Ecclesial Practices Unit at the AAR San Diego 2019

AAR 2019
The AAR conference this year will be in San Diego, CA. We will be hosting a set of bespoke workshops and panels for theologians and ethicists looking to use ethnography in their research.


November 23, 2019


November 26, 2019


San Diego, CA   View map

Ecclesial Practices provides a collaborative space at the intersection of ethnographic and other qualitative approaches and theological approaches to the study of ecclesial practices. This might include churches, other (new, emerging, para-church, and virtual) communities, and lived faith in daily life. International in scope, the unit encourages research contributing to a deeper understanding of “church in practice” in a global context, including decolonization and postcolonial theologies. The unit encourages ongoing research in the following areas:

• Empirical and theological approaches to the study of ecclesial communities (churches, congregations, and emerging communities), especially as interdisciplinary efforts to understand lived faith and practice extending from them
• Studies of specific ecclesial activities, e.g. music, liturgy, arts, social justice, youth work, preaching, pastoral care, rites of passage, community organizing
• Studies of global contexts of lived faith in relation to ecclesial communities, for example, decolonizing and postcolonial theory and theology
• Discussions of congregational growth and decline, new church movements, and ecclesial experiments connected to shared practices in a worldly church
• Explorations of Christian doctrine in relation to the potential implications of empirical and qualitative research on ecclesial communities and lived faith for discerning, defining, and challenging standard theological genres such as systematics and doctrine, as well as inviting new ways to understand normative logics
• Discussions of methodological issues with regard to qualitative research on theological topics, especially related to ecclesial communities and lived faith
• Discussions (both substantive and methodological) of the implications of new technologies and digital cultures for ecclesial communities and lived faith




Theme: Christian Theology and Ethnography in Intersection: Engaging Todd Whitmore’s Imitating Christ in Magwi: An Anthropological Theology (Bloomsbury, 2019) – [click for more information]
Michael Grigoni, Duke University, Presiding
Saturday – 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Convention Center-3 (Upper Level West)


Theme: What Really Matters at the Intersection of Ethnography and Theology [click for more info]
Jonas Ideström, Church of Sweden, Presiding
Sunday – 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Hilton Bayfront-Aqua 305 (Third Level)


Theme: Ethnography, Theology, and Intersectionality [click for more info]
Theodore Hickman-Maynard, Boston University, Presiding
Monday – 9:00 AM-11:30 AM
Hilton Bayfront-Sapphire 411A (Fourth Level)


About the AAR

The American Academy of Religion brings thousands of professors and students, authors and publishers, religious leaders and interested laypersons to its Annual Meeting each year. Co-hosted with the Society of Biblical Literature, the Annual Meetings are the largest events of the year in the fields of religious studies and theology.




Steering Committee