Organization and By-Laws

Organization and By-Laws

The main purposes of IAPT are of an academic nature. Therefore one can come to know IAPT by reading publications, conversation with members, and attending conferences (upon invitation). There is however also an organizational dimension to it. The executive committee and by-laws provide insight into IAPT as an organization.

Executive Committee


2021 Annemie DillenAnnemie Dillen, President

Annemie Dillen is Professor in Pastoral and Empirical Theology at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven. Her research focuses on theology regarding families and children, domestic violence, religious education in families, empirical theology, and fundamental practical theological reflections. In addition to articles in journals and edited volumes, she has published a number of books (as author and editor). Annemie previously served IAPT as vice chair.


2021 Nadine BowersNadine Bowers Du Toit, Vice president

Nadine Bowers Du Toit is an Associate Professor in ‘Theology and Development’/Diaconia at the  University of Stellenbosch, South Africa. Nadine’s research focuses on the intersections between poverty, inequality and faith responses. She is the outgoing chair of the Practical Theology Society of South Africa and previously served IAPT as secretary.



2021 Birgit WeyelBirgit Weyel, Secretary

Prof. Birgit Weyel holds a chair for Practical Theology in Tübingen/Germany at the Protestant Faculty. Her research focuses on empirical approaches to religion. She is member of the IAPT since 2007 and has previously served as member at large of the executive.




2021 Theo PleizierTheo Pleizier , Treasurer

Theo Pleizier is university lecturer Practical Theology at the Protestant Theological University, Groningen, The Netherlands. He teaches and does research in the fields of homiletics and pastoral care. Theo has been assisting as financial liaison in the Netherlands.




2021 Mai Anh Le TranMai-Anh Le Tran, Member at large

Prof. Mai-Anh Le Tran currently serves as the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean and as  Associate Professor of Religious Education and Practical Theology at Garret Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, Illinois in the US. Her research has focused on religion, education, and violence. Her writings delve into the local/global intersections of race, gender, and class in religious identity and practices.


2021 Jos de KockJos de Kock, Member at large

Prof. Dr. Jos de Kock is full professor of practical theology at and rector of Evangelische Theologische Faculteit, Leuven, Belgium. His specializations are in the areas or practical theology, religious education and youth ministry. Jos previously served the executive as member at large.



2021 Heidi ParkHee-Kyu Heidi Park, Local host committee 

Prof. Hee-Kyu Heidi Park is an assistant Professor of Practical Theology and Pastoral Counseling in the Christian Studies Department at Ewha Womans University, Seoul, South Korea. Before Ewha, she was an assistant professor of pastoral theology at Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH. She also taught at her alma mater, Claremont School of Theology and Lexington Theological Seminary as an instructor. Her current research focuses on practical theological methodology of boundary experiences.


2021 Soo Young KwonSoo-Young Kwon, Local host committee

Prof. Dr. Soo-Young Kwon currently serves as Dean of the College of Theology and the United Graduate School of Theology of Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea. An ordained United Methodist minister, Dr. Kwon is the author of more than twenty books and specialises in pastoral care.




By-Laws of the International Academy of Practical Theology

Adopted by the Academy April 26, 1997

Revised April 11, 2001, April 4, 2007, April 24, 2017, and July 8 2021


I. Purpose of the Academy

II. Description of the Academy

III. Membership and Guests

IV. Membership Rules and Procedures

V. Executive Committee

VI. Election of Officers

VII. Committees and Conference Planning Procedures

VIII. Finances and Membership Fees

IX. Theme and Schedule of Official Meetings

X. Working Language of the Academy

XI. Amendment of By-Laws

XII. Attestation and Date of Effectiveness of By-Laws


I. Purpose of the Academy

The purpose of the International Academy of Practical Theology is the study of and critical reflection on practical theological thought and action. This critical reflection should be pursued with attention to the various historical and cultural contexts in which practical theology is done. Out of respect for the diversity of these contexts, the Academy seeks to promote international, interracial, and ecumenical dialogue and understanding.

II. Description of the Academy

A. While affirming the practical nature of all theology, the Academy is primarily interested in practical theology as a distinct academic discipline. The Academy assumes that practical theology serves the practice of the Christian church in society. However, as a scholarly organization, it is dedicated primarily to study and analysis of the theory of theologically informed practice. It is oriented toward the historic subdisciplines of practical theology such as pastoral care, homiletics, religious education, liturgics, and social service in both their ecclesial and public forms. It is also interested in new areas of inquiry such as congregational studies and church development. It is even more concerned with the development of models accounting for the theoretical coherence and unity of these disciplines. This means that the Academy is interested in investigating and developing comprehensive frameworks for ordering practical theology itself. In addition, it is interested in the relation of practical theology to the other theological disciplines and the modern human sciences.

B. The Academy understands practical theology as a theological discipline that stands in a unique relationship with modernity. It recognizes that practical theology emerged primarily in response to the forces of modernity and is relevant to addressing the trends of modernity, in both their positive and negative forms. This includes, for example, the cultural influences of the Enlightenment, institutional and ideological differentiation with their ensuing forms of pluralism and individualism, new forms of injustice and abuse of power, and the various modern and post-modern reactions to these trends. The Academy also is interested in practical theological reflection on the inner dynamics of the church and on the church’s interaction with secular value systems, unchurched Christians, other religions, and new religious movements.

C. The Academy intends to stimulate various models of research on practical theology, including methodological reflection on hermeneutical, historical, empirical, systematic and other constructive methods. It also hopes to foster critical, interdisciplinary dialogue, engaging the social sciences, ethics, and other relevant disciplines.

III.Membership and Guests

A. There are three categories of membership: Active, Retired and Associate.

B. Active Members maintain active status by payment of dues and regular attendance at Academy conferences, as defined in the Membership Rules and Procedures of these By-Laws. Active Members may forfeit membership by failing in these responsibilities, as determined by the Executive Committee according to the Membership Rules and Procedures.

C. Retired Members are former Active Members who upon retirement choose to remain members of the Academy by participating as much as they wish in the Academy and by payment of dues. Retired Members are welcome to attend Academy conferences but are not required to do so. They may participate in business meetings with voice and vote.

D. Associate Members are those undertaking doctoral research in an area of Practical Theology. They pay dues at a reduced level and are welcome to attend Academy conferences but are not required to do so. They may participate in business meetings with voice but are not entitled to vote. Associate Members are entitled to be admitted to Active Membership, via application to the Membership Committee, on successful completion of their studies.

E. Guests are welcome to attend official conferences of the Academy at the invitation of the Executive Committee, upon recommendation of a member of the Academy and the Host Committee. Guests may participate fully in the conference with the exception of voting at business meetings. The number of guests accepted for attendance shall be determined by the availability of accommodations, capacity of the facilities, and practical feasibility.

IV. Membership Rules and Procedures

A. Membership is by application to the Executive Committee according to the rules of eligibility and procedures for election of members established in these By-Laws.

B. All applicants must subscribe to the purposes of the Academy as stated in its By-Laws.

C. Individuals applying for Active Membership must be researchers and scholars in the practical theological fields and related disciplines. They must have a doctoral degree in any area of practical theology or possess a doctorate in another subject area but be currently making a substantial contribution to practical theology.

D. Scholars undertaking doctoral research in an area of Practical Theology may apply for Associate Membership of the Academy.

E. The Executive Committee shall constitute the Membership Committee.
The Membership Committee shall admit members according to the criteria outlined in the By-Laws.

F. The Executive Committee shall notify Active Members who do not attend two consecutive conferences (unless there are extenuating circumstances) that they will be removed from membership if they miss three consecutive conferences. Members who do not attend three consecutive conferences, without submitting a written request to be absent to the Executive Committee, shall be removed from the Academy.

G. Financial assessments of members are due at the time of the Academy’s regularly scheduled conferences, whether or not members are able to attend a particular conference. The Executive Committee shall notify members who do not pay their assessments during two consecutive conferences (unless there are extenuating circumstances) that they will be removed from membership if they miss three consecutive assessments. Members who do not pay their assessments for three consecutive conferences, without submitting a written request for waiver to the Executive Committee on grounds of extenuating circumstances, shall be removed from the Academy.

V. Executive Committee

A. The Executive Committee of the Academy shall consist of the President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, the chairs of the Program Committee and Host Committee (if not the same person), plus two members at large.

B. The members of the Executive Committee are elected by the membership at the regular stated business meeting. Their term of office commences immediately upon election and runs through the Academy’s next conference and business meeting.

C. The Executive Committee has responsibility for the affairs of the Academy between business meetings, including final decisions on the program, place, time, cost, and other practical arrangements for the next conference and all matters related to membership, dues, finances, and official communications on behalf of the Academy.

VI. Election of Officers

A. Officers shall be elected at the official business meetings of the Academy.

B. In the full process of nominations and elections, attention shall be given to regional, national, ethnic and gender representation. The same applies to the different committees of the Academy.

C. The Executive Committee of the Academy will receive nominations from the members until 8 months before the next conference. The Executive Committee will contact the nominees with the question whether they want to serve as a member of the Executive Committee. If they are willing to serve as an officer, they submit a CV to the secretary of the Executive Committee.
The Executive Committee will consider how the various nominees are eligible for the various portfolios. They will propose a list with 6 names aligned to the 6 functions (president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, two members at large). Two other officers (members of the local organizing committee of the next conference) will be added. For the sake of continuity, it is important that at least 3 of these members were a member of the executive committee during the previous term. Three new members (and two members of the local organizing committee) can be proposed. For the function of the president, it is important that the candidate has been a member of the executive committee (during the previous term or longer ago).
In the selection, a fair distribution in terms of gender, ethnicity, nationality, region, denomination/religion will be taken into account. The task of the treasurer is, by preference, taken up by a member from the Netherlands with experience in fund management, because of the bank account (situated in the Netherlands). This does not exclude that other persons from the Netherlands/Europe are members of the Executive Committee.

D. No member shall serve more than two consecutive terms in the same office, with the possible exception of the Treasurer. The President and Vice-President shall serve for one term only.

E The Nominating Committee (Executive Committee) shall submit its nominations of officers in writing to the membership of the Academy at least six months prior to the stated meeting of the Academy.

F. Alternative candidates for one or all of the offices may be nominated by a petition containing ten signatures of current members. Petitioners shall ascertain, and indicate in their petition, that their nominee is willing to serve if elected. Petitions must be received by the President of the Academy three months prior to the next scheduled official conference of the Academy. The Nominating Committee (Executive Committee) shall present to the membership at the time of election (and earlier if it wishes), along with its own slate of nominees, the names of all persons properly nominated by petition.

G. Officers shall be elected by a majority of the members of the Academy attending the business meetings of its official conferences.

VII. Committees and Conference Planning Procedures

A. At each conference, a Conference Theme Committee determines a theme for the next conference, and presents it at a business meeting for approval. The Conference Theme Committee shall consist of twelve persons, elected by the membership of the Academy in an early business meeting of the conference. The Executive Committee makes eight nominations and the general membership four.

B. The concrete preparation of the next conference is then entrusted to a local Host Committee, which may be assisted by a local Program Committee. The formation of the Host and Program Committees, and the determination of their Chair persons, shall be done under the direction of the Executive Committee.

C. These Committees, through their Chairs, shall consult with the President and Executive Committee about the content and structure of the program, and other significant matters pertaining to the conference. They shall submit a proposal for the program to the Executive Committee for its review and approval in a timely manner.

D. Such committees, working parties, or other groups set up from time to time by the Academy or the Executive Committee shall be responsible to the Academy through the Executive Committee with whom they shall consult and to whom they shall submit proposals for its review in a timely manner.

VIII. Finances and Membership Fees

A. Financial assessments shall be determined from time to time by a majority vote of the members attending the stated business meeting, upon recommendation of the President and the Executive Committee.

B. The Treasurer shall create orderly procedures for receiving, dispersing, and transferring funds from meeting to meeting and country to country, and for insuring that accounts are properly reviewed and published.

IX. Theme and Schedule of Official Meetings

A. Official conferences of the Academy normally will be held once every two years at a time of maximum convenience for its members.

B. The theme, place and schedule of official conferences shall be determined by a majority vote of members attending the preceding business meeting of the Academy.

C. It is the responsibility of the Executive Committee to make recommendations as to the time and place of official conferences of the Academy. The place of conferences should be chosen with consideration given to international distribution and accessibility of sites. Nominations of places for future conferences should be forwarded to the President of the academy in a timely manner.

X. Working Language of the Academy

English shall be the working language of the Academy.

XI. Amendment of By-Laws

These By-Laws may be amended by two-thirds of members attending stated business meetings of the Academy.

XII. Attestation and Date of Effectiveness of By-Laws

The above By-Laws, as approved at the business meeting in Seoul, Korea, Saturday, April 26, 1997, and amended in Stellenbosch, South Africa, Wednesday, April 11, 2001, and in Berlin, Wednesday, April 4, 2007, and in Oslo, April 24, 2017, are now in effect.

Hans van der Ven, President & Carol Lakey Hess, Secretary, April 26, 1997
Mary Elizabeth Moore, President & Elaine Graham, Secretary, April 11, 2001
Elaine Graham, President & James Nieman, Secretary, April 4, 2007
Heather Walton, President & Annemie Dillen, Secretary, April 24, 2017