Church and community

FOOD, FAITH, AND FILM: Cultivating a spirituality of Hospitality in a Presbyterian Congregation.

Robert Elliot Martin D.Min.
Welcoming strangers into a home and offering them food, shelter, and protection were historically key components in the practice of hospitality. Many consider the church to be a home. How do we extend welcome and hospitality to those in our context? In this paper, I link the power of storytelling in film to developing a theology of hospitality. To share meals with strangers is one of the most powerful and practical things we can do to help the church shape a more just and hospitable spirituality. Through film, the study of scripture, prayer practices, and table discussions, can we link our present and future faith practices to a theology of hospitality? A final analysis will allow us to begin clarifying what effective and transformative practices of hospitality in the name of Christ looks like.


Carolyn Fenner Moss D.Min.
This Doctor of Ministry project explores the relationship between Christian community and new technologies in the context of a small, rural, family based Presbyterian congregation. The COVID-19 pandemic introduced technology usage to Slippery Rock Presbyterian Church. This paper describes the demographic, economic and historical context of the congregation. Then, it explores definitions of Christian community, with an emphasis on boundaries that shape Christian communities. It continues considering Old and New Testament Scriptures as they relate to community formation. Finally, the paper presents a project that examined the potential formation of Christian community using a devotional study presented on a Facebook group during Advent 2021.

Anglos and Hispanics working together : an expression of the biblical vision of the church

John C Hutt
Because of the tremendous changes that are occurring specifically in Holland, Michigan, and in the U.S.A. in general with the continued growth and immigration of Hispanics, it is the intent of this project to look at ways that Anglos and Hispanics can work together most effectively in order to minister to this changing and integrated community. This is accomplished by examining Roman Catholic and Protestant attempts at Hispanic ministry in the U.S.A. in the past; by looking at the Biblical vision for a multiethnic church; and, finally, by showing what approach(es) would be necessary for an effective bicultural and bilingual ministry between Fourteenth street and Iglesia Hispana Christian Reformed Churches in Holland, Michigan.

Chapter one shows the changes taking place in our society and describes the characteristics of the Hispanics who are changing the fabric of our society by presenting the demographics of the Hispanics in the U.S.A in general, and, more specifically, in Holland, Michigan.

Chapter Two discusses an historical overview of the attempts by the Roman catholic and the Protestant Churches to minister to the Hispanics in the U.S.A.

Chapter Three attempts to argue for the multiethnic nature of the Christian Church as it is described by Saint Paul in his epistle to the Ephesians.

Chapter Four provides a brief history and description of the respective ministries at Fourteenth street and Iglesia Hispana Christian Reformed Churches in Holland, Michigan.

Chapter Five describes two different approaches that can be used for bilingual and bicultural ministries, namely, multiethnic and multicongregational.

The conclusion attempts to describe how these two different approaches can be applied in a bilingual and bicultural ministry between Fourteenth Street and Iglesia Hispana Christian Reformed Churches in Holland, Michigan.

Welcoming People With Serious Mental Illness Into the Body of Christ

Robert Alan Renix D.Min.
This project’s purpose was to enhance clergy and the church’s ability to welcome people with serious mental illness into the body of Christ. My contexts were Saint Elizabeths Hospital and Inner Light Ministries UCC. I developed a seminar to teach Inner Light clergy about mental illness through a seminar. I explored how to merge their clerical skills as resources for welcoming people with serious mental illness into the church. A project goal was also to increase their confident competence in assisting people with serious mental illness.

Clergy are, most often, the first people sought out, by the churched and not so churched, for support and guidance when mental illness inserts itself into their lives. Clergy are called upon to help make meaning of the uncertainties surrounding mental illness disorders. Because others look to clergy for understanding, clergy have to become aware and confident with applying their skills to care for people with serious mental illness. Clergy do not need to attain a clinical level of confidence; instead, they must achieve the confident competence in their gifts as pastors, priest, chaplains, pastoral counselors, and leaders of faith.

What we can do as clergy and the church is reexamine our skills. We have been trained to care for parishioners through biblical interpretation, bible study, and the sacraments. Clergy and the church value hospitality and meals. Observing who is not at Christ’s table and inviting them back home to God’s community will ensure the feast includes people living with serious mental illness.

Idolatry, the powers, and cultural formation

Travis D. Else

My ministry project is comprised of a literature review and Appreciative Inquiry qualitative study at First Reformed Church to explore the practices and skills needed to live against idolatry and toward faithfulness.

The thesis of my ministry project is that we are surrounded by idols in our communities and in the local church, and must find ways of developing patterns of resistance against the powers that entice us into idolatry. The purpose of my project is to identify practices that will equip and empower the church to resist idolatry and live in faithfulness toward God. The findings of my project will amplify how Christian worship and mission, fueled by Holy Spirit power, are a vital means by which patterns of faithfulness are cultivated and resistance to idolatry and the powers are developed.

A School- and Community-Based Strategy for Chronic Absenteeism at W. S. Neal Elementary School in East Brewton, Alabama

Eric T Andrews
The purpose of this project was to develop a school- and community-based strategy to reduce chronic absenteeism among kindergarten and first-grade students at W. S. Neal Elementary School. The project director analyzed internal and external demographic data. The faculty and staff members were surveyed on the school culture. The kindergarten and first-grade students’ parents were surveyed on the school safety, culture, and climate to determine the potential barriers for chronic absenteeism in kindergarten and first-grade students. The project director also explored existing strategic models to determine best practices on chronic absenteeism for kindergarten and first-grade students. The project director developed a school and community-based strategy to address chronic absenteeism in kindergarten and first-grade students and presented the strategy to an existing Attendance Management Team (AMT) and the school-based Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) for approval.

Criteria for the Development of a Small Group Model for the Second Baptist Church Of Macaé

Ivis Costa Fernandes D.Min.
Many churches live in search of the new model of ecclesiastical functioning that will lead them to the proper care of the flock and to growth. Some varied from one model to the next, in an endless search. Others have been frustrated and are disappointed with the possibility of healthy growth. This is the reality of many churches regarding small group models. What will help churches to develop healthy small groups is a comprehensive understanding of the topic, from some essential perspectives.

The objective of the research was to identify criteria that would guide the Second Baptist Church of Macaé to build a new model of small group ministry suited to its reality and needs. The literature review pointed to six hypotheses of guiding criteria. From in-depth interviews with eight pastors and church leaders with strong small-group ministries, the hypotheses were confirmed.

The research concludes with a proposal of procedure for the implementation of the ministry in the church, as well as suggestions of themes for future studies, which can help in the deepening of practical questions of the research.

Los Factores que Ayudan a los Pastores Inmigrantes de Habla Hispana a Desarrollar un Ministerio Efectivo en Iglesias Hispanas en Los Ángeles

William Germán Cárcamo Ramos D.Min.
El tema de esta investigación es dar a conocer cuáles son los factores que ayudan a los pastores inmigrantes de habla hispana a desarrollar un ministerio efectivo en iglesias hispanas en Los Ángeles. Porque existe una cantidad de iglesias con pastores que están luchando día a día, para expandir el reino de Dios, y en su intento encuentran obstáculos, barreras de toda índole que surgen y afectan al pastor en su intento de avanzar.

La diversa representación cultural es un factor que existe en las congregaciones de Los Ángeles California que confronta el buscar modelos de superación, de ser efectivos, de hacer una labor Digna de Dios. En esta última década, pareciera que existe una confusión en el papel pastoral. Se observa una conducta mercantilista, por un lado, y por el otro, una posición religiosa sin fundamento.

Las propuestas de esta tesis se basarán en los resultados de una investigación realizada a pastores hispanos, que han estado en el campo de acción por muchos años, y atraviesan diversas problemáticas que no han sido visibilizadas y atendidas. El modelo a seguir será constructivo en base a una amplia investigación documental y de campo.

En esta tesis, el lector encontrará cuatro respuestas que ayuden al pastor a ser efectivo en su ministerio. Los factores mencionados son: 1) El pastor debe integrarse favorablemente a la diversidad cultural hispana de Los Ángeles California. 2) El pastor hispano debe tener un acompañamiento espiritual de otros pastores. 3) El pastor hispano debe aprovechar las oportunidades educativas para su superación. 4) El pastor hispano debe desarrollar nuevas capacidades pastorales ajustadas a la cultura de la iglesia hispana de Los Ángeles.

An Evaluation of the Community Foundations Curriculum for Enhancing Interpersonal Relationships Among Church-Based Small Group Participants

Sten-Erik Armitage D.Min.
The purpose of this applied research project is to evaluate the Community Foundations curriculum in the context of the local church as a potential means to address the problems that emerge in the church through the foundation of the unscriptural societal value of individualism and the subsequent epidemic of loneliness. The project seeks to determine the overall effectiveness of the curriculum in three key areas: grounding the community in understanding the significance of what it is to be “in Christ,” providing opportunities for small groups to cultivate a desire to both know and be known within the context of a trusted community, and finally to cultivate an environment wherein a burden of care is embraced and felt within said community.

The research centers on qualitative interviews with participants in the Beta launch of the Community Foundations curriculum. The Beta launch occurred between Spring 2018 and Fall 2019. Three hypotheses geared around the key areas addressed above are presented and evaluated through the content of the recorded interviews.

The research results indicate deeper and more sustainable relationships were cultivated through these small group experiences as well as a new appreciation for the value of shared story in the context of community.

Know their suffering : facilitating a deeper understanding for the local church of the plight of the working poor

Weatherly Overall Weatherly
"Many middle-class church members are devoted to acts of mission. Despite good intentions they suffer from insufficient poverty intellect for understanding the circumstances of those they serve. This project encourages a deeper understanding of the working poor, thus increasing the practical and relational efficiency of outreach. A six-week small group experience combines biblical, theological, and Wesleyan foundations, with emerging trends and efforts to increase the awareness and knowledge necessary to have more authentic relationships with those in poverty. The results are that greater poverty intellect can reduce inaccurate assumptions and increase the depth of mutual understanding and engaged interaction between the classes." -- Leaf [2].
Subscribe to Church and community