Member Newsletters

Spring 2024 News

From the President

The first Annual Meeting I attended was in Savannah, in 2008. I was a doctoral student with a toddler. My husband and I couldn’t afford flights and the conference hotel; we drove to the meeting, stayed with friends in a mobile home in Hilton Head, and I drove in for each long day of stimulating seminar discussions. I was very nervous to meet the heroes from my bookshelf, but they were worth meeting. Bruce Morrill took me and my family out to lunch. Gary Macy, in the line for the bus, asked me about my dissertation topic and encouraged me. (There is no hunger like that of a dissertationist who’s been isolated!) I loved my seminar and made lifelong friends in the field. As someone who was writing while non-resident in my doctoral program, it made all the difference in the world to find my scholarly community.

Maybe some of this resonates with you and some does not, but my first experience of the joy and the challenge of NAAL as a visitor have been much in my mind over the past year as I’ve worked to lessen the total cost of attending NAAL in person. I have particularly had in my heart access for those who are visitors, graduate students, professional ministers, retired, or contingent faculty.

As I announced in an earlier circular, the 2025 meeting will be held at Valparaiso University. This will require a little adjustment for those of us who are used to staying in the conference hotel, as the closest hotels are a little over a half mile from the center of campus (there will be a private bus service at the beginning and end of each day). But it will make a big difference for those (55% of the respondents in our 2022 survey) who have minimal or no funding for travel to the meeting. It prioritizes hybrid access, the possibility to make in person connections, and lowering the cost of attending the meeting, as that same survey indicated were our membership’s top priorities. And I believe it will make it possible for us to make space for new scholars and practitioners to receive the vocational support and joy of our seminars and the institution as a whole.

Some of the highlights I am looking forward to:

  • worshipping as a community in the renowned Chapel of the Resurrection;
  • eating together in the state-of-the-art Founder’s Table (with an allergen-free station) in the Harre Center, where lunches and dinners will be covered by our registration fees, and there will be more time for socializing;
  • visiting the exhibits and enjoying an Oblates of Blues concert in the Bell and Beacon pub zone;
  • having superior technology and excellent technical support;
  • and, of course, listening to our Berakah address with all of you.

For more information about the meeting, you can see Courtney’s report and my circular from mid-May (now on the new Newsletter section of our website). More details will be coming, as we work out the specifics of our airport travel and the daily buses from the hotels to campus. In the meantime, feel free to email me with any concerns—and thanks to those of you who have already done so!

Once again I would like to thank Courtney, Nathaniel, the whole Academy Committee, and the Valparaiso University staff who have been working with us, especially Jim Wetzstein, for all the work they were willing to do to develop our plan for this January. Likewise, I want to thank Jan Robitscher and Taylor Burton-Edwards, who finished their terms on the Academy Committee this January. We are very much obliged to all who were willing to stand for election, and I encourage you to be active in the nominations process for this year as well.

2025 Berakah Award Winner

Because we have had to delay the newsletter, I have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to announce our Berakah Award winner for 2025: Professor Teresa Berger (Professor of Liturgical Studies and Thomas E. Golden Jr. Professor of Catholic Theology, Yale Institute of Sacred Music and Yale Divinity School).

Teresa has long been at the leading edge of liturgical scholarship, always among the first calling for attention to the liturgical work done in places and among communities that are underrepresented in our scholarship. Perhaps her best claim to prescience comes from publishing her still-essential study of worship in digital environments, @worship, in 2017. Yet her attention to gender in the history of liturgical practice has also been of enduring importance, centering the liturgical work of women (Women’s Ways of Worship, 1999) and later the broader significance of gender in its various forms not captured by simple binaries (Gender Differences and the Making of Liturgical Tradition, 2011). Her publications in sum call attention to how our scholarly presuppositions, like any uncritical assumptions, can reinforce problematic power dynamics—even when we believe we are offering liberation.

Teresa’s current work lifts up an especially important set of marginal worshippers: the non-human, non-angelic creatures who praise and lament, and into whose praise and lament we human creatures are invited (Psalm 148; Romans 8:22). This is both a reclamation of earlier Christian patterns of prayer and belief and a necessary response to the current ecological crises. Her Berakah address promises to bring both past and future to bear on our tumultuous present.

In her teaching and in her work supporting other scholars (in her teaching positions and in her professional institutions), she is unfailingly generous. I am deeply thankful for her contributions to the academy, and I look forward to hearing her address.

I hope to see you all at our Valparaiso meeting. Thanks for all you do for the world of liturgy.

Kim Belcher, President

From the Vice President

Change is our constant companion. The rolling of the seasons, the coming and going of holydays, and the end of another academic year that will, soon enough, turn over to a new cycle. In the meantime will come graduations, retirements for some, relocations for others, perhaps travel for respite and renewal or to visit family. Lives end, lives begin, chapters are closed and new ones open. I am grateful, in all of this, for God’s unfailing love and for the company of friends and colleagues—not least, the company of those in our Academy.

As the Academy Committee prepares for our Annual Meeting at Valparaiso in 2025, which is shaping up nicely, we are also thinking forward toward 2026. We are all aware of the financial challenges that the Academy is navigating, and we have that firmly in mind as we consider future sites. We have not ruled out the possible advantages of one year’s meeting fully online. There are competing goods to be weighed as we make our decisions: ease of travel, the value of face-to-face networking, the possible fiscal benefit of a digital gathering, and the various needs and interests of long-timers and newcomers alike. We will weigh all these goods and consider all the possibilities with due diligence and with hope for the ongoing life of this Academy that we all treasure.

I have had conversations with many of you about how we might make our way forward and I welcome your input and ideas. You can reach out to me at We are always smarter together. In the meanwhile, I commend to your prayers and thanksgivings the Academy Committee as we do our work, and the world we share, in all its beauty and travail.

All blessings,
James W. Farwell, Vice President

From The Meeting Manager

Annual Meeting 2025

Valparaiso University

January 2-5, 2025

The Annual Meeting will be held at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, IN. Kim Belcher and I conducted a site visit in early spring, and the Valpo staff provided us with several options for meeting space. The spaces chosen, primarily Harre Union, the Chapel of the Resurrection, and the Arts & Sciences Building, are all within a short walk of each other, forming a tight triangle that minimizes travel time between buildings.

We will be using four separate hotels near the campus. I am working with the Valpo Staff to secure prices and blocks at each hotel and a shuttle between the hotels and campus. The hotel and shuttle details will be in the Fall Newsletter.

There are two airports in Chicago, O’Hare and Midway. If possible, we recommend you fly into Midway Airport (closest to Valparaiso). We will provide airport transportation options and details in the Fall Newsletter.

Registration for the Annual Meeting will open around September 15, with fees of $450 for both members and visitors. This year, we will offer a hybrid meeting, ensuring everyone can participate in a way that suits them best, whether in person or virtually.

The HOTEL SHUTTLE, LUNCH and DINNER MEALS are  included in the registration fee.

If you are planning a sidebar, please contact Courtney Murtaugh at

If you are planning a post meeting in Valparaiso please contact Courtney Murtaugh at We will help facilitate a space at one of the hotels or a local church.

Courtney Murtaugh, Meeting Manager

From the Secretary

I want to thank everyone for the support they have given me over the past few months as I transition into this role after Taylor’s excellent tenure over the last several years. I look forward to serving the Academy.

While it is not time to register for our 2025 meeting yet, there are a few things you can do now to begin getting ready for it. First, take a few minutes to verify and update your information in in your MyNAAL account. This will ensure that we have your current contact information for sending out newsletters and updates about the meeting. Next, consider adding the Academy leadership email addresses to your contacts/safe senders list. With all of the enhanced security in email systems, some of our communication to you might be blocked and we don’t want you to miss anything! And on that note, my final suggestion is that you periodically check out our NAAL website. We will posting updates there as we receive them regarding our upcoming meeting and will also be posting the newsletters (which will continue to be sent via email as well).

For those of you who are post-meeting coordinators, I encourage you to reach out to Courtney, our meeting manager, to begin discussing your group’s needs.

Christina Condyles, Secretary

From the Treasurer

The 2024 meeting in Seattle successfully brought together 174 in-person attendees and 30 virtual participants. Registration fees for virtual participation were equal to those charged for attendance in person. Revenue from meeting registration was $88,000, about $3,500 greater than in 2023. This fell short of our projected registration revenue by about $12,400. For the first time since returning to in-person meetings, however, we filled enough of our contracted block of hotel rooms to avoid an attrition charge.

To provide a reliable and robust livestream experience linking our virtual and in-person participants, we spent $35,400 on audiovisual equipment rentals and full-time support staff on site. While the technology expenses came in under budget, catering expenses of $69,000 were almost $20,000 more than expected. Increases in food prices and service charges raised the cost of catering the annual meeting to its highest level in more than a decade.

Thanks to the phenomenal fundraising efforts of Michael Prendergast, donations from sponsors and other supporters set a record, with $22,750 received. Exhibitors paid an additional $1,250 in fees and enriched the meeting with their presence. Membership dues remained a consistent revenue stream, contributing $19,000 to the Academy’s bottom line. Please log in to MyNAAL to pay dues or confirm that your membership for calendar year 2024 is already active. By selecting “donor paid fees” when you pay dues and register for the meeting, you offset transaction expenses that have cost the Academy $3,800 in this fiscal year alone.

Our sponsors, exhibitors, and members all deserve great thanks for closing the gap between $88,000 in meeting registration fees and almost $152,000 in total expenditures on the annual meeting and ancillary operations in 2024. The Academy also received $1,250 in donations to the scholarship fund and awarded $3,300 in scholarships to twelve attendees. In one more sign of our members’ and visitors’ generosity, we collected $1,250 in donations to PEER Seattle at the Berakah Banquet.

Although we will not close the books on fiscal year 2024 until the end of June, I estimate that the Academy will see negative net revenue of about $15,000. This loss is half the size of the $30,000 losses we incurred in FY2022 and FY2023. It also represents a significant improvement from the outlook I presented in January. Before the pandemic, the Academy had built a cash reserve of $130,000, a significant cushion that has allowed us to remain solvent throughout the financial challenges of the past four years. As of this writing, our remaining assets total approximately $55,500. While this is sufficient to pay our ordinary operating expenses and plan for the meeting in Valparaiso, it is significantly less than the expenses we are likely to incur for the 2025 meeting.

The most helpful thing that members can do to support the financial health of the Academy is to attend the 2025 meeting in Valparaiso, either in person or virtually. In budgeting for this event, we have focused on controlling the food and technology costs without reducing the communal experience or greatly increasing the registration fee. With similar or increased attendance, we anticipate covering the full cost of the meeting and beginning to rebuild the Academy’s cash reserve.

Nathaniel Marx, Treasurer

From the Delegate for Membership

The deadline for membership applications is September 15, 2024. Information about our membership requirements and application process as well as the necessary forms are available on our website,

I am grateful to be joined by Allie Utley and Jan Robitscher on the Membership Committee this year.

Our president, Kimberly Belcher, and past president, Glenn Byer, and I are working together this spring to develop a proposal to bring to the AC, refreshing our membership policies and application process.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions. I look forward to reviewing applications this fall, and I look forward seeing you at our next meeting.

Andrew Wymer, Delegate for Membership

From the Delegate for Seminars

Greetings! I want to first extend a huge thanks to all the conveners who led our annual meeting seminars, navigated hybrid gatherings, and managed pre-meeting coordination, e-mail communications, and agenda preparation.

This gratitude also extends to all who had to step in to convene at this meeting unexpectedly, for various reasons. The whole Academy appreciates your leadership, time and service.

Nineteen seminars gathered in 2024, down from 20 in 2023. One seminar elected a new convener, one seminar decided to end their group and explore new seminars to engage, and three seminars have indicated, to date, that they are exploring joint sessions in 2025. We encourage this kind of collaboration and cross-discipline sharing!

Joint sessions. Early notification of joint sessions will help the Academy Committee plan necessary accommodations well in advance. If you are considering a joint session, please register it here. Please take a few minutes to notify me early. You can withdraw from a joint session via email later.

Seminar Feedback. Seminar leaders and participants, both in person and online, generally reported a positive experience of the seminars. Some of you reported challenges with meeting rooms and needing additional outlets; we will verify our inventory of power strips and purchase additional ones as needed. A few of you also noted a need to have the Zoom links earlier to send to registered members. We are in conversation on how to improve this process for more timely communication to virtual meeting attendees in the future, which can include having members of the IT team present at the Conveners meeting to get everyone access a little earlier. Adjustments to the schedule to allow for longer breaks were well received by many, and we will continue to explore best options for seminar meeting times/schedules.

It is my privilege to serve the Academy as the Delegate for Seminars, and I look forward to working with you as we prepare for our 2025 meeting.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email me.

Khalia Williams, Delegate for Seminars

From the Past President

From my perspective as Past President, I am optimistic about the future for our Academy. Last year we welcomed a great cohort of new members, and the level of visitor participation was high. And now, with Kimberly’s innovative leadership, we have a hybrid meeting format that will expose us to much less financial risk, so things are looking great indeed.

I hope that we will all build on all of this good news. Which brings me to my happy task. I will be processing the applications for visitor status. I hope that each of you will take some time to find a colleague or two who would benefit from membership in our Academy. I recall my first meeting, when I got to meet the leaders in liturgy, many of whom were authors of my textbooks. It was also great to see my mentors in a new way, as colleagues who put forward ideas that were then challenged and refined. I got to offer my few insights, which was great. But above all, from the rite of remembrance to the banquet, being part of the Academy meeting allowed me to participate in our tradition and our vision for the future of worship in North America and beyond. I hope you share your own experience of being part of our meetings with prospective visitors.

Applying for visitor status is a good experience, as bureaucracy goes. If you want to refresh your memory about how one becomes a visitor at NAAL, read our Visitor FAQs page. Then, when you have a visitor identified and the application portal has opened (by early June), have them complete the Visitor Application, due by September 15th. This allows me time both to vet applications and work with a small Visitor Scholarship Committee (Past President, President, Treasurer) to distribute what financial aid we can offer.

Some 25 years ago I was invited to come as a visitor. In addition to the benefits I and the Academy have received, we are talking 25 years of dues, almost a hundred nights contributed to the room block, and several years of service on the Academy Committee. I am excited to meet the visitors who will contribute even more to the Academy in years to come.

Glenn Byer, Past President

From the Proceedings Editor

Warm greetings from Australia, fellow academy members, where this spring newsletter arrives in autumn! Proceedings 2024 is in the initial stages of production, though we are still awaiting a few seminar reports (nudge, nudge, Conveners—please send them as soon as possible to

Since undertaking the editorship in 2020, the Academy Committee and I have been discussing what might be the best platform to use for Proceedings in the future. ISSUU has served us very well, and we owe a debt of thanks to our former editor, Richard McCarron, for facilitating that transition in 2013. After considering several options, the AC has decided that, beginning this year, Proceedings will be hosted by Open Journal Systems (OJS), an open-source software system for the management of peer-reviewed academic journals. OJS was created by the Public Knowledge Project, whose motto is “making research a global public good.”

OJS hosting will ensure wider access to the work of the Academy and facilitate broader dissemination of the work of our members who deliver plenary addresses or have papers accepted for publication in Part 3: Select Seminar Papers. OJS hosting includes features like connecting author ORCID IDs and creating unique DOI numbers for articles, as well as allowing journal content to be registered with Crossref. These features will bring Proceedingssecurely into the future, both by putting our work more squarely into the global conversation, and, importantly, by making publishing in the journal more attractive. The costs associated with the new platform will be approximately the same as what we spend currently on producing each issue. A parallel project will be to digitize and index all past issues of Proceedings.

This is an exciting development for the Academy. The transition to OJS as well as an extended deadline for paper submissions this year will likely mean Proceedings will be published later than usual but rest assured that production is underway.

Jason J. McFarland, Proceedings Editor


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Dear NAAL participants:

Thank you so much for your patience as we’ve explored various options for our January 2025 meeting. In this letter, I would like to introduce our location for the 2025 meeting and our rationale. Our Spring Newsletter will be slightly delayed to the end of May as we finalize the contract and fee structure; in that newsletter you will also find our regular reports.

Since the 2024 business meeting, Nathaniel, Courtney, and I have made budgeting estimates for both a hybrid meeting at Valparaiso University and a virtual-only meeting. Courtney and I went to Valparaiso to evaluate the hospitality we can offer there, and we have run estimates of likely registration numbers for both meetings, using the feedback we gathered during the business meeting of 2024. It seems that a hybrid meeting at Valparaiso University, January 2-5, 2025, offers us both the most accommodating meeting and the best financial outcome. There are several features at Valpo that will lower total cost for those in attendance, while allowing for a full meeting.

Hosting the 2025 meeting at Valpo will have several advantages:

  • Valpo’s Chapel of the Resurrection is a wonderful space for Academy worship and is used regularly for streaming services.
  • Valpo includes technical support, including screens and cameras, in their rental fees for the space. Our hybrid meeting capabilities will be better than we have been able to afford in a hotel setting, at a much lower price. Those of us who need to attend online or prefer to do so will have a better meeting experience than we have been able to provide thus far.
  • Catering costs are much reduced over a hotel setting, so we will be able to include lunches on January 3 and 4 and dinners January 2, 3, and 4 (the banquet), as well as coffee breaks, in the registration price, while paying significantly less than we paid for catering in Seattle (see the Treasurer’s report in the upcoming newsletter). This will reduce costs for those of us attending in person while giving more opportunities for fellowship.
  • We will not contract for a hotel room block. As a result, hybrid attendance or staying in cheaper housing does not impact the organization’s costs. The hotels identified in Valparaiso are less expensive than our normal hotel block.
  • We are still evaluating different options for transportation from the airport and will communicate a final plan before registration for the meeting opens. We will be gathering information about who needs transportation from Chicago-area airports in the registration process and putting together a team to arrange safe and economical transport for anyone who needs it.
  • The meeting spaces are lovely. Our exhibits and coffee breaks will be in a lovely lounge setting with comfortable areas to socialize, our meals will be in the same building as the plenary spaces, almost all the meeting rooms we will be using have natural light, and there are a variety of rooms to suit our various seminars’ needs. Most of our seminars, including all those who request mobility accommodations, will only be an elevator ride away from the plenary gatherings and meals. About six seminars will be hosted in the Chapel building or the College of Arts and Sciences, just across the drive from the Harre Union (see the map).

Inset map of Valparaiso University

A few other things to look forward to for our 2025 meeting:

  • In lieu of a free evening, we will have an included dinner and social on January 3, with entertainment. Those who wish to go into town on that evening are welcome to arrange their own transportation.
  • We will be circulating information to seminars and discussing at the meeting the ecumenical Feast of Creation proposed for September 2025 as a celebration of the 1700th anniversary of Nicaea.

A note on the virtual meeting budget:

The budget for a virtual-only meeting is less total cost than a hybrid meeting. At the same time, it would still have substantive fees, and the results of the survey at the business meeting make it more financially risky—if less people would register than for Valpo, which the survey suggested, we could lose substantial amounts of money on a virtual meeting. At the same time, the technical capabilities for virtual meetings continue to improve, and we are holding the budgeting for a virtual meeting in reserve for potential future needs. See the Vice President’s report in our upcoming newsletter for more information on future possibilities for our annual meetings.

I want to thank especially Nathaniel Marx and Courtney Murtaugh, as well as Jim Wetzstein and the other staff at Valparaiso University, for their commitment, wisdom, and generosity in this unusual process. I am especially grateful to all of you also for your patience, trust, and feedback.


Kim Belcher, President
North American Academy of Liturgy

Fall 2022 News

From the President


Dear Academy Colleagues,

I trust your summers have been a desired mix of relaxation, restoration, productivity, and preparation. The autumnal days of transitioning to a new pace in our ministries, our teaching and our research are now upon us, as is the time to look ahead to our Academy gathering in Toronto, January 2-5, 2023.

Your Academy Committee has recently completed our summer meeting and site visit at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel. It is located, as the name indicates, in the center of Toronto, right next to City Hall. It is surrounded by restaurants and meeting places of all kinds and is only a short (10-15 minute) walk from Union Station where you can find the express train to and from Toronto Pearson Airport. It is also only two stops away on the subway. Inside the Sheraton Centre, you will find newly refreshed and remodeled spaces throughout, spaces which will comfortably accommodate our large gatherings, our seminars, and our informal conversations throughout our time together. We are very fortunate to have this hotel for our meeting this year.

We US citizens found that traveling from the US to Canada and back was quick and efficient, due in no small part to the expedited process of using the ArriveCAN resource. Please familiarize yourself with this requirement early in your travel arrangements. The time spent setting it up is more than worthwhile considering time saved.

We hope that our US members will consider the attractive exchange rate of Canadian to US dollars, making food and lodging very reasonable this year. We especially encourage those of you for whom attending the meeting seems a bit out of reach. Please apply for a scholarship through our Past President,Gennifer Brooks.

What about COVID?

As we all know, we are still in the throes of a pandemic. It looks very different now than it did when we cancelled our 2021 meeting, and different still from the context of our 2022 meeting. With a new, more Omicron-focused vaccine now available, there is reason to be optimistic about holding a safe and healthy gathering in Toronto.

This past August, all passengers on flights within, into, and out of Canada were required to wear face masks. Masks were also required within all Canadian airports. Many were masked on public transportation and within the hotel. At the same time a church around the corner from our hotel had still not opened for in person worship. Like most places we live, Canada and Toronto have a variety of official and personal responses to managing a pandemic.

For this reason, the AC has come up with preliminary guidelines for our meeting, knowing they may need to be adjusted given the circumstances at the time. We will begin by being compliant with national and local COVID protocols. To these expectations, we require that you are fully vaccinated to attend and that you mask in all public spaces. We will allow each seminar to determine best practices for their group in their meeting space.

But I don’t feel comfortable traveling or coming to such a meeting.

This year we are going to offer the possibility of attending our meeting virtually. This will allow you to “attend” all plenary sessions as well as your seminar. To do so you must register at the standard fee. This will help off-set the cost of the technology required to make this option a possibility. We are hoping this option increases the accessibility of our meeting for more people, but does not discourage in-person attendance which could severely hinder us financially in terms of required minimums in our hotel contract.

What does this mean for future meetings?

I expect this year’s meeting of our academy to be a consequential one. Our Academy website lists our next two meetings as “2024 Seattle” and “2025 TBD”. We have one more meeting scheduled for the Seattle Westin which remains from our current contract with Marriott. Beyond that we have a blank slate.

Changes in the academic and religious communities which directly affect our members have been coming for some time, but have now been accelerated by the current pandemic. Our Vice-President, Glenn Byer, graciously led a process over the summer that has resulted in a survey you may complete between now and September 21. This survey will help us plan for the rhythm, modes, and contexts of our future meetings in general, and will help us particularly to clarify our options for our 2025 meeting.

Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts in this way. After our results are tabulated and sent to you all, I will be holding listening sessions on-line for those who wish to discuss the results, the process we find ourselves in, and our hopes for the future.

And at our Toronto meeting, we will set aside time both in a plenary session and within each seminar to discuss our options in preparation for what we hope will be an expeditious business meeting. Simply said, we need to have a decision for 2025 made, and a game plan for planning future meetings established by the end of this year’s meeting. Registered virtual attendees who are members of the academy will be able both to speak to and vote in this process.

A second opportunity to celebrate a colleague


We look forward to celebrating this year’s Berakah Award recipient, Karen Westerfield-Tucker, and eagerly anticipate her address.

This year, however, we will also be awarding the Godfrey Diekmann Award to our colleague Dr. Melva Costen. As an African American woman who worked both within the black church traditions and the more traditionally


white Presbyterian Church, Dr. Costen invited all those who study worship to consider the influence and impact of black Christians on worship and culture in North America and around the world. Her work, African American Christian Worshipstands as a turning point in putting the church tradition that began in the praise house in conversation with the worship of those who considered themselves to have more “established” traditions. Her gentle but firm reminders that the justice that is a central part of worship and is only justice if it is justice for all has been good counsel to us all. Melva Costen has been a particularly important voice for our academy, and we will celebrate her gifts to us in Toronto.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Between now and then, you will be hearing more from me and our Academy Committee as we together chart a course forward for the North American Academy of Liturgy.

Grace and peace to you all,

Todd E. Johnson,  President

From the Vice President

What is the future of the in-person meeting? It seems we are all part of a society trying to see into a future that each of us is struggling with in our institutions, in our families, in our world.

After a series of interviews over the past several months with a cross section of members of the academy – from new members to veterans, and from regular attendees to those who have been absent– the conclusions that we drew were really a series of questions, questions that I hope you all will take a moment to answer in our survey. I believe that it will take all of our best thinking to come up with a vision, not for a decade to come, or even for half that time. The discussions both in the Academy Committee and with the membership showed me that we should embrace the fact that we cannot see too far ahead. It reminded me of John Henry Newman,

“Keep Thou my feet, I do not ask to see

The distant scene, one step enough for me.”

With our best thinking, all of us contributing, I think we can make some good decisions for the coming steps (2-3 years) and leave it to the future Academy Committees and future members to see the steps ahead for them.

And thank you to everyone who volunteered thoughts about our future, either by e-mail, in conversation, or in ad hoc gathering.

This is informing my own reflections as I try to fashion a presentation that will be of interest to the Academy.

A question that has surfaced since last I wrote deals with the order of things in worship.

It seems that current cultural practices do not tolerate long preludes before you get to the payoff. I guess in churches that celebrate Palm Sunday with actual branches, you do get the payoff first, but apart from that, Communion comes at the end, and in my experience fellowship and food are almost the prize you get for staying through the whole Lord’s Day or Sabbath service.

Is there anything in the tradition that would reverse this order?

Will future generations look on us as being quaint for our ordering of things?

Do we, in fact, have things backwards?

A friend of mine used to discuss how among First Nations cultures you eat before you talk – theologically, what would prevent Communion from coming before any service of the word?

Or are we just afraid that people would leave?

At the same time, having dabbled in YouTube and TikTok culture, where the attention span required is measured in seconds, what does that mean for the liturgical churches and for the synagogue?

I have tried tweeting snippets from my unpublished book on Italian pilgrimage. I had to rewrite what I thought were pretty cogent sentences because they exceeded the character count. Lucien Deiss used to say that he regretted how short the Psalm selections were for the lectionary, but in our time, are they too long?

More to come….

Glenn Byer, Vice President

From the Meeting Manager

Toronto, Ontario
JANUARY 2-5, 2023
Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel
123 Queen St. W.
Toronto, ON M5H 2M9, Canada 

As you finalize plans to attend the 2023 NAAL Annual Meeting in Toronto, Ontario the following information is provided to assist you with your travel and hotel plans.


To register for the 2023 Annual Meeting, you must be fully vaccinated and provide a copy of your vaccination card with the corresponding ID. A copy of your card and ID can be emailed to

NAAL will keep a record of your card.through January 6, 2023. After January 6, 2023, all copies of vaccine cards will be purged and deleted.

In addition, all attendees will be expected to wear a mask at all events in public spaces in the hotel, unless actively eating or drinking. Seating protocols will be followed for gatherings at tables and in meeting rooms. Seminars will decide on mask protocols for themselves.

We will adhere to any additional protocols required by Toronto, the province of Ontario, and the Canadian government.Currently, all travelers to Canada must wear a mask on airplanes and trains.  Every traveler to Canada, including those entering by car, must download the ArriveCan app and complete all entry requirements stated in the app.  Final clearances to enter Canada must be done within 72 hours of your arrival.  Please read and follow the instructions carefully. This isn’t hard, and it will make your entry into Canada not only possible, but far simpler.

For the latest information on arrivals to Canada, click here.

Registration will open on September 15, 2022.

The new registration system allows for the member to donate the credit card fees to NAAL. Please consider including the credit card fees with your registration. Donating your credit card fees saves NAAL several thousand dollars per year.


Early Registration: Sept 15- Nov 1

Members Visitors
$395 $425

Late Registration: Nov. 2 – Dec 15

Members Visitors
$445 $450

 On Site Registration

Members Visitors
$500 $500


Hotel Reservations (click here) 
or call the toll-free line at 1-888-627-7175 on or before December 8 and state that you are with the 2023 NAAL Annual Meeting to book your rooms.

Cutoff date for reservations – December 8, 2022
Room rate – $169 CAD/$129 USD
Retired rate – $129 CAD/$99 USD

HOTEL CONTRACTED COMMITMENT Please note:Using our Academy hotel helps us reach the minimum room block that permits us to obtain substantially reduced prices for our meetings. Failing to meet that block can lead to a substantial cost penalty to the Academy. Please consider impacts on the Academy if considering other housing.  If you need assistance with finding roommates to help offset room costs, please contact our meeting Manager, Courtney Murtaugh (


Toronto is Canada’s largest city and a world leader in business, finance, technology, entertainment and culture. Its large population of immigrants from all over the globe has also made Toronto one of the most multicultural cities in the world.

Things to do in Toronto (click here).




Travel Options

Ground Transportation  –

Train – Union Pearson Express runs from Pearson Airport to Union Station in downtown Toronto in just 25 minutes. Adult one-way fare from Pearson to Union is $12.35 CAD. Youth and Post-Secondary students save 40% off standard adult fare when using PRESTO. Children under 12 years of age ride free.

Trains are run frequently and are available seven days a week. Be sure to check the schedules before you travel.

Airport Train to Hotel Directions


Public Transportation

Airport to Hotel Directions

Ground Transportation

If you have any questions regarding the 2023 meeting, please contact Courtney Murtaugh at:

See you all in Toronto!

Courtney Murtaugh, Meeting Manager

From the Secretary

You will be hearing from me at least two more times in the next two weeks with brief reminders to complete our survey if you haven’t already. That link again, in case you are receiving this newsletter in a format that doesn’t allow you to click on hyperlinks, is

We really do want to hear from as many of you as possible so we can reflect back to you the most complete picture to help you make the critical decisions you will be asked for at our business meeting in Toronto.

If you are hosting a post-meeting, and want to have it included in Sched, our online schedule, it’s not too early to contact me.

And to reserve space for your post meeting, our meeting manager will provide a hotel contact as the time draws nearer.

Taylor W. Burton Edwards, Secretary

From the Treasurer

We closed the books on Fiscal Year 2022 at the end of June. The Academy sustained a year-over-year loss of almost $30,000. As explained in the last newsletter, lower registration for the 2022 meeting and cancellations that were unavoidable for many members and visitors caused us to incur a charge for the unfilled hotel room block and fall short of meeting our expenses through registration fees. The loss depleted about one quarter of our cash reserve, which now stands at approximately $95,000.

To put the loss in perspective, I would note that it is twice as large as the loss in FY15 (Minneapolis), which was the last time that a meeting lost money. Our financial position at the beginning of FY23 is still $40,000 better than it was at the beginning of FY16, thanks to a six-year run of profitable meetings.

On the other hand, the FY22 loss would have been twice as large if not for the reduction of the room block penalty and our retention of $10,440 in registration fees from members who had to cancel. This points to the financial importance of members attending the 2023 meeting in person, if possible, and of registering to attend the meeting virtually if traveling to Toronto will not be possible for you. As always, the best way to preserve our Academy for the future is to participate in its meetings now.

Membership dues are the Academy’s second most important revenue stream. While most members are paid current, a large number have not paid dues yet for calendar year 2022. With registration opening on September 15, please remember that your 2022 dues must be paid before you can register for the 2023 meeting. Although payment for 2023 is not due until January 1, please consider entering your payment information and setting up automatic renewal when you register for the meeting. You can check your membership status and pay dues at any time by logging into MyNAAL.

Nathaniel Marx, Treasurer

From the Delegate for Membership

Fall is approaching fast and that means it’s the time to prepare and submit new membership applications for those NAAL visitors who are now eligible to apply for full membership.

The deadline for me to receive all necessary documents, including recommendations, is September 15.

All those who have participated in at least two previous NAAL annual meetings in the status of visitor and have the necessary qualifications for full membership are cordially invited to consider becoming NAAL members. The initiate the application process, please visit our website where you can find information about applying and the application form (bottom of the page, then click on the + sign to open it).

Please note that it is the responsibility of the applicant to contact the colleagues who will write recommendations for them and ensure that they have received and submitted the required forms to the delegate for membership by the application deadline (September 15).

The Membership Committee will ordinarily reach out to the applicants on November 1 to inform them about the outcome of their applications. If I can help with questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me using the email link on NAAL Membership site!

In hope of seeing many of you at our next meeting,

Sonja Pilz, Delegate for Membership

From the Delegate for Seminars

Toronto seminars. I’ve just begun to receive the seminar agendas for this January’s meeting in Toronto, and they look great. I anticipate all 20 active seminars meeting in 2023, and we will have 10 hours of time over the 2023 meeting, distributed in 90- and 120-minute blocks exactly like the 2022 schedule. I have assigned meeting rooms already, many with natural light. Any conveners who did not receive my August email, please write to me.

Technology. This year will be a hybrid meeting. We will be enlisting Zoom support to ensure access for all registered participants. Technologically, NAAL will be purchasing and providing each seminar with a bluetooth-enabled conference microphone and speaker to place at the center of the room to facilitate remote participation. If a convener or a member of a seminar already has a bluetooth conference speaker they would like to use, please include that in your Seminar Information and Request form or email me directly.

As always, we also appreciate those who are able to bring screens, projectors, and power strips!

Attendees are encouraged to bring laptops or tablets to have cameras on to allow for eye contact between remote participants on Zoom and those in the room. This seems to be the solution that worked best for seminars last year.

We will not have video cameras in the seminar rooms, though there will be video in the plenaries.

After the meeting, we will donate the conference speakers to a local educational charity to avoid storage fees and customs and to broaden the academy’s impact on the Toronto community. Purchasing this technology saves the NAAL money, as it is cheaper than the hotel’s rental fee.

Planning future meetings. The seminars generally spend at least part of the last seminar session of the meeting discussing plans for the next meeting. In addition to that conversation, this year we are asking seminar participants to discuss with one another their thoughts about the timing and format of future meetings. This will help academy members go into the business meeting prepared to vote on the timing and format of future meetings.

As always, I am happy to be able to assist our seminars in their important work. Feel free to be in touch by email if there’s something I can do to improve your seminar experience.

Kimberly Hope Belcher, Delegate for Seminars

From the Past President

Calling all liturgical scholars or would-be scholars: The North American Academy of Liturgy invites you to visit with us. Join us in Toronto and see for yourself the value of being part of this academy.

Members, please invite your students and colleagues in the field. Becoming a Visitor to our annual meeting is easy and painless, and it takes little time to complete the online application.

For those who need a little help, scholarships are available to assist in offsetting some of the financial cost. If you were awarded a scholarship for the 2022 meeting and did not attend, don’t hesitate to apply again.

We are ready to greet you in Toronto. Hope to see you there.

Gennifer Brooks, Past President

Report from the Toronto Area Host Committee Meeting

We are in very good hands for our Toronto meeting with an active committee. The Academy Committee will continue to consult with our Toronto host committee in preparation for 2023 meeting.


If there are job openings at your institutions you wish to post on our website, you may upload them using our request form. Current postings can be found here:  

Seeking Your NAAL Photos and Video
If you have good photographs or video from recent NAAL meetings (2019-2022) and are willing to share these to help keep our website fresh  you may upload them via our web form. If you have more than 5 photos to share, be sure to check the box and our webmaster will get back with you to discuss how best to share them.

Contact Us

All Academy officers’ email and other contact information is available on the Academy Committee page of our website.

Late Summer 2021 Newsletter

From Your President

Dear Colleagues:

Grace and peace to you in this summer season as we find new and different ways to enjoy the warmth of these sunny days. Unfortunately, in the midst of that enjoyment, we are also confronted with the pain that results from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and also with the various and often devastating effects of natural disasters. The fires, storms and floods too often speak of humanity’s lack of care and even abuse of nature and they are sober reminders when we think (fool ourselves) that we are the ones in control, that God is still in the midst.

That sobering realization was actualized recently during the summer meeting of the AC. Prior to that meeting, we had made what I thought was a secondary decision, in addition to confirming among ourselves that there WOULD BE an annual meeting in 2023, that the format would be hybrid. Our concern then and still was to find a way for all members to be accommodated.

Well, the reality is that while we will indeed meet in some way, because of the uncertainty cause by the resurgent spread of COVID-19 due to the Delta variant, and also because of the exorbitant cost of doing a hybrid meeting, we were unable to come to a decision as to the form or even the location of our annual meeting.

As you might well understand, the ramifications of this delay are great, but it is where we are. Be assured, we WILL meet. I think we would like it to be in-person, but we are also aware that there are many among our membership who are not ready to do airline travel, particularly to another country. Add to that the restrictions that have been in place in Canada, regarding permitting non-nationals entry into the country, and the possibility that those restrictions may be re-instituted if the new spread continues, puts the actuality of meeting at our planned location, Toronto, Canada in question.

With respect to using a hybrid format, assuming some of us we can be present in body, the cost of putting in place the required communications structure would be significant enough to deplete all our financial reserves. At this point it does not seem a viable option, but we have not determined as yet that it is not worth considering.

As to having a fully on-line meeting, although that option was rejected last year, we are all in a different place having lived through more than a year using Zoom and other such protocols to engage with one other. We all know, I believe, that it is not the ideal for inter-personal communication, but it does provide a way for us to meet if necessary.

The bottom line is that we do not have the answer to the format of our gathering, but we are working on it. Courtney is working diligently to put in place the best options, given our hotel commitments. We are continuing to prepare in all the ways required for us to meet from January 2 -5, 2022.

The AC will meet again at the end of the summer and by God’s grace, we will be able to finalize the plans for our meeting. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available. In the meantime, please take every care and precaution to preserve your health and well-being. And please remember your academy and the AC in your prayers, as together we participate in this ministry of care for the life and work of the church.

Blessings to you all.

Gennifer Brooks, President

From Your Treasurer

With the cancellation of the 2021 meeting, our budget for the current fiscal year (FY21) has sought to maintain our ongoing operations, appropriately fund any activities approved by the Academy Committee, and preserve our current, positive financial position in preparation for the 2022 annual meeting.

With these important goals in view, and regardless of how our meeting takes place in 2022, membership dues will be more essential than ever to maintaining the financial health of the NAAL.

Many of us renew our memberships and pay our annual dues when we register for the annual meeting. Though we do not yet have a registration process to announce, please take a moment now to visit the website and renew your membership for 2022 or set up your account for auto-renewal.

And if you have questions about either of these, please do not hesitate to contact me for assistance.

Nathaniel Marx, Treasurer

From Your Delegate for Membership

Inviting New NAAL Membership Applications

Fall is approaching fast and that means it’s the time to prepare and submit new membership applications for those NAAL visitors who are now eligible to apply for full membership. Over the last year we paused the membership application and review process due to the pandemic. There is still quite a bit of uncertainty about the upcoming 2022 Annual Meeting but we will nevertheless move forward with membership application review even as the Academy Committee is working on finalizing the details about the meeting in January 2022.

All those who have participated in at least two previous NAAL annual meetings in the status of visitor and have the necessary qualifications for full membership are cordially invited to consider becoming NAAL members. The initiate the application process, please visit our new website where you can find application and recommendation forms.

To make sure your application is reviewed in time for the vote at the 2022 Annual Meeting, please complete and submit your application form and the two required recommendation forms by your seminar convener and one other full member of NAAL by September 15, 2021. Please note that it is the responsibility of the applicant to contact the colleagues who will write recommendations for them and ensure that they have the required forms as well as information about the application deadline. All forms are available for electronic submission (preferred) or download on NAAL website. Membership Committee will ordinarily reach out to the applicants on November 1 to inform them about the outcome of their applications. If I can help with questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me using the email link on NAAL Membership site!

In hope of seeing many of you at our next meeting,

Kristine Suna-Koro

From Your Delegate for Seminars

The new website has updated information on each seminar. These pages will be updated every year based on the reports submitted by conveners at the end of the meeting, to facilitate collaboration and so that potential visitors can see the most recent information on a seminar’s work.
All responsibilities, deadlines, and forms for seminar conveners are now available as web forms on the new seminar conveners page.
Although our final plan for 2022 depends on the ongoing questions about the pandemic and international borders, we will have a 2022 meeting. So far I have preliminary plans from seven seminars. I look forward to hearing from all the seminars by September 1.


Kimberly Belcher, Delegate for Seminars

From Your Secretary and New Webmaster

As has already been alluded to in several of our reports above, we now have a new website! With many thanks to Troy Messenger, Micah Boon, our Academy Committee, and our new webmaster, Layla Karst, the fully revised and updated NAAL website has gone live in the past two weeks. We encourage you to check it out, try out its new navigation system, click on the links, and start to become familiar with this new and much improved tool for communication within the Academy and about the work of the Academy to the wider world.

As we launch the new website and now have a dedicated webmaster, I want you to be aware of changes in who will receive what information going forward.

1. Continue to send memorial notices of our colleagues to me ( While we are also now hosting these on our website, I will continue to create the memorials and distribute them first through our Neon email system. After they are created and distributed, our webmaster will post them to the website.

2. Also, continue to send job opportunity notices to me ( I will review them, edit them for our website, and then send them to our webmaster for posting.

For all other inquiries about the website, information about new articles or books you have had published, any errors or glitches you may find, or other content you would like to see updated, revised, or presented in a different way, please contact our webmaster, Layla Karst.

Taylor W. Burton-Edwards, Secretary

Layla Karst, Webmaster

From Your Coordinator of Sponsors and Donors

Though how we are meeting in 2022 is still being discerned, we are always looking for sponsors and donors, and our Oral History project is ongoing.

Donations and Sponsorships. If you can suggest institutions and individuals we can approach to ask them to be a sponsor of our annual meeting, please send me those suggestions (! Please remember our Scholarship Fund when you register for the annual meeting. Every dollar you contribute to the Scholarship Fund helps to encourage the participation of future and present NAAL members. All donations large and small are appreciated.

NAAL Oral History: Founding Stories. If you are a charter member of the NAAL, or if you have stories from the early years, I will available be at the Atlanta meeting to record those stories. This is part of an effort to develop an oral history of the founding of NAAL. If you have heard stories from Story Corps you have an idea of the kind of stories we are seeking. Individuals and pairs of people who want to share a story are welcome.

Don LaSalle, Sponsorship Coordinator

From Ed Foley, Co-Convener of Emerging Scholars

The emerging scholars/first career members of NAAL held an online symposium last January, co-facilitated by Kim Belcher.  As part of that event, presenters were invited to submit an article based on their work to Religion, which had given me permission to edit a special issue on “Worship in a time of Pandemic: Fresh Possibilities and Troubling Inequalities.”
I am pleased to announce that to date we have 5 published articles in this open access and peer reviewed journal, available here.

We continue to seek submissions from other presenters, as well as other members of the academy. Instructions for submission are also available here.

From Gail Ramshaw: Lauding the North American Academy of Liturgy

Perhaps there are other members of the North American Academy of Liturgy who, like me, owe an immeasurable debt to the organization.

I have never been professionally employed in the field of liturgy. Yet I have faithfully attended forty-two Academy meetings in a row, receiving each January my assignments for the coming year.

The NAAL has granted to me hundreds of colleagues, a dozen treasured friends, interdenominational collaboration, conversation with a dear Jewish comrade, consultations with editors, Lutheran get-togethers, seminar members who respectfully listened and responded to my presentations – whether insightful or ill-conceived – as well as the pleasure of serving as Academy president in 2001 and the gift of a Berakah Award in 2010.

Where else could I, a laywoman, have encountered this microcosm of the Christian church, annually instructing me in an updated vocabulary and an enhanced picture of liturgical needs, encouraging me toward more luminous religious speech?

It seems to me that without the North American Academy of Liturgy, I could have offered far less of value to the church’s repository of prayers and to the academic study of liturgical language.

Thank you, North American Academy of Liturgy.

Late Summer 2021 Newsletter Addendum

From Your Past President

To date, the Past President has received eleven applications and accepted ten First Time Visitors for the January 2022 Annual Meeting. First-Time Visitor acceptance is based on the qualifications for membership, found on the Academy’s website. The deadline for visitor status and scholarships is November 1st.

Application for Visitor Status
Application for Scholarship

Bruce Morrill, Past President

From Your Webmaster

New Email Addresses
I am glad to report we now have three new NAAL email addresses available for the work of the Academy: (which will direct to me); (for our Proceedings subscription manager, David Turnbloom), and (for our exhibits manager, Michael Prendergast)

New Job Opportunities Form
Now, as an alternative to sending job opportunity postings to your secretary (which you may still do), you may post them through an online form on our website.  Your secretary and webmaster will receive a copy, your secretary will approve the final posting, and I will post it to the website.

Layla Karst, Webmaster

Contact Us

All Academy officers email and other contact information is available on the NAAL Leadership page of our website.

Newsletters are distributed to all Academy Members via email.  To update your contact information, visit MyNAAL.