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Elaine Elizabeth Belz.jpg

Elaine Elizabeth Belz, PhD

Assistant Professor of Theology

Dr. Elaine E. Belz grew up in rural Michigan, but only ever felt fully at home in Detroit. She earned her BA at the University of Michigan with a dual concentration in Philosophy and Communication. After some years in the workforce, she decided to return to school to study theology, and audited classes at ETS (prior to accreditation). She completed her MA in Systematic and Philosophical Theology through Church Divinity School of the Pacific at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU), Berkeley, CA, writing a thesis on the topic of soteriology.


While in the master's program at GTU, she was introduced to the field of Theological Aesthetics, which became the focus of her doctoral studies. Weaving together disciplines such as theology, philosophical aesthetics, art history, photography, the built environment, and Detroit history she focused her dissertation on photography of urban ruins, seeking a "middle way" in the debate over whether such images constitute art or "ruin porn." She received her PhD from the Graduate Theological Union in 2020.


Dr. Belz has been teaching at ETS since the fall of 2017. She teaches Theology in both the Master's and UMD programs and Church History at the Master's level. She has also taught the elective, "Salvation in Christian Experience," and the workshop, "Worship with the Senses." Her academic interests include liturgical aesthetics; space and place; and theological aesthetics, with a focus on decay.


Dr. Belz is deeply involved in the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan and in her church, where she has served on various committees, is a docent, and sings in the choir. While in graduate school, she worked as an Assistant Verger at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, where she also occasionally taught classes, including catechism sessions and a series on theological aesthetics.



"A Wounded Presence: The Virgin of Vladimir Icon," The Graduate Journal of Harvard Divinity School, Spring 2016. Available online at


"Living Beauty," review of Alejandro García-Rivera and Thomas Scirghi, Living Beauty: The Art of Christian Liturgy. Cithara: Essays in the Judeo-Christian Tradition, Vol. 51, No. 1 (Nov. 2011), 66-67.



"A Wounded Presence: The Virgin of Vladimir Icon." Presentation at the conference, Images, Icons, and Idols, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK, January 10, 2015.


"Response to William O'Neill, SJ." Panel presentation at annual meeting of the Society for Art, Religion, and Theological Studies (SARTS), held in conjunction with AAR/SBL in San Francisco, November, 2011.


"The Poet Among Ruins," Paper presented to the Pacific Coast Theological Society, Berkeley, CA, November 5, 2011.



"Habitus," published online in the journal Earth and Altar, December 1, 2021.


"City Centre" and "Kintsugi," published in Call & Response 2: Poets and Artists in Dialogue, Grosse Pointe Congregational Church Arts Ministry, 2018. The book accompanied a gallery show (November 18, 2018 - January 27, 2019) and a live presentation of the works at the close of the exhibition. "City Centre" resulted in a painting by Edward Marsh, "City Centre," and "Kintsugi" was a response to the photograph, "Urbex Fall Colors - no. ii" by Danny Rebb.

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