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Ecclesial Practices Unit

Call for Proposals

Practicing Hope in Catastrophic Times 
We invite papers addressing variations on the question: what is the role of ecclesial bodies in the midst of catastrophes, crises, and/or traumatic events? How is hope articulated in practice that is cognizant of these material realities? Submissions that incorporate original fieldwork will be prioritized. 

Faith communities embody implicit and explicit practices that point towards an understanding of hope or a theology of hope. Hope as a theological category can be expressed by theologians within generalizing claims. How, as an ethnographer/qualitative researcher can one address the contextuality and awareness of hope as global, local, and/or regional? What are the frameworks and methodologies these communities employ to manage catastrophes? What is the theology of hope and how is it practiced, or not? What are the nuances of their practices in combination or contrast with their theology of hope? 

Statement of Purpose

Ecclesial Practices provides a collaborative space at the intersection of ethnographic and other qualitative approaches and theological approaches to the study of ecclesial practices. This might include churches, other (new, emerging, para-church, and virtual) communities, and lived faith in daily life. International in scope, the unit encourages research contributing to a deeper understanding of “church in practice” in a global context, including decolonization and postcolonial theologies. The unit encourages ongoing research in the following areas: • Empirical and theological approaches to the study of ecclesial communities (churches, congregations, and emerging communities), especially as interdisciplinary efforts to understand lived faith and practice extending from them • Studies of specific ecclesial activities, e.g. music, liturgy, arts, social justice, youth work, preaching, pastoral care, rites of passage, community organizing • Studies of global contexts of lived faith in relation to ecclesial communities, for example, decolonizing and postcolonial theory and theology • Discussions of congregational growth and decline, new church movements, and ecclesial experiments connected to shared practices in a worldly church • Explorations of Christian doctrine in relation to the potential implications of empirical and qualitative research on ecclesial communities and lived faith for discerning, defining, and challenging standard theological genres such as systematics and doctrine, as well as inviting new ways to understand normative logics • Discussions of methodological issues with regard to qualitative research on theological topics, especially related to ecclesial communities and lived faith • Discussions (both substantive and methodological) of the implications of new technologies and digital cultures for ecclesial communities and lived faith


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members