Jennifer R. Ayres

Professor of Religious Education
Jennifer R. Ayres
Phone: 404.727.6329
    • PhD, Emory University, 2007
    • ThM, Union Theological Seminary-PSCE, 2002
    • MDiv, Union Theological Seminary-PSCE, 2000
    • BA, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, 1994

    On research leave for the 2023-24 academic year.

    The Rev. Dr. Jennifer R. Ayres is Associate Professor of Religious Education. Her research interests include religious environmental education, social activism and religious identity, faith formation in the context of popular culture, and feminist practical theology. She is the author of three books: Waiting for a Glacier to Move: Practicing Social Witness (Wipf and Stock, 2011), Good Food: Grounded Practical Theology (Baylor Univ. Press, 2013), and Inhabitance: Ecological Religious Education (Baylor Univ. Press, 2019). Her current research, for which she received a grant from Emory’s University Research Committee, investigates the educational task of cultivating Christian faith that is deeply rooted in our ecological context, with attention to the kinds of religious leaders needed for this work.

    A frequent speaker on topics of faith formation, religion and food, and Christian ecological theology and practice, Ayres also serves on the advisory board of the Green Seminaries Initiative. She is also a member of the Committee on Religious Education in Academic Disciplines and Institutions for the Religious Education Association, and the American Academy of Religion.  

    Over the years, her work has been supported by grants from the Association of Theological Schools Lilly Research Grants, the Louisville Institute, and the American Academy of Religion.

    Ayres is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

    Selected publications

    • Faculty Publication
    • Faculty Publication
    • Faculty Publication


    Inhabitance: Ecological Religious Education, Baylor University Press, 2019

    Good Food: Grounded Practical Theology, Baylor University Press, 2013

    Waiting for a Glacier to Move: Practicing Social Witness, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2011

    Chapters and Articles

    "Memories of Home: Theological Education, Place-Based Pedagogy, and Inhabitance," in Grounding Teaching in the Environmental Humanities: Place-Based Pedagogies in the South, Routledge, 2018

    "Could More Time for Wandering Transform Theological Education?" in Faith and Leadership, June 01, 2017

    "Cultivating the 'Unquiet Heart': Ecology, Education, and Christian Faith," in Theology Today, vol. 74, issue 1, April 12, 2017

    "Liturgy and Food Culture: Introduction," in Liturgy, vol. 32, issue 2, February 23, 2017

    "Learning on the Ground: Ecology, Engagement, and Embodiment," in Teaching Theology and Religion, vol. 17, issue 3, July 01, 2014

    "Lives Worth Living: Religious Education and Social Movements," in Religious Education, vol. 108, issue 4, August 15, 2013

    "Jeremiah 33:14-16," "Malachi 3:1-4," and "Zephaniah 3:14-20," in Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary, Year C, Volume I, Westminster John Knox Press, September 03, 2012

    Selected awards

    The United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry Exemplary Teacher Award, 2022

    The Provost’s Distinguished Teaching Award for Excellence in Graduate and Professional Education, 2022

    The Vulcan Materials Company Teaching Excellence Award, 2021

    The United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry Exemplary Teacher Award, 2021

    President's Humanities Fellow, Bill and Carol Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry, Emory University, 2017-2018

    The Louisville Institute Collaborative Inquiry Research Grant for Cultivating Ecological Faith: Faithful Education and Leadership for Our Time, 2014-2017

    American Academy of Religion Regional Grant for Religion, Place, and Pedagogy: Establishing a Bio-Regional Network of Teacher-Scholars in Religion and Ecology

    Wabash Center Small Project Grant for Religion, Place, and Pedagogy: Establishing a Bio-Regional Network of Teacher-Scholars in Religion and Ecology

    Lilly Theological Research Expense Grant, The Association of Theological Schools

    Accepted into the Wabash Center Workshop for Pre-Tenure Faculty

    Louisville Institute Dissertation Grant

    Emory University Dean's Teaching Fellowship (declined)

    Emory Initiative in Religious Practices and Practical Theology Research and Travel Grant

    Graduate Division of Religion Graduate Fellowship, 2002-2006

    Jennifer Ayres receives top teaching award: 'Exemplary she has been, extraordinarily so' Emory News Center, May 6, 2022

    Service of Word, Cannon Chapel, November 3, 2016

    Service of Word and Table, Cannon Chapel, March 15, 2016

    "Food Insecurity: A Challenge to Faith Communities" - Candler Dean's Lecture with Chad Hale, October 22, 2014

    Service of Word, Cannon Chapel, September 30, 2014

    "Food and Faith: Eating as a Spiritual Practice" - Candler Practical Ministries Webinars, April 24, 2014

    "Discovering a Life: How Working For Social Justice Shapes Christian Life" - Candler Practical Ministry Webinars, February 23, 2013

    Selected courses

    Be(com)ing Christian: Theology, Education, and Public Life

    Becoming a Reflective Practitioner

    Doctor of Ministry Final Project Seminar

    Religious Education and Our Ecological Context

    Religious Education as Formation and Transformation

    The Art of Teaching