Concurrent Session Speakers

Kimberly Hope Belcher is Associate Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, in Liturgical Studies. She uses phenomenology, postcolonial thought, and ritual theory to study Christian worship and sacramental theology. Her most recent book is Eucharist and Receptive Ecumenism: From Thanksgiving to Communion (Cambridge, 2020).

“Enslavement Museums: Pilgrimage, Dark Tourism, and Social Reconciliation”

 There are an increasing number of historical sites in the US that have become museums recalling the history of African-American enslavement in the United States, such as the Whitney Plantation in Louisiana and the Legacy Museum in Alabama. These museums serve as a kind of ritual shrine for the transformation of American attitudes about race and a redress of historical ills. Pilgrimage to these sites can also, however, be described as a kind of “dark tourism”: that is, travel to disaster sites by those who are not direct survivors of the disaster. Dark tourism plays an important role in economic recovery, but both the term and some of the treatments in the literature seem ambivalent about it. In my presentation, Mary Douglas and Baron Isherwood’s economic theory of social belonging in The World of Goods will be used to explore how the manipulation of material objects and the exchange of goods and currency at these museums nuance our understanding of dark tourism. The talk will consider how pilgrimage to these museums fits into the larger project of racial reconciliation in the United States.


Dina Boero is Associate Professor of Ancient Mediterranean History at The College of New Jersey. Dina Boero is a historian of late antiquity, with a focus on the social history of early Christianity in Syria and eastern Turkey. Her research integrates the archaeological record with Syriac and Greek sources to highlight saints and the institutions that supported them (churches, pilgrimage complexes, monasteries) as sites for negotiating competing meanings and practices. Her current book project, The Anatomy of a Cult, traces the history of Symeon the Stylite the Elder’s cult in the fifth to seventh centuries.

“Beyond the Hierarchy of the Altar: The Ritual-Architectural Event at Qal‘at Sim‘ān”

This paper explores the tension between the material durability of ecclesial architecture and the situational events that enliven it, with a focus on Qal‘at Sim‘ān, the pilgrimage site dedicated to Symeon the Stylite (d. 459). Previous scholars have demonstrated that, in its late fifth-century plan, the spatial organization of the cruciform church shifted attention between two centers of power, column and altar, but these two centers were not on par with each other. Veneration of the column was subordinated to eucharistic liturgy. Following Lindsay Jones, I show how the ritual life of a shrine can transform and even subvert the organization of carefully designed buildings. Two sixth-century sources illustrate a change in the relationship between column and altar at Qal‘at Sim‘ān. Evagrius Scholasticus’ account of his visit to the church omits discussion of eucharistic liturgy and instead reveals a persistence or re-emergence of column-centric rituals. The construction of a wall between the column’s octagonal chamber and the eastern wing of the church indicates a desire by renovators to bifurcate column-centric rituals and eucharistic liturgy. These two sources highlight the contested economy of ritual at Qal‘at Sim‘ān and the ways in which communities activate the multivocality of sacred architecture.


Joshua Kalin Busman is Assistant Dean of the Esther G. Maynor Honors College and an Assistant Professor of Music at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. He completed his Ph.D. in Musicology in 2015 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his research focuses on music contemporary evangelical Christianity with particular attention to questions of worship, affect, and mass media.

“Celestial Jukebox: Algorithms, Interpassivity, and Worship in the Age of Playlists”

As with all popular music, worship music has undergone a format revolution in the past 50 years. Initially sold as records and songbooks directly to congregations and eventually integrated into the Christian recording and publishing industries, most listeners now get their fix through streaming services. Spotify provides spotlighted playlists on “Worship Wednesdays” or “Women of Worship” for listeners to discover targeted new tracks and maintains a million-subscriber “WorshipNow” list that promises access to “the pulse of today’s modern worship music.”Obviously, these tools provide new opportunities for fan-worshippers to customize and expand their auditory worship experiences, but they also offer new platforms for worship music to circulate outside of the institutional church and interact with broader popular music ecosystems. Whether through user direction in the compilation of playlists or algorithmic recommendation based on previous engagement, explicitly liturgical music is being placed in shuffles, playlists, stations, and mixes with other popular music genres as never before. In this project, I begin to theorize the new patterns of circulation brought about by the “celestial jukebox” (pun intended) of cloud-based streaming and examine the material and theological effects of “interpassivity” as it relates to worshipping in contemporary media.


Janie Cole (PhD University of London) is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the University of Cape Town’s College of Music, Research Officer for East Africa on UCT’s Mellon project “Re-Centring AfroAsia,” and a Research Associate at Stanford University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. Her research encompasses a broad range of subjects with a strong focus on interdisciplinarity, source studies and global music histories, including on musical practices, instruments and thought in early modern African kingdoms and Afro-Eurasian encounters, transcultural circulation and entanglements in the age of exploration; the intersection of music, consumption and production, politics, patronage and gender in late Renaissance and early Baroque Italy and France; and the convergence of music, trauma, resistance, incarceration, violence, and social change in 20th-century apartheid South Africa. Her current work focuses on early modern musical culture at the royal court in the Christian kingdom of Ethiopia and intertwined sonic histories of entanglement with the Latin Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean world). Read more

 “Sacred Music, Jesuit Liturgy, and the Economics of Patronage in the Christian Kingdom of 17th-Century Ethiopia”

The Jesuit mission to the Christian kingdom of Ethiopia (1557-1632) was one of its earliest and most challenging projects in the early modern period. While music was central to Jesuit conversion practices as attested by recent studies, we still know little about the full spectrum of Jesuit liturgical and musical production, distribution, and power on the Ethiopian highlands in relation to ancient Ethiopian liturgical rites and local Ethiopian economies of royal patronage which underlay these activities and cultural dynamics. Drawing on 16th - and 17th -century travelers’ accounts, new archival Jesuit documentation and indigenous sources, this paper examines the musical context of the royal court of King Susənyos and his sponsorship of Jesuit liturgical practices to explore the material economies
that upheld and shaped the Jesuit musical art of conversion and transcultural Ethiopian-European encounters during this period. By outlining key missionary sites, musicians and repertories, it explores a three-way interplay between indigenous African, Indian and European elements in a Jesuit policy of cultural accommodation that underpinned the materialities of economics, offering broader insights into the economic workings of an intertwined early modern Indian Ocean World and the role of embodied aurality inconstructing identity and religious proselytism in early modern Ethiopia.


Bryan Cones is a presbyter in the orders of the Episcopal Church, Diocese of Chicago, and pastor at Trinity Episcopal Church in Highland Park, Illinois. He is an honorary postdoctoral researcher at Pilgrim Theological College/University of Divinity, Melbourne, Australia.

“What’s the Emoji for “Communion”? The Digital Collapse of the Eucharistic Symbol”

The COVID-19 pandemic shifted much human interaction to digital environments, with both material and economic effects. This is no less true of liturgical celebration across denominations, with some expressions likely to endure. This paper explores the theological presuppositions online and hybrid eucharistic celebration have unveiled through the dismembering of the fundamental materiality of the eucharistic symbol: the assembly gathered for eucharist. The paper will draw attention to the digital separation of the ordained presider and the elements of bread and wine from the symbolic whole, and how such practices reveal underlying attitudes toward eucharistic transformation, how it is effected, and what it produces. It will argue that the “context collapse”1 endemic to digital environments has intensified a consumer model of eucharist: presider as performer a la TikTok; eucharist as on-demand commodity with free next-day delivery; and liturgical celebration as consumable media with its own YouTube channel. It concludes by asking whether or how the digital liturgical genie might return to its bottle or, perhaps, if these digital experiments might be adjusted so that they point back to the fundamental eucharistic symbol of the gathered assembly.


Andrew J. M. Irving is Associate Prof. of Religion and Cultural Heritage at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Groningen, where he is a member of the Centre for Religion and Heritage. His research centres on material approaches to medieval liturgy, especially the manuscripts of Southern Italy. He coordinates an MA program in Heritage and Religion at Groningen where he teaches on art, material culture, spatial theory, and museology and religion.

“On Trash, And Other Liturgical Things”

The category of rubbish would seem to be as strictly separate from liturgy as Mircea Eliade’s notion of the profane is from the sacred. But recent approaches to the stubborn agency of objects entanglements, sustainability, and the post-human, have shown that distinctions between practices, humans, and things – including trash are not quite as clean cut as we might wish. Rubbish provides a particularly fruitful – and timely lens to re-examination things – at the limits of meaning and function, and this contribution attempts a re-examination of liturgy and liturgical change from the point of view of liturgical rubbish: its production, management, and theological significance. Understanding better the ways in which we seek to dis-entangle ourselves from the liturgical things we no longer want or need, and the ways in which those attempts are frustrated by the “resistance” of the things themselves, offers new and salutary perspectives on the meaning of what liturgical participation might mean.


Jonghyun Kim holds a PhD in Liturgical Studies from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and served as Chapel Program Coordinator, Postgraduate Fellow, at Garrett Evangelical Seminary. He has published several articles in Studia Liturgica, Australian Journal of Liturgy, and Worship.

“Money Offering and Its Spirituality”

Monetary offering has been an important part of Korean Protestants’ worship service
since early in their history. The giving of a tithe—ten percent of a person’s income—is
frequently emphasized by Korean ministers as a way for their congregation to show their
devotion to God. Malachi 3:10 says, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.” We can easily find multiple sermons and books about the ways the tithe corresponds to material blessings.

According to most Korean ministers, it does not lead only to material blessings. Pointing out biblical texts such as Matthew 6:21 (“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”),they say emphasizing giving materially to God in worship is a way to teach us where our heartsshould be as God’s people.

Tithing helped to establish independent Korean churches amid great political difficulties in the later nineteenth and twentieth century’s Japanese invasion. The emphasis on the monetary offering can also be given as a reason for the remarkable growth ofthe Korean Protestant church in the last hundred years. However, we should ask today whether the practice of the monetary offering really does support the spiritual growth of Korean Protestants. The Korean Protestant church today has received much criticism of its emphasis on giving, focused especially on the offering being used for the church itself rather than for charity.

Yet, while we cannot deny the need for essential church building maintenance and support for clergies’ life, Acts reminds us that the primary purpose of “collection” should be care for the poor and for widows. The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to explore what kind of spirituality is formed through the practice of monetary offering, and how we should practice it in order to truly work towards being God’s people.

 For examples about preaching and books that connect tithing and material blessings, see “Tithing is ‘A Way of Blessing’ that Blocks Locusts and Opens the Gates of Heaven.”


Nougoutna Norbert Litoing is a Jesuit priest who hails from Cameroon. He is a lecturer at CERAP Jesuit University and the Jesuit School of Theology both based in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

“The Cost of Celebrating Authentically: Revisiting the debate on the Inculturation of the Eucharist in Africa and Its Economic Import”

The roman catholic Mass is customarily celebrated using grape wine and unleavened bread made from wheat flour. In most of sub-Saharan Africa, these need to be imported. In some theological circles, there has been a push for a more inculturated approach to Mass that would notably trade these elements for analogous local ones. In these circles, the use of grape wine and bread made from wheat are viewed as furthering cultural alienation and economic dependence. After offering a status quaestionis, this paper will present and reflect on ethnographic data related to perceptions of the inculturation of the Eucharist (or lack thereof) and its economic meaning in the Catholic archdiocese of Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire) among the clergy and the laity. See René Jaouen, L’Eucharistie du Mil: Langages d’un people, expressions de la foi (Paris: Karthala, 1995).


Tyler Sampson is a PhD Candidate and Teaching Fellow at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. He will be defending his dissertation on the Ordines Romani and Carolingian liturgical reform in December 2022. His research has focused on the history of the liturgy, especially in the early Middle Ages. As a member of Societas Liturgica he has presented at the Society’s international congresses. He is a licensed lay preacher in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. 

“Beyond the Deluxe: Early Medieval Liturgical Production in “Modest” Manuscripts”

The history of the liturgy and its books in the medieval West is frequently told through the witness of deluxe manuscripts (e.g., the many sacramentaries, such as the Gellone, the Drogo, and others). Certainly, such books with their sumptuous illuminations are a testament to the artistic and technical prowess of their creators, but they might not tell the whole story of the liturgy. And while deluxe manuscripts might have been much more likely to survive to the present day on account of their preciousness, there must have been many more modest liturgical books used throughout early medieval Europe. This paper will build on the work of Yitzhak Hen and Susan Keefe to examine some of these few extant manuscripts from the ninth century for what they might tell us about the production of liturgy in the period, treating them as the principal cultural artifacts of religious practice. Such “modest” manuscripts, often for the use of priests, but not exclusively, were certainly precious to the clergy who relied upon them in their ministry. Studying these books can enrich our understanding of liturgical practice in the early Middle Ages and demonstrate the creativity and diversity in its production.


Gregory Shokhikyan is in the last stage of my doctoral research at the University of Nottingham, UK. My doctoral project aims to introduce English-speaking readers to a significant aspect of a lesser-known Eastern Christian tradition, namely, an Armenian Eucharistic discourse and practice examined through three overlapping “filters”: ritual studies, discourse analysis, and the ՛՛ressourcement՛՛ theology. Being a cross-disciplinary work, my research aims to put an Armenian Eucharistic practice into a critical engagement with contemporary conceptual methods of study such as discourse analysis, anthropology of religion, and a contemporary Catholic school of thought.

“The Good News made Material: The Armenian Gospel Books as Material Economia of Worship”

Demonstrates how material objects as carriers of semiotic meaning embody a lived liturgical experience. Following McLuhan’s maxim (the media is the message), the paper will examine how the medieval production of the Armenian Gospel books and the accompanied conceptual instruction shaped a distinct liturgical-devotional relation towards the Gospel books. While the study of the Armenian Gospel books is increasingly becoming a research locus, the liturgical and conceptual investigation of the subject matter is still missing. This paper aims to remedy that gap. Firstly, I will focus on the selected medieval Gospel books such as the Queen Mlqe (9th c.) and the Khizan (17th c.) Gospels. Secondly, the paper will draw on the Armenian medieval conceptualization of manuscript production. In Armenian Christianity, manuscripts play a more significant role than any other material object. Thus, the commentary of a medieval theologian Gregory of Tatev (14th c.) will provide relevant insights. Finally, building on the contribution of Bruno Latour on non-human semiotic agency, the paper will look at how the Gospel books as semiotic agents can contribute to a fresh ecumenical understanding of materially-shaped liturgy.


Innocent Smith, op is a friar of the Order of Preachers and currently serves as Assistant Professor of Homiletics at St. Mary’s Seminary & University. He completed a doctorate in liturgical studies at the University of Regensburg in 2021 focusing on medieval manuscripts of the bible which also contain liturgical texts for the Mass. His research interests are at the intersection of liturgy and theology, including sacramental theology, homiletics, liturgical
manuscripts, ecclesiology, and sacred music.

“To what purpose is this waste?” (Mt 26:8): Luxury Illumination and Utilitarian Decoration in Medieval Mass Books

In contrast to medieval ecclesiastical art such as paintings, stained glass and statuary, which could be appreciated by a wide audience, illuminations in medieval manuscripts could typically only be appreciated by the direct users of the books, typically clergy or religious designated to lead different aspect of the liturgical services. While some medieval liturgical books are sparsely decorated and utilitarian in character, many medieval manuscripts bear luxurious illuminations. Some commissioners of liturgical books were evidently willing and able to commit tremendous economic resources for artistic creations that could only be appreciated by a small number of individuals, while others created simpler books either from economic considerations or from conviction of the need for humility in art and worship. This presentation will examine the diversity of levels of illumination in medieval mass books, showing how both economic contexts and theological considerations factored into the production of both simple and exquisite liturgical manuscripts which form an important part of the material culture of the Middle Ages.

Jenny Smith is a PhD student in the Department of History at the University of California, Berkeley. She studied History and Liturgy at the University of Notre Dame before earning the M.A.R. in Liturgical Studies at Yale Divinity School and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music where she also earned a certificate in Reformed Studies. She is interested in questions about liturgy, sacrality, and temporal-spatial analyses in religious cultures.

“Ora et Labora: Artisans, Reformers, and the Religious Economy of Time in Early Modern Geneva”

If “time is money,” is it anything more than that? The German sociologist Max Weber traced a linear connection between the stripping of saints’ days from the church calendar in the Reformation to capitalist efficiency once the extra time was converted to labor. Yet a reevaluation of religious life in sixteenth-century Geneva reveals a more complex picture. For one, the city’s liturgical calendar at one time retained four holidays capable of falling on weekdays (Christmas, Circumcision, Annunciation, and Ascension, in addition to Holy Week) and also created new weekly times when labor was suspended for worship, such as the Wednesday “Day of Prayer.” When reformers did move certain weekday holidays to Sunday, evidence suggests liturgical, rather than strictly economic, motivations. By emphasizing that all vocations could be avenues to serve God, reformers envisioned labor as a distinct part of a Christian life complemented by regular participation in the liturgy. Focusing on the Swiss city of Geneva and its primary reformer, John Calvin, I utilize Reformed church calendars, ordinances reflecting times and frequencies of worship, liturgical rubrics, sermons and treatises, and Consistory Court records to examine expectations, behaviors, and ideologies about the balance between work and prayer in the new faith. Collectively, these sources reveal that far from simply trading holy days for workdays, early modern Calvinism envisioned labor and liturgy as dual, rather than competing, elements in a new ordering of sacred time.


Porter C. Taylor serves as Rector of St. David’s by the Sea Episcopal Church in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Porter is the contributing editor of We Give Our Thanks Unto Thee: Essays in Honor of Fr. Alexander Schmemann (Pickwick, 2019). He is also a contributing co-editor of the forthcoming Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Liturgical Theology (2023). Porter and his wife, Rebecca, live with their three sons (10, 8, and 6) in Florida.

“Homo Adorans and Christ’s Leitourgia: A Liturgical Anthropology”

In his classic book, For the Life of the World, Alexander Schmemann develops the concept of homo adorans wherein humanity’s vocation is depicted as priests directing the praise of creation back to the Creator. Whereas Schmemann located his biblical anthropology within Genesis 1-3, this essay will develop a liturgical anthropology of homo adorans, based on Christ’s leitourgia and with the telos of eschatological hope, as evidenced in the Anglican-Episcopal liturgical tradition. Additionally, it will be posited that Christian liturgy(s) and Scripture enact and embody the same narrative, particularly as it pertains to humanity’s priestly vocation, with the Paschal Mystery serving as the primary theological symbol. Utilizing Schmemann’s liturgical coefficient and the author’s extra-liturgical coefficient, this paper will argue that a liturgical anthropology serves as an essential counter-narrative to earthly materialities, economies, and powers. Liturgy depicts and describes what it means to be human, that humanity’s vocation as homo adorans was restored through Jesus, and the telos of humanity’s priestly vocation is kenotic leitourgia for the life of the world. As such, liturgical anthropology is presented in liturgy and must be utilized and prioritized in matters of liturgical production, distribution, revision, and reform.


Adam Vander Tuig is dissertating on Christian baptism, water politics, and climate justice as a PhD candidate at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. He received graduate degrees from Harvard Divinity School (MDiv) and the University of Cambridge (MPhil) and has been entranced as a candidate for ordination to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

“Hydrocapitalist Transubstantiations: Water, Wealth, and the Rite of Christian Baptism”

While Adam attended the 2006 World Water Forum in Mexico City, anthropologist Andrea Ballestero watched as demonstrators gathered, dropped coins into empty plastic water bottles, and shook them rhythmically while chanting. “Inhabiting the space previously occupied by the water, the coins inside the bottles insinuated that water had been transubstantiated into money, the ultimate commodity,” she observed. Here Ballestero decodes the perennially entangled nature of water, wealth, and sacraments, which this paper explores in the rite of baptism. Initially, for example, occupied Christian communities prioritized wild water for its setting. Framed by a remarkable proliferation of imperial aqueducts, built by Roman soldiers and engraved with the names of aristocratic benefactors, baptism in the Herodian period manifests as a counterimperial act of aqueous dissent, subverting the imperial domestication of water subsidized by the wealthy. In sharp contrast, baptism today insidiously sanctifies capitalistic imperialism, and thereby the domestication, commodification, and exploitation of water as well. He shows how the strategy of “cheapness,” as characterized by Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore, animates modern baptism, giving new meaning to Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s concept of “cheap grace,” and wonders if an honest and candid rite of baptism today might require using money instead of water at the font.


Brigitte Van Wymeersch is a full professor at UCLouvain (Belgium) and head of the musicology research centre. Her research focuses on two areas : the philosophy of music in the 17th century and sacred music. On the latter point, her studies focus on the analysis of the major normative texts, and on the functions, economic management and organisation of music in an ecclesiastical context, particularly in the Low Countries in the 17th and 18th centuries.

“The price of praise and faith. Study of the musical environment of a semi-rural parish in Hainaut in the 18th century”

During the 15th and 16th centuries, the Low Countries were renowned for the excellence of the musical choirs and chapels that surrounded cathedrals, collegiate churches and parish churches. This musical environment within the church continued until the end of the ancient régime, with substantial ensembles even in parishes located in towns of relatively little political, judicial or ecclesiastical importance. This is the case of the town of Ath (Hainaut), which maintains, in the 18th c., a large choir for one of its parish churches (six to eight choirboys, six to eight cantor vicars, a music master and some instrumental performers). This paper aims to analyse the importance, for the ecclesiastical and civil authorities, of this music device in the service of God, in a region still marked by the Wars of Religion. Beyond the socio-cultural aspect, it is also important to analyse the financial stakes and the economic model behind this organisation at the service of divine praise and faith.