Nelson Cowan, Ph.D.

About Me

Rev. Nelson Cowan, Ph.D., is a United Methodist elder (pastor), worship leader, and liturgical theologian. He earned a Ph.D. in Liturgical Studies from Boston University School of Theology in May 2019. Nelson's research agenda focuses on the worship practices of Pentecostal, Evangelical, and Charismatic Christianities in the United States. Disciplinarily, he is a liturgical theologian who utilizes social scientific research methodologies. Nelson's dissertation, "Liturgical Biography as Liturgical Theology: Co-Constructing Theology at Hillsong Church, New York City," draws from extensive oral interview data with two "primary theologians" (i.e. "ordinary worshippers," cf. Kavanagh, Fagerberg, et. al) from Hillsong Church in New York City. Placing these theologians' voices as primary throughout the dissertation, he argues for a descriptive turn in liturgical theology, demonstrating this liturgical-theological description through the biographies and according liturgical theologies. Currently, Nelson is the Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church in High Springs, FL, and teaches for the United Methodist Course of Study Program based out of Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

Current Projects

  • "The Paraliturgical Phenomenon of Charismatic 'Treasure Hunts': Popular Worship "from below" at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry" (paper presentation in process)
  • "Secondary Liturgical Theology from Hillsong Church: An Exploration of Primary Sources" (journal article in process)
  • Liturgical Biography as Liturgical Theology: A Descriptive Methodological Proposal (working title, forthcoming manuscript submission)


Teaching Competencies

Christian Worship (Ecumenically-oriented or United Methodist-specific), Liturgical Theology, Sacramental Theology, Preaching, The History of Christianity, United Methodist History, Doctrine, and Polity.


Research Interests

Liturgical Theology and Hermeneutics, Pentecostal-Evangelical-Charismatic Movements, Contemporary Worship, Intersectional Theology

Curriculum Vitae

NCowan CV - July 2019.pdf