Lisa M. Hess

Associate Professor of Practical Theology

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“Seminary education offers the most intentional, intellectual, and integrative formation of impassioned disciples that I know. The personal-professional formation fascinates and challenges those willing to surrender their preconceptions to be in authentic conversation with lived experience, rich textual resources, and those with whom they greatly disagree.”
– Lisa M. Hess
Teaching and Research
Lisa’s area of specialization is formation & integration, the academic study of Christian spirituality, and interreligious learning. She is author of Artisanal Theology (Cascade 2009) and Learning in a Musical Key: Insight for Theology in Performative Mode (Princeton Theological Monograph series, Pickwick Publications, 2011), among other publications. Her work redresses contemporary theological education and faith community life with an intentional formation in radically covenantal companionship, embodied in a disciplined spiritual stewardship and contemplative empiricism. Rooted in love’s rationality, artisanal theology promises an interpretation of situations but also an engaged, expressive theological delight able to companion the suffering of self and others.Her recent work has been an exploration of “liturgical hospitality” in Jewish-Christian companionships through an ethnographic study of kashrut tentatively entitled Befriending Outsiders.
B.A., Carleton College (1991)

M.Div., Princeton Theological Seminary (1996)

Ph.D., Princeton Theological Seminary (2001)

Ordained minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Presbytery of the Miami Valley (OH) Expert (

Clinical member of the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education

Member of the American Academy of Religion, the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality, Academy of Religious Leadership (Editorial Board)

curriculum vitae

Book(s)Artisanal Theology. Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2009.:
Paradox and surprise face those who pursue deeper spiritual practice, theological wisdom, and even a religious calling “into the ministry.” Unbeknownst to incoming students, the pursuit of theological education in established institutions today furthers a faith that is recognizable in delight and compassion, even as it may just as easily deform it into a moral duty and autonomous professionalism so divisive in today’s religious ecology. How may those drawn into ministry formation today receive its deep theological treasures and sustain a vibrant faith with a theologically expressive delight able to companion the suffering of self and others?

Learning in a Musical Key: Insight for Theology in Performative Mode. Princeton Theological Monograph series. Pickwick Publications, (projected for November 2011).

“Pastoral Implications” Lectionary Homiletics Lent 2008

“Formation in the Worlds of Theological Education,”
Teaching Theology and Religion Volume 11 Issue 1
January 2008 (peer-reviewed)

“A New Sacred Grove” Teaching Theology and Religion Volume 10, Issue 3, July 2007 (peer-reviewed)

“Sabbath Observance for Religious Leadership: It’s Not
About Time or Eternity” Sustaining Pastoral Excellence
monthly, June 2007

“The Gift of Worship: Living Both Ways” in The Upper Room Worship Book, Accompanist and Worship Leader edition, ed. Elise Eslinger (Nashville: Upper Room Books, 2007)

“Theological Interdisciplinarity and Religious Leadership”
Journal of Religious Leadership, Vol. 5, no. 1, Spring 2007

“Being Missional” The Clergy Journal, July/August 2006,
Vol. 82, no. 8

“What is Practical Theology?” Journal of Theology, Summer 2005

Introduction, George MacDonald’s Diary of an Old Soul
(New York: Barnes & Noble Publishers, 2006)

“The Challenge of Activism” The Clergy Journal, April 2006,
Vol. 82, no. 6.

“Leadership and the Church We Are Becoming” The Clergy Journal, May/June 2005, Vol. 81, no. 7;

“Toward a Full-Fledged Action Theory with a Perspective of Musical Transcendence” Verbum et Ecclesia, University of Pretoria – Gauteng, South Africa, Spring 2005 (peer-reviewed)

“A Contemplative Empiricism: Mindfulness, Wisdom, and Expertise in Teaching Spirituality in Seminaries,” Association
of Practical Theology Biennial Meeting, St. John’s University, Collegeville, MN, April 2008

“Bridging Private and Public: Music as Oral Event in Literate Religious Communities,” College Theology Society – Spirituality section; 2007 Annual Convention; University of Dayton, Dayton OH, May 2007

“Wholly Friends: Buddhist Perspective and Practice Toward Compassionate Companionship in a Violent World,” Midwest American Academy of Religion, Chicago, IL, March 2006.

“Music, Education, and Reconciliation: the Paradise Road Paradigm,” Music Consortium, Arts and Reconciliation Conference (celebrating 10 years of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission), University of Pretoria, Tshwane/Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa, March 2005.

Personal Life
In her own Sabbath time, Lisa enjoys bread-baking, sitting with the Quakers, coloring, and interfaith poetry. She also dabbles in Foodie culture, science fiction, and the careful shepherding of her Basenji-Beagle dog, Marley.