Disclosing Church : An Ecclesiology Learned from Conversations in Practice book cover
1st Edition

Disclosing Church
An Ecclesiology Learned from Conversations in Practice

ISBN 9781138307742
Published March 18, 2020 by Routledge
282 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

From 2006 to 2011 researchers at Heythrop College and the Oxford Centre for ecclesiology and Practical Theology (OxCEPT, Ripon College Cuddesdon) worked on a theological and action research project: "Action Research – Church and Society (ARCS). 2010 saw the publication of Talking About God in Practice: Theological Action research and Practical Theology (SCM), which presented in an accessible way the work of ARCS and its developing methodology. This turned out to be a landmark study in the praxis of Anglican and Catholic ecclesiology in the UK, showing how theology in these differing contexts interacted with the way in which clergy and congregations lived out their religious convictions. This book is a direct follow up to that significant work, authored by one of the original researchers, providing a systematic analysis of the impact of the "theological action research" methodology and its implications for a contemporary ecclesiology.

The book presents an ecclesiology generated from church practice, drawing on scholarship in the field as well as the results of the theological action research undertaken. It achieves this by including real scenarios alongside the academic discourse. This combination allows the author to tease out the complex relationship between the theory and the reality of church.

Addressing the need for a more developed theological and methodological account of the ARCS project, this is a book that will be of interest to scholars interested not only Western lived religion, but ecclesiology and theology more generally too.

Table of Contents



1. Disclosing Church: attending to people, attending to the Spirit.

Part I - The Project: ‘Action research - Church and Society’ (ARCS)

Rationale for Part I

2. The ARCS project: reflections on a research community and its practices

  1. Theological Action Research

4. Theology in Four Voices

Part II – Contextual Themes

Rationale for Part II

A. Account of Practice: London Jesuit Volunteers

5. The Geographical Context: London, the global city

B. Account of Practice: Westminster Agency for Evangelisation

6. The Organisational Contexts: dioceses, parishes, and faith-based agencies

Part III - Ecclesiological themes

Rationale for Part III

C. Account of Practice: St. Mary’s Battersea

7. Church in Mission: learning ecclesial ek-centrcity

D. Account of Practice: Messy Church, South Croydon

8. Identifying church: edginess and edge-lessness

E. Account of Practice: Housing Justice

9. Sacrament and sacramentality: celebrating the peri-liturgical sacramental

F. Account of Practice: Portsmouth Diocese

10. Orders and ordering: life together in the power of the Spirit

G. Account of Practice: Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD)

11. Tradition: normativity, creativity and faithful treachery

Part IV – Conclusions

Rationale to Part IV

12. What account of Church? Edgelessness, Fragility, and Discernment.

13. What account of theology? Practical Fundamental Theology.

14. Ecclesiology by Epiphanies: a prospect.

Appendix – Outline of a single theological action research cycle


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Clare Watkins is Reader in Ecclesiology and Practical Theology at the University of Roehampton, UK, having previously worked as Vice Principal of the Margaret Beaufort Institute, Cambridge. She has researched, taught and published in a range of areas across ecclesiology and sacramental theology, with particular interests in lay vocation, marriage and family and the practical living of ecclesial life ‘in ordinary’. Her publications reflect this, including: Living Baptism: Called out of the Ordinary (2006) and Talking About God in Practice: theological action research and practical theology (2010). She ist he Director of the Theology and Action Research Network (TARN), based at the University of Roehampton.