The Book

Originally published in 1997, Practicing Our Faith became an important framework and foundation for thinking about faith practices and the wider conversation on spirituality and religious life. The book challenges the common preconception that religion is practiced in narrowly defined ways or confined to certain spaces. The book itself includes a variety of Christian voices discussing twelve faith practices and modeling the way the church is meant to do its work. The collection was compiled and edited by Dorothy Bass, a practical theologian and church historian. It is one of eight volumes in the “Practices of Faith” series, also edited by Bass. Craig Dykstra was also a major contributor and co-wrote sections of the Practicing Our Faith book. Together, Bass and Dykstra led conversations and events about faith practices.

A second edition of Practicing Our Faith, with substantial revisions and reflections on what Bass and Dykstra had learned about practices since 1997, was published in 2010. This second edition was rereleased by Fortress Press in 2019, with a new preface and minor revisions.

The Valparaiso Project

The Valparaiso Project developed resources to help contemporary people live the Christian faith with vitality and integrity in changing times. The Project sponsored seminars, books, conferences, and websites for adults and youth. The Valparaiso Project Grants Program (2000-2006) provided financial support for activities designed to help specific communities nurture a way of life shaped by Christian practices. These grants enabled creative leaders to strengthen teaching, learning, and reflection on Christian practices within the varied contexts where people engage in practices.

Dorothy C. Bass

Dorothy C. Bass is a practical theologian and church historian who directed the Valparaiso Project on the Education and Formation of People in Faith for 25 years. She is the author of Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time and editor or coeditor of Practicing Our Faith: A Way of Life for a Searching People; Way to Live: Christian Practices for Teens; and On Our Way: Christian Practices for Living a Whole Life. Three additional co-edited or co-written books explore implications of attention to practices for ministry and theological education: Practicing Theology: Beliefs and Practices in Christian Life; For Life Abundant: Practical Theology, Theological Education, and Christian Ministry; and Christian Practical Wisdom: What It Is, Why It Matters. 

John August Swanson
"Festival of Lights" by John August Swanson, which serves as the cover of the "Practicing Our Faith" book. Used here with permission.

With her husband, Mark R. Schwehn, Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Valparaiso University, she edited Leading Lives That Matter: What We Should Do and Who We Should Be, second edition (Eerdmans, 2020), an anthology of contemporary and classical texts — including fiction, autobiography, and philosophy — that offers challenge and insight for those reflecting on what to do with their lives. Bass is also the author of Stepmother: Redeeming a Disdained Vocation (Broadleaf Books, 2022). She is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Learn more about these books and follow Dorothy's other work at www.dorothycbass.com.

Don C. Richter

Richter, a Presbyterian minister, practical theologian, and educator, was Associate Director of the Valparaiso Project from 1999 to 2010. As coeditor of Way To Live, he led the Project’s work with youth and also guided many other Project activities. Richter is the author of Mission Trips That Matter. 

Susan R. Briehl

Briehl, a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, was Project Associate in the Valparaiso Project from 1995 to 2015. As coeditor of On Our Way, she led the Project’s work with emerging adults and also guided other Project activities. Briehl is the co-author of Holden Prayer Around the Cross and the author of several published hymns, prayers, and liturgical texts. 

History of PracticingOurFaith.org

In 2001, the original PracticingOurFaith.org was developed by the Valparaiso Project on the Education and Formation of People in Faith, a project of Lilly Endowment based at Valparaiso University that supported the renewal of Christian theology and life. The Valparaiso Project launched the website as a way to extend the invitation offered in the book Practicing Our Faith: A Way of Life for a Searching People. Both book and website explored twelve time-honored practices shaped by the Christian community over the centuries and still richly relevant to contemporary experience. The site housed a selection of works by writers and leaders on these different types of faith practices, exploring what they could look like in everyday life.

From 2020-22, Lilly Endowment and Leadership Education at Duke Divinity worked to create the new iteration of PracticingOurFaith.org, which seeks to preserve and restore access to the valuable work and reflection that came out of the response to the Practicing Our Faith book, convenings and original site. In this process, the goal has been to retain the original text as much as possible, with minor edits and updates where appropriate.

PracticingOurFaith.org team

The current PracticingOurFaith.org is coordinated by the following staff members:

Dave Odom is executive director of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity. He has extensive experience in teaching, program development and evaluation, staff and adjunct faculty development, and strategic organizational management. He also plays a leadership role in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Emily Lund is director of communications for Leadership Education at Duke Divinity. She manages social media accounts and supports marketing and communications efforts for various offerings. She is a graduate of Duke Divinity.

Jessamyn Rubio is the online content manager for Faith & Leadership. She studied interactive media and visual communication, with a particular focus in telling stories through usable design.