Nell Becker Sweeden

Nell Becker Sweeden

Assistant Professor of Theology
Richard B. Parker Co-chair of Wesleyan Theology


My passion in research and teaching lies at the intersection between theology and culture. I am enlivened by how the life of the church and theological reflection take shape and are re-appropriated anew in different cultures, times, and spaces.

Of particular interest for my teaching and writing is introducing non-western and two-thirds world perspectives into theological reflections and worldviews. Additionally, I find that themes involving margins, in-between spaces, border crossings, and interdisciplinarity continually come to light in my theological explorations.

A current project of mine is exploring the turn to social consciousness and activism among postdenominational Christians and how Wesleyan theology and the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition can speak into this phenomenon through social responsibility and social holiness.

Pedagogically, I weave in a variety of theological voices, writings from other disciplines, and mediums of communication in my courses. The journey of learning for each student is important to me, and I seek to craft an educational environment that allows space for a variety of learning styles and passions. Additionally, building a community of mutual learning and exploration in the classroom is central to my local, hybrid, and online pedagogy. I find that discovery and questioning are essential parts of learning, as well as encountering new challenges that may confront our worldviews and developing critical reflection.

Academic Background

PhD, Practical Theology, Boston University (2012); MDiv, Nazarene Theological Seminary (2007); BA, Spanish and Philosophy and Theology, Point Loma Nazarene University (2002)

Expertise and Research Interests

Practical Theology; Ecclesiology; John Wesley’s Life and Theology; Global Christianity; Contextual Theologies; Postcolonial, Feminist, and Liberation Theologies

Research Bibliography and Select Presentations

Publications and Presentations

Course Information

CHTH 512 Christian History and Theology II
CHTH 550 Women in Church History
CHTH 552 Essentials of Christian Theology
CHTH 566 Theology in the Wesleyan Tradition
CHTH 562 History of Christian Spirituality and Renewal
DMIN 724 Dynamics of Leadership and Ministry Organizations
SFAD 540 Images of God
SFAD 556 Spirituality and Writing of the Mystics

Outside the Classroom

In coming to Portland, my husband Josh, also a professor of theology at GFES, our son, Elias, and I feel like we are coming home. We try to get outside as much as possible—hiking, biking, running, camping, and gardening. Josh and I also enjoy a good basketball game and may be known to play one-on-one to decide who takes which courses. I also enjoy traveling and learning about new cultural practices and ways of life. A large part of my ecclesial and theological formation has been shaped by my involvement in church-based international development through Nazarene Compassionate Ministries.

Follow @gfes