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Professor Peter Ward

Professor of Practical Theology

Professor of Practical Theology in the Department of Theology and Religion+44 (0) 191 33 43824
Professorial Fellow in Ecclesiology & Ethnography of St John's College+44 (0) 191 33 43824


My academic research has its origins in the practice of mission and ministry in the Christian Church. For more than 15 years I worked as Christian youth worker and then 5 years working as Archbishop of Canterbury’s Adviser for Youth Ministry. It was the experience of working with young people and the issues around ecclesiology and mission that this raised that generated a number of my publications including Youthwork and the Mission of God (SPCK 1997), Liquid Church (Paternoster 2002) and Participation and Mediation: a Practical Theology for the Liquid Church (SCM 2008). My doctoral research developed these concerns by examining the phenomenon of contemporary worship. This research drew upon cultural studies and theology and it was published as Selling Worship (Paternoster 2005). My interest in theology and popular culture has been a significant feature of my research. I was part of the group that founded the Religion, Media and Popular Culture Network in the UK and more recently I wrote on celebrity worship Gods Behaving Badly (Baylor University Press 2011). I currently teach Religion Media and Popular Culture, which is a strand in the Research Project and Colloquium second year undergraduate module. I also teach a Masters Module in Ecclesiology and Ethnography. 


In 1996 I joined to King’s College London where I established the DThM and the Masters Programmes in Theology and Ministry. In 2012 I became Professor of Theology and Ministry at King’s. I am currently Chair of the Ecclesiology and Ethnography Network ( and I was editor of the Journal Ecclesial Practices published by Brill. I am one of the co-ordinators for the Ecclesial Practices Group at the AAR. The Ecclesiology and Ethnography Network hold their annual conference in Durham at St John’s College. There is a book series linked to the network and I edited the first volume, which was published as Perspectives on Ecclesiology and Ethnography (Eerdmans 2012). I am Programme Director for the DThM in Durham, which is co-taught with Cranmer Hall. Alongside my appointments in Durham I am also Professor of Practical Theology (Professor II) at the Norwegian School of Theology in Oslo and Professor of Practical Theology (Professor II) at NLA University College in Bergen.


I welcome enquiries from students who want to discuss the possibility doctoral work on an aspect of the contemporary Church. All of my current students are using theologically informed approaches to qualitative empirical research to examine an aspect of the Christian community. These include, The Identity of Roman Catholic Young People in England, The ecclesial significance of a Christian Skateboard Park in Canada, the ecclesiology of Urban Saints, the theology of New Missional Communities and the relationship between the local church and Anglican lay people who volunteer. I have a particular interest in issues of gospel and culture, mission studies, contemporary ecclesiology including Fresh Expressions and Anglican Ecclesiology. I have had a long interest in all aspects of youth ministry, popular culture and the Church and the study of contemporary worship.


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