group symposium


Imagining Community Within Chaos: Re-membering, Re-energizing, and Futuring Practical Theology

Online Meeting, April 1-2, 2022

Nothing about the last year and a half has been normal, and this Biennial gathering of the Association of Practical Theology will reflect that reality. While there will be some typical conference activities, this conference/unconference will prioritize conversations, collaborations, and consultations with other scholar-practitioners in the field of practical theology. There will be time for lament around what we have witnessed, experienced, and survived in the past two years, as well as time for celebrations of milestones, completed projects, and innovations in our work. Much of our time together will be set aside for discerning conversations and building restorative connections a way to respond to the laying bare and being accountable to the realities of what has happened in our communities, churches, theological schools, and networks of belonging, and, in many cases, in generations of trauma leading up to this moment.

Together we will be envisioning: What are critical areas of research and teaching in practical theology that need attention in this moment in history? What are the forums and platforms emerging to contribute our expertise and experience in life-generating ways? How do we support one another in the vital tasks to which we are called as we discern where to lend our energy in the work ahead?

Rather than a typical call for papers, this is a call to be present to this moment together and to discern the possible contributions of practical theology to futuring a more just, connected, and life-giving way of being together within the chaos of this season. Whether your focus in on a global pandemic and health care inequities, systemic racism, religious disaffiliation, police and gun violence, climate crisis, white Christian nationalism, domestic violence, hate crimes, carceral society, hunger and wage inequality, migration/refugee oppression, disconnection and languishing from isolation, or extended disruption of social gatherings, faith communities, and theological education, it is unlikely that these chaotic, death-dealing systems and forces will simply vanish or be quickly dismantled. So how do we foster connection in the midst of them? How do we muster energy to imagine a future that doesn’t replicate what once passed for normal but instead invokes a creative spirit of disruption and new forms of belonging? How are we doing practical theological work that leverages what we know into positive contributions that are engaged by the broader public?

What will our gathering look like? New directions in research and teaching will be honored with group consultations for input, resourcing, and thoughtful, open questions. Well-developed research may be shared for refinement, feedback, and leveraging connections in a small group setting. There will be times for mentoring and peer-led conversations about what you need to thrive in the place where you are or to discern a new path forward as our institutions falter and downsize. There will be space to meet with other like-minded researchers to see if collaborative projects can emerge or we can build upon the good work that has been happening through emergent networks. There will also be spaces to discuss shared struggles that emerge from particular contexts or identities in teaching and research.

This Biennial will be a time to reflect on our vocations as teachers, researchers, and religious leaders and to name how our vocations in practical theology are changing at this moment in history. Rather than a space of performative competence, we will be gathering intentionally in a spirit of vulnerability and awareness of human limitations, seeking inspiration, passion, and renewed fire in the belly for the good work to which we have been called.

Registration for the conference will open January 1, 2022.  The call for proposals will be available until December 1, 2021.


The Association of Practical Theology (APT) offers membership full of benefits that will enhance and enrich your understanding. Your membership gets you:

  • Biennial Conference Entry
  • Conference papers
  • Job Openings database
  • Members-Only articles
  • Members-Only online videos
  • Access to Members directory
  • and more