2024

Registration Now Open

Registration is now open for the 2024 Institute on Theology and Disability, hosted at Boston College (MA) from June 17-20. We invite you to join us, in person or virtually, as we explore this critical intersection as academics, practitioners, and interested others. This conference seeks to be as accessible as possible to as many as possible, so if you find registration to be inaccessible for any reason, please email info@theologydisability.org – we look forward to a fruitful time together!

Our Featured Speakers

Karyn Harvey

Karyn Harvey has worked as a clinician in the field of intellectual disabilities for over 35 years. She has her Ph.D. in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Maryland. She has written three books: Positive Identity Development, Trauma –Informed Behavioral Interventions and Trauma and Healing. She currently does individual and group therapy with people with intellectual disabilities. In addition, she regularly conducts trainings on trauma-informed support for people with IDD, trauma-informed leadership, and trauma-informed behavioral interventions for both state and individual organizations throughout the US and Canada.

Léon van Ommen

Born and raised in the Netherlands and having lived most of his adult life in Belgium, Léon moved to Aberdeen in 2016. He works as Lecturer in Practical Theology, in the areas of liturgy and worship, suffering and healing, justice and reconciliation, and recently in disability theology and worship. Dr. van Ommen also leads the Centre on Autism and theology, which hosts research that will help to foster positive Christian understandings of autism, drawing on Scripture and theological traditions, and sometimes challenging the misuse of these. His most recent book, Autism and Worship: A Liturgical Theology, was published through Baylor University Press in 2023.

Andrew Davis

Andrew R. Davis is Professor of Old Testament at the Boston College Clough School of Theology and Ministry.  He holds a BA from the University of North Carolina, an MTS from the Weston Jesuit School of Theology, and a PhD from the Johns Hopkins University.  He is the author of four books and numerous articles and teaches on all aspects of the Old Testament.  In addition to his academic work, Professor Davis is active within the Down Syndrome community and is a volunteer coach for the Wellesley STARS Special Olympics swim team.

Sarah Barton

Dr. Sarah Jean Barton is a theologian and occupational therapist. She currently serves as Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy and Theological Ethics at Duke University, holding a dual appointment in the Occupational Therapy Doctorate Division in the School of Medicine, as well as at Duke Divinity School. She holds an AOTA Board Certification in Pediatrics and is the incoming Program Director of the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program at Duke University.

Dr. Barton’s scholarly, teaching, and community work focus on theology and disability, collaborations with people with intellectual disabilities, access in higher education, and occupational engagement in religious activities. She has published and presented in a variety of interdisciplinary contexts and is the author of Becoming the Baptized Body: Disability and the Practice of Christian Community with Baylor University Press. Dr. Barton is an active lay leader in The Episcopal Church.

Lisa Powell

Dr. Lisa D. Powell is Professor of Theology and Director of Justice, Diversity, and Gender Studies at Ambrose University in Davenport, IA. Her scholarship examines the intersections of doctrine, liberation theology, and justice. She is the author of The Disabled God Revisited: Trinity, Christology, and Liberation and Inconclusive Theologies: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Kierkegaard, and Theological Discourse.

Julia Watts Belser

Julia Watts Belser is a rabbi, scholar, and spiritual teacher, as well as a longtime activist for disability, LGBTQ, and gender justice. She is a professor of Jewish studies in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Georgetown University and core faculty in Georgetown’s Disability Studies Program, as well as a senior research fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. Author of Rabbinic Tales of Destruction and Loving Our Own Bones, among other scholarly books, she has held faculty fellowships at Harvard Divinity School and the Katz Center for Advanced Jewish Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She’s also an avid wheelchair hiker and a lover of wild places.

Lamar Hardwick

Dr. Lamar Hardwick (D.Min.Liberty University) also known as “the autism pastor” is a pastor, cancer survivor, PhD student and award winning author focused on the intersection of disability, race, and religion. Hardwick was diagnosed with Autism at the age of thirty-six. He provides workshops and consults with businesses, churches, universities, and faith-based organizations on becoming more disability inclusive. He is a graduate of Candler School of Theology at Emory University, the Clergy Scholar Program at Yale Divinity, and a 2017 graduate of Georgia Forward’s Young Game Changers program. He has authored four books including his most recent book, How Ableism Fuels Racism: Dismantling the Hierarchy of Bodies in the Church (Brazos Press 2024).

Lisa Allen-McLaurin

Dr. Lisa Allen-McLaurin, an Emmy and Webby-award-winning pastor, professor, psalmist, and public theologian, is Professor of Worship, Music, and Spirituality at Methodist Theological School in Ohio (MTSO). She is an ordained elder and is appointed the Coordinator of Practical Ministries for the Sixth Episcopal District of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. She has authored four books, including her latest, The OneWord Worship Model: A New Paradigm for Church Worship Planning (Cascade Books, September, 2023) and her 2021 monograph, A Womanist Theology of Worship: Liturgy, Justice, and Communal Righteousness (Orbis Books).

Dr. Allen-McLaurin holds Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D. degrees in Piano Performance and Music Education from
Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, and the University of Southern Mississippi. She also holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. Dr. Allen-McLaurin is married to Thomas McLaurin and their blended family includes five children and two grandchildren.

Mary Jo Iozzio

Mary Jo Iozzio, Ph.D., S.T.L, Professora Ordinaria earned her doctorate in Systematic Theology with a focus on Moral Theology (Fordham University, 1994), the Ecclesiastic Licentiate in Sacred Theology (Boston College, 2019), an MA in Biblical Studies (Providence College, 1987) and an MA in the History of Religions (Fordham University, 1984). Before her tenure at the Clough School of Theology and Ministry, she was Professor of Moral Theology at Barry University, Miami Shores, FL (1993-2013), and adjunct instructor at Fordham University, Providence College, and the University of Rhode Island. Her personal and professional life have been marked —happily she adds—by the Dominicans, the Jesuits, and the Benedictines (whose monks welcomed her into their daily life at the Abbaye du Mont Cesar/Abdij Keizersberg, Leuven, Belgium while she conducted research for her dissertation and subsequent research on the work of one of their members, Odon Lottin, OSB).

She is the Series Editor of Content and Context in Theological Ethics, published by Palgrave Macmillan; past Coordinator of and Contributor to the North American Forum of The First (newsletter of the Catholic Theological Ethicists in the World Church); past Co-Editor of the Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics; guest editor of the Journal of Disability & Religion (2008); and guest editor of the Journal of Moral Theology (2017).

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