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
You are here
Ecclesial Practices Unit
Call for Proposals for November Meeting
Responding to Harm: Ecclesial Practices of Nonviolence
Inspired by the conference theme of Violence, Nonviolence, and the Margin, we invite papers that use qualitative research methods to explore how churches and other forms of religious community respond creatively and constructively to violence and practice nonviolence. We encourage special consideration of ecclesial communities on the “margins” of traditional discourse and practice. Possible topics include:
- How religious communities on the margin (re)define or (re)imagine violence, harm, and what counts as adequate response
- How faith communities respond to instances of violence and harm that originate outside their communities
- Lived faith responses to violence and harm inflicted by faith communities
- How individuals or religious communities respond to violence embedded within ecclesial organizations, designs, and practices
- Explorations of violence and nonviolence within ecclesial activities, e.g. music, liturgy, arts, social justice, ecological justice, youth work, preaching, pastoral care, religious education, rites of passage, community organizing
- Explorations of constructive theological and ethical shifts in faith communities as a result of encountering violence and harm
- How churches connect with global partners, forge solidarity around colonization and violence, determine the impact of such partnerships, and what difference this makes to their own congregation
- Interfaith responses to violence
- Ecclesial Practices of healing/diffusing/preventing violence
The intersection of Practical Theology and qualitative research methodologies presents a rich terrain for exploration and discovery. We invite scholars, researchers, and practitioners to contribute to a dynamic session focused on creative qualitative research methodologies, including in contexts of teaching and learning and creative ways of combining/integrating/interpreting theological perspectives with social scientific research methods, in Practical Theology.
Key themes for possible presentations:
- Embodied Approaches: Explore methodologies that engage the researcher's own lived experiences and bodily presence in the field.
- Visual and Performative Methods: Investigate the use of visual arts, performance, and other creative mediums as tools for theological inquiry
- Digital Religion(s) and Theology: Examine how digital platforms and technologies can be utilized in qualitative research within the context of practical theology.
- Postcolonial Perspectives: Interrogate traditional research paradigms and introduce postcolonial frameworks to enrich the understanding of practical theology.
- Feminist and Womanist Methodologies: Investigate how feminist and womanist theories and methodologies can be integrated into practical theology research, challenging and expanding current approaches.
For co-sponsored session: abstracts (up to 500 words) should illustrate the research question and best practices, methodology, and anticipated creative contributions. Submissions should embody a creative spirit, as presentations eventually chosen for the session will be asked to demonstrate their methodologies in some way. Presentations will be short, Ted Talk-like introductions of 7-10 minutes.
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Sarah Dunlop, Cambridge University1/1/2024 - 12/31/2029
Marlene Ferreras, La Sierra University1/1/2024 - 12/31/2029
Yara Gonzalez-Justiniano, Vanderbilt University1/1/2023 - 12/31/2028
Kathryn House, Boston University1/1/2023 - 12/31/2028
Sarah Kathleen Johnson, Saint Paul University1/1/2022 - 12/31/2027