Dear Academy Colleagues
As the calendar year comes to a close, so does a rather rigorous year for our academy and our Academy Committee. Beginning with our meeting in Kansas City, we have been faced with the challenges of life in the shadow of COVID and its impact on our faith communities, higher education, and our academy.
We also have undergone a process of data gathering, listening, discussing, and discerning. Thank you for all who responded to our survey, attended our Town Hall Meetings, or in other ways supported this process. Thanks to you, we approach our meeting with a much better grasp of both what your needs are and what our challenges are.
This has resulted in the Academy Committee making the proposal below. This proposal is intended to focus our discussions in Toronto. We ask you to read and begin reflecting on this proposal now. Then come to our annual meeting, in person or virtually, to learn and discuss more about the specific elements of this proposal in a scheduled plenary session and in your seminar. We trust that these opportunities for conversation will allow you to make improvements and amendments at our business meeting, enabling us to expeditiously approve and begin to implement a sustainable working plan for our near-term future as an academy.
ACADEMY COMMITTEE PROPOSAL
The Academy Committee proposes that our meeting in 2025 be completely virtual. This will be a robust meeting with seminars, plenary sessions, and the prayers and rites of our academy made available in a smooth and accessible manner.
The Academy Committee further proposes that our meeting in 2026 be a hybrid meeting at a hotel in a city with an airport that is a major hub, looking first to the Midwest.
The Academy Committee proposes to hold both meetings in early January as we currently do, with the 2025 meeting possibly being a bit longer than typical to accommodate a virtual mode of meeting for people in multiple time zones.
The Academy Committee further recommends the exploration of the following:
- Considering the interdisciplinary nature of our field, we suggest exploration of two or more seminars meeting to share their work with those in resonant fields, either at our meetings or outside of our meetings.
- As a means of promoting our academy and possibly recruiting possible new members, we suggest the AC assign a task force to explore the possibility of organizing a “Worship” track at the American Academy of Religion.
- In the spirit of the two prior recommendations, we suggest that each seminar consider ways they could extend their work and its fruits to outside groups. This could be intentional interaction with other academic groups or guilds, or providing resources for ritual practitioners of faith communities.
On behalf of the Academy Committee and myself, thank you for your support of our academy over the years, and this year in particular.
Todd E Johnson
Late Summer 2021 Newsletter
From Your President
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,
From Your Delegate for Seminars
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org). 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 (email@example.com). 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)! 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
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.
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:
email@example.com (which will direct to me);
firstname.lastname@example.org (for our Proceedings subscription manager, David Turnbloom), and
email@example.com (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
All Academy officers email and other contact information is available on the NAAL Leadership page of our website.