April 1, 2020
Dear APT Members:
Grace and peace to everyone during these days of the COVID-19 pandemic. My prayers are that you are healthy, safe, and practicing precautions against a COVID-19 infection.
This letter is to update you on the 2020 Association of Practical Theology (APT) Biennial Conference. As you are probably aware, our conference scheduled for April 17-19 at the Houston Methodist Research Institute in Houston, TX was cancelled by the Houston Methodist Hospital on March 5th because we were an external organization and they need to focus all personnel and resources on the Coronavirus, COVID-19. Since March 5th the APT Executive Committee and I have been working on a contingency plan for the conference. On Sunday, March 8th the Executive Committee met to discuss the situation and our options. We unamiously voted to move forward with a virtual/online conference. The APT Executive Committee authorized Katherine Turpin – VP, Yara Gonzalez-Justiniano – Secretary-Treasurer and myself to design an online conference.
The conference APT 2020 Biennial Conference, “This is my body”: The Human Body as Site for Intersectional Discourse on Practical Theology and Bioethics, will convene via five Zoom sessions in the follow manner:
- The Virtual Conference will be free to all members of APT whose membership dues are current. No registration fee will be required.
- There will be an opening plenary and a brief closing of the conference after the last paper session.
- The APT Online conference will convene for 1.5 – 2.0 hours over a five week period.
- Dates are April 18, 25, May 2, 9 and 16. We wil be sensitive to responses from our membership, which means being flexible with paper sessions and length of Zoom time.
- The 1.5 – 2.0 hour sessions will convene from 10:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. CDST. Persons from all other time Zones will click a Zoom link, provided on the webpage, to connect per their time zone.
- Currently, there are three presenters each session on April 25, May 2 and 9. The May 16th session has two paper presentations and a brief closing ritual for the conference.
- There will be intentional efforts to keep the sessions interactive and focused on the theme of the conference: “This is my body: The Human Body as Site for Intersectional Discourse on Practical Theology and Bioethics.”
- APT social media will be used to promote the virtual conference to current membership and potential members.
- The play Do No Harm will be videorecorded during its performance at Southern Methodist University during the 2020 Fall semester and uploaded on the APT website.
As of March 30th I refunded all conference registrations paid through the APT PayPal. I have cancelled the contract with the Hilton Houston Plaza/Medical Center and paid the 50% cancellation fee rather than the 100% cancellation fee, thanks to the Hilton Hotel administration. I am seeking airfare refunds for four conference speakers and will know the results of my requests by April 17th. These and other financial outcomes will be reported to the membership after our online conference. I encourage those who made reservations at the Hilton Houston Plaza/Medical Center and flight reservations to contact the hotel and their airline to request refunds and cancellations.
Please check the APT website to update your membership, for the conference schedule, and for links to participate in the APT 2020 Biennial Online Conference. We plan to have the conference schedule including the names of presenters, dates, and times available no later than April 10th.
Thank you for your support and your prayers for all of our APT members as we nagivate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Let us remember that we are a people of hope.
Evelyn L. Parker, PhD