Spiritual direction

"Doing Theology”: A Phenomenological Exploration of Knitting in the Lives of Contemporary Mennonite Women

Gwen Ann Gustafson-Zook
This research project explores the theological meaning in knitting for a small group of contemporary Mennonite women. Using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis, including a five-week focus group (Knitting Circle) and intensive interviews, the study validates knitting as embodied theological practice. This research expands understanding of “doing theology” to include making things as a means of embodied theology, thus adding breadth, balance, and substance to the experience of doing theology. The results of this study promote an understanding of lived theology that celebrates creativity and embodied practice as significant and realistic expressions of faith as well as a means of doing theology.

Embodied Spiritual Practices for Brown and Black Bodies Exploring Sabbath Rest

April Rae Gutierrez
“Embodied Spiritual Practices for Brown and Black Bodies Exploring Sabbath Rest” addresses spiritual formation, discussing an approach to Sabbath Rest for healing and restoration that is countercultural on personal and societal levels. Through a retreat, participants engaged in embodied spiritual practices that promote rest as a tool for spiritual formation and transformation that is rooted in decolonizing theology and spiritual practices. Working in collaboration with The Board of Young Peoples Ministry and the Hispanic /Latino Ministry of the Michigan Conference of the United Methodist Church, the retreat model was reviewed by the committees for use in the work of spiritual formation for Black and Latinx Young Adults. The implementation of this project and retreat shows that culturally relevant spiritual practices that honor Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) stories and spiritual practices may deepen the encounter with God and relationships with participants within the retreat setting.

Weaving Earth and Sky: Small Group Spiritual Direction for Those in Transition from Loss and Caring for Loved Ones

Tina N. Shelton
This project explores the role spiritual disciplines play in the lives of those going through transitions that involve loss or caring for loved ones. This involves inviting God’s presence through spiritual disciplines, learning and relearning strong Biblical characters, and sharing our own narrative stories with one another. Participants at South Elgin Community United Methodist Church took four to six weeks respectively to embark on a healing journey with one another and with God. There was growth and/or healing gained through this project. This growth and/or healing was measured by the new perspectives expressed and the new changes that came forth.

Sermons that are perfect : how does meeting with a spiritual director give completion to those who preach?

Edward Hart Schreur
This project is designed to provide information on how receiving spiritual direction helps an individual prepare sermons that are perfect. Perfection is defined not as a sermon that is free of errors but rather as a sermon that is mature and complete, arising out of awareness and knowledge of God that is received, in part, through the experience of receiving spiritual direction.

Chapter 1 provides an introduction to spiritual direction through offering several definitions and a short history.

Chapter 2 describes my experience of receiving spiritual direction and using that experience as a preaching resource.

Chapter 3 provides an analysis of how the experience of receiving spiritual direction is useful in preaching. I give attention to four areas: 1. Increased awareness of God through spiritual direction that is used as a basis for preaching; 2. Increased awareness of self through spiritual direction that is used in preaching; 3. Anecdotal experiences that occur in spiritual direction that can be used as sermon illustrations; 4. Specific content material that arises in spiritual direction that can be used in sermons.

Chapter 4 provides examples of sermons that integrate the findings.

From contemplation to compassion, from compassion to contemplation : epistles of a fellow traveler on the spiritual journey in post-Vatican II ministry

Michael A Danner
This project-thesis proposes that contemplation and compassion are essential qualities of the ministry and of the life of priests. The era of change in which we live demands a ministry based upon these essential qualities. These elements may well be nurtured by the ministry of a spiritual director. In fact, the responsibility of finding words to express the compassion of God is seen as an essential service to be rendered to priests by spiritual directors. Such service can be provided by the director and received by the directee only in the context of the process of contemplation. Part of the process of this project was the search for an effective method of thoughtfulness and careful, interested dialogue, that is, contemplation. Such in roads into the natures of God and humankind help find words for the right questions and find expression in the compassion modeled by Jesus. Taking the lead of St. Paul, the format of the epistle was chosen. This work consists of twelve letters with directions and questions for creative and resourceful study, application, and additional reading.

The use of Milton Erickson's therapeutic style to correlate pastoral therapy and spiritual direction

Carl R Gillett
This project is intended as a demonstration of how the therapeutic style and techniques of Milton H. Erickson can be utilized in a process of spiritual direction.

Chapter One is devoted to a discussion of the subject/object split as an issue for belief and theology. Both theological and psychological sources are presented to explicate the problem.

Chapter Two presents the work of Milton H. Erickson and sets forth the procedural foundations of his techniques. Some biographical information about Erickson is included.

Chapter Three sets the phenomenon of hypnosis within the context of the Christian religion and demonstrates some affinities between the two as well as noting some antagonisms.

Chapter Four discusses the subject/object split as one of the mind's defenses against the presence of God and introduces the concept of "facades" as functional perimeters of the conscious mind.

Chapter Five offers a model which demonstrates Ericksonian techniques applied to the process of spiritual direction and shows how this helps people to move beyond the facades explained in Chapter Four.

Chapter Six relates Ericksonian approaches to pastoral therapy through a process of spiritual direction to form the basis for a spiritually directive style of pastoral therapy.

The Psychological Impacts of Abortion in Women and a Ministry Model to Develop Restorative Care in the Church Through Biblical Counseling

Jenifer Christine Wakefield D.Ed.Min.
January 22, 1973, opened the door for legally obtaining abortion upon demand. This legal decision allowed women from all levels of society to have abortions. The psychological impacts of abortion touch the local church as four out of ten women who have chosen abortion attend a church. Planned Parenthood [PP], the world’s largest abortion provider—reports 43 percent of all women will experience abortion at least once by forty-five years of age.
The American Psychological Association [APA] denies the existence of psychological distress after abortion. The reader will soon discover the contradictory nature of the 2008 APA report and the stance of the Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion [TFMHA] whether or not abortion causes a negative psychological impact. Through specific research, the project will show that women who choose abortion and experience adverse effects need to be able to turn to the local church, and the local church needs to have trained leaders in restorative care ministries to help post-abortive women. This project will reveal the links between abortion and negative psychological impacts and possible long-term physical and emotional issues. Finally, this project will suggest a ministry training model for leaders in the church through biblical counseling.
Chapter 1 shows the history of abortion and its impacts on women. Chapter 2 contrasts how the world and evangelical church care for post-abortive women. Chapter 3 reveals the results of an anonymous survey of ministry leaders and why a need exists for biblical counseling in the church. Chapter 4 explains why discipleship and biblical counseling are needed for women. Finally, chapter 5 presents a training model on how to help post-abortive women in the church through biblical counseling.

Strategic Planning for Congregational Unity

Garrett J Ho D.Min.
The purpose of this project is to lead a team in establishing a direction for the English Congregation of MBCLA and its leaders. Direction includes the identification of a present location, definition of a future destination, and coordinated effort to progress from the former to the latter. Pastoral staff and key ministry leaders will participate in strategic planning for one month to formulate the church’s mission, clarify its vision, and align its values. Traditionally, an organization’s vision represents its future destination alone. In the context of this project, all three elements are aspirational as they define where the church wants to be. The mission statement explains why the church exists, while the vision statement unites the congregation toward a desired future. Core values describe the character of the church. Subsequently, the definition of these elements will enable staff and ministry leaders to evaluate their current practices in ministry. In the two months that follow, these leaders will make initial efforts to move the church from its present location toward the future destination by focusing on the mission, contributing to the vision, and embodying the values within their ministry responsibilities.

Factores Que Contribuyen a la Integración Entre el Conocimiento Teológico y la Madurez Espiritual en la Vida de la Facultad de Instituciones Teológicas

Elena Vazquez González D.Min.
Los docentes de las instituciones teológicas son personas que poseen el conocimiento teológico y necesitan continuar creciendo en su madurez espiritual.

La tesis central de este proyecto fue investigar cuáles son los factores que contribuyen a la integración entre el conocimiento teológico y la madurez espiritual en la vida de la facultad de instituciones teológicas. Las instituciones teológicas necesitan estar conscientes de la tendencia a la dicotomía entre el conocimiento teológico y la madurez espiritual en las facultades, y ante esta realidad deben buscar cómo implementar los factores que contribuyen a la integración entre ambos.

Este proyecto doctoral, al reconocer la existencia de la dicotomía entre el conocimiento teológico y la madurez espiritual en las instituciones teológicas, planteó la siguiente pregunta de investigación: ¿Qué factores pudieran contribuir a la integración entre el conocimiento teológico y la madurez espiritual en la vida de la facultad de instituciones teológicas? Para responder, se propusieron tres hipótesis acerca de los factores que contribuyen a la integración: (1) el primer factor es que las instituciones teológicas tengan como uno de sus valores institucionales la integración entre el conocimiento teológico y la madurez spiritual dentro de su facultad (2) el segundo factor es que las instituciones teológicas establezcan normas de que sus docentes sean modelo de vida íntegra al Señor (3) y el tercer factor es que las instituciones promuevan que los docentes tengan un mentor espiritual a quien le rindan cuentas

El resultado final de la investigación, el cual se obtuvo por medio de entrevistas fue el adecuado para comprobar la validez de las tres hipótesis.

Wayfinders : engaging the hero's journey in contemplative prayer to enhance the spiritual depth and practice of missional spiritual directors

Wendi A. Bernau
"This project utilized an adaptation of Joseph Campbell's hero's journey as a tool for spiritual development. As persons participate in the process of finding the self, they are embarking on the mystical spiritual journey of awakening, dark night of the soul, and union with the divine. The elements of the project included experimental teaching on the story of Judith and hero's journey as well as time spent in contemplative reflection by each participant. The project took place during retreats of Anam Cara (Soul Friend), the two-year missional spiritual direction training program of the Missional Wisdom Foundation. Participant responses show that indeed the hero's journey framework can provide powerful structure to this self-reflection process and be efficacious in spiritual direction." -- Leaf [2].
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