New Resource for Studying Congregations

in News
April 21st, 2012

New Circles of Learning for Engaged Scholars Studying Congregations

Web-based Educational Resources


Boston University School of Theology (BUSTH) is pleased to announce a new grant to develop web-based educational resources focused on the study of congregations.  A grant from the Lilly Endowment of just over $300,000 will come to BUSTH as part of a larger project, based at Hartford Seminary.  That project, “New Circles of Learning for Engaged Scholars Studying Congregations” also includes a fellowship program for scholars whose focus is on congregational life.  The BU portion of the project will develop a state-of-the-art website to provide learning opportunities for scholars and practitioners who are focused on understanding and leading congregations and other local communities of faith.

The site will include up-to-date materials about methods for investigating congregations and tools for interpreting what is discovered; examples and case studies about congregations in both written and audiovisual formats; feature articles and podcasts of current interest; forums for building an online community of those interested in engaged scholarship, using blogs, social media, and other interactive tools; and some archival materials from the history of congregational studies.  The site will make possible vastly expanded access to first-rate insights and instruction in congregational studies and a new web-based network of those committed to engaged scholarship that benefits faith communities.

Development of the Congregational Studies website will be directed by a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, working with Nancy T. Ammerman, Professor of Sociology of Religion at BU’s School of Theology and Chair of the Department of Sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences.  They will work in collaboration with members of the Congregational Studies Project Team, a thirty-year collaboration that has produced the widely used Congregational Studies Handbook (1986) and Studying Congregations (1998).  The Fellow will serve a three-year term, beginning in the summer of 2012 and will be lodged in the Center for Practical Theology at Boston University.  The Center, founded in 2005, provides an infrastructure for sustaining, deepening, and expanding important relationships and connections between Boston University School of Theology and local congregations, denominational offices, and religious centers.  This website will be an important addition to the Center’s work.