Religious Education Association

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Religious Education Association
FounderWilliam Rainey Harper
Anne Walker
AffiliationsAmerican Academy of Religion

The Religious Education Association is the world’s oldest and largest association of scholars and researchers in the field of religious education.[1][2] It is a nonprofit member association, serving as a professional and learned society for scholars and researchers involved in the field of religious education. It has several hundred members, most of whom are from North America, with a scattering of members worldwide.[3] REA members are university and college professors, independent scholars, secondary teachers, clergy, church educators, curriculum developers, judicatory executives, seminarians, graduate students, and interested lay-people. REA members come from multiple faith traditions, and no tradition, and study a very diverse array of religious traditions.[4] The REA's leaders (presidents and executive secretaries) are drawn from a distinguished list of educators.


The REA was founded in 1903 by William Rainey Harper, the first president of the University of Chicago, with the support of the Council of Seventy, a learned society of biblical scholars.[5][6] The keynote speaker at its first convention was John Dewey.[7] In its early years the Association was organized into several groups: Council of religious education, Universities and colleges, Theological seminaries, Churches and pastors, Sunday schools, Secondary public schools, Elementary public schools, Private schools, Teacher-training, Christian associations, Young people’s societies, the Home, Libraries, the Press, Correspondence instructions, Summer assemblies, Religious art, and Music.[8] In 1906 the Association began to publish the journal Religious Education under the editorship of Henry Cope.[9] In 1953 the Association marked its 50th anniversary with a three-day meeting at the University of Pittsburgh that brought together more than 2500 Christian and Jewish educators from the US and Canada.[10] In 1973 the Association began awarding the William Harper Rainey award to distinguished educators.[11] In 1975, the Association held a major national colloquy on civil religion at which scholars Robert Bellah, Vine DeLoria, Jr., and Michael Novak spoke.[12] In 1992 the Association began awarding the Herman E. Wornom award to distinguished institutions.[13] In 2003 the REA merged with the Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education[14] (which was formed in 1970 from an earlier section of the National Council of Churches). Yale University holds the archives of the Religious Education Association and its predecessor bodies.[15][16]


The REA has published the scholarly journal Religious Education continuously since 1906 (archives of which are available electronically at Taylor & Francis).[17] This journal has consistently published work by scholars from multiple continents, diverse faith traditions, and various educational settings, and maintains a high level of citation in various ranking systems.[18] In 2014 the REA began publishing a scholarly monograph series entitled Horizons in Religious Education jointly with Wipf & Stock.[19] The REA also publishes a quarterly newsletter, eREACH, which began as the “religious education association clearing house,” and which serves to network, resource, and connect the association members.[20]

Annual meeting[edit]

The REA hosts an annual meeting, usually in early July.[21] Meeting presentations occur in three formats: research interest group (a formal scholarly paper), collaborative session (engaging ideas from a number of scholars on the same theme), and poster (a typical scholarly poster presentation).[22] The association has a long history of commitment to collegiality, innovative learning design, and support for students.[23] In addition, the REA is a “related scholarly organization” to the American Academy of Religion, and hosts one session each year at the AAR annual meeting.[24]


  1. ^ McBrien, Richard (1995). Encyclopedia of Catholicism. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco. pp. 1096–1097.
  2. ^ Boys, Mary (1989). Educating in Faith: Maps and Visions. Sheed & Ward. p. 4.
  3. ^ Cully, Iris; et al. (1990). Harper's Encyclopedia of Religious Education. Harper & Row. p. 545 ff.
  4. ^ Schmidt, Stephen (1983). History of the Religious Education Association. Birmingham, AL: Religious Education Press. pp. 192–196.
  5. ^ "Form new organization for religious education," Chicago Daily Tribune, June 20, 1903, p. 6
  6. ^ Archibald, Helen (Fall 2003). "Originating visions and visionaries of the REA". Religious Education. 98 (4): 413–425. CiteSeerX doi:10.1080/00344080390244856.
  7. ^ Moran, Gabriel (Fall 2003). "Still to come". Religious Education. 98 (4): 495–502. doi:10.1080/00344080390244829.
  8. ^ "The Religious Education Association," in The Biblical World, Vol. 25, No. 1, p. 70-72, Jan. 1905
  9. ^ Moore, Allen J. (Fall 2003). "100 years of the Religious Education Association". Religious Education. 98 (4): 426–436. doi:10.1080/00344080390238114.
  10. ^ "Church educators to mark 50th year," New York Times, 31 October 1953, p. 9
  11. ^ "William Rainey Harper Award". Religious Education Association. 2011-02-13. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  12. ^ "Educators weigh a 'civil religion,'" New York Times, 27 November 1975, p. 38
  13. ^ "Herman E. Wornom Award". Religious Education Association. 2011-02-14. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  14. ^ "Design for a joint reorganization of REA and APRRE" (PDF). Religious Education Association. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  15. ^ "Guide to the Archives of the Religious Education Association (Record Group #74)". Yale University Library. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  16. ^ "Guide to the Archives of the Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education (Record Group #154)". Yale University Library. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  17. ^ "Official Journal of the Religious Education Association". Taylor & Francis Online. Taylor & Francis. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  18. ^ "Journal ranking". SCImage Journal and Country Rank. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  19. ^ "Horizons in Religious Education series". Wipf & Stock Publishers. Wipf & Stock Publishers. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  20. ^ "Archives of eREACH". Religious Education Association. 2012-02-06. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  21. ^ "REA Annual Meetings". Religious Education Association. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  22. ^ "Guidelines for presenters at the annual meeting". Religious Education Association. 2014-06-18. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  23. ^ Cully, Iris; et al. (1990). Harper's Encyclopedia of Religious Education. Harper & Row. p. 545 ff.
  24. ^ "Partnerships". American Academy of Religion. Retrieved 11 April 2015.

External links[edit]