|Job Title||Professorial Research Fellow|
Born and raised in a remote corner of North Devon, I grew up on a farm and could see the sea from my bedroom window; despite living most of my adult life in cities, this is still the landscape to which I naturally revert and am drawn. After 7 years of full-time study in Cambridge, I moved to London in 1984 to lecture at what was then the Roehampton Institute of Higher Education and then to Birmingham as Director of Studies for the Aston Training Scheme in 1993. I have worked in theological education for the past 30 years, both in higher education and ministerial formation contexts, combining this for a while with a freelance portfolio of writing, retreat work, spiritual direction and consultancy.
I came to Queen’s in 1997 for a term to finish my doctorate – and I’m still here! I have had a wide variety of roles in that time, encompassing teaching, personal tutorial work, acting as Programme Leader for the MA and, since 2014, Director of Research. In 2017, I was delighted to be appointed Professor of Feminist Practical Theology in the Faculty of Religion and Theology at VU Amsterdam, our partner university for doctoral degrees. From July 2023, I have handed on the role of Director of Research to Dr Andrew Mein, and dropped my hours substantially, but I am still supervising my dozen doctoral students and supporting the work of the Centre for Research and Global Partnerships. I continue to be research active and to convene the Symposium on the Faith Lives of Women and Girls.
I live in Stirchley (home of Jack Woolley, for Archers’ fans) with my partner and our cats (affectionately known as ‘the face of the divine’), and also spend regular time in my small cottage in North Devon. I enjoy walking, swimming, gardening, music of many kinds, theatre, cooking and anything connected to poetry.
1980 BA Hons Theology University of Cambridge 1981 PGCE Secondary Religious Education (Homerton College, Cambridge) 1984 1984, MA University of Cambridge 1999 PhD The University of Birmingham
- Roles at Queen’s
Teaching I have taught courses in a wide range of areas of Christian theology, spirituality and practice over my career, from New Testament Christology to the Philosophy of Religious Language and Christian Spirituality, but I have developed particular expertise in Feminist and Practical theologies and most of my more recent teaching relates to these areas. My teaching most recently has focused primarily on postgraduate courses, including Research Methods, Transformative Theologies of Gender and Gender and Spirituality, although I am now only contributing occasional sessions at Queen’s. Beyond formal theology, I have taught courses on poetry, with a special focus on spirituality in contemporary women’s poetry, and occasional creative writing workshops and courses. The process of learning is important to me, as well as its content, and I try to teach in an imaginative and collaborative fashion that engages the whole person in the community of learning. As teachers often say, I learn as much from teaching as the people I teach. Roles within Queen’s Professorial Research Fellow Other Professor of Feminist Practical Theology at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
- Roles Outside of Queen’s
Church experience and background A lay Anglican, I am proud to be a member of my local parish church at All Saints, Kings Heath, which lives out an inclusive vision of the Gospel in many creative ways. I enjoy preaching and leading worship in a variety of contexts and for a variety of occasions. I value my connection with two Anglican religious communities: an enclosed community of Benedictine nuns at St Mary’s Abbey, West Malling and the Franciscan brothers at Glasshampton Monastery, Shrawley. Along with regular reading of poetry and listening to music, walking by the sea and in the country, my visits to Glasshampton and Malling nourish and sustain my prayer and baptismal vocation. Roles and responsibilities in the wider church / outside of Queen’s I am an honorary Vice-President of WATCH (Women and the Church), a Patron of Holy Rood House, Thirsk and a Visiting Scholar at Sarum. I have been actively involved in Changing Attitude and LGCM (Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement), now OneBodyOneFaith. I belong to the West Midlands Ecumenical Forum of Spiritual Directors. I am a regular speaker at theological societies and Christian gatherings such as Greenbelt, as well as academic conferences and symposia. Now that I have reduced my Queen’s hours, I am taking up more invitations to lead retreats and workshops.
- Research interests
- My research interests range around Christian feminist practical theology but also encompass poetry and theology and other aspects of practical theology. A contributor to one of the earliest readers in feminist theology (Ann Loades’ Feminist Theology: A Reader, SPCK, 1990), I was also a participant in the seminal dialogue-text, Swallowing a Fishbone: Feminist Theologians Debate Christianity (edited by Daphne Hampson, SPCK, 1996). I have a chapter in the Cambridge Companion to Feminist Theology (edited by Susan Frank Parsons, Cambridge University Press, 2002) and my book Faith and Feminism: An Introduction to Christian Feminist Theology (DLT, 2003) is widely regarded as an authoritative introductory text in the field. My doctoral research on women’s faith development, published as Women’s Faith Development: Patterns and Processes (Ashgate, 2004) broke new ground in the qualitative study of women’s faith lives, and has stimulated a range of other research studies on the faith lives of women and girls. I have co-edited three collections of such work, The Faith Lives of Women and Girls (Ashgate, 2013) and Researching Female Faith (Routledge, 2018), co-edited with Fran Porter and Anne Phillips; and Female Faith Practices (Routledge, 2023), co-edited with Dawn Llewelyn, Lindsey Taylor-Gutharz and Kim Wasey. More recently, Fragments for Fractured Times: What Feminist Practical Theology Brings to the Table (SCM, 2020) brings together a wide range of articles, essays and poems, at least half of which are previously unpublished. From the Shores of Silence: Conversations in Feminist Practical Theology (SCM, 2023), co-edited by Ashley Cocksworth, Rachel Starr and Stephen Burns, a companion volume to Fragments, brings together a range of essays by colleagues, former colleagues and students of mine, in honour of my work.
Alongside my academic writing, I have written widely in the field of feminist liturgy and poetry, as well as spirituality and prayer, contributing to anthologies such as Human Rites: Worship Resources for an Age of Change (edited by Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild, DLT, 1995), Celebrating Women: The New Edition (SPCK,1995 ) and Courage to Love (DLT,2002), as well as co-editing with Rosie Miles Doing December Differently: An Alternative Christmas Handbook (Wild Goose, 2006), The Edge of God: New Liturgical Texts and Contexts in Conversation (co-edited with Stephen Burns and Michael N Jagessar, Epworth 2008), and Presiding Like a Woman (with Stephen Burns, 2010). I have published three volumes of my own poetry and liturgical material, with some prose reflection: Praying Like a Woman (SPCK, 2004), The Book of Mary (SPCK, 2007) and Seeking the Risen Christa (SPCK, 2011). In 2014, the group of five poet theologians I belong to, the Diviners, published Making Nothing Happen: Five Poets Reflect on Faith and Spirituality (Ashgate, 2014). Most recently, in 2019, I published a series of poetic reflections on Sabbath: The hidden heartbeat of our lives (DLT). My most recent collection of poems and prayers is Abba Amma: Improvisations on the Lord’s Prayer (Canterbury Press, 2022).
- Supervision areas
- I have considerable experience of supervising at Masters and doctoral level (with 10 successful doctoral completions), and am regularly invited to examine at phd level in the UK and further afield. I am currently supervising or have recently supervised students working on the following research topics:
- Young Christian women’s transition from home to university
- Young women’s experience of the eucharist
- Mary as a figure of empowerment for women with HIV/AIDS
- Women’s chosen practices of silence
- The faith experiences and perceptions of transgender Christians
- Black Christian gay men’s faith and experience
- Korean women missionaries’ psychological and theological identity formation
- The metaphor of midwife as a model for ministry
- Natality in the theology of death and dying and pastoral care
- Patterns of women’s religious attachments
- The faith of girls in a Baptist context
I am unable to take on new research students now, although always happy to hear from prospective research students who may be interested in coming to Queen’s to pursue research.
- I am a Visiting Professor at the University of Chester, where I value close contact with colleagues in the Theology Faculty, and a Visiting Scholar at Sarum College. I was Chair of the British and Irish Association of Practical Theology from 2019 to 2021. I am a member of the International Association of Practical Theology, the American Academy of Religion and the European Society of Women in Theological Research. I sit on the editorial board of the journals, Ecclesial Practices, Practical Theology and the European Society of Women in Theological Research. I am a series editor for the Taylor and Francis series Explorations in Practical, Pastoral and Empirical Theology.
- Key publications
- Abba Amma: Improvisations on the Lord’s Prayer (Canterbury Press, 2022)
- Fragments for Fractured Times: What Feminist Practical Theology Brings to the Table (SCM, 2020)
- Sabbath: The hidden heartbeat of our lives (DLT, 2019)
- In Search of the Risen Christa (SPCK, 2011)
- The Book of Mary (SPCK, 2007)
- Praying Like a Woman (SPCK, 2004)
- Women’s Faith Development: Patterns and Processes (Ashgate, 2004)
- Faith and Feminism: An Introduction to Christian Feminist Theology (Darton, Longman & Todd, 2003)
- With Dawn Llewellyn, Kim Wasey and Lindsey Taylor-Gutharz, Female Faith Practices: Qualitative Research Perspectives (Routledge, 2023)
- With Fran Porter and Anne Phillips, Researching Female Faith: Qualitative Research Methods (Routledge, 2018)
- With Gavin D’Costa, Eleanor Nesbitt, Mark Pryce and Ruth Shelton, Making Nothing Happen: Five Poets Explore Faith and Spirituality (Ashgate: 2014)
- With Fran Porter and Anne Phillips, The Faith Lives of Women and Girls: Qualitative Research Perspectives (Ashgate, 2013)
- With Stephen Burns, Presiding Like a Woman (SPCK, 2010)
- With Stephen Burns & Michael N. Jagessar, The Edge of God: New Liturgical Texts and Contexts in Conversation (Epworth, October 2008)
- With Rosie Miles, Doing December Differently: An Alternative Christmas Handbook (Wild Goose Publications, 2006)Frequent reviews in Theology, Practical Theology, Modern Believing, Feminist Theology,etc.Poems in many anthologies, poetry journals and so on.See academia.uk link for further info on publications.