Our History

The Academy of Religious Leadership developed as a response to the need for professors of leadership, administration, and finance to have venue for a multi-disciplinary conversation. Lilly Endowment grants received by Scott Cormode from 1998-2006 facilitated the support and development of this conversation.

The Journal of Religious Leadership was inaugurated in 2002, with Craig Van Gelder as the first editor. This peer-reviewed journal is a place for scholarly conversation that is applicable to church and non-profit leadership contexts.

The Academy of Religious Leadership was established as a professional guild in 2004, building on the dedication and entrepreneurial efforts of the early conversation partners. These early years not only set the direction for ARL’s vision but also embedded a unique form of collegiality within the organization, as it seeks to embody and practice of this interdisciplinary work, value diverse gifts and voices, and mentor new scholars, teachers, and practitioners in this emerging field.

As higher education, particularly in the United States, faces an uncertain future with many seminaries cutting their leadership programs, the ARL offers a generative space for academically-inclined practitioners and practitioner-inclined academics to think together about the formation of religious leaders to effectively engage their diverse contexts.