of courageous churches in the public sphere, whether historical treatments of past successes and failures, reports of contemporary cases that provide examples of the church courageous, or constructive proposals that explore courage in relation to mission, structure, or other themes in ecclesiology.

• Scripturalization and Orality in/as African Spirituality: A Preface to African Hermeneutics
The African continent is one of the global locations where Christianity is increasing most rapidly. The history of Churches in Africa is contextualized by colonial encounters between European forms of Christianity and varieties of African religions, spiritualities, traditional belief systems. This has produced various strains and adaptations of Christian ecclesiologies that are still emerging, distinctive, and in some instances dominated by traditional practices. While interest in studying enculturated forms of African ecclesiologies and their social, cultural, and political contextualizations enjoys increased study, for example, missiology, African Biblical hermeneutics and translation, African theology and philosophy, or Africana Studies there remain many areas of interest and lines of inquiry. We, therefore, invite papers that focus upon churches in the African context and are also in conversation with African scholars of Christianity whether located in an African country or in its diaspora. Such papers could be theoretical treatments of the church in frameworks and models arising from African experience (e.g., church as family, church and mission in Africa, church and ancestors, etc.), or could be ethnographic studies of ecclesial structures and institutional realities in particular contexts or church communities. We are particularly interested in papers that address poverty, colonialism, the role of women, sexuality, and Christian/Muslim/African Traditional Religion relationships as they relate to the life of the church in Africa. Co-sponsored session with the African Association for the Study of Religions Unit and Ecclesiological Investigations Unit.

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members
This worked well, and there was general agreement on ratings. There were fewer proposals in the reformation area, but the response worked very well.
ChairSteering Committee