Minutes Atlanta 2015

  • Preparing for Atlanta 2015 meeting 17 of us formulated one page responses to the question:

How was I formed as a religious educator and what were/are my passions and concerns?

  • A two-page item analysis of the passions and concerns were in front of us at Atlanta for discussion:
  1. What do these passions and concerns say about our generation’s shaping of and contribution to religious education in our Association?
  2. How might we share this with the next generation that follows us in the Association?

 

  • Summary of the meeting [Below are full notes that Kathy Winings took for us (this is a tremendous resource which we did not tap last year and as a result lost some of that great discussion – a key learning!)]
    • Continued crafting and clarification of the aims of this group:
      • to maintain the resources that the senior scholars offer to the field and the Association (In the past we either had senior scholars who were being affirmed for their conversations or the seniors were sitting on the side feeling resentful because they were being ignored. By organizing this think tank, we are creating a space for each senior scholars to have a voice and to gain some perspective.)
      • advocacy,
      • to create history (How much historical memory is being loss? How can we address that loss? I see a tendency in the organization to run from here to there without having any real intellectual center.)
      • propose new scholarship areas (We need to be connecting our students and younger scholars to a deeper and wider bibliography and to emphasize the depth and breadth of the scholarship out there.)
      • to be prophetic
      • to be interperspective (One of our roles might be to look back and reflect as to what has taken place and what is taking place.)
      • making an enhanced connection between ourselves and the next generation (It might be good to compile an inventory of “like interests” among the junior and senior scholars of REA, across employment lines, etc. Then it could be presented each year to the membership).
      • to be future oriented
    • The material prepared by 17 of us for this session – passions and concerns
      • How do we interpret this material?
      • Is there a way to share these with the next generation?
    • Ensuing discussion: (what seeds have been planted and what seeds are no longer being nurtured.)
      • ours was the first generation of women leadership in the REA
        • vibrant Protestant Catholic conversation
        • greater diversity in terms of culture, ethnicity and gender
        • more international and multicultural
      • concern for the loss of religious education in public education
        • suggest to the newer generation that this issue be revived
      • concern for the loss of practitioners in the Association (I came in as a practitioner many years ago but when I look around, I notice a lot of history is not present)
        • need to encourage the practitioner side of the Association
      • the need to clarify the distinction between the two traditions REA and APPRE
        • crafting a statement for the Association to consider a name change from REA back to APPRE (Do the younger scholars appreciate the distinction of the 2 organizations? What do they really understand of the history?)

 


Bob O’Gorman presided.

 

Discussion:

 

The idea of the Senior Think Tank is to maintain the resources that the senior scholars offer to the field and the Association. Bob noted the article that will be in the upcoming issue of the Journal that captures the wisdom of last year’s meeting. He raised again the question, “What is our story?” He noted that 17 members of the group responded to his question online. That was the genesis of the handout he circulated that noted the 7 Passions and 4 Concerns that he drew out of the responses.

 

Is there a way for us to express these responses to the wider group of younger scholars in the field? How does everyone in the group interpret the Themes and Concerns? Padraic O’Hare asked: It might be good to compile an inventory of “like interests” among the junior and senior scholars of REA, across employment lines, etc.  Then it could be presented each year to the membership. This would be a concrete contribution.

 

Jack Seymour: This is the first generation where women are in leadership of REA. REA/APPRE has brought together Protestants and Catholics in conversation. Now there is even more diversity in terms of culture, ethnicity and gender.

 

Mary Elizabeth: One of my great delights in REA is that the seeds planted before we came into the Association from the mid-80s to now, we worked hard to become more international and multicultural. Those planted seeds are now blooming as we see the greater diversity among the newer generation of scholars and members of REA. Can the next generation water and nurture these seeds. One of our roles might be to look back and reflect as to what has taken place and what is taking place. An interperspective.

 

Tom Groome: One of the seeds we planted in the past as reflected in the Concerns is the loss of Religious Education in public education. So this could be a moment for a revival or revisiting of this issue with the newer generation. They seem to be raising the possibility of good RE in the public schools. It is an old conversation but we could suggest to the newer generation that this is an issue that should not be dropped from the conversation. The second issue of concern is that we may have made a mistake in dropping our title – APPRE. For the junior faculty and scholars, it would be of value for them to present at APPRE. Is this a legacy we want to leave behind – the loss of the name? Especially since the practitioners did not really come.

 

It was noted that those dealing with RE in public education used to attend our annual meetings. They have not attended anymore. They participate in AERA instead. It was agreed that this Association did make a contribution in the area of RE and public education and kept that conversation in the public mind.

 

Barney Kathan: If we look at our membership and meeting attendance, we see more participants from institutions and communities around the world. That is a tremendous contribution and change.

 

Margaret Ann Crain: What is our purpose here? Is our purpose advocacy, to create history, to think up new scholarship areas, to be prophetic? Bob noted that he sees it as making an enhanced connection.

 

Elizabeth Nolan: We are committed to this field because of the value we received. She noted a conversation when asked about why we did not have regional meetings. When she noted that there used to be such meetings, he remarked that no one on the Board knew about them.

 

Margaret Ann: We should go back to the original question Bob raised and re-assess it. How do we make it more future oriented?

 

Bob: What we are generating here is valuable especially your comments on what seeds have been planted and what seeds are no longer being nurtured.

 

Kieran Scott: How much historical memory is being loss? How can we address that loss? I see a tendency in the organization to run from here to there without having any real intellectual center. Maybe we did make a mistake in changing our name. Maybe there is a loss of the seeming legitimacy of Religious Education by taking the name out of view in our schools, programs and this Association.

 

Mary Elizabeth Moore: In the past we either had senior scholars who were being affirmed for their conversations or the seniors were sitting on the side feeling resentful because they were being ignored. By organizing this think tank, we are creating a space for each senior scholars to have a voice and to gain some perspective. We need to be connecting our students and younger scholars to a deeper and wider bibliography and to emphasize the depth and breadth of the scholarship out there. Enriching and connecting. Only a few scholars are often mentioned in the REA papers. The organization has come a long way in terms of how it treats women.

 

Alan Smith: An observation is that there is a “family tree” of RE being developed here at REA with Tom’s students, Jack’s students, etc. now coming into their own.

 

Barney: I constructed my own genealogy and found it an insightful experience. He noted those who were leaders of the organization, especially women.

 

Another comment: I came in as a practitioner many years ago but when I look around, I notice a lot of history is not present. We need to encourage the practitioner side. Names of people who used to be on the Board or who attended REA who are no longer around. Many members used to come as practitioners.

 

Bob: I would like to see the possibility of more engagement and collaboration. The second question is what are our next steps? Where should we go from here?

 

 

Ideas:

 

We have 2 heritages going on here – REA and APPRE. They need to be understood.  We need to clarify these 2 traditions.

 

The seeds planted by this generation is worth a description – some of these issues need to be noted. Do the younger scholars appreciate the distinction of the 2 organizations? What do they really understand of the history? Changes in the churches impact the younger scholars. Is it possible that there is potential synergy generationally because we saw tremendous change taking place in churches and religion in our time but so too the new generation is also experiencing great changes but is it possible that they do not understand that we all saw great change and so a conversation would be valuable?

 

We still need a context and forum in which we, as scholars and educators and researchers, need a place in which to discuss our academic concerns and the concerns of the field of RE? Not to minimize the ecclesial needs, there are organizations denominationally that discuss these issues. So shouldn’t our focus be the scholarship and nature of the field of RE? Why should we attempt to do what other organizations are doing? We need a “learned society.”

 

We are also living in a time of tremendous particularity. We need to say exactly who we are and not try to be all things to all people.

 

These are things we can say to the Board as they are Board decisions.

 

But the practitioners need a philosophical framework which this organization can provide.

 

Tom: Let’s craft a statement from the Senior Think Tank to the Board that we want to reconsider our name and return to our original name or something similar to it.

 

Those in attendance:

Caldwell

Crain

Ferro

Groome

Horan

Kathan

Moore

Moran

Nolan

O’Brien

O’Gorman

O’Hare

Regan

Rossiter

Scott

Seymour

Smith

Strobert

Winings