Association of Practical Theologyadmin2021-02-17T18:55:31-05:00
The Association of Practical Theology (APT) promotes critical discourse that integrates theological reflection and practice. Reconstituted from its predecessor organizations 1984, the APT was sparked by the investigation of practical theology as an integrative hermeneutical endeavor at the heart of theological education, characterizing not only the ministerial sub-disciplines but also a manner and method of engaged reflection.
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 (educational, relational, caregiving, devotional and administrative) 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?
In this time of revolutionary energies and pandemic struggles, we see you, our APT members.
We see you speaking out about inequities in access to health care, about brutalities in policing and in our criminal justice system, about the demands that workers risk their lives to provide services that are less than essential, about the need for self-care and communal support in the midst of these justice-seeking efforts.
We see you protesting, teaching, supporting, organizing, collaborating, and grieving. We see you providing needed resources and analysis, casting visions of hope, seeking to build a world that does not simply return to the normal business of injustice and distraction but that moves toward a vibrant community of justice and connection.
You are doing the work, friends. Many of you have been doing the work for a long time.
This last week at Iliff’s Commencement, a song was sung that Dr. Vincent Harding introduced to the community before his passing, sung to the tune of the spiritual “We are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder”:
As a part of his work in the world, Dr. Harding hosted “Spirit and Struggle” retreats to help sustain those engaged in the long haul of social justice work in many communities and settings. He knew that we become strong and don’t get weary by finding places of rest along the way, and by recognizing that the way is long and we need one another to sustain the work. We also need song, celebration, and prayer to help us build the courage that is needed.
Take courage, colleagues, persevere in building up a new world that is on the horizon.