Phillips Announces New Liturgy and Practical Theology Faculty Member

(Photo by Cali Godley)

Phillips Theological Seminary welcomes Allie Utley as Assistant Professor of Liturgy and Practical Theology beginning July 1.

Utley’s scholarship and professional identity within the fields of Liturgics and Practical Theology have been formed and influenced by her primary professors and academic mentors the Rev. Dr. John McClure and the late Rev. Dr. Dale Andrews, two scholar-teachers of the Presbyterian and African Methodist Episcopal Churches.

“We’re delighted to welcome a scholar-teacher with intercultural sensitivities to join our educational mission,” said Phillips Vice President for Academic Affairs Lee H. Butler, Jr.

Utley is a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) candidate in the Graduate Department of Religion at Vanderbilt University with an area specialization in homiletics and liturgical studies. She earned her MDiv from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, MA from The Ohio State University with a major in music theory and cognition, and BA from the music department of Appalachian State University with a major in piano performance.

The Vanderbilt program, which concentrates on rhetoric, homiletics, liturgy, and ritual, has the distinctive unifying element of practical theology. This element has led Utley to identify herself as a practical theologian who seeks “to privilege lived human experience and to ground theory in actual bodies and practices.” Her interdisciplinary scholarship and work in the practice of ministry attends to issues of faith, disability, and ministerial practice.

Utley has been active in her professional guild, the North American Academy of Liturgy, where her work on affective praxis has been well received. She has been an active lay leader within the Presbyterian Church (USA) and is in the final phase of the Presbyterian ordination process.

“I strongly believe that this lay experience, in combination with my passion for teaching, have prepared me to be an effective theological educator,” Utley said.

“Not only does Utley embrace the powerful preaching tradition of the Presbyterian Church supported by her mentor John McClure, she also embraces the practical theology tradition of her African Methodist Episcopal mentor, Dale Andrews,” Butler said. “With the memory of Andrews continuing to whisper in her ears, she brings an intercultural sensitivity to her scholarship that attends to emotions within the contexts of worship. Inspiring students to be aware of the emotional content ritual and ritual space will be a profound contribution to the pastoral formation we do here at Phillips.”