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Ecclesiological Investigations Unit

Call for Proposals

EI Call for Papers for November 2022, Denver

Catastrophe in the Life of the Church

Many discussions of catastrophe as a dimension of religious studies or theological analysis focus on public events which religious communities must interpret or to which they must respond: how do theologians, religious leaders, lay adherents, and others, make sense out of (for example) climate change, political upheaval, or a public tragedy?

Without ignoring such considerations, we hope with this session to engage in a more specifically ecclesiological conversation on catastrophe as an internal dynamic of Christian communities confronted with realities that obligate profound soul-searching and transformation. Reflecting on the sense of catastrophe as a sudden overturning (kata-strephein) of things as they are, we are interested in papers that reflect substantial research on catastrophic transitional moments in the life of churches – whether these moments are historical or contemporary, and whether they take place on the macro-scale of denominational emergence/collapse or on the micro-scale of individuals confronting terrible loss or betrayal in a religious community. We intend to pay particular attention to, and bring into the foreground the voices of, historically catastrophized groups: those whose integrity as a community or subculture is grounded in tragedy and endures in the face of continuing (accidental or intentional) disaster.

Theologies of Ecclesial Dialogue, Discernment, and Consensus-Building

Dialogue is a longstanding component of ecclesial praxis, especially in recent years in the ecumenical movement and in other areas of inter- and intra-ecclesial relations. Various contemporary events and movements have restored focus upon dialogue, discernment, and consensus-building in the Christian churches. Most prominently, in 2021 Pope Francis launched a worldwide, two-year process of ecclesial discernment in the Roman Catholic Church in preparation for the 2023 Synod on Synodality. At the same time, in 2022, other major dialogical moments in worldwide Christianity will take place: the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Karlsruhe, Germany, and the 15th Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops in England. And, at various local levels, dialogue within and between churches occurs in a broad variety of ways, both formal and informal, and in ways that are often countercultural in contexts marked by polarization, division, and a lack of dialogue. Dialogue and consensus-building seem to many Christians a part of the nature of the church and not an optional practice.

We invite papers that attend to theologies of ecclesial dialogue, discernment, and consensus-building, drawing upon concrete experiences and events of such processes, and exploring ecclesiologies of dialogue and shared discernment based upon those experiences and events. We are interested in papers related to issues of local, global, and historical synodality, conciliarity, dialogue, decision-making processes, consensus-building, or shared discernment. Discussions of liberative ecclesial dialogue in light of the ways that such dialogue is hampered by divisions based on clerical status, geographical location, gender and racial differences, or colonial and post-colonial power imbalances are particularly welcome.

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.


Steering Committee Members

  • Sandra Arenas, Pontifical Catholic University of Chile
    1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024
  • Miriam Haar, Lutheran World Federation
    1/1/2018 - 12/31/2023
  • Aaron Hollander, Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute
    1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026
  • Cristina Lledo Gomez, BBI-The Australian Institute for Theological Education
    1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
  • Scott MacDougall, Church Divinity School of the Pacific
    1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024



Review Process

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

Review Process Comments

Please avoid using identifying information in your proposal that would undermine the anonymity of the review process.