2018 Biennial Conference Information



To Register:  http://www.regonline.com/practicaltheology2018

The Association of Practical Theology

Biennial Conference, April 13-15, 2018

Yale University Divinity School, New Haven, CT

Theme Description

The arts have the power to change the way we view reality. The noted philosopher of education, Maxine Greene, considered art an act of “social imagination” that awakens social consciousness by allowing people to “see things as if they could be otherwise.” How are practical theologians engaging the arts, particularly in relation to the work of challenging injustice and envisioning social transformation? What other kinds of change can practical theological engagement with arts generate? The theme for the 2018 Association of Practical Theology’s Biennial Meeting, Making Justice: Practical Theology, the Arts, and Transformation, invites explorations of practical theological aesthetics and the work of performing justice through practical theology’s engagement with the arts, including explorations of the role that justice invites and demands in such engagements.

Recent scenes of public protest in the US, from Ferguson (Missouri), to Standing Rock (North Dakota), to Charlottesville (Virginia), have reawakened the performance of protest art and the use of the arts to challenge oppressive systems. For instance, the events of Ferguson gave rise to powerful creative responses from such groups as Artivists STL and the documentary film Whose Streets? (http://www.whosestreets.com/). Scholars of music, long recognizing music’s crucial role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 20th century, lift up contemporary rappers and spoken word artists as similarly giving voice to 21st century movements toward racial justice. Drama and dance based groups create opportunities for personal transformation as well as working for social justice, in forms such as Theatre of the Oppressed and InterPlay. Music, performance arts, poetics, and material art forms all can give expression to what is otherwise ineffable, offering alternative languages for meanings that refuse more typical forms of narrativity.

The intersections between art and practical theology show up in spaces such as the relatively new discourse on “theopoetics,” and in academic spaces such as religion and literature programs. Recent practical theological writings also give renewed attention to the arts in intersection with practical theology. Illman and Smith (2013) speak of the arts as having a particular kind of wisdom, offering examples of communities’ arts-based practices of as key sites where practical theology is enacted. Graham and Poling (2000) name art as “resistance to evil.”

In this biennial conference, we invite exploration of the intersections between practical theological reflection and art in its varied forms—music, film, poetics, performance arts such as dance and theater, material art forms such as painting, murals, sculpture, and art installations. In what sense might practical theology itself be art that includes performance, rhetoric, and aesthetics? Topics might include practical theological engagement with the following: the arts and anti-racism; populist art forms (graffiti, “street theater,” spoken word) as practical theology; contemporary sound tracks of justice movements; art, worship, and justice; the poetics of protest; the politics of art in urban public spaces; practical theology at the cinema; music in contemporary “worship wars”; photographing/ sculpting/ painting transformation; religious art in new faith communities; practical theology as art;  the arts transforming practical theology.

 Registration Information

To Register:  http://www.regonline.com/practicaltheology2018

(Note: Times or Events are subject to change; This schedule is intended as a guide. Final schedule with room locations will be available in conference packets at registration/check-in.

Thursday, 4/12

Pre-conference workshop: “Theater of the Oppressed Methods in Teaching Practical Theology” (limited to 35 participants; pre-registration required)

6:30-9:30 pm

Friday, 4/13/15

Pre-conference workshop continues


Onsite registration and Check-in

3:00-5:00 pm

Conference Opening 4:30-5:00


Remembering and honoring Dale Andrews

Plenary I  “Practical Theology & Justice: A Musical Conversation”—Don and Emily Saliers


Reception with Book & CD signing




Saturday, 4/14/18



Graduate Student breakfast


Onsite registration/check-in

8: 30-9:15

Plenary II, Dr. Charrise Barron “New Songs in the Same Strange Land: Congregational Music for Worship and Liberation in the Age of Hip Hop and Black Lives Matter”


Coffee break


Concurrent Paper/Performance Session I


Lunch, Free time, Optional art gallery tours


Concurrent paper/performance session II




Transportation (or walking) to Davies Auditorium (off- site venue) 5:00

Plenary III, Dr. Su’ad Abdul Khabeer “Sampled: Beats of Muslim Life”


Dinner on your own, New Haven restaurants


Sunday, 4/14/18



Worship/Justice/Art–Dax Crocker, Don Saliers


Concurrent paper session III

9:30-10:45 am

Coffee break


Plenary IV:  Emmanuel Garibay, “Painting Justice: Decolonizing Material Art”—a Conversation with Dr. Kim Vrudny


APT Business Meeting and Conference Closure, Box lunches available

12:30-1:00 pm

Departures  1:00

New 2018-2020 APT Executive Committee Meeting



Conference Housing Information:

The APT has reserved a block of rooms at a discounted rate at two hotels in downtown New Haven. When you register for the conference online, you will be able make your housing reservations at the hotel of your choice at the same time. There are a limited number of reserved rooms which will be available at the conference rates listed below on a first-come, first-served basis, so we encourage you to register as soon as possible after the web site is live.

Conference hotels are around 1 mile away from the Divinity School. We will provide a shuttle to get conference participants between hotels and YDS before the first session and after the last session of the day, for those who are not counting steps on their Fitbits.

The New Haven Hotel in downtown New Haven (1.4 miles from the YDS campus) offers rooms with queen or king-sized beds for $169+taxes. Parking is $20/night.

The New Haven Courtyard Marriott in downtown New Haven (1.3 miles from the YDS campus) offers rooms with a single king-sized bed or with two queen beds, for $169+taxes or $179 + taxes, respectively. Parking is available for $20/night.

Graduate Students: In addition, several lower cost options will be offered to graduate students (and we encourage room sharing when possible), who will be able to reserve these rooms directly on the conference registration web page when they register for the conference identifying themselves as grad students. Also, for graduate students: The Overseas Ministries Study Center, (walking distance to YDS, at 490 Prospect St., New Haven) may be an option. 203-624-6672. The APT cannot reserve rooms in advance at the OMSC and therefore we cannot book these through our conference web page, but sometimes rooms are available, and rates are extremely reasonable. Call for pricing information and availability asap.

Getting to New Haven: It takes a little effort to get here but it’s worth it.

By Rail: The easiest way to get to New Haven is by rail, which puts you within minutes of the Yale Campus.

  • Amtrak(800.872.7245) provides train service to New Haven from Vermont, Providence, Boston, and Washington DC.
  • Metro-North Railways(800.638.7647) offers frequent train service between New Haven and New York City.

From New Haven’s Union Station, you can take a taxi, Uber, Lyfft, etc. for around $10-15. If time is not an issue, there also is a free Yale Shuttle into the downtown hotel area or to the Divinity School.

By Air: The three closest airport options are New Haven, Hartford, and New York.

  1. Tweed-New Haven (HVN) is a tiny airport into which American Airlines now offers jet service through Philadelphia, and it is the closest and most convenient in terms of ground transport (approx. $15-20 Uber or Taxi from airport to hotel). When comparing prices, you may find this is the cheaper option even if the airfare is slightly higher, due to ground transportation costs from other airports. So, you will want to compare costs with that in mind.
  2. Bradley (BDL–Hartford-Springfield Airport) has more major airlines including Southwest, and is roughly an hour away by airport shuttle which costs around $69 RT. Call 800-377-8745 (https://2theairport.hudsonltd.net/res). Always reserve shuttles in advance!! Unless you are ride-sharing with a group, we do not recommend taking a taxi from BDL as it will be quite costly. BDL is an easy airport to get in and out of, and is the shortest distance from Yale among the airports served by multiple major airlines.
  3. New York airports are about 2 hours away. From JFK or LGA you can

(a) take an airport shuttle (advance reservations advised) to New Haven 800-377-8745 (https://2theairport.hudsonltd.net/res);

(b)  taxi or take public transportation to the train station in NYC and take Metro North train to New Haven;

(c) taxi to a NYC Megabus Stop, and take Megabus to New Haven for around $20. Stops in NY are located at: 34th St b/t 11th Ave and 12th Ave; 7th Ave and 27th St; Port Authority Bus Terminal (see agent at 2nd floor Shortline ticket window)]. The Megabus stops at the New Haven Union Station from which you can take a free Yale Shuttle into the downtown hotel area or to the Divinity School, or get a taxi or Uber from there as well.

By Bus

It is also possible to take a bus to New Haven Union Station, which also serves as a bus terminal.

By Car

There are multiple driving routes that you can take to arrive on campus:

Information for GPS:
409 Prospect Street
New Haven, Connecticut 06511(link is external)

From I-91 North or South:

  1. Take Exit 3 (Trumbull Street) off I-91
  2. At the end of the ramp go straight on Trumbull Street.
  3. Take a right on Whitney Ave and continue to Edwards St.
  4. Take a left onto Edwards and then a right onto Prospect St.
  5. The Divinity School is in the next block on the right.
  6. Pull into the drive between the two stone pillars and go up the drive a few more yards.
  7. The main entrance will be on your right.
  8. Parking is available in the Divinity School surface lot #11

I hope this is helpful to you as you contemplate your plans to participate in this year’s APT conference. On behalf of the APT Executive Committee and Yale Divinity School, I look forward to welcoming you to the campus and to New Haven in April.

Confirmed Presenters/Speakers APT 2018

Don and Emily Saliers:     “ Theology and Justice: A Musical Conversation”

Don and Emily Saliers:  “Theology and Justice: A Musical Conversation”

In our opening plenary session, Emily and Don Saliers explore how music is related to social justice and the cries of the human heart.  They write: “One of us is a singer-songwriter playing in bars and rock concerts, the other is a church musician.  We are asking how music shapes and expresses human engagement with issues of justice and peace.  What makes music a powerful force for social change?  How is singing together a spiritual practice?   This session will involve the assembly singing as well.”

Emily Saliers is one-half of the Grammy Award winning duo the Indigo Girls.  For over twenty-five years they have performed around the world and have recorded 16 albums.  Emily has recently released her first solo album, “Murmuration Nation.”   She was co-author with Don Saliers of the book, A Song to Sing, A Life to Live.  Active in social justice movements, she is married to Tristin Chipman and they are raising their five-year-old daughter in Atlanta, Georgia.

Dr. Don E. Saliers is the Wm. R. Cannon Professor of Theology and Worship, Emeritus at Emory University where he also served as director of the Master of Sacred Music Program.  He continues to teach as Theologian-in-Residence at Candler School of Theology. After attending Ohio Wesleyan University, he earned his B.D. degree and a Ph. D. from Yale University.  Dr. Saliers is currently writing on liturgy and theological aesthetics.  Previous publications include: Music and Theology (2007), A Song to Sing, a Life to Live (2004), coauthored with daughter Emily Saliers; The Conversation Matters (1999), coauthor; Human Disability and the Service of God (1998), coauthor; Worship Come To Its Senses (1996); Worship As Theology (1994); Christian Spirituality III (1989), coeditor with critical introduction; Handbook For the Christian Year (1986, 1992); K. Barth’s Prayer (1985), coeditor with critical introduction; Worship and Spirituality (1984); and Soul in Paraphrase: Prayer and Religious Affections (1980, 1991).An accomplished jazz and classical pianist, he has lectured widely and teaches in summer sessions at Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music.  He serves as national chaplain to the American Guild of Organists.

Emmanuel Garibay : “Painting as a Postcolonial Practice of Justice”

Emmanuel Garibay is the conference artist-in-residence. He will be in our midst painting throughout the conference, and will explore the practical theological dimensions of his art in a plenary conversation at the end of the conference. His art will also be on exhibit. Garibay is a Filipino painter known for his expressionist figurative style. Many of his works feature ordinary people in scenes of political, religious, and social complexity, where controversial issues of justice and truth are presented vigorously and colorfully. He graduated from the University of the Philippines with a BA in Sociology and a BA in Fine Arts, and earned his Master of Divinity degree at the Union Theological Seminary in the Philippines. His first exhibit was held in 1993, since then he has gained recognition, exhibiting in widely in Europe, Asia, and the United States. He believes that “Art is all about an idea that you want to share. [It is] a way of seeing the what you want people to appreciate in their world.”

Kimberly Vrudny

Kim Vrudny joins Emmanuel Garibay in a conversation about his art for our Sunday morning plenary. Dr. Vrudny is associate professor of systematic theology at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN. She teaches in the areas of theological aesthetics, theology and the arts, and political theology. In her most recent book, Beauty’s Vineyard: A Theological Aesthetic of Anguish and Anticipation, she addresses religious questions raised by contemporary social realists and, in so doing, constructs a socially engaged theology of Beauty. She was on sabbatical in South Africa, Thailand, and Mexico during academic year 2009-2010 to create “30 Years/30 Lives,” a photography project documenting thirty people impacted by HIV/AIDS to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the pandemic. Dr. Vrudny is the senior editor of the journal  ARTS: The Arts in Religious and Theological Studies , and previously served on its staff for sixteen years. She is the author of multiple books addressing the intersections of religion and the arts, including Beauty’s Vineyard: A Theological Aesthetic of Anguish and Anticipation (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 2016); Friars, Scribes, and Corpses: A Marian Confraternal Reading of The Mirror of Human Salvation (Leuven: Peeters, 2010); Visual Theology: Forming and Transforming the Community Through the Arts (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 2009), co-edited with Robin Jensen; Arts, Theology and the Church: New Intersections (Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 2005), co-edited with Wilson Yates; and 30 Years / 30 Lives: Documenting a Pandemic (Seattle: CreateSpace, 2010).

Charrise Barron

Charrise Barron is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University. Her work with us will address the intersections between the folk and congregational music of black Christians which historically has bolstered social justice movements—from abolition to the classical phase of the Civil Rights Movement—and hip hop. The Black Lives Matter Movement represents a paradigm shift in which gospel singers have been conspicuously absent from the musical frontlines of the Movement. Hip hop has emerged as the primary motivating music of Black Lives Matter protesters, helping to decenter Christianity and its music from contemporary black liberation activism. Instead, the most celebrated anthems of the Black Lives Matter Movement, such as Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” have largely been commercial rap and hip hop soul recordings. Hip hop has emerged as the primary motivating music of Black Lives Matter protesters, even as hip hop has remained a liminal music form in many black American churches. This presentation illuminates efforts to bridge hip hop, Black Lives Matter, and Christian congregational music-making. Concomitantly, this session explores the black Christian congregational music-making tradition as a means to: build community across race and denomination; support contemporary black liberation efforts; and reflect Christian witness.

Dr. Barron recently earned her PhD from Harvard University in African and African American studies, with a secondary concentration in music. Dr. Barron also holds a Master of Divinity summa cum laude from Yale Divinity School. Her seminar at Yale, entitled “Gospel Music in the Church and World,” analyzes the ways in which African American gospel has been produced and performed for both church and popular consumption. Previously, as a Riley Scholar-in-Music at Colorado College, she taught classes on gospel and black protest music. She has also guest lectured on African American religion and black popular music for several Harvard University courses. Dr. Barron is currently writing a book on contemporary African American gospel music. She is a Forum for Theological Exploration (FTE) Doctoral Fellowship alumna, and a member of the Harvard University Society of Horizons Scholars. Beyond her academic work, Barron is an ordained Christian minister and gospel keyboardist, singer, and composer. She has performed and directed music programming in churches throughout the United States and abroad.

Su’ad Abdul Khabeer

Su’ad Abdul Khabeer is a scholar-artist-activist who uses anthropology and performance to explore the intersections of race and popular culture. Dr. Khabeer is currently an associate professor of American Culture and Arab and Muslim American Studies at the University of Michigan. She received her PhD in cultural anthropology from Princeton University. She is a graduate from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and completed the Islamic Studies diploma program of the Institute at Abu Nour University (Damascus). Her latest work, Muslim Cool: Race, Religion and Hip Hop in the United States (NYU Press 2016), is an ethnography on Islam and hip hop that examines how intersecting ideas of Muslimness and Blackness challenge and reproduce the meanings of race in the US. Su’ad’s written work on Islam and hip hop is accompanied by her performance ethnography, Sampled: Beats of Muslim LifeSampled is a one-woman solo performance designed to present and represent her research and findings to diverse audiences as part of her commitment to public scholarship. In line with this commitment Dr. Khabeer leads Sapelo Square, the first website dedicated to the comprehensive documentation and analysis of the Black US American Muslim experience. She has also written for The Root, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, Ebony Magazine, the Huffington Post, Religious Dispatches and Trans/Missions, and has appeared on Al Jazeera English. Additionally, she is a Senior Project Advisor for the US Public Television award-winning documentary, New Muslim Cool and her poetry was featured in the anthology Living Islam Out Loud: American Muslim Women Speak.

Sampled Trailer: http://www.suadabdulkhabeer.com/sampled-beats-of-muslim-life/


Pre-Conference Workshop on Pedagogy, Practical Theology, and the Arts

In partnership with New York Theater of the Oppressed Lab (TOPLAB), the APT will offer a pre-conference workshop focused on pedagogy, practical theology, and the arts, using “Theater of the Oppressed” methods in the teaching of practical theology. APT Executive Committee members Drs. John Falcone and Evelyn Parker will join TOPLAB trainers in the leadership of this workshop tailored for teaching in practical theology. The workshop will begin Thursday evening, April 12, and continue during the day on Friday April 13 prior to the start of the conference. The Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB) is a multiracial collective of educators, cultural workers, organizers, and artists. TOPLAB uses Theater of the Oppressed techniques and methodology to promote and engage in democratic processes, and creative approaches to community building for radical social change. TOPLAB was founded in 1990 and is the oldest organization in the United States dedicated to providing ongoing training in the techniques of the Theater of the Oppressed, founded by renown Brazilian director Augusto Boal. TOPLAB has hosted workshops by Boal annually, until his passing in 2008, and continues to host his son, Julian Boal.




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