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How Meetings Work

Meetings begin on a Friday afternoon and end at noon the next day, and usually include a shared meal and oral autobiography by a member on Friday evening. Several weeks before the Meeting, papers are made available so that each session can be devoted to the discussion of a paper and the issues it raises. A designated respondent first shares their impressions of a paper and then the Society members engage the paper presenter, the respondent, and each other in an often provocative and critical discussion. In general, four papers are presented during each biannual meeting with approximately an hour devoted to each one, though other formats, such as a panel, do occur. Because of the diversity and depth of expertise among members, new insights are inevitably brought out. As opportunity presents itself, papers may be brought together for publication.

Opportunities for informal but vital conversation occur through a shared banquet meal, and are often followed by an oral autobiography presented by one of the esteemed members of the Society.

Typical Schedule

Friday afternoon
1:30-2 pm - Arrival and Registration
2-5 pm - Paper Session
2:00-2:15 - Welcome and Introductions
2:15-3:25 - Paper discussion 1
3:25-3:50 - Program planning meeting and Break
3:50-5:00 - Paper discussion 2
5-7 pm - Business Meeting, Social Time, Dinner
7-8:30 pm - Public Lecture

Saturday morning
9–9:30 am - Continental Breakfast
9:30 am-12 pm - Paper Session
9:30-10:40 - Paper discussion 3
10:40-10:50 - Break
10:50-12:00 - Paper discussion 4
12 pm - Adjourn

Typical Paper Discussion Procedure

A typical procedure for each paper discussion is:
  • Moderator: Calls on the respondent to present
  • Respondent: Respond to paper (10-15 minutes)
  • Author of Paper: Engage the response (5-7 minutes)
  • Moderator: Opens the floor for questions (~30 minutes)
    • Keeps a list of names as hands are raised and calls on each person in turn.
    • Author and Respondent should take notes
  • Moderator: Towards end of discussion, calls on Respondent and Author to provide comments on the points made by those addressing the paper and counter or expand what has been said.
  • Total time per paper = approximately 70 minutes

The rationale for inviting such a free wheeling discussion is to get a variety of viewpoints before the assembly, since those gathered will not all be equally conversant with the topic at hand. If the topic stays too close to those most knowledgeable, the discussion can become so technical that only those best versed in the topic can participate, and that squelches possible creative and critical exchanges. People who are not immersed in the viewpoint that is represented can often introduce ideas that challenge and demand thinking outside the frame of reference most frequently invoked on a topic.

In practice, the moderator may ask the paper author to answer comment every 10-15 mins during the discussion to facilitate fruitful discourse.

Recent & Upcoming Meetings

Fall Meeting, November 3-4, 2017
Spring Meeting, April 13-14, 2018 (Note: Two weeks after Western Easter to avoid conflict with Orthodox Easter on April 8)

Fall Meeting, October 26-27, 2018 (Note: Dates moved to avoid conflict with Parliament of the World's Religion)
Spring Meeting, May, 3-4, 2019 (Note: Two weeks after Western Easter to avoid conflict with Orthodox Easter on April 28)

Fall Meeting, November 1-2, 2019 (No meeting)
Spring Meeting, May 9, 2020 (Canceled due to Covid-19) (Note: date changed to accommodate scheduling and to avoid conflict with Orthodox Easter on April 19)

Fall Meeting, November 6-7, 2020 (In person meeting canceled due to Covid-19)
Virtual Meeting, November 7, 2020
Virtual Meeting, January 30, 2021
Spring Meeting, April 9-10, 2021 (In person meeting canceled due to Covid-19)

Fall Meeting, November 5-6, 2021
Spring Meeting, April 29-30, 2022 (Note: Two weeks after Western Easter to avoid conflict with Orthodox Easter on April 24)

Fall Meeting, November 4-5, 2022
Spring Meeting, April 21-22, 2023 (Note: Two weeks after Western Easter to avoid conflict with Orthodox Easter on April 16)

The meeting dates are normally the Friday and Saturday after Western Easter and the first Friday and Saturday in November. If that Spring meeting date conflicts with the Eastern Orthodox Easter, then the Spring meeting is shifted forward by one additional week.

For prior meeting information, see the Archive.

Possible Meeting Topics

These are some themes that have come up in discussion as possible meeting topics. They are listed here to help us keep track of them. If you have an interest in organizing a meeting or presenting on one of them, or have another suggestion, please let us know.

  • Marginalized Other: Why are we blind to another's beauty and suffering? [added to list Nov 2011]
  • secularism and atheism
  • comparative theology
  • orthodoxy and sacramental universe
  • global warming as public health issue
  • Pedagogy and Digital Technology: Future of the Book
  • desire
  • something with Cal
  • science and religion, possibly on Creation
  • Kierkegaard [Oct 2011]
  • Rethinking Secularism [Oct 2011]
  • spirituality [March 2011]
  • technology and its social consequences [Mar 2010]
  • paper on David Klemm & William Schweiker’s book: Religion and the Human Future [Mar 2010]
  • Buddhism
  • Islam
  • Resurrection [Apr 2013]
  • Ecological Issues, eg, Climate Change [Apr 2013]

  • For the 75th anniversary of PCTS in 2014:
    • have some early speakers present again
    • look at historical papers, and perhaps some presenters could respond directly to an early paper and discuss prior and current expectations for future of theology.
    • perhaps redo the topic from the 1939 meeting. It appears that the 1939 meeting topic may have been "What is essential in the Christian religion?" as the five papers dated 1939 in the list from the library are:
      • What is essential in the Christian religion? Hinduism, Buddhism and the Christian religion compared.
      • What is essential in the Christian religion? the Jesus of history and the church.
      • What is essential in the Christian religion? Christianity as idea and as event.
      • What is essential in the Christian religion? Hebraism, Judaism, and Christianity.
      • What is essential in the Christian religion? Is Protestantism a positive principle.