Research Profile: Bryan Cones

Rev Dr Bryan Cones
BA MA GradDipTheo PhD 

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.

Research Interests

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.

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Online/Electronic Publications