Barbara J. McClure

Brite Divinity School educates and inspires people to serve God's diverse world as leaders in churches, the academy, and public life.

image image image


Professor McClure’s interests lie primarily in the meaning of and means toward human flourishing.  She has pursued this question in a variety of contexts including institutions of work, worship and learning, as well as within the context of a counseling practice.  Her driving questions include “What does it mean to be a human being and how do our understandings of that shape our work and life together?” Using theological, social philosophical and psychological resources, she explores the assumptions that ground religious practices–especially those of care or healing–and asks whether they are adequate to the complexity of a deeply social theological anthropology.

Her work includes developing a holistic approach to religious engagement that is grounded in theories of human flourishing, public theologies, and a theological anthropology that respects both the fractured character of human nature and the religious impulse for wholeness and coherence.  Her interests and commitments are deeply informed by her experience of being born and raised for almost twenty years in remote areas of East Africa as the daughter and granddaughter of Presbyterian (PCUSA) missionaries.

Prior to joining the Brite faculty, McClure spent seven years teaching at Vanderbilt University Divinity School. Prior to that, she worked eight years in a private pastoral counseling practice, and five years as a full-time consultant in both for-profit and not-for-profit spheres in organizational and leadership development. She is the author of three books, and a number of articles and book chapters.


Ph.D., Emory University, Atlanta, GA (2003)
M.Div., Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey (1996)
B.A., Houghton College, Houghton, NY (1989)


  • Pastoral Care in a Complex World
  • Transformational Leadership
  • The Person as Leader
  • Historical and Contemporary Perspectives in Pastoral Theology, Care, and Counseling
  • Research Methods in Pastoral Theology
  • Practices of Spiritual Care
  • Theories of Human Development


  • Organizing Life: Generative Institutions, Leadership, and Public Pastoral Theology (forthcoming, Fortress Press, 2023)
  • Emotions: Problems and Promise for Human Flourishing (Baylor University Press, 2019).
  • Moving Beyond Individualism in Pastoral Theology, Care and Counseling: Reflections on Theory, Theology and Practice (Wipf & Stock/Cascade, 2010 and Lutterworth Press, UK, 2011)

Select Articles

  • “Carrying Home: Theoretical and Theological Reflections on the Politics of Attachment and Belonging,” Pastoral Psychology, Spring, 2021.
  • “Divining the Sacred in the Modern World: Ritual and the Communal Embodiment of Spirit,” Pastoral Psychology, 62(2013): 727-742. Also printed in 2013 Journal of the Institute for the BioCultural Study of Religion
  • “Expanding the Psychological Imagination in Pastoral Theology: Using Novels to Better Underrepresented Persons and Groups," Pastoral Psychology, 60(2011): 323-337.
  • "The Social Construction of Emotions: A New Direction in the Pastoral Work of Healing." Pastoral Psychology, 59(2010): 799-812.
  • “Pastoral Theology as the Art of Paying Attention: Widening the Horizons.” Journal of the International Academy for Practical Theology, 12(2008):189-210.

Select Book Chapters

  • “Introduction to Organizational Competencies in Multi-sector Chaplaincy,” Innovations in Chaplaincy (working title, University of Carolina Press, forthcoming 2021); co-author and co-editor of Section II: Organizational Competencies (with M. M. Thiel, Director of Chaplaincy at Hebrew Senior Life and adjunct, Harvard University Divinity School).
  • “Reason, Passions, and the Right to Vote: How History Got Neuroscience Wrong and Implications for Full Inclusion of the ‘Other,’” in Women with 2020 Vision: Theologians on the Vote (1920), Voice, and Vision of Women, Teresa Jefferson-Snorton and Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner, eds. (Fortress Press, 2020)
  • "Pastoral Care" in Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Practical Theology, Bonnie Miller-McLemore, ed., pp. 269-278 (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2011).
  • "Women, Professional Work and Diversity: Pastoral Theology in the Midst of Globalization" in Women Out of Order: Risking Change and Creating Care in a Multi-Cultural World, J. S. Moessner and T. Snorton, eds., pp. 270-289 (Fortress Press, 2009).

Sample Presentations

  • “Pastoral Thriving,” week-long workshop for clergy, Brite Divinity School
  • “Women with 2020 Vision: Boston and the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage,” American Academy of Religion (AAR), Law, Religion and Culture section
  • “Communal Suffering and Sources of Hope,” day-long workshop for clergy and lay leaders, Brite Divinity School
  • “Philosophical and Religious Historical Perspectives on ‘Happiness’” for Come On, Get Happy series (Texas Christian University)
  • “Helping Teens Discuss Their Feelings About the Global Pandemic,” (sponsored by Reach Beyond Mission, Austin, TX)
  • “Troubling Home: Psychological Etiologies and Political Challenges,” New Directions in Dynamic Psychology and Pastoral Theology Annual Conference
  • “The Challenges of Spiritual Conversations in Social Work,” National Association for Social Workers, Annual Meeting
  • “Caring for the Caregiver: How to Empower Chaplains for Their Needs in Organizations,” Chaplaincy Innovation Lab, Brandeis University
  • “Social Work and Spiritual Care: A Professional Challenge,” Harris School for Social Work, Texas Christian University

Professional Affiliations

The American Academy of Religion
International Association of Practical Theology
Society for Pastoral Theology
The Association of Practical Theology
The American Association of Pastoral Counselors/ The Association for Clinical Pastoral Educators