Greetings from the SPT Steering Committee! Much has transpired since our last communication in June. We are witnessing a global resurgence in COVID-19. Incidents of senseless violence against black and brown bodies continue. The U.S. presidential election was highly contested, leaving many wondering what kind of country we live in. And our world is experiencing countless injustices and oppressions that too often do not make our local news cycles. In the midst of these challenging times, the Steering Committee has been reviewing the past and looking to the future. We again express our appreciation to the those who agreed to give presentations for the 2020 Annual Meeting, including plenary, panel, workshops, and study groups. Even as we continue to lament the difficult decision to cancel our last meeting, we are pleased to announce that we will be convening our 2021 Annual Meeting online.

Working productively in this environment has not been easy. Nevertheless, your Steering Committee has been meeting regularly to discuss and discern how to proceed with our 2021 Annual Meeting. We reflected on how our 2019 meeting focused on “Resistance and Resilience in an Age of Terror” at a time when we had no idea what 2020 would deliver. We searched for strands of life and hope in what, for many, feels like an era of impending doom. But we recognized powerful voices that have always emanated from unexpected places – places where human flourishing happens in spite of everything. And we affirmed the need to both name the brokenness with time-sensitive urgency and the beauty and life that exist even in the midst of terror. The Steering Committee is thus excited to share the fruit of our labor. The theme for our 2021 Annual Meeting is “Viral Care and Viral Justice in an Apocalyptic World.”

Per our Society by-laws, each year we gather during the third weekend in June for the Annual Meeting and study conference. The 2021 Annual Meeting will convene during this same time period (June 17-19, 2021): the schedule and format is forthcoming. Although we recognize that an online meeting is less than ideal, other organizations have had quality gatherings involving a wider diversity of participants using a virtual format. Thus, we look to prepare an effective and communal online platform that incorporates what we hold dear at SPT – a community of deeply engaging scholarly conversations that grounds us and connects us. We also look forward to finally celebrating the Society’s 35th anniversary together during the 2021 Annual Meeting!


2021 Annual Meeting and Study Conference


Conference Description and Goals

 Theme: Viral Care and Viral Justice in an Apocalyptic World

Description: COVID-19 exacerbated the many horrors that individuals, families, and communities throughout the globe experience every day. Inadequate health care, unjust wages and lack of workers’ rights, food deserts and malnutrition, fascism, cultural and environmental imperialism, and corrupt leadership are but some of the myriad oppressions plaguing our world. The United States is enduring the triune pandemics of COVID-19, white nationalist supremacism, and neoliberal globalization in a manner that defies the vision for God’s intended creation. We are living in a seemingly apocalyptic world as we glimpse what a ruined, dystopian future might look like.

Our discipline calls us to speak into the public sphere and to extend viral care and advocate for viral justice. The 2021 Annual Meeting and study conference affords us the opportunity to learn from those inside and outside our Society who are positioned to speak prophetic truth into our apocalyptic world and ivory-towered privilege. We invite a wide range of practitioners from various spheres and disciplines to aid Society members in articulating a public theology of viral care and viral justice in an apocalyptic world. Our hope is that the fruit of the online conference will (1) highlight humanity’s capacity for resilience and resistance amid brokenness and horror, (2) inform pastoral theological praxis and scholarship that radically envisions new societies and modes of human flourishing, and (3) confirm our commitment to stand in solidarity with communities who have been and will be most impacted by these triune pandemics for years to come.


Call for Proposals


The Steering Committee invites members to submit proposals for workshops by January 27, 2021. We would like the proposals to address the conference theme, but we will consider other ideas as well.


We strongly encourage new scholars to submit proposals for the works-in-progress by January 27, 2021.

Proposals for workshops and works-in-progress should be emailed to Heidi Park at heekyu.park@ewha.ac.kr


More information and/or Calls for Proposals from the Study Groups and our two new Special Interest Groups will be shared with members before the year ends.

Pre-Conference for Scholars of Color
The exact dates and format for the pre-conference for scholars of color is forthcoming. Emmanuel Lartey (elartey@emory.edu) will serve as the faculty leader. The organizing committee is comprised of Gary Green (g.f.green@tcu.edu), Kishundra King (kishundra.d.king@vanderbilt.edu)  and AHyun Lee (ahyun_lee@yahoo.com). Additional information regarding the pre-conference will be provided in the Spring 2021 newsletter.

35th Anniversary Fundraising Campaign
The Society for Pastoral Theology was founded in 1985 by a group of forty-one “teachers of pastoral care and pastoral theology.” In honor of the Society’s 35th Anniversary in 2020, a task force comprised of Sam Lee, Jill Snodgrass, Jaco Hamman, Angella Son, Danjuma Gibson, and Ryan LaMothe initiated a fundraising campaign to strengthen the future of the Society. The late Emma Justes, a founding member of SPT, gave the impetus for this effort by donating nearly $20,000 to SPT through her trust.

The campaign was officially launched in November 2019 with the goal of raising $100,000. The campaign will continue until our 2021 Annual Meeting. To date $63,758 was raised (which includes the generous gift from Emma Justes), and an additional $27,000 in pledges were made. The task force members wish to thank everyone who contributed to this effort, and we will continue to keep you updated  as we work toward our financial goal and anticipate celebrating the Society’s 35th Anniversary in 2021 (a year late, but not a dollar short!).

Membership Dues
Please be reminded that dues are payable by calendar year (January through December). Members have access to the Journal of Pastoral Theology. Society for Pastoral Theology membership can be renewed online by clicking here.


New Membership Information   


The Society welcomes to the membership any person with professional interests in the field of Pastoral Theology. Visit our updated website at www.societyforpastoraltheology.org and read the Mission Statement for the Society for Pastoral Theology which includes a definition of Pastoral Theology, and the Journal of Pastoral Theology’s Statement of Purpose.  One joins the Society and remains in good standing by paying annual dues. Participation in the annual conference is strongly encouraged.


Society Journal                                                                                                                                                                   

The Journal of Pastoral Theology (JPT) is the Society’s journal of record, publishing annual (and later bi-annual) journals since 1990. Currently co-edited by Sam Lee (slee@cst.edu) and Danjuma Gibson (dgg085@calvinseminary.edu), the Journal is now reviewing submissions for the 2021 issues. You can submit articles here: https://www.editorialmanager.com/jpt/default.aspx

You can follow us on Twitter: @JPTSPT

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Society-for-Pastoral-Theology-104615197750151



Steering Committee


Co-Chairperson: Cedric Johnson – cedcjohnson@gmail.com

Co-Chairperson/Outgoing Treasurer:  Jill Snodgrass – jlsnodgrass@loyola.edu

Vice Chairperson /Recording Secretary: Pamela Ayo Yetunden – ayoyetunde@gmail.com

Incoming Treasurer/Technology/Meeting Liaison: Jim Higginbotham – higgija@earlham.edu  

Corresponding Secretary: Hee-Kyu Heidi Park – heekyu.park@ewha.ac.kr