Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education.

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The Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1995 in Chicago and recognized at a banquet those who had served as President through the years. Many features of the annual meetings continued, such as research interest groups, men’s and women’s luncheons, task forces, and the presidential address. A new feature, beginning in 1997, was the compiling of the Proceedings, which included all the papers presented at the meeting. This was originally done under the leadership of Charles Melchert, who was the executive secretary and on the faculty of the Lancaster Theological Seminary. He was succeeded in 2001 by Randy Litchfield, professor at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio, and he in turn was succeeded in 2004 by Lawanda Smith, professor at Louisiana State University. In this period of time the major event was the merger of the APRRE with the Religious Education Association, which had been founded in 1903. The two organizations had collaborated since 1971, and the journal, Religious Education, had become a joint venture by 1980. Conversations began in 2001 about the possibility of forming a single new organization that would build on the strengths of each. A meeting was held on June 8, 2002, in Chicago with representatives of both organizations: from the APRRE - Anne Streaty Wimberly; Jack Seymour; Tom Walters; and Randy Litchfield; from the REA: Ronald Cram; Lorna Bowman; Barbara Ann Keely; and Ted Brelsford. A paper was prepared on “Propopsal for a Joint Reorganization of APRRE and REA,” and it was revised on Nov. 20, 2002. A discussion of the proposal was held at the 2002 meetings of both organizations in Philadelphia. The revised proposal and mail ballot were sent out to the membership in January 2003, with the ballots due by October 15, 2003. The results were as follows: REA – 475 ballots mailed; 138 returned; 135 Yes (98%); 2 No; 1 Abstention. APRRE: 337 ballots mailed; 108 returned; 105 Yes (97%); 2 No; 1 Abstention. It was agreed that the two organizations would remain separate through 2004, but with a shared executive secretary, and on January 2005 the final reorganization would take place. In brief, the new organization was to be called the Religious Education Association: An Association of Professors, Practitioners and Researchers in Religious Education. It had a vision and mission statement, planned to continue the journal, Religious Education, sought to be inter-religious and professional, and would reach out to graduate students in the field. In the planning of annual meetings there would be three forums: 1) Religious Education and Faith Communities; 2) RE and Academic Institutions; and 3) RE, Public Life, and the Global Community. In addition, there would be a committee for the William Rainey Harper Project. Annual meetings would include Research Interest Groups, Colloquia, Task Forces, and meetings of Religious Tradition Groups. There would be a single Executive Secretary, and Editor-in-Chief for the journal, an integrated website, and a governing board with officers, at large members, chairs of forums and committees. and a doctoral student representative. The new organization would continue its relationship with the North American Interfaith Network (NAIN) and the Council of Societies for the Study of Religion (CSSR). In 2003, prior to the merger or reorganization, APRRE joined the Religious Education in celebrating its 100th anniversary in Chicago, under the leadership of Anne Streaty Wimberly. A special issue of the newsletter, REACH, was published with articles by a number of past and present leaders. Martin Marty, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, gave a major address at the banquet, and the Harper Award was presented to Gabriel Moran and Maria Harris, of New York University. APRRE tried to develop a relationship with the American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature over a three-year period, but a survey showed that only about 20% of the membership wanted to continue it. Contacts were also made with the National Association of Professors of Christian Education and the Network for Research in Jewish Education. Concerning the journal, Ted Brelsford succeeded Hanan Alexander as Editor in 2000, and he was followed by Jack Seymour three years later. The publication, subscription and fulfillment services were continued by Taylor and Francis, with its headquarters in Philadelphia.

From the guide to the Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education Records: Addendum, 1995-2004, (Yale Divinity School Library)

The Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education grew out of the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches. The group decided to move in the direction of a separate autonomous society thatwould become more ecumenical and interfaith.

From the description of Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education records, 1963-1998 (inclusive). (Yale University). WorldCat record id: 702161185

The Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education (APRRE) grew out of the Professors and Research Section of the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches. For an account of the early history of the Section, see the Paper in Box 1, Folder1 that was presented at the 1963 meeting by Paul H. Vieth, Horace Bushnell Professor of Christian Nurture at Yale University Divinity School. For a more complete history of APRRE, see the essay in Box 2, Folder 14, which was written by Donald F. Williams, Executive Secretary, 1970-1990.

In 1969 the Professors and Research Section decided to meet independently of the National Council of Churches, and its last meeting was held February 6-8, 1970 in St. Louis. The group decided to move in the direction of a separate autonomous society that would become more ecumenical and interfaith. Instead of staying with the predominantly Protestant, interdenominational Council, they wanted to reach out to Roman Catholic, Jewish, and other educators. Their goals were to be: scholarly in focus, international in scope, collegial in structure, and inclusive in stance.

Donald Williams suggested a name for the new organization, Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education, in a Feb. 18, 1970 letter to Allen J. Moore. Plans were made for the inaugural meeting on Oct. 23-25, 1970 at the Statler Hilton in New York city, at the same time that other scholarly societies in the field of religion were meeting. About 34 persons attended one or more of the sessions. The officers elected in February continued for another year: Allen J. Moore, President; Neely D. McCarter, President-Elect; Harriet L. Miller, Treasurer; and Donald F. Williams, Secretary.

The purpose of APRRE was to provide scholars in the field of religious education with a forum for the interchange of ideas and projects and the mutual support for their research and teaching. Instead of a Constitution or By Laws, the group decided to be guided by a statement of principles and structures, which was written in 1971 by Neely McCarter. This grew into a set of "Operating Policies and Practices," which was adopted in 1974 and revised in 1991. Also in 1971, a newsletter was published for the first time; it was edited by the Executive Secretary and featured announcements of the annual meetings and news of the scholarly work and activity of its members.

Since 1971 APRRE has worked very closely with the Religious Education Association of the U.S. and Canada. A meeting in Washington, DC, in June 1971 was attended by representatvies of both groups and it set the stage for a number of cooperative ventures. Many APRRE annual meetings were held in tandem with those of the REA. APRRE representatives sat on the REA Editorial Committee, and papers from the annual meetings were often published in the journal Religious Education . The March/ April 1980 issue was devoted to APRRE papers, and later that year it was decided to make the journal a joint publication of the two organizations. Randolph Crump Miller, editor of the journal for twenty years, was an active member of APRRE; he was Professor of Religious Education at Yale Divinity School and followed Paul Vieth as the Horace Bushnell Professor of Christian Nurture.

Since 1976 APRRE has been a full constituent member of the Council of Societies for the Study of Religion, and announcements of APRRE meetings and activities were published in the CSSR Bulletin. Some meetings were held in conjunction with the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion and the Religious Research Association, and occasionally with the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature. Abstracts were published with the papers presented at these joint meetings. In addition, APRRE was a charter member of the National Council on Religion and Public Education, and sent delegates to their meetings.

Ever since 1970 annual meetings of APRRE have been held in major cities of the U.S. and Canada. Programs have been planned each year by the President-Elect, with help of a number of colleagues. A Call for Papers was issued at the beginning of each year and decisions were made regarding a theme and schedule. Ellis Nelson began the practice of a formal Presidential Address at the 1973 annual meeting. Task forces were introduced in 1973-74 and the popular Breakfast Roundtables were started in 1973. Other features were added through the years, such as Research Interest Groups, denominational assemblies, gender groupings for breakfast or lunch, liturgies, Doctoral Student Recognition presentations, and formal tributes recognizing the retirement or death of members. Travel grants were initiated in 1975 and they were enhanced by a capital funds campaign. Scholarship assistance was offered to a number of graduate students so that they could attend the annual meetings.

With a grant from the Lilly Endowment, APRRE held a consultation on revitalizing itself on July 15-16 at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Concerns had been expressed regarding the identity and purpose of the association, as well as its relationship to the REA and other organizations. In 1995 APRRE celebrated its 25th anniversary in Chicago. A banquet honored all the past presidents and a special booklet was published for the occasion. Over 150 persons were in attendance.

Donal F. Williams served as Executive Secreatry from 1970 to 1990. The year 1990-1991 was a transition year, with Clarisse Croteau-Chonka and Burton Everist serving in the interim. Padraic O'Hare was called to a three-year term for the period 1991 to 1994, and he was followed by Charles F. Melchert.

From the guide to the Archives of the Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education, 1963-1998, (Yale University Divinity School Library)

Place Name Admin Code Country
Religious education

Corporate Body

Active 1963

Active 1998



Ark ID: w6j14sqk

SNAC ID: 60429929