Research Profile: Bryan Cones
Bryan Cones is an honorary postdoctoral researcher in the University of Divinity at Pilgrim Theological College and a recent PhD graduate in liturgical and practical theology from the UD and Pilgrim. He previously pursued theological studies at the Episcopal Divinity School (Postgraduate Certificate, Anglican Studies), Catholic Theological Union (MA, Systemic Theology), and Conception Seminary College (BA). Bryan is a presbyter in the Episcopal Church, Diocese of Chicago, and has served Roman Catholic, Episcopal/Anglican, and Uniting Church in Australia assemblies in the U.S. and Australia. He has taught at both the undergraduate and graduate level, most recently at the Episcopal Divinity School (then at Cambridge, Massachusetts) and Trinity College Theological School in the University of Divinity.
Bryan pursues research as a “pastoral liturgical theologian,” approaching the celebration of worship as theologia prima, the church’s privileged encounter with God in Christ unveiled when an assembly takes up historic patterns of Christian prayer: bath, meal, and laying on hands with prayer, among others. He draws focus to the assembly itself gathered for prayer as the “primary symbol” of Christian worship, which refracts grace through their actions and interactions. His work seeks to tease how the contour of each celebration changes depending on who is “in the room,” that is, the people gathered with their differences of age and ability, gender and sexuality, among others. Thus, the baptism of an infant suggests a different contour of grace than that of an adult; the wedding of a same-gender couple suggests new dimensions to life together than marriage as long practiced. Further, attention to difference in assemblies suggests changes to the patterns through which churches have historically prayed together. Such changes, one hopes, will propose more transparent patterns of liberation and reconciliation, both within assemblies and to the communities around them. His doctoral thesis, This Assembly of Believers: The Gifts of Difference in the Church at Prayer was published by SCM Press in the UK in 2020.
Bryan continues to pursue research at the intersection of liturgical and practical theology, with particular attention to the contributions feminist and queer liturgical thought and practice make to more broadly representative assemblies. He is also exploring liturgical responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and their interaction with concurrent struggles for greater racial and social justice in his U.S. context, with a view to how Christian liturgy might better offer a “public service” to those beyond its members. Other interests include revisions to the worship resources of the Episcopal Church and formation for leadership of liturgical prayer.
- This Assembly of Believers: The Gifts of Difference in the Church at Prayer. London: SCM Press, 2020.
- Twentieth-Century Anglican Theologians: From Evelyn Underhill to Esther Mombo (co-edited with Stephen Burns and James Tengatenga). London: Wiley Publications, 2021.
- Fully Conscious, Fully Active: Essays in Honor of Gabe Huck (co-edited with Stephen Burns). Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 2020.
- Liturgy with a Difference: Beyond Inclusion in the Christian Assembly (co-edited with Stephen Burns). London: SCM Press, 2019.
- “Evoking the Other: Toward Feminist Gesture for Any Assembly.” Feminist Theology 28:2 (January 2020): 198–215.
- “‘Christ, Hear Us’: The Assembly’s Prayer for the World.” New Theology Review 31:1 (October 2018): 69–71.
- “Diary of Pilgrimage: An American Pilgrim Under the Southern Cross.” Worship 92 (September 2018), 396–414.
- “On Not Playing Jesus: The Gendered Liturgical Theology of Presiding.” Pacifica: Australasian Theological Studies 30:2 (2017): 128–45.
- “Field Notes from a Pilgrimage: Lessons from Beneath the Southern Cross for a Pilgrim from the Lands of the North Star.” Australian Journal of Liturgy 15:4 (2017): 240–53.
- “The 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church and the Liturgy: New Wine in Old Wineskins?” Anglican Theological Review 98:4 (Fall, 2016): 681–701.
- “A Prayer Book for the Twenty-first Century?” with Stephen Burns, Anglican Theological Review 96:4 (Fall, 2014): 639–60.
Chapters in Books
- “Creative Tension: Joyce Ann Zimmerman.” In Doing Liturgical Theology, edited by Jason McFarland and Stephen Burns. Leuven: Peeters (forthcoming).
- “Ecclesia orans: Feminist Patterns of Common Prayer.” In SCM Companion to Feminist Theology, edited by Cath McKinney, Katharine Massam and Stephen Burns. London: SCM Press (forthcoming).
- “‘To Adapt and Adopt as Unisex’: Expanding More than Language in Common Prayer.” In Conversations About Divine Mystery: Engagements with the Work of Gail Ramshaw, edited by Stephen Burns and HyeRan Kim-Cragg. Minneapolis: Fortress Press (forthcoming)
- “Marriage ‘Equality?’ Not So Fast: Gender, Sexuality, and Theology in the Episcopal Church’s Rites of Partnership.” In Intersections and Fractures: (Re)visions of Feminist Theologies. Decolonizing Theology Series. Lanham, MD: Lexington Fortress Press (forthcoming).
- “Looking for the Body’s Language: Tracking the Roles of ‘Ministers’ in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer,” in When We Pray: The Future of Common Prayer, edited by Stephen Burns and Robert Gribben, 257-75. Bayswater, Vic.: Coventry Press, 2020.
- “God’s Farm and Field: An Ecology of the Liturgical Assembly,” in Fully Conscious, Fully Active: Essays in Honor of Gabe Huck, edited by Bryan Cones and Stephen Burns, 31-41. Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 2020.
- “How Beautiful the Feet”: Discerning the Assembly’s Path on Holy Thursday” in Liturgy with a Difference, edited by Stephen Burns and Bryan Cones, 3-18. London: SCM Press, 2019.
- “How Do We Gather Now? What We Have Lost—and Gained—through Virtual Worship,” The Christian Century (August 26, 2020), 22-24.
- “What Gets Changed in the Eucharist? Sam Gets Changed,”
- “Pentecostal Possibilities Beyond the ‘Gay Ghetto’: A Community Drawn from the Edges, Crave MCC, Paddington, New South Wales,” Exploring Ritual
- “Hosts at the Table: The Karen Congregation of St. Thomas: Anglican Church, Werribee, Victoria, Australia,” with Stephen Burns, Exploring Ritual