Durham Conference September 2019 (updated Sept. 18)

St John's College
The Durham Conference is the annual conference for the E&E network bringing together scholars working on ethnographic approaches to ecclesiology.


September 17, 2019


September 19, 2019


St John's College, 3 South Bailey, Durham, UK   View map

Ecclesiology and Ethnography Conference 2019 (update: new conference time table available below)

This is the annual conference for the network bringing together scholars working on ethnographic approaches to theology and the study of religion. It is is a wide ranging conference, and part of the joy is discovering a diversity of specialisms and learning. Past papers have included ethnography, anthropology, systematic theology, ecclesiology, practical theology and social science approaches. Attendees range from senior scholars to local ministers and this is an excellent place to present as a post graduate or early career researcher, or as a pastor/scholar in ministry. Learning is generously shared and critiques are supportive. We encourage single and multi-authored papers.

If you are interested in proposing a paper, please click here to find more information and a proposal form. See also the conference time table below.

The Conference is run in association with The Department of Theology and Religion and St John’s College, Durham University and is based in St John’s College, in the centre of historic Durham. Our meals and accommodation will also be within the college. A limited number of en-suite rooms are available, allocated on a first come, first served basis.  Extra nights’ accommodation is available by booking directly with the College at s.l.hobson@durham.ac.uk.   St John’s College is about a fifteen minute walk from Durham Rail Station. From Newcastle airport you can ride the Metro to Newcastle Central Station, where you can find frequent trains to Durham. Otherwise, you can book a car with Airport Express to take you from the airport directly to St John’s College.

The Durham Conference is particularly friendly which is helped by the conversations in the college bar, and folk music night on the Wednesday.  Bring your instruments and join in!

This year we have changed our prices to create a subsidised rate for students, those in ministry and those from the global south to encourage more diversity and a greater range of conversation. We look forward to meeting you.


Book conference here


Conference Time Table

Updated 18 September 2019 – may be subject to change


Tuesday 17th September

11.30 am: Arrivals, Tea and Coffee  

1.00 pm: Lunch

2.00 pm: Plenary Session (60 Minute Papers) Lecture Room (LRC)

  • Full paper 1: Christian Scharen // You Belong Here: Faith Leaders and the Work of Welcoming New Immigrants
  • Full paper 2: Henk de Roest // Doing Research with a Community of Practice

4.00 pm: Tea

4.30 pm: Track Sessions (45 Minute Papers)

Room 1 Lecture Room (LRC)

  • Lisa DeBoer // Church Worlds and Art Worlds: Art, Worship and Ecclesiology
  • Derrick Watson // Making Local Icons as Interruptions

Room 2 All Churches Room (LRC)

  • Tone Stangeland Kaufman and Kristin Graff-Kallevåg // Shame Surpassing Sin: Preliminary analyses from an ongoing study of young people theologizing on sin, shame, and salvation
  • Kirsten Donskov Felter // Encounters 1:1. Learnings from a pastoral learning project

Room 3 Leech Hall

  • Elizabeth Jordan // What does qualitative research into the deployment of Interim Ministers in the Church of England indicate about the current state and significance of the local parish church?
  • Maggie Watson // Resisting: Pastor, Priest, Church— A Monologue, Theatrically Presented

6.00 pm: Evening Meal

7.00 pm: Seminar Session (30 Minute Papers)

Room 1 Lecture Room (LRC)

  • Anthony Stiff // Toward a Liturgical-Missional Ecclesiology: Wisdom from case studies with four congregations in North America
  • Chris Button // Church Without Church: Secular Evangelism in the City
  • Christine Bohlander // transformational experience of an ecumenical community of theology students living on the premises of a Catholic monastery in an interreligious and highly charged political context

Room 2 All Churches Room (LRC)

  • Øyvind Hadland // “When you come together” – Karen Baptist Refugees practices of gathering as Christians
  • Andrew Dunlop // Implementation of the mixed-economy in English Diocesan strategy and implications for ecclesiology
  • Meghan Byerly // A Qualitative Approach to Researching Collective Character Traits in Baptist Congregations

Room 3 Leech Hall

  • Attila Csongor Kelemen // Where the sermon happens – The context of preaching within the Hungarian Reformed Church in Transylvania
  • Anu K Antony and Rowena Robinson // Prayer, Pain and ‘Spiritual Labour’: An Ethnographic account of Indigenous Women’s Congregations  in Kerala
  • Easten Law // A case study in cosmopolitan Chinese Christianity: the theological implications of negotiating religiosity across boundaries among young urban professionals in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

8.30 pm: Doctoral Student Reception


Wednesday 18th September

8.00 am: Breakfast

9.00 am: Plenary Session (60 Minute Papers) Lecture Room (LRC)

  • Full paper 3: Mary Clark Moschella // Ethnography and Pastoral Theology Revisited
  • Full paper 4: Natalie Wigg-Stevenson // Two or Three are Gathered: Where Theologians Dare Not Tread (but Anthropologists Increasingly Might)

11.00 am: Coffee

11.30 am: Track Session (45 Minute Papers)

Room 1 Lecture Room (LRC)

  • Bård E H Norheim and Knut Tveitereid // The Approximate nature of Ordinary Theology
  • Chris Swann // To transgress or not to transgress? Karl Barth and ethnographically-engaged ecclesiology

Room 2 All Churches Room (LRC)

  • Lindsay Chineegadoo // Natural Church Development and Transformational Ecclesiology
  • David Jeremiah Seah H.H. and Swee-Sum Lam // Transforming a Church: A Pneumatological Approach

Room 3 Leech Hall

  • Hans Schaeffer & Jasper Bosman // Why Celebrating the Lord’s Supper is a Confusing Practice: Reflections on the Formative Power of a Liturgical Ritual Practice
  • Helen Cameron // Uses of Normativity: Reflections on a sunny Sunday morning in November

1.00 pm: Lunch 

2.00 pm: Track / Seminar Session

Room 1 Lecture Room (LRC) (45 Minute papers)

  • Douglas Davies // Ethnography into Anthropology and Theology
  • James Butler // Prayer as a research practice? What explicit prayer practices disclose about theological action research

Room 2 All Churches Room (LRC) (30 Minute papers)

  • Matthew Edminster // The Space Between: Considering the Church as Relational Subject
  • Mihail Ciopasiu // Discovering God’s traces in Ferentari
  • Natalie Swann // ‘Consider it joy’: the interplay between gratitude and loss for migrant Christians in suburban Melbourne

Room 3 Leech Hall (45 Minute papers)

  • Kevin Ellis // An autoethnographic approach to reading the Bible
  • Radu Maris // Mentoring as a tool for leadership development in the Pentecostal Romanian context

3.30 pm: Tea

6.00 pm: Evening Meal

7.00 pm: Seminar Session (30 Minute Papers)

Room 1 Lecture Room (LRC)

  • Isaac Arten // Linking Historical Theology and Contemporary Reflection through Ethnographic Methods
  • Matthew Shahin Richardson // “For wherever you go, I go”: Honouring the Jewish roots of ethnographic routes
  • Monica McArdle // Would Moses have won the battle if he had been raising his heart and mind? (Exodus 17:11). An investigation of the Catholic understanding of the role of the body in prayer.

Room 2 All Churches Room (LRC)

  • Leslie Thyberg // A Case for Catechesis in a Post Christian, Consumer-Based Culture: An Urban Church-Plant’s Struggle to Thrive
  • John Leach and Peter Elsmore // Why don’t they do what they say? Interim results from a study of ecclesiastical dissent
  • Jana Šídlová // Laypeople in the world or/and in the Church?!

Room 3 Leech Hall

  • Ian Mobsby // Reflections on a research methodology that draws on a Grounded Theory approach to Ethnography and a Synthetic Model of Contextual Theology in Practical Theology
  • Nina Kurlberg // Church or Corporation? Examining the practice of parachurch organisations through the lens of the institutional logics perspective
  • Thonbamliu K // Christianity and the formation of new economic ethics: An ethnographic account of the Baptist Liangmai church in Northeastern India


Thursday 19th September

8.00 am: Breakfast

9.00 am: Track Session (45 Minute Papers)

Room 1 Lecture Room (LRC)

  • Ryan Byerly // Studying the Collective Character Traits of Christian Churches: A Quantitative Approach
  • Paul Fiddes // “Living by the Risks of Love”: a liturgy based on Shakespeare’s Play The Merchant of Venice, with a contribution to the Ethnography of Worship

Room 2 All Churches Room (LRC)

  • Mookgo Solomon Kgatle // New paradigms of ecclesiology among new Pentecostal churches in a South African context
  • Steve Taylor // Where #christmasangels tweet: Craftivism as a missiology of making

Room 3 Leech Hall

  • Jack Gabig // One Ring to Rule Them All: Smartphone as Cultural Catechumenate
  • Peter Ward // Cultural Studies and the EE Conversation

10.30 am: Coffee

11.00 am: Plenary Session Lecture Room (LRC)

  • Full paper 5: Todd Whitmore // Bookpanel with: Easten Law, Tone Stangeland Kaufman, Lieve Orye
  • Full paper 6: Jonas Ideström // Down to Earth Theology – Research as Theopolitical Practice in the New Climate Regime

1.00 pm: Lunch


Dates for next year: 15-17 September 2020

Conference Organising Group

Prof. Pete Ward, Durham University, NLA University College, Bergen and MF The Norwegian School of Theology;  Rev Dr Christian Scharen, Vice President of Applied Research and the Center for the Study of Theological Education, Auburn Seminary; Dr Knut Tveitereid, NLA University College, Bergen; Avril Baigent, PhD student, Durham University; Jasper Bosman, Junior Researcher in Practical Theology, Theological University Kampen.

Conference Advisory Group

Prof. Paul Fiddes, Oxford University, Prof. John Swinton, University of Aberdeen, Dr Tone Kaufman, MF The Norwegian School of Theology