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2009 Annual Meeting Theme


Theology and Religious Education: Relational, Practical, and Interfaith Dimensions

November 22-24, 2009

Crowne Plaza Hotel (near the Galleria in Addison)

Dallas, TX.

In the middle of the twentieth century (1950), Randolph Crump Miller wrote that theology should stand in the “background” of Christian education, with faith and grace in the foreground; and, of course, he was famous for naming theology as the “clue.” Thirty-two years later, he continued to challenge religious education theorists to take their own stands on two key questions: “(1) What theology can provide the background for religious education? (2) What should be the relation between theology and education?” (Miller 1982, 30)

Miller wrote amid heated debates regarding competing views of theology and the nature of theology’s influence on the theory and practice of religious education. Now, in the twenty-first century, we are keenly aware of the power of religious beliefs and motivations to shape actions in a globalized, postmodern, and ecologically threatened world. We’ve seen this power used in ways that build up and foster unity, and sadly we have also witnessed how religion can become a force for division and violence.

As religious educators, we are committed to the world’s flourishing, and seek to embody a vision of the Divine, the human, and our place within a dynamically evolving creation. Our theologies, especially our understanding of how God is active in the world, is likely to shape our practices of religious education in major ways; yet, the converse may also be true. Thus we can hope to benefit from a renewed dialogue that highlights theology from the vantage point of our field of religious education.

In this REA annual meeting, I invite your consideration of the theologies that shape and are shaped by religious education today, with particular emphasis on the relational, practical and interfaith dimensions of this theme.

  • The relational: what is the nature of the intersection between theology and education? How is faith formed and expressed within religious communities, and how are religious traditions, doctrines, core teachings, and central practices treated educationally?

  • The practical: how does the emerging understanding of practical theology” as a vital sensibility for theology inform our understanding of religious education, and is religious education, in turn, a form of practical theology?

  • The interfaith: do the “theological” questions engaged by Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other religious educators translate sufficiently to allow conversation with one another, and what is at stake for us and our world in such a dialogue?

 The plenaries at this year’s annual meeting will be designed to address each of these dimensions in turn. I believe there are multiple and rich possibilities for papers and colloquia to address the theme. These could include such topics as:

  • Ethnographic and other qualitative research studies that focus on the theological presumptions among participants and how those contribute to religious education practices

  • Studies of the impact of postmodernity on theology and how this affects religious education (e.g., its challenges to creeds, catechisms, and other compilations of the core beliefs of religious communities)

  • Theologies in dialogue: models of religious education that are explicitly interreligious, and how theology shapes and is shaped by them

  • Practical theology vis--vis religious education: understandings of praxis, practices, and the theological “root metaphors” that influence these in our pedagogies

  • Diverse cultural expressions of religious beliefs and their impact on education

  • Use of media and new technologies in religious education with an eye to the implicit theologies underlying them Re-engaging the work of prominent twentieth– and twenty-first-century religious educators on theology to assess their value in our contemporary contexts

  • Exploring the political dimensions of our theologies in shaping our approaches to religious education, especially for the sake of transformation in religious community, academy and society

Theology is succinctly described as “faith seeking understanding.” Join us in Dallas, November 22-24, 2009, to rediscover how we can educate for deepened understanding of our faiths in relationship, in practice, and in interfaith dialogue.

We hope to see you in

—-Maureen O’Brien REA President-Elect and 2009 Program Chair

Questions and comments about the theme and offers to assist in the design of the meeting may be directed to President-Elect, Dr. Maureen O’Brien. Email:

Call for Papers

Crowne Plaza Hotel


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