25th Anniversary 2019 Conference

July 8, 2019 - July 11, 2019

Liverpool L16 9JD

Roots, Shoots and Fruits: The Past, Present and Future of British and Irish Practical Theology

Dates: Monday 8 July to Thursday 11 July 2019
Venue: Liverpool Hope University, Hope Park, Liverpool, L16 9JD
Keynote speakers: Dr Courtney Goto, Canon Professor Elaine Graham, Professor Emmanuel Lartey, Professor Clive Marsh, Professor John Swinton
Contributors: Professor Paul Ballard, Dr Zoe Bennett, Dr Helen Cameron, Dr Anne Codd, Rev Dr David Lyall, Dr Eric Stoddart, Rev Dr Frankie Ward, Dr Clare Watkins, Rev Canon Dr Margaret Whipp

The 2019 conference marks 25 years since BIAPT was founded. This then is a time to celebrate, as well as a time to take stock. In keeping with our new organic logo, our title for 2019 invites us to consider our roots, but also areas of growth and fruitful developments in British and Irish practical theology within wider, international issues and developments.

Booking deadline 3rd July

To celebrate our 25th anniversary, we have added an extra day to the conference to make space for sustained reflection in both retrospective and prospective mode, aided by a fantastic line-up of keynotes and a great conference venue at Liverpool Hope University. In addition, we have invited all ex-chairs of BIAPT and our BIAPT presidents to bring their own perspectives on the past 25 years, as well as BIAPT’s pre-history.

The 2019 conference is for all with an interest in British and Irish practical theology, whether new to the field or more of an ‘old-timer’; whether British or Irish or from further afield – you are welcome! We want to engage with a wide variety of questions around BIAPT’s roots, shoots and fruits, including:

  • What are we celebrating? The contribution of BIAPT to British and Irish practical theology.
  • Do we need other modes as well as celebration? E.g. Mourning, lament, loss, excitement, silence, interrogation? Avoiding complacency, navel-gazing and triumphalism.
  • Who is missing from the celebration and why? E.g. certain disciplines / subdisciplines, ethnicities, and traditions.
  • How does national identity impact on practical theology? Is there an Irish, Scottish, Welsh or English practical theology? Do they have distinctives in terms of emphases or methodology? What does it look like? And (with a deep breath) what significance does Brexit have for practical theology?
  • How is / should practical theology be configured institutionally in Britain and Ireland? What is the relationship between practical theology in churches, other faith communities, theological colleges, universities and the public square? How does this compare with the institutions of practical theology in other countries?
  • What are the challenges and possibilities facing British and Irish practical theology?
  • What are the gifts and insights, omissions and weaknesses, of British and Irish practical theology, viewed from wider international perspectives?  What does British and Irish practical theology need to receive from other contexts?

Please do join us for what promises to be a very significant conference for BIAPT and practical theology. The committee have worked hard to keep the conference very good value for money, which includes a gala dinner in the Metropolitan Cathedral crypt, and offers a substantial concessionary rate for students and the unwaged.

Conference Files

Delegate Files

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Professor Elaine Graham               The Human Face of God: Notes on a Journey through Practical Theology

In 1985 I attended, as a master’s student, a major Pastoral Studies conference at the University of Manchester, entitled “The Human Face of God”. This marked my first exposure to the annual gathering of tutors in Pastoral Studies that would become BIAPT. In this lecture, I will trace some of the stages of my journey into, through (and maybe beyond) the discipline: the shift from pastoral studies to practical theology; the development of the discourse of theological reflection; and above all, the emergence of a distinctive community of learning, scholarship and practice. The question is, where next?

Elaine Graham is Grosvenor Research Professor of Practical Theology at the University of Chester and was between 1998-2009 Samuel Ferguson Professor of Social and Pastoral Theology at the University of Manchester. She is the author of a number of works in practical theology.

Professor Emmanuel Y Lartey                       Back to the future: Intercultural, Postcolonial and Inter-Religious streams in Practical Theology

In this presentation I hope to enable us to travel backwards and encounter the intercultural, ‘postcolonial’ and inter-religious environments of the Bible and Early Christianity. I will also make reference to strands of the history of BIAPT and of our practical theological disciplines worldwide in which, diversity, plurality and inter-religious interaction have featured prominently. Homogeneity, white-supremacy, hegemony and Western domination are relatively recent, though currently resurgent, features on the global scene. I shall be arguing that the in-breaking future of practical theology lies along pathways that not only recognize plurality in theological, cultural, gender, economic and religious terms but that also can celebrate and creatively and respectfully engage plurality. As a discipline Practical theology’s future is intertwined with our ability to interact with the pluriformity of the Creator’s creative genius. The alternatives are irrelevance or oblivion.

Emmanuel Y. Lartey comes from Ghana, West Africa and holds degrees in Psychology and Statistics, Pastoral Theology, Religion and Health. He is the L. Bevel Jones III Professor of Pastoral Theology, Care and Counseling at Candler School of Theology, Emory University in Atlanta.  He has taught in Legon, Birmingham, Decatur and Atlanta, and served as Chairperson of BIAPT, President of the International Council for Pastoral Care and Counseling (ICPCC), and Treasurer of the International Academy for Practical Theology (IAPT). He was Editor of the Journal of Pastoral Theology (2013- 2017). His numerous publications include Pastoral Counselling in Intercultural Perspective (1987); In Living Color (1997/2003); Pastoral Theology in an Intercultural World (2006), and Postcolonializing God: An African practical theology (2013).

Dr Clive Marsh                        Theology in Practice, in an Age of Wizards, Hobbits and Vampires

This session invites us to look at how the question of what is human and how values are communicated and shaped has been explored in the world of film over the past 25 years. In considering how this impinges, if at all, on the task of theology I shall I also consider how the changes to how people access media, engage with popular culture and the arts, and process their responses informs how theology is now being done.

Clive Marsh is Head of the Vaughan Centre for Lifelong Learning at the University of Leicester, Vice-President Designate of the Methodist Conference and a Methodist Local Preacher. When his post is made redundant by the University of Leicester (August 2020) he will remain a Research Fellow at the Queen’s Foundation, Birmingham, and at Wesley House, Cambridge. His latest book is A Cultural Theology of Salvation (OUP 2018). A major current concern for him is whether Liverpool will finally, after 29 years, win the Premiership.

Dr Courtney T Goto               The Ubiquity of Ignorance: A Practical Theological Challenge of our Time    

In this age of Brexit, xenophobia, and rising populism, practical theologians in Britain and Ireland cope with confounding levels of ignorance, as leaders, neighbors, colleagues, and/or even family members express points of view that compete and conflict with their own.  The harm that such ignorance inflicts, especially on vulnerable and marginalized populations, constitutes a pressing moral crisis.  However, if ignorance (or more precisely, the tendency to ignore, as its root word suggests) is characteristic of the human condition, what does it mean to be “rooted” in histories and habits of ignoring, while striving to grow beyond and take responsibility for them? How do we (as individuals and communities) become aware of and develop sensitivity toward that which we tend to ignore?  By exploring the case of race and ignorance in the US, we will reflect on how practical theologians can work on a small scale—forming relationships in which they participate with others to reveal one’s own and another’s ignorance.  By engaging persistently in “Critical Intersubjectivity,” community members can begin to develop habits of tracking dynamics of power, ignorance, and harm in working across difference.

Courtney T Goto is Associate Professor of Religious Education and a co-Director for the Center for Practical Theology.  Her research interests include intersections of racism, culture, and faith; as well as aesthetic teaching and learning, creativity, and embodied knowing.  She is author of Taking on Practical Theology: The Idolization of Context and the Hope of Community (Brill, 2018).  In this book, she explores the regnant paradigm to which the field of practical theology is captive, reflecting on issues of power and privilege in knowledge production from her perspective as a Japanese American.  Goto is also author of The Grace of Playing: Pedagogies for Leaning into God’s New Creation (Pickwick, 2016).  She designs courses that explore both theory and practices, often through experiential learning and community-based research.

Professor John Swinton                      What comes next? Practical theology, faithful presence and prophetic witness

British practical theology has been and continues to be emergent and dialectical, shifting over time from applied theology to the theology of practice and on into variety of rich and creative areas within church and society. It is this emergent dynamic that makes practical theology a deep, rich, and creatively diverse theological discipline.  In this presentation I will explore some aspects of contemporary practical theology within Britain and Ireland with a view to sharpening our vision and offering some new possibilities for the present and the future; possibilities that I hope, might open up fresh space for faithful engagement in church and world.

John Swinton is Professor in Practical Theology and Pastoral Care and Chair in Divinity and Religious Studies at the University of Aberdeen. He has published widely within the area of mental health, dementia, disability theology, spirituality and healthcare, qualitative research and pastoral care. John is the author of a number of monographs including Dementia: Living in the memories of God for which he won the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Ramsey Prize for excellence in theological writing .(http://www.michaelramseyprize.org.uk/).

Professor Paul Ballard

Paul Ballard is Professor Emeritus at Cardiff University, where he taught Practical Theology, member of the International Academy for Practical Theology and Hon. President of BIAPT. Presently he lives in Peterborough. Publications and edited volumes include: (with John Pritchard) Practical Theology in Action (SPCK, 1996/2006); (with Pam Couture, for IAPT) Creativity, Imagination and Criticism (2001) and Globalisation and Difference (2005, Cardiff Academic Press); (with Stephen R. Holmes) The Bible in Pastoral Practice (DLT, 2005); (with Malcolm Brown) The Church and Economic Life (Epworth, 2006); (with Lesley Husselbee) Community and Ministry (SPCK, 2007); Church at the Centre of the City (Epworth, 2007).

Dr Zoë Bennett

Zoë Bennett has been the Director of Postgraduate Studies in Pastoral and Practical Theology in the Cambridge Theological Federation and Anglia Ruskin University since 2000. Now retired, she looks back on a career in Adult Theological Education spanning more than 30 years. Her recent publications include ‘In a glass darkly’: The Bible, Reflection and Everyday Life, with Christopher Rowland.  London: SCM Press (2016) and Using the Bible in Practical Theology: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives. Aldershot: Ashgate (2013).

Dr Helen Cameron

Helen Cameron is a practical theologian looking forward to returning to academic work after eight years leading the social justice work of The Salvation Army in the UK.  She has written on theological reflection, social justice and the mission of the local church.

Dr Anne Codd

Following graduate studies in adult and community education, Anne was involved in parish and diocesan pastoral ministry and development for 10 years, before teaching and training in several of the Catholic Higher Education Institutes in Ireland. She is a certified management consultant-facilitator, and is part of the leadership team in her Province of the Presentation Congregation. Her doctoral research was on Church as community in mission.

The Revd Dr David Lyall

After parish ministry in a new housing area in Ayrshire and hospital chaplaincy in Edinburgh, David Lyall taught Practical Theology first at St Andrews and then at Edinburgh University where he was Principal of New College. He is the author of Helping the Helpers; Supervision in Pastoral Care [with John Foskett] (SPCK), Counselling in the Pastoral and Spiritual Context (Open University Press) and The Integrity of Pastoral Care (SPCK).

Dr Eric Stoddart

Eric Stoddart teaches practical theology at the University of St Andrews where his main research interest lies in surveillance technologies. He is one of the initiators and coordinators of the international Surveillance and Religion Network. Eric is currently writing The Common Gaze exploring surveillance and the Common Good.  http://ericstoddart.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk

The Very Revd Dr Frances Ward

The Very Revd Dr Frances Ward is a freelance theologian and writer, currently studying for a PhD at Durham University on Edmund Burke’s debt to Richard Hooker. Her forthcoming book, Full of Character: A Christian Approach to Education for the Digital Age, explores the education needed in a world of increasing automation. From 2010 – 2017 she was Dean of St Edmundsbury; from 2006 – 2010 she was a Residentiary Canon at Bradford Cathedral. Her publications include Lifelong Learning, (SCM, 2005), Theological Reflection: Methods (with Elaine Graham and Heather Walton) (SCM, 2nd Edition 2019) and Why Rousseau was Wrong: Christianity and the Secular Soul (Bloomsbury, 2013).

Dr Clare Watkins       

Dr Clare Watkins is Reader in Ecclesiology and Practical Theology at the University of Roehampton. A Roman Catholic, lay-woman theologian, committed to teaching and research in the areas of ecclesiology, sacramental and practical theology, Clare has a particular concern for working in ways that contribute to ministerial formation and church life and mission.

The Revd Canon Dr Margaret Whipp

Margaret is an Anglican priest, theologian and spiritual writer living in Oxford. She was chair of BIAPT from 2009 to 2013.


Pricing Matrix

Notes on fees

  1. Concession rates apply to students or unwaged delegates.
  2. Non-delegates will have all facilities as per the programme except attending conference sessions & Wednesday’s Conference Dinner. Please note that standard accommodation is in single ensuite rooms. Please contact conference@biapt.org if booking as a couple.
  3. Day Delegate rates include all access, facilities and refreshments as per the programme except overnight accommodation & breakfast, & Tuesday Dinner / Wednesday’s Conference Dinner.
  4. Additional cost for Day Delegates & non-delegates wishing to attend the Conference Dinner on Wed 10.
  5. Rate for Day Delegates requiring overnight B&B (available Mon, Tues, Weds).


Our cancellation policy is that a refund will be made (minus a 20% administration fee) if delegates cancel their booked place by 1st June 2019. We are not able to guarantee any refund for cancellations made after this date.


A number of subsidised places are available to those with particular financial needs. Applications for such a bursary must be made using the form available on the website to the Conference Secretary, not later than 1 May 2019.