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Advancing global church debate on sexuality: Intercultural understanding and new methods for dialogue

Summary of the impact

From 2008, University of Leeds research on Christianity and sexuality has changed both the form and the content of church discussions of sexuality, mainly but not only within the global Anglican Communion. The relevant Leeds-based research is Ward's work on sexuality and global Anglicanism (2002-); an international study of Anglican/Episcopal churches (2008-2010); and Muers' work on theology, sexuality and gender (2007-). Specifically, Leeds research shaped the design and evaluation of the Anglican Communion's "Continuing Indaba" (2008-) process. Leeds research has also informed the content of that debate, and in promoting understanding of under- recognised perspectives in wider debates on sexuality.

Submitting Institution

University of Leeds

Unit of Assessment

Theology and Religious Studies

Summary Impact Type

Societal

Research Subject Area(s)

Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies, Literary Studies
Philosophy and Religious Studies: Religion and Religious Studies

Edinburgh World Missionary Conference 1910 Centennial Study Groups and Conference

Summary of the impact

From 2002 the Centre for the Study of World Christianity (CSWC), formerly Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World (CSCNWW), at the University of Edinburgh established an action research process which culminated in the establishment of nine international study groups from 2008-10 leading to the international conference `Edinburgh 2010', a major ecumenical conference with delegates from 115 Christian denominations. This conference, livestreamed around the world, marked the centennial of the Edinburgh World Missionary Conference 1910 (EWMC 1910). Drawing on its research on EWMC 1910, CSWC established an international process of knowledge co-creation involving and benefitting churches, church leaders, clergy, laity, ecumenical and mission organisations, as well as scholars of Christian mission and Christian history. The project has led to increased understandings of Christianity as a religion of the global South as well as North, and a reinvigoration of global ecumenical partnership in mission reflecting this understanding, as evidenced in form of impacts on theological education at the global level.

Submitting Institution

University of Edinburgh

Unit of Assessment

Theology and Religious Studies

Summary Impact Type

Cultural

Research Subject Area(s)

Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies
Philosophy and Religious Studies: Religion and Religious Studies

Restoring 'Fresh Expressions' to the Parish as the Focus of Mission in the Church of England

Summary of the impact

Research on ecclesiology undertaken by Revd Dr Alison Milbank:

  • Has informed the theology, policy and practice of mission in the Church of England by challenging the theological basis of the dominant Fresh Expressions movement and offering a new model based on mediation;
  • Has engaged cathedral visitors and church members in new ways of experiencing religious objects via video and barcodes;
  • Has informed and influenced curricula and syllabi in Anglican ordination training on mission and ecclesiology.
  • Has exceeded its target audience of the Church of England, being discussed by other churches in the UK and worldwide.

Submitting Institution

University of Nottingham

Unit of Assessment

Theology and Religious Studies

Summary Impact Type

Cultural

Research Subject Area(s)

Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies, Literary Studies
Philosophy and Religious Studies: Religion and Religious Studies

The psychology of prayer

Summary of the impact

Research into the psychology of prayer aids the Church of England in one of its key areas of mission, to engage with and to promote the spiritual health of the nation. This research promotes the engagement of those who do not necessarily attend church to engage with their spiritual development. The research conducted into the analysis of prayer cards left in churches and cathedrals has influenced: the development of a Church of England prayer website; the reconceptualization and reorganisation of the Bangor Cathedral prayer request area; and integration of prayer card analyses in larger research projects initiated by Church of England dioceses exploring church growth.

Submitting Institution

Glynd┼Ár University

Unit of Assessment

Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience

Summary Impact Type

Cultural

Research Subject Area(s)

Education: Curriculum and Pedagogy
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies
Philosophy and Religious Studies: Religion and Religious Studies

Orthodoxy in Dialogue with Western Culture: the Orthodox Network in Winchester

Summary of the impact

This case study describes the impact of Orthodox theological research at Winchester on Orthodox Christian life in the UK at several levels. The development of the Winchester Orthodox Network — a study and research network bringing academics together with members of Orthodox Christian communities — has had diverse impacts on the engagement of Orthodox life with British contexts, including: (a) a major contribution to the Orthodox Fellowship of St John the Baptist, enabling theological research to inform the practice of clergy and their communities; (b) expert advisory work; (c) continuing education for serving clergy; (d) the use of research expertise in informing the catechesis, liturgical and spiritual life of Orthodox parishes in Hampshire.

Submitting Institution

University of Winchester

Unit of Assessment

Theology and Religious Studies

Summary Impact Type

Cultural

Research Subject Area(s)

Language, Communication and Culture: Literary Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies
Philosophy and Religious Studies: Religion and Religious Studies

Changing the self-understanding of Pentecostal Christians worldwide

Summary of the impact

Challenging the popular perception of Pentecostalism as a `made-in-the-USA' religion and advocating the global beginnings, multiple origins and local initiatives of the phenomenon, Anderson's research has had profound effects on the self-understanding and practices of Pentecostal Christian churches across the globe. He has inspired a world-wide audience through his outputs that are used within Pentecostal communities and have resulted in invitations to give public lectures and addresses to large, global church audiences.

His writings and lectures have also influenced the philosophy behind curriculum design and course content in seminaries where lay and ordained ministers are trained, particularly in India, the Philippines, South Korea, Ghana and Ecuador. The Anderson agenda for alternative, `post-colonial' Pentecostal identities has helped develop a new vision for the movement and its regional missionary expressions.

Submitting Institution

University of Birmingham

Unit of Assessment

Theology and Religious Studies

Summary Impact Type

Cultural

Research Subject Area(s)

Language, Communication and Culture: Literary Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies
Philosophy and Religious Studies: Religion and Religious Studies

Promoting Understanding of Syriac Christianity

Summary of the impact

Sebastian Brock's research on Syriac language, literature, and religion has changed public understanding of the history of Christianity and directly influenced the practices and beliefs of several Christian communities, helping to overturn centuries of theological opinion and persuading the leadership of western churches that Syriac Christianity is not a heretical offshoot but a central part of its history and development. The impact of his research is significant not just for followers of the Syriac traditions, for whom he has authored many resources for instruction and liturgy, but also for other denominations, including the Greek and Russian Orthodox churches and Roman Catholicism. His research opened the way to stronger relations among these communities, leading to official doctrinal agreements between the Roman Catholic church and the Syriac language-using churches. His publications have cemented his reputation as the voice of scholarly authority within the Syriac church.

Submitting Institution

University of Oxford

Unit of Assessment

Area Studies

Summary Impact Type

Cultural

Research Subject Area(s)

Language, Communication and Culture: Literary Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies
Philosophy and Religious Studies: Religion and Religious Studies

Redeeming Power: Overcoming Abuse in Church and Society

Summary of the impact

In Autumn 2011, Dr Stephen Bullivant was appointed Director of the European Society for Catholic Theology's research project into 'the nature, function and location of theology, with particular attention to the power of theology to overcome power abuse in Church and Society' (InSpiRe 2013), and with a special focus on the nature and causes of clerical sexual abuse.

Given the gravity and urgency of the topic, the project's 'impact aims' have been to engage two particular non-academic audiences: the Catholic hierarchy, and those involved in setting church policy regarding safeguarding and the handling of abuse allegations; and the wider Catholic public (i.e., the Church as a whole). Its intention is to introduce both to the wealth of academic research being conducted in this area, and from which the Church can and must learn.

Although the research project was only recently concluded — and several of the main outputs have yet to appear — a significant amount of both kinds of impact has, even at this very early stage, already occurred. Since the project launch in September 2012, major figures from the world of Catholic safeguarding, at both national and international levels have been involved in various ways. Most notably, the Vatican's own chief prosecutor of abuse allegations has described the project as constituting 'an important moment to move from the hierarchy to the theologians' for proper reflection 'on this most tragic wound in the Church and in society' (Vatican Radio 2012a; 2012b; see section 4, below). The project has also received notable coverage from the international Catholic media.

Submitting Institution

St Mary's University, Twickenham

Unit of Assessment

Theology and Religious Studies

Summary Impact Type

Societal

Research Subject Area(s)

Medical and Health Sciences: Public Health and Health Services

New Testament Studies

Summary of the impact

Lincoln's research treats historical, literary, theological and hermeneutical issues in New Testament studies. Aiming to be accessible in its presentation, it has an impact throughout the English-speaking world on leaders in churches, teachers and sixth formers in schools and a broad audience interested in the interpretation of the Bible. In particular, it has contributed to bridging the gap between academic biblical studies and popular understanding in the church and society, as readers turn to his work on New Testament texts and issues to find ways to integrate the challenges of critical reading with an appreciation of the contemporary significance of the Bible for theological thinking and the religious imagination.

Submitting Institution

University of Gloucestershire

Unit of Assessment

Theology and Religious Studies

Summary Impact Type

Cultural

Research Subject Area(s)

Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies, Literary Studies
Philosophy and Religious Studies: Religion and Religious Studies

2) Transforming Patterns of Ministry and Church Leadership

Summary of the impact

At a time of decline in church attendance in the UK, the models and patterns of leadership that churches have traditionally utilized have been questioned and rethought. In this context, aspects of the research carried out in Divinity and Religious Studies at the University of Aberdeen have focused on the leadership of the church, as a key user group of research in Divinity. This research has led to changes in models and patterns of leadership within the churches. To illustrate this, this case study examines two related examples of the impact of research carried out in the UoA in different sub-disciplines. Drane's (1998-2004) work in Practical Theology has impacted the church leadership's approach to spirituality and Fresh Expressions of Church through Mission Shaped Ministry and through his work with the Church of Scotland. Clarke's historical and theological research into New Testament texts and first-century contexts have been brought to bear on contemporary contexts of church leadership, within both Scottish Baptist and Church of Scotland settings. Claimed impact is, therefore, on the patterns and practice of ministry in these churches as a result of the research of Drane and Clarke.

Submitting Institution

University of Aberdeen

Unit of Assessment

Theology and Religious Studies

Summary Impact Type

Cultural

Research Subject Area(s)

History and Archaeology: Historical Studies
Philosophy and Religious Studies: Religion and Religious Studies

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