Disclosing Church: An Ecclesiology Learned from Conversations in Practice, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Disclosing Church

An Ecclesiology Learned from Conversations in Practice, 1st Edition

By Clare Watkins


256 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138307742
pub: 2020-02-11
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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


About the Author

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.

About the Series

Explorations in Practical, Pastoral and Empirical Theology

Theological reflection on the church’s practice is now recognised as a significant element in theological studies in the academy and seminary. Routledge's series in practical, pastoral and empirical theology seeks to foster this resurgence of interest and encourage new developments in practical and applied aspects of theology worldwide. This timely series draws together a wide range of disciplinary approaches and empirical studies to embrace contemporary developments including: the expansion of research in empirical theology, psychological theology, ministry studies, public theology, Christian education and faith development; key issues of contemporary society such as health, ethics and the environment; and more traditional areas of concern such as pastoral care and counselling.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / General
RELIGION / Christianity / Anglican
RELIGION / Christianity / Catholic
RELIGION / Christian Theology / Ecclesiology
RELIGION / Christianity / General
RELIGION / Theology
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology of Religion