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Open and Relational Theologies Unit

Call for Proposals

For 2023, we are inviting proposals on the following topics that have been crafted with an ear toward the year's presidential theme of "La Labor de Nuestros Manos": 

What is the relationship between open and relational theology and practical theology? How can practical theology inform open and relational theology, which is sometimes accused of being excessively philosophical? What does open and relational theology, as an applied theology, look like? For example, how does the discipline of pastoral care and postcolonial practical theology challenge open and relational theology? What are the implications of ORT for church life in an age of declining church attendance? This session will explore open and relational theology as a practical theology that affects lives,  structures, and institutions. We will consider the ways in which open and relational theology can be discussed in practice, as well as the ways in which lived experience can transform open and relational theology. 

Despite philosophical disagreements, pragmatists and open and relational thinkers are concerned about ideas that produce change in the world. Open and relational thinkers have been leading the charge to develop ecologically sustainable communities, while some of the strongest voices for racial and ethnic justice in the United States are pragmatists. Both schools of thought engage these issues and more, including feminist and womanist activism and rights, LGBTQIA+ rights, as social conservatives resist movement toward inclusiveness. How might open and relational theology and pragmatism inform one another, analytically and ethically, and work together moving forward?

What is Open and Relational Theology? What is Theology Without Walls? How might their two identities and correlative practices inform one another? In what ways is Theology Without Walls a form of Open and Relational Theology? How might Open and Relational Theology adopt the panreligious openness of Theology Without Walls? This session will explore the thoughtworlds and practices of ORT and TWW, considering similarities and differences, in an attempt to better understand both, with an eye toward the positive transformation of each.

Statement of Purpose

The Open and Relational Theologies Unit promotes academic research and discourse on open, relational, and process methods and perspectives (including those of open theism, process philosophy, and other relational and personalists traditions). These explorations tend to be constructive in nature, regularly involving theological and philosophical speculation about the nature of God, freedom, power, relationality, materiality, love, and more. Our Unit's inquiries also explore the implications of open-relational methods and perspectives on a wide range of social, scientific, and spiritual topics. We welcome contributions from across religious traditions. 

The ORT Unit is committed to diversity and inclusion. In order to maximize the diversity of our panels, our proposal review process stipulates that proposer names be anonymous to chairs and steering committee members during review but visible to chairs prior to final acceptance or rejection. Further, a successful pre-arranged session or panel proposal must incorporate gender and racial-ethnic diversity; diversity of theoretical method and rank are also highly encouraged.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

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