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IAPT 2025 Conference: (Be)Coming Home and (Re)Building Community in the Face of Displacement

Where: The Saskatoon Theological Union and St. Thomas More College, Saskatchewan, Canada

When: June 13-16, 2025

Saskatoon (web)

Theme and Call for Papers:

The International Academy of Practical Theology invites submissions on the conference theme—(Be)Coming Home and (Re)Building Community in the Face of Displacement.

What makes home, home? What are the connections between home, community, and place? What can we learn from living in and with the land that is our home? What does it mean to rebuild home after the trauma and instability of displacement wherever we find ourselves?

Indigenous peoples teach that home encompasses one’s interaction with the land, with food, and with familiar places, smells, and tastes, and includes a profound sense of belonging and the sacred. Home is for many a place of inclusion, welcoming, openness, and the nurturing of diversity. But this understanding of home is being threatened by natural disasters as well as human-made tragedies. Moreover, the realities of displacement, migration, and environmental despoliation are reconfiguring the idea of home. Entire populations are being forced to rethink the meaning of home and well as what it is to be at home. And because of ongoing migratory patterns, people in diaspora are having to reimagine and recreate a new home away from their birthplace.

Submissions are encouraged on the following themes:

1) Home and Community: The present geopolitical context is forcing us to see the intersection between home, dwelling, and its potential erosion by colonial structures, discrimination, environmental destruction, poverty, and war. Today, the intertwined ideas of home and community are becoming more complex in our globalizing world, including a large web of individual and collective relationships and responsibilities. Similarly, understandings of faith communities are shifting in terms of what it means to be an ecclesial home.

Because practical theology helps us appreciate the embodied nature of faith experiences, practices, and stories, we can ask critical questions about the nature of home as well as its desecration. What do faith communities contribute in the face of these crises in terms of counselling, trauma-support, ritual, community support, etc.? What resources can we draw on from long-standing traditions and practices to do so?

2) Home, Land, and Covenant: The notions of home and community are also connected to land, belonging, and identity, especially for Indigenous peoples in Turtle Island and beyond; people are dependent on the land for sustenance, and they are bound together in a web of relationships with each other and with the land itself, in treaties and covenant relationships. Yet this richness and these relationships have been disrupted when historical treaties have been dishonoured, when the connection to the land is destroyed or the land is violated, or when individuals and communities are forced to leave their homeland, to live in temporary homes, to make homes that are inadequate, or to seek multiple sites where home is made.

We invite submissions to consider the implications of becoming treaty and covenant communities and working toward reconciliation. What can practical theology contribute to the work of restoring human relationships with and responsibilities to the land and the creatures of the land built on respect and care rather than exploitation and fear? How can religious practices inspire “home-making” without destroying the creatures and plants with whom we share the land?

3) Home and the Cultural/Theological: The concept of home and community have deep—and different—linguistic, cultural, and theological resonances. Home evokes questions of hospitality, relationships, cultural practice, nature, land, and locatedness, as well as brokenness, homelessness, longing, isolation, loneliness, and fear. It can be life-giving or death dealing, marked by mutual love or by unjust power dynamics due to age, gender, ability, etc. Indeed, home and community are knitted into the fabric of our ecclesial/religious and theological practices and reflections. Home and community are connected to how we understand our place in the world, the way we relate to our ancestors, and to how we express our faith in the Divine. Home embodies our spiritual pilgrimage and journey and is expressed in our rituals, places of worship, and religious/ecclesial practices.

We invite submissions to consider the connections between the cultural and the practical theological. Discussions are welcome on life and death issues, our connection to ancestors and land, self-determination, cultural/language revitalization, and our relationship to the Divine, home, and community. Practical theologians can give attention to different cultural and spiritual ways of understanding home, sacred spaces, and community in material and virtual forms, as well as to various faith perspectives and traditions including questions of welcome and hospitality.

4) Displacement: The idea of home remains contested in Saskatoon, in Canada, and around the world as people experience displacement and confront barriers to rooting themselves in new places because of discrimination, xenophobia, access to resources, and services, etc. Others struggle to make meaningful homes while erecting barriers, uprooting homes, and severing communities for sake of their own gain.

Practical theologians can offer new critical frames and practices for interpreting and reimagining what we carry with us when we journey far from home. Submissions are invited to consider what it means to return home and how home is changed by experiences of migration and dislocation. Along those lines, we can explore the kind of practical theological responses that confront the walls, barriers, and hostilities that result from brokenness of home, community, or nation-state. What kind of theological response and/or practice offers solace, comfort, a sense of home and community, despite displacement and marginalization?

5) (Re)building Home in the Face of Evil: Dislocation is a stark reality experienced by many throughout the world. A wide range of social and ecological evils are redefining our understanding of home: colonization, globalization, capitalism, racism, poverty, gender and sexual discrimination, the climate crisis, contamination, pollution, food security, gun and other forms of violence, etc. In the Canadian context, the pressing realities of seasonal workers, undocumented peoples, racialized discrimination, those impacted by the pandemic, missing and murdered Indigenous women and children, a rampant extractivist oil culture, and the impact of climate change, have implications for the practical theological task on our understandings of home. Similar dynamics and social evils can be found around the world.

Practical theologians can publicly and politically critique systemic oppression so that peoples’ capacity to create home and community can be nourished. How can we tear down walls that threaten the safety of home and community? How can we expose those who exploit housing for economic gain? How can we work to (re)build homes for those who live in inadequate housing, who make temporary homes, and who leave and return home

6) Building a Virtual Home: All these issues have implications for how we make community, or create a sense of home, in virtual spaces. With the proliferation of social media outlets, digital expressions of faith and the rapid emergence of artificial intelligence in social and religious/ecclesial contexts, practical theologians must wrestle with the spiritual, social, and theological implications of virtual spaces and issues.

We invite submissions that engage the implications of the conference theme in virtual spaces. How do our inhabiting our virtual homes relate to our physical dwellings? What kind of tools can practical theology offer to these conversations in ways that help us reconfigure our understanding of home, becoming home, and rebuilding home?

The conference committee invites participants to engage in these difficult conversations and imagine alternative practical ways of reflecting about and transforming these interconnected realities at the grassroots as well as in the Academy. From a variety of (inter)disciplinary perspectives and methodological approaches, participants are invited to engage with how practical theology can help us create homes that are life-giving for all beings, communities that are thriving, and resources that assist those who face the reality of displacement and hardship. We also welcome submissions that do not directly deal with the conference theme but are relevant for the discipline of practical theology.

The IAPT conference organizing committee will be receiving proposal submissions beginning on July 1, 2024. More information will be forthcoming at that time.

If you have questions, contact Néstor Medina at netto.medina@gmail.com or Anne-Marie Ellithorpe at aellithorpe@vst.edu.