Organization and By-Laws

Organization and By-Laws

The main purposes of IAPT are of an academic nature. Therefore one can come to know IAPT by reading publications, conversation with members, and attending conferences (upon invitation). There is however also an organizational dimension to it. The executive committee and by-laws provide insight into IAPT as an organization.

Executive Committee


 walton_s President: Heather Walton

Glasgow, United Kingdom


 Robert Mager Vice President: Robert Mager

Québec City, Canada


 dillen01s Secretary: Annemie Dillen

Leuven, Belgium


 Cruz01s Treasurer: Faustino (Tito) M. Cruz

Seattle, USA


 trygve-wyller_s Chair of the 2017
Conference Host Committee: Trygve WyllerOslo, Norway
 vahakangas02s Chair of the 2017
Conference Program Committee:Auli Vähäkangas

Helsinki, Finland

 constanze03 Member at Large: Constanze Thierfelder

Marburg: Germany

 wepener Member at LargeL Cas Wepener, Pretoria, South Africa



By-Laws of the International Academy of Practical Theology

Adopted by the Academy April 26, 1997

Revised April 11, 2001 and April 4, 2007


I. Purpose of the Academy

II. Description of the Academy

III. Membership and Guests

IV. Eligibility for Membership

V. Membership Rules and Procedures

VI. Executive Committee

VII. Election of Officers

VIII. Committees and Conference Planning Procedures

IX. Finances and Membership Fees

X. Theme and Schedule of Official Meetings

XI. Working Language of the Academy

XII. Amendment of By-Laws

XIII. Attestation and Date of Effectiveness of By-Laws


I. Purpose of the Academy

The purpose of the International Academy of Practical Theology is the study of and critical reflection on practical theological thought and action. This critical reflection should be pursued with attention to the various historical and cultural contexts in which practical theology is done. Out of respect for the diversity of these contexts, the Academy seeks to promote international, interracial, and ecumenical dialogue and understanding.

II. Description of the Academy

A. While affirming the practical nature of all theology, the Academy is primarily interested in practical theology as a distinct academic discipline. The Academy assumes that practical theology serves the practice of the Christian church in society. However, as a scholarly organization, it is dedicated primarily to study and analysis of the theory of theologically informed practice. It is oriented toward the historic subdisciplines of practical theology such as pastoral care, homiletics, religious education, liturgics, and social service in both their ecclesial and public forms. It is also interested in new areas of inquiry such as congregational studies and church development. It is even more concerned with the development of models accounting for the theoretical coherence and unity of these disciplines. This means that the Academy is interested in investigating and developing comprehensive frameworks for ordering practical theology itself. In addition, it is interested in the relation of practical theology to the other theological disciplines and the modern human sciences.

B. The Academy understands practical theology as a theological discipline that stands in a unique relationship with modernity. It recognizes that practical theology emerged primarily in response to the forces of modernity and is relevant to addressing the trends of modernity, in both their positive and negative forms. This includes, for example, the cultural influences of the Enlightenment, institutional and ideological differentiation with their ensuing forms of pluralism and individualism, new forms of injustice and abuse of power, and the various modern and post-modern reactions to these trends. The Academy also is interested in practical theological reflection on the inner dynamics of the church and on the church’s interaction with secular value systems, unchurched Christians, other religions, and new religious movements.

C. The Academy intends to stimulate various models of research on practical theology, including methodological reflection on hermeneutical, historical, empirical, systematic and other constructive methods. It also hopes to foster critical, interdisciplinary dialogue, engaging the social sciences, ethics, and other relevant disciplines.

III.Membership and Guests

A. There are two categories of full membership in the Academy. Full members are referred to as Active or Retired, but only for purposes of setting the size of the Academy. Active membership in the Academy shall not exceed a number set by the members from time to time at their stated business meetings. At each conference the membership shall approve the maximum size and growth of the Academy for the period running through the next conference.

B. Active Members maintain active status by payment of dues and regular attendance at Academy conferences, as defined in the Membership Rules and Procedures of these By-Laws. Active Members may forfeit membership by failing in these responsibilities, as determined by the Executive Committee according to the Membership Rules and Procedures.

C. Retired Members are former Active Members who upon retirement choose to remain members of the Academy by participating as much as they wish in the Academy and by payment of dues. Retired Members are welcome to attend Academy conferences but are not required to do so. They may participate in business meetings with voice and vote.

D. Guests are welcome to attend official conferences of the Academy at the invitation of the Executive Committee, upon recommendation of a member of the Academy and the Host Committee. Guests may participate fully in the conference with the exception of voting at business meetings. The number of guests accepted for attendance shall be determined by the availability of accommodations, capacity of the facilities, and practical feasibility.

IV. Eligibility for Membership

Membership is by invitation of the Executive Committee according to the rules of eligibility and procedures for election of members established in these By-Laws. It is limited to persons with the following qualifications:

A. Individuals who subscribe to the purposes of the Academy as stated in its By-Laws.

B. Individuals who are researchers and scholars in the practical theological fields and related disciplines.

C. Individuals who have a distinguished record of publications with regard to the foundational issues of practical theology and its subdisciplines or who have made other recognized significant contributions to practical theology.

D. Individuals with a Ph.D., Th.D., or comparable research and scholarly degree or a certifiable demonstration of serious research and scholarly accomplishments.

V. Membership Rules and Procedures

A. The Executive Committee shall constitute the Membership Committee.

B. The Membership Committee shall accept members, within the size limits set in the preceding business meeting, on the basis of academic qualifications, but with an additional concern to maintain international, ecumenical, and gender balance.

C. The Membership Committee shall bring a recommendation to the business meeting for establishing the size of the Academy for the ensuing period. It shall formulate its recommendation with a concern to keep the size of the Academy at a level conducive to a high quality of academic and personal communication.

D. Members may nominate one or more persons for membership in the Academy by letters of nomination, supported and signed by two members, and forwarded to the current President of the Academy. Nominations should be made no later than one year prior to the next scheduled meeting of the Academy. The President shall refer them in a timely manner to the Executive Committee for review and final decision.

E. Letters of nomination should summarize the academic and other contributions to practical theology of the nominee. Letters of nomination shall attach a brief curriculum vitae of the nominee, a list of major publications, and current contact information, including the nominee’s mailing address, telephone and fax numbers, and email address (if any).

F. New membership becomes effective upon attending the first or second conference following the nomination

G. The Executive Committee shall notify Active Members who do not attend two consecutive conferences (unless there are extenuating circumstances) that they will be removed from membership if they miss three consecutive conferences. Members who do not attend three consecutive conferences, without submitting a written request to be absent to the Executive Committee, shall be removed from the Academy.

H. Financial assessments of members are due at the time of the Academy’s regularly scheduled conferences, whether or not members are able to attend a particular conference. The Executive Committee shall notify members who do not pay their assessments during two consecutive conferences (unless there are extenuating circumstances) that they will be removed from membership if they miss three consecutive assessments. Members who do not pay their assessments for three consecutive conferences, without submitting a written request for waiver to the Executive Committee on grounds of extenuating circumstances, shall be removed from the Academy.

VI. Executive Committee

A. The Executive Committee of the Academy shall consist of the President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, the chairs of the Program Committee and Host Committee (if not the same person), plus two members at large.

B. The members of the Executive Committee are elected by the membership at the regular stated business meeting. Their term of office commences immediately upon election and runs through the Academy’s next conference and business meeting.

C. The Executive Committee has responsibility for the affairs of the Academy between business meetings, including final decisions on the program, place, time, cost, and other practical arrangements for the next conference and all matters related to membership, dues, finances, and official communications on behalf of the Academy.

VII. Election of Officers

A. Officers shall be elected at the official business meetings of the Academy.

B. The Executive Committee of the Academy shall serve as a committee to nominate its successors. It shall submit a roster of officers to the membership at each of the stated business meetings of the general membership of the Academy. It shall not be assumed that the holder of any office will be nominated for another office.

C. No member shall serve more than two consecutive terms in the same office, with the possible exception of the Treasurer. The President and Vice-President shall serve for one term only.

D. The Nominating Committee (Executive Committee) shall submit its nominations of officers in writing to the membership of the Academy at least six months prior to the stated meeting of the Academy.

E. Alternative candidates for one or all of the offices may be nominated by a petition containing ten signatures of current members. Petitioners shall ascertain, and indicate in their petition, that their nominee is willing to serve if elected. Petitions must be received by the President of the Academy three months prior to the next scheduled official conference of the Academy. The Nominating Committee (Executive Committee) shall present to the membership at the time of election (and earlier if it wishes), along with its own slate of nominees, the names of all persons properly nominated by petition.

F. Officers shall be elected by a majority of the members of the Academy attending the business meetings of its official conferences.

VIII. Committees and Conference Planning Procedures

A. The Program Committee shall consist of twelve persons, elected by the membership of the Academy in an early business meeting of each conference. The Executive Committee makes eight nominations and the general membership four. In the full process of nominations and elections, attention shall be given to regional, national, racial and gender representation.

B. At each conference, the Program Committee shall present a theme for the next conference to the Academy membership for their approval.

C. The Program Committee, through its Chair, shall consult with the President and Executive Committee about the content and structure of the program and shall submit a proposal for the program to the Executive Committee for its review and approval in a timely manner.

D. Such sub-committees, working parties, or other groups set up from time to time by the Academy or the Executive Committee shall be responsible to the Academy through the Executive Committee with whom they shall consult and to whom they shall submit proposals for its review in a timely manner.

IX. Finances and Membership Fees

A. Financial assessments shall be determined from time to time by a majority vote of the members attending the stated business meeting, upon recommendation of the President and the Executive Committee.

B. The Treasurer shall create orderly procedures for receiving, dispersing, and transferring funds from meeting to meeting and country to country, and for insuring that accounts are properly reviewed and published.

X. Theme and Schedule of Official Meetings

A. Official conferences of the Academy normally will be held once every two years at a time of maximum convenience for its members.

B. The theme, place and schedule of official conferences shall be determined by a majority vote of members attending the preceding business meeting of the Academy.

C. It is the responsibility of the Executive Committee to make recommendations as to the time and place of official conferences of the Academy. The place of conferences should be chosen with consideration given to international distribution and accessibility of sites. Nominations of places for future conferences should be forwarded to the President of the academy in a timely manner.

XI. Working Language of the Academy

English shall be the working language of the Academy.

XII. Amendment of By-Laws

These By-Laws may be amended by two-thirds of members attending stated business meetings of the Academy.

XIII. Attestation and Date of Effectiveness of By-Laws

The above By-Laws, as approved at the business meeting in Seoul, Korea, Saturday, April 26, 1997, and amended in Stellenbosch, South Africa, Wednesday, April 11, 2001, and in Berlin, Wednesday, April 4, 2007, are now in effect.

Hans van der Ven,
President & Carol Lakey Hess, Secretary, April 26, 1997
Mary Elizabeth Moore, President & Elaine Graham, Secretary, April 11, 2001
Elaine Graham, President & James Nieman, Secretary, April 4, 2007