Past Fellows

In Alphabetical Order

Orit Avishai, Fordham University, “Holy Unions: Faith-Based Marriage Education and the ‘Crisis in Marriage’”

Tobin Belzer, University of Southern California, “The Weakness of Strong Ties: An Exploration of the Denominational Roots of Non-Denominational Churches”

Kraig Beyerlein, University of Arizona, “Saving Lives: Congregations’ Humanitarian Efforts to Help Migrants Crossing the U.S.-Mexico Border”

The Rev. Dr. Christopher Craig Brittain is Senior Lecturer in Practical Theology at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. Since participating in the ‘Engaged Scholars Studying Congregations’ network, he has become an active member of the international ‘Ecclesiology and Ethnography’ network of scholars. His research engages regularly with field work in Christian congregations, particularly in the Anglican tradition. He is currently completing a joint research project with a sociologist on the contemporary crisis in the international Anglican Communion, and a monograph based on congregational studies in Pittsburgh, PA. His publications in this area include:

  • A Plague on Both Their Houses: Liberal V.S. Conservative Christians and the Divorce of the Episcopal Church USA (forthcoming T&T Clark).
  • ‘Why Ecclesiology Cannot live by Doctrine Alone: a reply to John Webster’s ‘In the Society of God”. ‘ Ecclesial Practices, 1. 1 (2014), 5-30.
  • (with Andrew McKinnon) ‘Homosexuality and the Construction of “Anglican Orthodoxy”: The Symbolic Politics of the Anglican Communion’. ‘ Sociology of Religion, 72. 3,(2011), 351-373.
  • ‘Ethnography as Ecclesial Attentiveness and Critical Reflexivity: fieldwork and the dispute over homosexuality in The Episcopal Church.’ In: Explorations in Ecclesiology and Ethnography, ed. Christian B. Scharen (Eerdmans, 2012), 114-137.

Tricia Bruce, Maryville College, “Identity and Community in Personal Parishes in the U.S. Catholic Church”

William Clark, College of the Holy Cross, “Community, Authority and Ministry: Ecclesiological Implications of Parish Clustering and Reorganization Plans in the Roman Catholic Church”

Lynne Gerber, University of California at Berkeley, “Surviving the Plague: Remembering, Healing, and Growing Past Communal Trauma in an Urban Congregation”

Leah Gunning-Francis, Eden Theological Seminary, “‘At Risk’?: Middle Class Black Boys and the Reimagining of Christian Education in Social Transformation”

Sascha Goluboff, Washington and Lee University, “African American Home Church: The Politics of Race and Religion in the Rural South”

Brett Hoover, Loyola Marymount University, “The Shared Parish: Local Roman Catholic Intercultural Practices”

Anita Houck, Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, “Rootless and Restless? Envisioning Single Life in Contemporary Congregations”

Kathleen Jenkins is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the College of William and Mary. While a fellow in the engaged scholars program, Kathleen studied the experience of divorce in congregations across religious traditions. Rutgers University Press recently (2014) published her book based on this research: Sacred Divorce: Religion, Therapeutic Culture, and Ending Life Partnerships. Kathleen’s current research project examines the experience of parents and their emerging adult children from across Europe, Canada, and the United States who walk the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Northwest Spain. In this ethnographic project, as in Sacred Divorce and her first book, Awesome Families: The Promise of Healing Relationships in the International Churches of Christ (Rutgers University Press 2005), Kathleen explores the relationship between contemporary kinship, religious practice and therapeutic culture.

Russell Jeung is Professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University. Through his fellowship with the Congregational Studies Team, he examined the dynamics and impacts of religious institutions within Asian American, low-income communities. Since that time, he has explored why Chinese Americans choose not to participate in Christian congregations. One article based on this research was published in his edited volume, Sustaining Faith Traditions: Race, Ethnicity, and Religion among the Latino and Asian American Second Generation (New York University Press, 2012). He also authored Faithful Generations: Race and New Asian American Churches (Rutgers University Press, 2004). Another key interest of Dr. Jeung is ministry with Asian American refugee communities.  He has published reports on the needs of refugees from Bhutan and Burma, the fastest growing refugee populations in the U.S. In 2010, he produced the video documentary, The Oak Park Story, about his organizing work with Cambodian refugees and Latino undocumented families. Currently, he is writing a spiritual memoir about his family’s background as Hakka, the landless guest people of China, and his own experiences living among refugees.

Rebecca Kim, Pepperdine University, “De-westernization of American Christianity: Reverse Korean Missionaries”

Miranda Klaver, VU Amsterdam, “Religious Authority, Community Formation and the Role of Media in Multisite Congregations in New York and Amsterdam”

Lance D. Laird, Th.D. is Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine and in the Graduate Division of Religious Studies at Boston University. He is Assistant Director of the Master of Science Program in Medical Anthropology and Cross-Cultural Practice. Prof. Laird works at the intersection of religions, medicines, and healing, with a primary focus on American Muslim communities. He teaches courses on faith-based involvement in global health; the formation of clinicians; mental health of immigrants and refugees; and Islamic medicines and healing. Prof. Laird’s research on mosques, churches, and the mobilization of religious health assets in urban neighborhoods has resulted in the collaborative formation of the Greater Boston Muslim Health Initiative to promote mutual education between local Muslim activists and healthcare providers on issues of domestic harmony, mental health, and community outreach. Prof. Laird’s current work focuses on experiences of domestic violence and healthcare access for immigrant Muslim women. Much of his thinking on the intersection of religious and ethnic identities, healthcare and healing can be found in his articles and book chapters:

  • Laird, Lance D., Jo Hunter Adams, Linda L. Barnes, Paul Geltman, and Jennifer Cochran. forthcoming. “Looking Islam in the Teeth: the Social Life of a Somali Toothbrush.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly.
  • Laird, Lance D. 2014. “A Mosque, a Church, and Neighborhood Health: Interfaith Connections for Life.” Church Health Reader (Spring).
  • Laird, Lance D. 2013. “Boundaries and Baraka: Christians, Muslims and a Palestinian Saint.” In Muslims and others in sacred space, edited by Margaret Cormack, 40-70. Oxford ; New York N.Y.: Oxford University Press.
  • Laird, Lance D., Wahiba Abu-Ras, and Farid Senzai. 2013. “Cultural Citizenship and Belonging: Muslim International Medical Graduates in the USA.” Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs no. 33 (3):356-370. doi: 10.1080/13602004.2013.863075.
  • Abu-Ras, W., F. Senzai, and L. Laird. 2012. “American Muslim Physicians’ Experiences Since 9/11: Cultural Trauma and the Formation of Islamic Identity.” Traumatology no. 19 (1):11-19. doi: 10.1177/1534765612441975.

Gerardo Marti is L. Richardson King Associate Professor of Sociology at Davidson College. As an engaged scholar of religion, Prof. Marti works amidst the worlds of both “church” and “academy” by participating in congregations, conferences, and seminaries while pursuing rigorous research in partnership with universities, research centers, and grant agencies. His research speaks to both worlds, especially regarding fresh innovations in local churches, the challenge of racial and ethnic diversity, the active incorporation of young adults in ministry, and the rise of “churches” that challenge established ecclesiologies. Much of his thinking can be found in his books:

Margarita Mooney, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “Engaged Scholarship on Religion and International Migration”

Géraldine Mossière, Faculté de théologie et de sciences des religions, Université de Montréal, “Young Believers at Stake: Activities Resources and Strategies of African Pentecostal congregations to attract second generation immigrant youth”

Arlene Sanchez-Walsh, Azusa Pacific University, “Santidad, Sanación, y Salvación: Reimagining Latino Evangelicalism”

Christine Sheikh, University of Denver, “One Ummah, Separate Worlds? Discourses on Race and Ethnicity in Multi-Ethnic Muslim Congregations”

Jenny Trinatipoli, Arizona State University, “The Role of Congregations in Providing Care in the AIDS Epidemic in Malawi

Ria Van Ryn is an scholar-educator in transition from her position as assistant professor of sociology at Yeshiva University in New York City to her current work towards Missouri teacher certification in secondary English literature and composition.  Dr. Van Ryn draws on her own complex, pluralist religious background to create, facilitate, and empower interfaith youth encounters.  Her recent engaged scholarship includes designing and implementing a service-learning seminar for eighth graders at Islamic and Jewish day schools in North Carolina and serving as a research consultant to Walking the Walk, an interfaith program for high schoolers in Philadelphia structured around diverse networks of area congregations.

Heather White, New College Florida, “Gay Liberation at the Church of the Holy Apostles: Religion and Lived Practice in the Congregation that Hosted the Gay Rights Movement”