Durham Conference September 2023 (latest update: September 15)

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


September 15, 2023 - 11:30 am


September 17, 2023 - 2:00 pm


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

Ecclesiology and Ethnography Conference 2023

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.

Conference Timetable

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. 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 Saturday. Bring your instruments and join in!


Final Timetable of the Durham Conference

(latest update: September 15, 2023)


Friday 15th September


11.30 am: Arrivals, Tea and Coffee  


1.00 pm: Lunch


2.00 pm: Plenary Session (55 Minute Papers) Lectur­e Room (Chair: Pete)

  • Hanna Kauhaus: German „Kirchentheorie“: Theory of Church between Ecclesiology, Social Sciences and Church Politics
  • Panel discussion on The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Theology and Qualitative Research with Marti, Ney, Taylor, Stone, and Tveitereid


4.00 pm: Tea


4.30 pm: Track Sessions (45 Minute Papers)

Room 1 Learning Resource Centre (LRC)

  • Jonna van der Berge-Bekker & Marten van der Meulen: The two crises of the church
  • Matteo Benussi & Tommaso Manzon: Two Ways of Being the Body of Christ: Toward an Anthropology of Church Forms, with Reference to Baptist and Roman Catholic Polities in Italy


Room 2 All Churches Room

  • Stephen Roberts: Wonderbrass, wellbeing and the possibility of ecclesia extra ecclesiam
  • Léon van Ommen: When Words Fail: Qualitative Methods and Sensory Liturgical Theology with Non-Speaking Autistic Worshippers


6.00 pm: Evening Meal


7.00 pm: Seminar Session (30 Minute Papers)

Room 1 Learning Resource Centre (LRC)

  • Hadley Bennet: Re conceiving ecclesial leadership: leadership-as-spiritual practice
  • Andreas Bernberg: Making citizens: Ecclesial social practice and political theology
  • Paul Bradbury: Pioneer ministry as an open process of sociopoesis – insights from the ecclesiology of Daniel Hardy and Theological Action Research into the practice of pioneers.


Room 2 All Churches Room

  • Harry Gibbins: Bigger On The Inside – Making the case for autistic-led Christian ministry
  • Hannah Buckley: Both wound and opening: An autoethnographic exploration of the tangled experience of faith and depression.
  • Henna Cundill: Autism, Prayer and Anxiety – Theological Action Research Report


Room 3 The Etchells room

  • Matthew Edminster: Jesus Goes to Sauna: A Breviary of Sacramental Gathering in Estonian Free Churches
  • Victoria Etherington: The unicorn diaries: exploring lay children’s and youth leader’s experiences of theological formation in the British Methodist church.
  • Tomas Ray: Being Lutheran in Malaysia – a Multicultural Experience


Saturday 16th September


8.00 am: Breakfast


9.00 am: Seminar Session (30 Minute Papers) Lecture Room

Room 1 Learning Resource Centre (LRC)

  • Nina Haglund: “It’s just work” – Views on spiritual work among the professionally employed in the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Finland
  • Carolyn Poteet: Shaken Together: Resilience in a Covid-Weary Church
  • Micheal MacKenzie: : Faith in Flux: Using Transformative Learning Theory to Explore Experiences of Religious Doubt in Adult Christians


Room 2 All Churches Room

  • Lina Friederike Henze: When religiosity starts to permeate life – a qualitative-empirical dissertation project in the Protestant-reformed context of Switzerland: Phenomena & characteristics of turning towards a life-permeating religiosity 
  • Bjørn Wang: The Social Construction of Prophecy
  • Chanil Lee: Cultural Factors Shaping the Popularity of the Prosperity Gospel in US and Korean Pulpits


Room 3 The Etchells room (45 minute papers)

  • Knut Tveitereid: Generalizability in QR: to population, to theory and to theology
  • Shelly Higgins: Our Lady of the Apocalypse: Exploring Divine-Human Relationships in the Anthropocene


10.30 am: Coffee


11.00 am: Track Sessions (45 Minute Papers)

Room 1 Learning Resource Centre (LRC)

  • James Butler: In search of a practical theology of human participation in the missio Dei:
  • Pete Ward: Gospel Songs and the Gospel


Room 2 All Churches Room

  • Isaac Arten: Congregational Ethnography, Anti-Racism, and “Culture Care”: A Process for Historical Writing in Christian Congregations
  • Dorte Kappelgaard: Engaging volunteers in developing church practices – a journey of liminality and resonance


Room 3 The Etchells room

  • Stefanie Conradt: Espoused Voices in Creative Tension: What Case Studies of Christian Congregations in Scotland and Germany Reveal about Mission as Fresh Expressing Church
  • Martina Björkander: Researching Pentecostal worship as a “modus theologicus”


12.30 pm: Lunch


1.30 pm: Plenary Session (55 Minute Papers) Lecture Room (Chair: Gretchen)

  • Mathew Guest: Neoliberal Religion: Faith and Power in the 21stCentury
  • Gerardo Marti: Riding a Chariot of Fire in a Whirlwind: The Challenge of History, Circumstance, and Theological Clarity Amidst Ongoing Social Change


3.30 pm: Tea / Break


4.00 pm: Seminar Session (30 Minute Papers)

Room 1 Learning Resource Centre (LRC)

  • Leah Kadwell: Structural Injustice and the Majority World: Bringing Redemption and Sustainability to the Christian Church
  • Mokone Lephoto: Transforming and migration among members of a Catholic Church in Southern Africa Beyond 2012: doing spiritual, historical and missiological care in the footsteps of Evangelii Gaudium, Laudato Si, Fratelli Tutti


Room 2 All Churches Room

  • Andy Symmons: Church as a Podcast? Understanding the Ecclesiology of the Christian Deconstruction Movement
  • Matthew Maslin: “They behaved just as if they did believe”: The Significance of Christian Practices for Seekers in Blaise Pascal’s Pensées


Room 3 The Etchells room

  • Dara Straub: Discourse Network Analysis as a theological method
  • Alistair Lowe: A Theological Critique of Discipleship in Fresh Expressions of Church


5.00 pm: Seminar Session (30 Minute Papers)

Room 1 Learning Resource Centre (LRC)

  • Curtis Love: Co-creating a decolonial pedagogy in theological education: A southern theological action research approach
  • Kirsten van der Ham: Uncomfortable conversations? An exploration of engaging with the topic of racism with churches in the Netherlands


Room 2 All Churches Room

  • Mark Ord: A Baptist Church Discerns the Corpus Permixtum
  • Bert Roor & Evelien van Duffelen: Does it make sense to participate? A practical-theological research on the experiences of participants in pioneering faith communities in the Netherlands


Room 3 The Etchells room

  • Eri Yoon: A Study on the Vertical and Horizontal Relationships of the Holy Communion in Paul’s Institution Narrative (1. Cor 11:17-34)
  • Rebecca Tyndall: Chameleons in the Game of Thrones: working-class clergy in a middle-class church


6.00 pm: Evening Meal


7.00 pm: Drinks and music at The college pub


Sunday 17th September


8.00 am: Breakfast


9.00 am: Track Session (45 Minute Papers)

Room 1 Learning Resource Centre (LRC)

  • Andy Hardy: Healing the Kantian Wound, Clues from Ordinary Theodicy and a-Theodicy: Framing and Informing Late Modern Mission and Discipleship Epistemology
  • Gillian Symon, Rebecca Whiting & Rebecca Taylor: “The Reformation of the 21st Century?”: Church of England Clergy Experiences of Ministry during the Covid-19 Pandemic


Room 2 All Churches Room

  • Chris Ney: Minding the Gap: What I Expected and What I Found Through Qualitative Research with New England Congregationalists and Chilean Pentecostals
  • Jack Gabig: St. Luke as Ethnographer


Room 3 The Etchells room

  • Steve Taylor: Handmade: an ethnographic meditation on words made flesh in the mission of God
  • Kathy Hulin: How an Ethnography Is Changing a Parish’s Understanding of Its Ecclesiology


10.30 am: Coffee


11.00 am: Plenary Session (55 Minute Papers) Learning Resource Centre (LRC) (Chair: TBD)

  • Lynne Taylor: Exploring faith formation in contemporary contexts (by employing theological qualitative research)
  • Karen Zwijze-Koning & Hans Schaeffer: Towards sustainable church renewal: fostering a local culture of reflexivity within churches in the Netherlands


1.00 pm: Lunch


Dates for next year: 10-12 September 2024


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Conference Organising Group

Prof. Pete Ward, Durham University, NLA University College, Bergen and MF Norwegian School of Theology, Oslo;  Rev Dr Christian Scharen, Interim Pastor in New York City, USA; Dr Knut Tveitereid, MF Norwegian School of Theology, Oslo; Dr Gretchen Schoon-Tanis, Minister in Hamburg, Germany; Dr Jasper Bosman, Minister in Hattem, the Netherlands.

Conference Advisory Group

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