Rooted and reaching : liturgically formed for mission

Miriam A. Barnes
This is a project about Second Reformed Church in Zeeland, Michigan at the intersection of missiology, ecclesiology, and leadership—the three main subjects of the cohort, Leading with God Ahead of Us. This project explores the liturgy of Second Church as a dynamic influence on the church in mission. The rhythms of our weekly Sunday morning liturgy are formative for the people of Second Reformed Church. Not only are people rooted and grounded in God’s presence through Word and Sacrament, but they are also sent out from worship to engage specific places in God’s world using their gifts and passions to serve others.

The practice of ethnography reveals the ways the liturgy challenges, confirms, and inspires the people of Second Church to engage in mission. The liturgy of Second Reformed Church provides a framework for that service and engagement, whether at home, work, serving on a non-profit board, direct community service, or financial generosity.

The connection between liturgy and mission is not new for Second Reformed Church, yet this focus comes at a critical moment in Second’s story. The building project (completed in 2018) included vision for a different kind of community engagement that we have not yet embraced due to a pastoral crisis followed by a global pandemic. In this season of re-emerging from a global pandemic, Second is poised to explore critical questions around mission. By shaping a house of language around mission, this project demonstrates how liturgy helps Second Church to be “rooted and reaching” in Zeeland and beyond.


Miles Anson Hanbury D.Min.
This project seeks to address the problem of a lack of experiencing the presence of God in church services by exploring the history and theology of God’s presence in worship and constructing a four-week sermon series at Christ Church, Lake Forest, IL aimed at helping people invite, expect, and experience the presence of God in worship. Drawing on data from eighteen research participants, several key lessons were learned about ways church leaders can modify worship services to engage congregants more deeply. Among them are creating quiet space for reflection, giving explicit permission to engage God, and giving various opportunities to engage God.

Introduciendo una liturgia pentecostal comunitaria saludable en la Iglesia de Dios de la Profecía en México

Omar Velázquez Rivera
This thesis titled “Introducing a Communal Healthy Pentecostal Liturgy in the Church of God of Prophecy in Mexico” is an effort to respond proactively to one of prevailing challenges facing the Church of God of Prophecy in Mexico today. The challenge is the loss of membership due to either emigration to other movements and denominations or opting to not to be a part of any local church body. Thus, as part of the Pentecostal movement, the Church of God of Prophecy in Mexico finds itself in a paradoxical situation in that at this moment it is experiencing tremendous growth while at the same time losing its membership. It is within this paradox that the research strives to under-stand the reasons for said exodus.

This project seeks to help reclaim the Pentecostal worship service as the true work of the people, reconciling ancient liturgical practices with the contemporary movement of spiritual renovation, demonstrating that these two are not opposed, but strengthened by one another. Thus, there are many implications of this research. It is the intention of this research to collaborate in the deprivatization of the worship service and place it in the hands of the community of believers. Even though the research focuses on the interests of the COGOP in Mexico, it is also its intent to deconstruct the Pentecostal worship service in general, helping it to eradicate harmful practices that drive away believers. A liturgy which integrates ancient liturgical elements with the Pentecostal movement was proposed and practiced by a typical Pentecostal congregation in Mexico City as a case study. The researcher’s proposal is to offer with this project the preliminary findings of a liturgical renewal in the Church of God of Prophecy in Mexico.

Ritual, transformation and developmental nurture in the church

Michael L Fry
There is a problem in contemporary American culture which introduces us to the process of ritual development in most societies at different points in time. In American history, each cultural group that immigrated to America relinquished some of its cultural differentia in order to become assimilated into the emerging society. In recent generations, there have not been new waves of immigration into America. The larger cultural group has not been able to continue to identify itself in contrast to the incoming groups. As such, it is not just one subgroup of American society facing identity crisis; it is all of American society.

The problem is compounded in that religion in America has become a conservative affair. Religion becomes in authentic when it is not popular and has lost its role as the great equalizer. One of the things religion does for a society is to preserve the rituals of initiation, preservation, and stability for individuals and culture. Any social or psychological crisis may be turned to positive creative use through ritual. These rituals allow for the translation of identity crises into terms of death and rebirth. These rituals empower the enduring of the agony of the crises.
And, the endurance itself becomes the basis of the social and moral structure of society.

Worship as public truth : toward a liturgical-missional ecclesiology for evangelical congregational leaders

Anthony James Stiff

This Final Project is focused on helping Evangelical congregational leaders move toward embracing a liturgical-missional ecclesiology. I contend that many Evangelicals have embraced only part of what it means to be missional. They are missing one of the essential practices of Lesslie Newbigin’s original vision of missional ecclesiology, the practice of liturgical worship. In order to help Evangelical congregational leaders embrace liturgy I have chosen to draw heavily upon the practical theology method of Richard Osmer. Osmer uses four tasks in his approach to practical theology, which can be arranged in a variety of ways. I begin with the interpretive task, then I move to the normative task, then I move to the descriptive-empirical task, and I conclude with the pragmatic task. In the interpretive task I explore theories from social sciences that argue that human identity is shaped through corporate narratives. I make the observation that corporate narratives can have a liturgical quality to them. In the normative task I explore concepts from Scripture and church history that can encourage Evangelicals to embrace a liturgical-missional ecclesiology. To do this I look at Paul’s narrative ethics in Philippians 2:5-11 and at Lesslie Newbigin’s reflections on liturgy and mission. I also offer some ‘good practices’ that have come out of liturgical-missional conversations in North America. In the descriptive-empirical task I use the case study method to explore the practices of four different Evangelical churches that have embraced liturgical-missional ecclesiology. Finally, in the pragmatic task I offer Evangelical congregational leaders a tool (a guidebook) to facilitate critical reflection on the missiological value of worship. In the preface and postscript I place this project into critical dialogue with the wider question of Lesslie Newbigin’s continuing legacy for the western church.

Development and Evaluation of a Program Related to the Liturgy of the Assembly Of God in Vila Velha, Brazil

Cidrac Ferreira Fontes D.Min.
The liturgy of a local church has a strong relationship with its identity. It is a fact that every church has a liturgy, and each worship service is liturgical, some more formal and others informal. Throughout a twenty-year pastorate in the same church, the researcher has noticed weaknesses with respect to the liturgy, and aspects of worship service (Commitment, reverence and participation).

The first objective of this research was to evaluate the level of understanding that believers in the Assembly of God Brazil have about liturgy and corporate worship. Another objective of the research was to develop a program related to improvement of various aspects of liturgy and corporate worship.

The literature review provided the necessary information for a better understanding of the meaning of liturgy and the value of corporate worship. This information provided the basis of the questionnaire and guided the researcher on the topic of studies during the seminar.

The researcher theorized a qualitative concept for each of the four hypotheses: a) Hypothesis-1: excellent; b) Hypothesis-2: good; c) Hypothesis-3: good; d) Hypothesis-4: excellent.

After conducting the evaluations and the seminar, the researcher identified the following final grades and concepts of qualities for the four hypotheses:
a) Hypotheses-1: Excellent – Final grade (4,5)
b) Hypothesis-2: Regular – Final grade (3,7)
c) Hypothesis-3: Good – Final grade (4,1)
d) Hypothesis-4: Excellent – Final grade (4,64)

Hypotheses 1, 3 and 4 had the result expected by the researcher. The hypotheses 1 and 4 had an excellent result and hypothesis 2 a good result. Although the hypotheses 2 did not obtain expected results, there was development. The statements that have assessed this hypothesis 2, suggested changes in the liturgy of the local church, this is a sensitive and controversial subject. The suggestion is for new evaluations and another seminar to promote changes on this hypothesis.

Liturgical Drama in the Church: an Application of Daily Scriptural Living

Alma Lee Langley-Ward D.Min.
The main purpose of this research was to study the validity of using liturgical drama as a vital tool of expression to help make Scripture come alive for the application and transformation of lives, first of the researcher’s local congregation and eventually of other churches. The researcher wrote and directed a play based on Luke 1:26-35 using members of the Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church as actors and crew. The entire church was a participant of this research as the play was done during a Sunday morning worship service as part of the liturgy. The mixed-method approach presented the most viable pathway for this study and the researcher surveyed a cross-section of the congregation both as actors and audience members. The essential elements considered in using this method involved selecting the Scripture passage; observing the participants during rehearsals to determine their level of understanding of their roles and the motivation for their actions; and administering a survey to measure and analyze the effectiveness of the play in increasing biblical knowledge and inspiring transformation that would produce daily scriptural application. For a more objective case study, the researcher chose those members who presented with a limited understanding of Scripture and were interested in learning through their participation in the play. Rehearsals ran once a week for six weeks with additional rehearsals during the final week. The focus of the observation was on the conduct of the cast from week to week. The researcher assessed each cast member for transformation and changes in behavioral patterns. The findings suggest that using liturgical drama as a model for teaching the Word of God can be an effective teaching tool. The researcher claims that there is still hope of liturgical drama being a key part of the liturgy and worship

Pilgrimage to the pew : re-affirming the hermeneutics of liturgically inspired spiritual transformation

Patricia Ann Robinson Williams
This project seeks to re-affirm the hermeneutics of liturgically-inspired worship preparation among congregants of the Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church. The Senior Pastor's admonition to congregants to prepare spiritually to enter the forthcoming new sanctuary forms the project rationale. Using narrative inquiry methods, the intervention seeks to demonstrate the value of liturgical preparation to sacred space dwelling and spiritual sanctification. The researcher collects and codes narrative responses as intuitive, reflective, contemplative or interpretive and intersects these ideas with spatial, symbolic and sensible aesthetics. Results from these analyses define aesthetically and textually-induced revelations as effective for spiritual transformation.

[Note about entry: Abstract submitted to the Atla RIM database on behalf of the author. The text appears in its entirety as it does in the original abstract page of the author’s project paper. Neither words nor content have been edited.]

Mystagogy: A Mode of Theological Reflection in the Formation of Parish Leadership

Silas Shawn Henderson SDS D.Min.
This thesis-project explores the place and value of mystagogy within a model of comprehensive faith formation and its usefulness for the ongoing formation of parish leadership, particularly in the formation of Roman Catholic catechetical and liturgical leaders. Using Thomas Groome's Shared Christian Praxis and Jane Regan's image of "Communities of Practice" as guides, this thesis-project proposes a view of mystagogical reflection that parish leaders (paid staff members and lay volunteers, with their pastors) could use to develop a vision or plan of ongoing formation, specific to their context, grounded in and inspired by the encounter with Divine Mystery that is at the heart of liturgy.

Educating Calvary Baptist Church, Asheville, NC, on the Value of Following the Christian Year as a Means for Spiritual Renewal Through Worship

Jeffrey C. Hayes
This project introduced the spiritual value of following the Christian year in worship. Through a series of sermons and study lessons that focused on eight major seasons (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Pentecost, and Ordinary Time), participants were exposed to the history and spiritual purpose of each, respectively. Two surveys were administered, along with weekly evaluations, and interviews, to measure the project’s effectiveness. The desired outcome was a greater degree of knowledge and interest in worshipping through the Christian year. According to the final analysis, increased understanding, spiritual growth, and desire to worship through the Christian year did occur.
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