L. Edward Phillips

Associate Professor of Historical Theology and Christian Worship
L. Edward Phillips
Phone: 404.727.1257
    • PhD, University of Notre Dame, 1992
    • MDiv, Emory University, 1979
    • BS, University of Tennessee at Martin, 1976

    The Rev. Dr. L. Edward Phillips serves as associate professor of historical theology and Christian worship at Candler, and also teaches in Emory’s Graduate Division of Religion. Prior to his arrival in 2008, he taught at Duke Divinity School, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, and Union College.

    His research interests include the practical and pastoral aspects of the historical church—how the church conducted worship, initiated Christians, and organized ministries—as a way to understand the development of Christian theology and practice for the present. The author of numerous articles, book reviews and books, Phillips is currently working on a book on the development of contemporary patterns of worship in the United States. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Phillips co-convened the Ecumenical Consultation on Protocols for Worship, Fellowship, and Sacraments to provide recommendations for safe practices for churches during the pandemic. The group published two sets of guidelines in English and Spanish: “Resuming Care-filled Worship and Sacramental Life During a Pandemic” in June 2020 and “Care-filled Worship and Sacramental Life in a Lingering Pandemic” in June 2021.

    From 2001-2004, Phillips served as chair of the Holy Communion Study Committee for the General Conference of The United Methodist Church. In his role as chair, Phillips traveled extensively, meeting with Methodists throughout the United States, Europe, and Africa. In 2009, Phillips was invited to participate in the Roman Catholic-United Methodist dialogue on the Eucharist, sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and The United Methodist Church. Since 2016, he has served as the chair of the UMC-ELCA Coordinating Committee.

    A sought-after lecturer, Phillips is a member of several academic associations, including the American Academy of Religion, the Society of Biblical Literature, the North American Academy of Liturgy, and Societas Liturgica.

    His work has been supported by grants from the Mellon Foundation, the James Still Fellowship, and the Louisville Institute Sabbatical Grant for Researchers. 

    Phillips is an ordained elder in the Memphis Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.

    Selected publications

    • Faculty Publication
    • Faculty Publication
    • Faculty Publication


    The Purpose, Pattern, and Character of Worship, Abingdon Press, 2020

    Co-author,Baptism: Understanding God's Gift, Discipleship Resources, 2012

    Co-editor,Courage to Bear Witness: Essays in Honor of Gene Davenport, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2009

    Co-author,In Spirit and Truth: United Methodist Worship for the Emerging Church, Second Edition, OSL Publications, 2006

    Co-editor,Studia Liturgica Diversa: Studies in Honor of Paul Bradshaw, Pastoral Press, 2004

    Co-author,The Apostolic Tradition: A Commentary, in the Hermeneia Commentary Series, Augsburg Fortress, 2002

    The Ritual Kiss in Early Christian Worship, Grove Books Limited, 1996

    Co-author,Your Ministry of Leading Prayer, Discipleship Resources, 1992

    Chapters and Articles

    “Liturgy as Performative Interpretation,” The Oxford Handbook of Interpretation, Oxford University Press, 2019

    “Early Christian Prayer,” The Oxford Handbook of Interpretation Oxford University Press, 2019

    "Pentecostal Worship: Introduction," Liturgy, vol. 33, issue3, Taylor & Francis, May 07, 2018

    Same-Sex Marriage, Just War, and the Social Principles: Grappling with the Incompatible, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, November 17, 2017

    "Eucharist and the Meaning of Ordinary Food," Liturgy, Taylor & Francis, February 23, 2017

    "Prayer in the Church from 100 to 400 C.E.," A History of Prayer: From the Early Church to the Reformation, Brill, 2008

    "Homosexual Unions and the Social Principles: Blessing the Incompatible?" The Loyal Opposition: Resisting the Church on Homosexuality, Abingdon Press, February 01, 2000

    Selected awards

    Louisville Institute Sabbatical Grant for Researchers, 2011-2012

    Seminar in Christian Scholarship, "From Worldview to Worship: The Liturgical Turn in Cultural Theory," Calvin College

    Mellon Fellowship for a research project titled "A Commentary on the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus," Duke University

    James Still Fellowship for a research project involving the translation of the Sahidic Coptic version of the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus, University of Kentucky

    Marietta Daily Journal via Yahoo!, "Mt. Bethel leadership: Bishop dragging heels on disaffiliation in order to seize assets" (September 15, 2021)

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "North Georgia UMC Conference files complaint against Mt. Bethel in court" (September 9, 2021)

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Delta variant puts many Atlanta-area religious leaders in a quandary" (September 5, 2021)

    Religious News Service, "Back-to-school time influences congregations’ decisions on masking and meeting" (August 16, 2021)

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Atlanta church requiring proof of vaccination to worship in person" (August 12, 2021)

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "North Georgia Conference seizes assets of Mt. Bethel UMC in east Cobb" (July 13, 2021)

    Religion News Service, "Keep COVID-19 restrictions during in-person worship, ecumenical guide suggests" (June 8, 2021)

    The San Diego Union-Tribune, Commentary: The latest Worship War: obey or disobey public health orders? (August 30, 2020)

    reopeningthechurch.com, "Bringing Theology into the Reopening Discussion: Interview with Dr. L. Edward Phillips on a Resource that Helps Churches Think Through Liturgy and Sacraments" (July 6, 2020)

    “Say ‘No’ to Hate,” – Creative Loafing, August 30, 2018

    Phillips’s work as co-chair of the UMC-ELCA Ecumenical Coordinating Committee: "Confessing our Faith Together: Living and Growing into Full Communion"

    Retreat at Mohican State Park, Perryville, Ohio, October 22 – 27, 2019

    Service of Word and Table, Cannon Chapel, September 19, 2017

    Service of Word and Table, Cannon Chapel, September 20, 2016

    Service of Word and Table, Cannon Chapel, November 4, 2014

    "O Come, Emmanuel: The Sundays in Advent" - Candler Practical Ministry Webinars, October 2, 2013

    "The Eucharist and Cosmic Powers in Early Christian Worship" - Wheaton College, October 20, 2011

    Selected courses

    Christian Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and Renewal

    Contemporary Christian Worship: Origins, Theory, Practice

    Early Christian Worship

    Formation and Witness I: Cultivating Church

    Public Worship