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Learnings from the pandemic: Implications of Adapting and Inventing Ecclesial Practices for COVID
Co-sponsor: Association for Practical Theology

Since the beginning of 2020, a global pandemic has occurred due to COVID-19. Important health measures have curtailed life as normal in many ways. Church practices have also been directly affected by these measures, not only church services but also ministry in its many forms. One result was the digitalizing of ecclesial life in a variety of formats through which contact networks emerged, online worship services were streamed, and a wide range of practices were developed. Other results were new forms of in-person practices like creative forms of worship in parking lots, innovative food pantries, and chaplains finding new ways of communicating and being present to patients and families at the hospital. The new forms of communication were developed, planned and designed by different actors, and their outreach was aimed at different contexts. In this session, we welcome practical theological papers that reflect empirically and/or hermeneutically on these pandemic learnings. What was the design of these practices and the conditions under which they were developed and structured? To what extent will they continue to exist even though the situation has changed again? And in which ways do these – revised – practices expand understandings of church and ministry?

Caution, Flammable: Ideological Differences and Divisions with a Religion-Politics

This call from the Practical Theology Group invites papers or panel proposals that investigate how persons and communities engage ideological differences in dealing with a religion-politics. What are ways that people attend, engage, and perhaps overcome--if desirable--religiopolitical divisions? How does this work take shape differently in the traditional sub-disciplines of practical theology (religious education, liturgics, congregational studies, homiletics, pastoral care, and social mission)? While this call is especially pertinent for the religiopolitical situation in the U.S., the intertwinement of religion, ideology, and politics makes up a flammable cocktail that calls for practical theological attention worldwide. The committee is particularly interested in presentations discussing ongoing and completed research projects that bring insight to the interdisciplinary nexus of political and practical theology. We welcome papers that explore methodological and theoretical implications for the study of practical theology, as well as substantial implications for religious and political community engagement.

An Author in Conversation: Nicola Slee, Fragments for Fractured Times: What Feminist Practical Theology Brings to the Table (2020 SCM Press)

This panel will explore the latest work of poet and feminist practical theologian, Nicola Slee, from Queens Foundation for Ecumenical Education in the UK. Bringing together 15 years of research and teaching, this collection of essays “offer[s] a range of highly contextualized ‘fragments’—all written for specific groups of people and situations—that hold up to the light some aspect of feminist and practical theological practice or thinking for closer scrutiny” (Slee). Three panelists (yet to be named) will engage Slee’s lead essay about the nature of practical theology, understood in terms of what she calls “fragments for fractured times.” Panelists will also have the opportunity to respond to other essays on liturgy and prayer, spirituality, poetics, work (teaching, reading, writing, and research) and theology, including a theology of the Christa. Reviewers have described Slee’s book as a “stellar contribution” and “prophetic poetry” that is timely, sensitive, and wise.

Migration and Practical Theology: Explorations

The Practical Theology Unit seeks individual paper proposals and session proposals (presider, 3 presenters, respondent) for the 2021 Annual Meeting to be held in San Antonio, TX related to the following themes, building on our 2020 calls around practical theology’s response to interfaith challenges and to the ecological crisis:

• The global climate crisis affects millions, and is a major driver of global migration. Following the work of Rachel Muers’ work on intergeneration ethics, we invite proposals that think in practical theological terms about the long-term and global effects of actions taken today.
• Migrant has caused new proximity of religious others, and prompted deepened engagement with interfaith realities. We invite proposals that highlight case studies of practical theological responses to interfaith encounters driven by migration.
• Other topics at the intersection of migration and practical theology.

Mission Statement:

This Unit engages practical theology and religious practice, reflects critically on religious traditions and practices, and explores issues in particular subdisciplines of practical theology and ministry. The Unit engages this mission in five interrelated public spheres with the following goals:

For practical theology — to provide a national and international forum for discussion, communication, publication, and development of the field and its related subdisciplines
For theological and religious studies — to foster interdisciplinary critical discourse about religious practice, contextual research and teaching for ministry, and practical theological method and pedagogy
For a variety of religious traditions — to enhance inquiry in religious practice and practical theology
For academic pedagogy — to advance excellence in teaching and vocational development for faculty in divinity and seminary education generally and for graduate students preparing to teach in such settings specifically
For the general public — to promote constructive reflection on social and cultural dynamics and explore the implications of religious confession and practice.

Method of Submission:




Marc Lavallee, mlavallee@portsmouthabbey.org

Sabrina Mueller, sabrina.mueller@theol.uzh.ch


Steering Committee:

Jaco Dreyer, dreyejs@unisa.ac.za

Kirsten Donskov Felter, kfe@km.dk

Courtney T. Goto, cgoto@bu.edu

Hee-Kyu Heidi Park, heekyu.park@ewha.ac.kr


Session Allotment: Tier 2 – Two 2-hour sessions

Next Review: 2021