You will find here photos and recollections about the history of the International Academy of Practical Theology.

We mention with gratitude the names of the founding fathers / mothers: Riet Bons-Storm; Don S. Browning; Camil Menard; Karl Ernst Nipkow; Rick Osmer; Dietrich Rössler; Friedrich Schweitzer; and Hans van der Ven.
Founding of International Academy of Practical Theology: Princeton Meeting, 1991. From left to right: Hans van der Ven; Don Browning, Camil Ménard; Dietriech Roessler; Rick Osmer, Riet Bons-Storm; Friedrich Schweitzer, Karl Ernst Nipkow.


“The birth of the IAPT, a personal impression”, by Riet Bons-Storm

It was in 1991, in Princeton, after a meeting of seven men and one woman – I am very honoured I was woman – that the IAPT was born. But like all births, this birth was not an unexpected event. There was a gestation-period: a period of bi-lateral international meetings between practical theologians. For instance, in July 1990 about twenty practical theologians from the Netherlands and the USA met in the Mennonite Center in Elspeet, in the Netherlands. The theme was: “Transformation of the Local Church”. Although these bi-lateral conferences were interesting and fruitful, the need was felt for a broader organization, where practical theologians from all over the world could communicate. Other  disciplines had such organizations. It was time for practical theology to become an adult discipline on the forum of theologies.

So in 1991, August, 1-4, the seven founding fathers and the one founding mother came together in Princeton, where Rick Osmer was our host. The first evening we met each other for dinner in Rick’s home: it was clear that we had one purpose and were eager to work together. But still there were differences of opinion that would have a long life in the IAPT, once founded...Read Full Text Here  

The Beginnings of the International Academy of Practical Theology, by Friedrich Schweitzer

Every true beginning has its own myth. More than 20 years after the inception of the idea that there should be such an academy, the processes that have led to these beginnings are beginning to sink into the realm of myth and mystery.

From what I remember, the idea for an international academy first came up during a conference on practical theology in 1990 at Blaubeuren/Germany, the site of Tuebingen university’s conference center. This conference brought together a number of new interests in * as an academic discipline, from Germany, from the United States, and from other countries, most of all the Netherlands. Key speakers were, among others, Don Browning, James Fowler, Dietrich Rössler, Karl Ernst Nipkow. I myself had been active as one of the organizers of the conference. Since I had been a postgraduate student at Harvard in the late 1970s and also had started internationalizing my own work by organizing international conferences  since the early 1980s, the idea of an international academy seemed very attractive to me. Moreover, it became clear that there was a convergence of similar developments in different countries that we could make use of.

Two key ideas were behind the efforts for founding the new academy. First, it was not considered sufficient that the various subdisciplines of * should have their international organizations (such organizations exist in a number of areas, like religious education, homiletics, pastoral counseling, etc.) . If * should be taken seriously as a discipline, it should also have its own organization at an international level. Second, the aim of the academy should be to bring together researchers who are working within the field of * in different countries. In other words, the aim was not to organize conferences but to facilitate international research projects as well as to create ongoing exchange on research...Read Full Text Here