Call for Papers


2021 Annual Meeting
October 22–24, 2021
Hilton Portland Downtown, Portland, OR


A Year of Change: The Impact of 2020 on Religion and Congregational Life


Despite so much diversity in today’s world, one reality has perhaps been remarkably similar: 2020 was a challenging year. Among other things, increased racial tension, political polarization, the global coronavirus pandemic, and a massive shift to the digital realm have contributed to a tremendous amount of change in the world with corresponding impacts on religious belief, practice, and congregational life. As a result, the theme of the 2021 Religious Research Association annual meeting is “A Year of Change: The Impact of 2020 on Religion and Congregational Life.” In choosing this theme, the RRA seeks paper and session proposals that highlight the ways in which religious communities have been impacted by and adapted to the challenges presented in 2020.

Key questions for this meeting include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • What creative steps have congregations taken to remain vital and flourishing during and after the coronavirus pandemic? How have congregations adapted to the shift to the digital realm, especially considering worship, fellowship, and spirituality?
  • How can congregations recover and rebuild after mandated shutdowns and increased financial pressure?
  • With the increased ethnic diversity of religious congregations in the United States, how are local congregations dealing with issues of the 2nd and 3rd generation and the decline of white majority?
  • How have religious communities responded to increased national attention to issues of racial inequality and movements like Black Lives Matter?
  • How are congregations and religious communities navigating increased political polarization in their social contexts?
  • What role has globalization played in responding to changes in religious and congregational life?

Presentations and panel sessions are welcome at this meeting on all topics related to the social dimensions of religion and particularly on topics related to applied and organizational aspects of religion, which reflect the traditional focus of the RRA. In addition to sharing research findings, this call also encourages presenters to share experiences, strategies, and best practices in disseminating research to applied audiences. Furthermore, the RRA especially invites proposals for author-meets-critic sessions. This is a special forum for researchers, both applied and academic, to share published work in the form of books, research reports, and/or journals. Please contact the Program Chair with questions about this type of session.

Please submit individual paper proposals, author-meets-critics session, and full session proposals through the online portal at choosing the RRA option on the submission form.

Submissions of sessions and individual paper proposals opens on February 1, 2021.

Submissions close on April 15, 2021. Decision notification is by June 15, 2021.

Please direct questions to the 2021 RRA Program Chair, Gina Zurlo, at