Practical Theology


Instructor: Katherine Turpin
Office Hours: by appointment

Office:Iliff Hall 407

Course Description

This course explores models of practical theological reflection and methods of reflective professional practice as frameworks for religious leadership in the variety of contexts in which students will work. Students will be introduced to disciplined modes of embodying the integration of theory and praxis that allow them to place their coursework across the curriculum into regular conversation with their practice as religious leaders and ministry professionals in a variety of institutional and cultural contexts.

Overview and Objectives

Required Texts

Most of the readings for this class will be articles and chapters from books posted on Canvas in the module in which we will be working with them. Students will also be called upon to identify several chapters/articles to read that relate to their particular final project. A bibliography (still under construction) of these readings for citing in papers can be found here.

Required Text for all students:

Elaine Graham, Heather Walton, and Frances Ward. Theological Reflection: Methods. SCM Press, 2014.

Students will also choose one of the following eleven book-length practical theology texts that they will read throughout the quarter and analyze. Before you choose your book, you might look at descriptions/reviews of the book to determine the religious and academic background of the author and the topic of the book. Most of these are written by academics, a few are written by practitioners/lay people. It won't be the end of the world if you don't like your book, but you will be happier if you do:

Jennifer Ayres. Good Food: Grounded Practical Theology. Baylor University Press, 2013.

Fanucci, Laura Kelly, and Franco David Fanucci. Grieving Together: A Couple’s Journey through Miscarriage. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 2018.

Willie Jennings. The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race. Yale University Press, 2011.

Christine Longaker. Facing Death and Finding Hope. MainStreet Books, 1998.

Joyce Ann Mercer.  Welcoming Children: A Practical Theology of Childhood. Chalice Press, 2005.

Christine Pohl. Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition. Eerdmans, 1999.

Reyes, Patrick B. Nobody Cries When We Die: God, Community, and Surviving to Adulthood. Saint Louis, Missouri: Chalice Press, 2016.
Reynolds, Thomas E. Vulnerable Communion: A Theology of Disability and Hospitality. 1 edition. Grand Rapids, Mich: Brazos Press, 2008.

Miroslav Volf.  A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good. Grand Rapids, Mich: Brazos Press, 2011.

Wall, Benjamin S., and John Swinton. Welcome as a Way of Life: A Practical Theology of Jean Vanier. Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books, 2016.

Norman Wirzba. Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating. Cambridge University Press, 2011.


Google Hangouts on Current Events/Case Studies: Once during the quarter each students will lead a discussion on a case study from a living community of practice or a current event from the news. They will facilitate a small group in practical theological conversation during a Google Hangout. They will write a 2 page plan for the conversation that includes a descriptive summary of the event or case study and the theological question it raised for them, description and analysis of the contextual practices involved, potential theological resources related to this, dialogue between those resources and the practice of the community involved, and potential proposals for praxis. After the conversation, a participant will write a two page reflection of how the conversation went.   A third member of the group will write a blog post about the current event to practice sharing insights with a public audience. Guidelines for these assignments can be found here: case study leadership, method reflector role, current event blogs.


Formal Practical Theological Reflections Paper and Workshop: Over the course of the quarter, as students are working on their individual final projects, they will share their progress and consult with the instructor and colleagues regarding their explorations. In preparation for each of these workshops, students will write a 3 page draft of a section of their final paper that incorporates their research, reflections, and engagement in a piece of practical theological reflection. After the workshop, each student will provide a one page constructive response to the draft for one of their colleagues as a part of the revision process. Instructions for each of these assignments are found here: Workshop 1, Workshop 2, Workshop 3.

Book Review: Each student will read one full-length work of practical theology and write a review of it. Instruction for this assignment is found here, a worksheet to prepare to write the review is found here.

Participation: In all online learning, timely participation in the practices of the class, especially completing course readings, is essential to your learning, and makes up a significant portion of your grade .  I grade participation in two ways.  Some weekly assignments receive an individual grade, especially if I recognize that they require significant preparation and thinking to engage. Because I cannot see all of the effort that you put into your own learning, at the end of the quarter I ask you to assess your own participation in the course using a brief online quiz (which is simply a convenient format to collect your responses). The results from both of these will impact your participation grade.  So, though the readings are not graded week to week, your completion of them will be a part of the participation self-assessment.

The percentage of each of these elements in calculating the final grade can be found on the front page of the course. Rubrics for each assignment designating how they will be evaluated are available with the assignment instructions. 


Degree Learning Goals: Please take some time to look over the Professional Degree Learning Goals (MDiv, MASC, MAPSC) and the Academic Degree Learning Goals (MTS, MA).

Incompletes:  If incompletes are allowed in this course, see the Master's Student Handbook for Policies and Procedures.

Pass/Fail:  Masters students wishing to take the class pass/fail should discuss this with the instructor by the second class session.

Academic Integrity and Community Covenant:  All students are expected to abide by Iliff’s statement on Academic Integrity, as published in the Masters Student Handbook, or the Joint PhD Statement on Academic Honesty, as published in the Joint PhD Student Handbook, as appropriate.  All participants in this class are expected to be familiar with Iliff’s Community Covenant.

Core ValuesAs a community, Iliff strives to live by this set of Core Values.

Accommodations:  Iliff engages in a collaborative effort with students with disabilities to reasonably accommodate student needs.   Students are encouraged to contact their assigned advisor to initiate the process of requesting accommodations.  The advising center can be contacted at or by phone at 303-765-1146. 

Writing Lab:  Grammar and organization are important for all written assignments.  Additional help is available from the Iliff Writing Lab, which is available for students of any level who need help beginning an assignment, organizing thoughts, or reviewing a final draft. 

Inclusive Language:  It is expected that all course participants will use inclusive language in speaking and writing, and will use terms that do not create barriers to classroom community. 

Degree Learning Goals

The activities and assignments in this course are aligned with the following degree learning goals:


Theology and Religious Practices (PR): engage in analysis of contemporary religious traditions and institutions in order to assess, design, and perform meaningful leadership practices with sensitivity to contextual realities and relationships.


1. Formulate a viable research question that puts the student into conversation with historic and contemporary thinkers in the study of religion and that fosters transformative possibilities for humanity and the world. 2. Identify theological resources that would broaden and deepen their thinking about these questions.


Oct 03, 2015SatA Word from Katherinedue by 05:59AM
Mar 26, 2019TueCourse Orientation Videodue by 05:59AM
Mar 27, 2019WedGetting to Know Youdue by 05:59AM
Mar 27, 2019WedHybrid Course Q & Adue by 05:59AM
Mar 27, 2019WedEveryday Theologydue by 05:59AM
Mar 30, 2019SatWhat is Practical Theology?due by 05:58AM
Mar 30, 2019SatDiscussion: What is Practical Theology?due by 05:59AM
Mar 30, 2019SatBook Review Worksheetdue by 05:59AM
Mar 30, 2019SatIntroducing Google Hangouts for Current Event Reflectiondue by 05:59AM
Apr 03, 2019WedIdentifying Theological Questions and Concernsdue by 05:05AM
Apr 03, 2019WedWhich book did you choose?due by 05:59AM
Apr 03, 2019WedCurating Everyday Theologydue by 05:59AM
Apr 03, 2019WedWeekly Discussion-Identifying Theological Questionsdue by 05:59AM
Apr 06, 2019SatWorkshop Paper 1due by 05:58AM
Apr 06, 2019SatScheduling Current Events Google Hangoutsdue by 05:59AM
Apr 06, 2019SatDescribing Current Practicedue by 05:59AM
Apr 10, 2019WedReading: Critical Reflection on Present Practicedue by 05:58AM
Apr 10, 2019WedDiscussion of Describing Current Practicedue by 05:59AM
Apr 10, 2019WedWorkshop Paper 1 Peer Review Duedue by 05:59AM
Apr 13, 2019SatTheological Reflection-Methodsdue by 05:59AM
Apr 13, 2019SatFirst Round of Case Study/Current Eventsdue by 05:59AM
Apr 17, 2019WedTheological Methods in Actiondue by 12:00AM
Apr 17, 2019WedMethods, part 2due by 05:58AM
Apr 17, 2019WedWhich Method?due by 05:59AM
Apr 29, 2019MonSecond Round of Case Studies/Current Eventsdue by 05:59AM
May 01, 2019WedSacred Texts as Theological Resourcedue by 05:59AM
May 04, 2019SatWorkshop Final Paper Section 2due by 05:59AM
May 08, 2019WedWeekly Discussion on Using Sacred Texts and Liturgical/Historical Sourcesdue by 05:59AM
May 08, 2019WedHistorical and Liturgical Sources from Religious Traditionsdue by 05:59AM
May 08, 2019WedWorkshop Paper 2 Peer Review Duedue by 05:59AM
May 11, 2019SatTheological Resources/Visions for Flourishingdue by 05:59AM
May 11, 2019SatPractical Theological Conversation on Current Events-Facilitation Plans Uploadsdue by 05:59AM
May 11, 2019SatThird Round of Case Studies/Current Eventsdue by 05:59AM
May 15, 2019WedWeekly Discussion on Hymnody as Practical Theologydue by 12:00AM
May 15, 2019WedCurrent Event Blogsdue by 05:59AM
May 15, 2019WedPresent Praxis and Tradition in Conversationdue by 05:59AM
May 15, 2019WedMethod Reflections on Google Hangoutsdue by 05:59AM
May 18, 2019SatDecisions/Proposals for Lived Praxisdue by 05:59AM
May 18, 2019SatWorkshop Final Paper Section 3due by 05:59AM
May 22, 2019WedWorkshop Paper 3 Peer Review Duedue by 05:59AM
May 25, 2019SatHow it all comes together....due by 05:59AM
May 25, 2019SatA Word on Writing About Praxis in Final Paperdue by 05:59AM
May 25, 2019SatBook Reviewdue by 05:59AM
May 29, 2019WedParticipation Self-Assessmentdue by 05:59AM
May 29, 2019WedSustaining Critically Reflective Practicedue by 05:59AM
Jun 01, 2019SatFinal Paperdue by 05:59AM