Spiritual formation

Pastoral presence as disruption of shame : the experience of engaging and equipping communities of faith in Bangkok with practices of transformative discipleship

Rawee Bunupuradah
The dissertation explores dynamics of spiritual transformation through the practice of discipleship and pastoral care. Intersecting multi-disciplinary sources of theology, psychology, and neuroscience. The work proposes, tests, and records observations in developing a practice to lead people into transformation through relationship with God and within their faith community.

I find that the process of transformation is a holistic process of cultivating mind, heart, and body, which form a holistic faith. The Trinitarian doctrine of perichoresis helps us see the potential of transformation with loving community. I also discover the enemy of such transformation is shame. I define shame and its effects of disconnection with God and community. A workshop was developed to engage leaders within a context of community with these findings. The results in the form of pastoral encounters are recorded.

The work provides leaders with theology, practices, and case studies to facilitate spiritual transformation with a focus on engaging individual’s heart and story. Working with a diaspora urban faith community, I wonder if its application would benefit other contexts of culture, church, or ministry.

Overall, the work has helped me discover how to disrupt the effects of shame and lead others into healthier relationship with God and with their community of faith. My hope is that this work would equip leaders to make disciples and build community that reflects the love of God for the world.

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.


Philomena Ofori-Nipaah D.Min.
This research examines how a Reformed understanding of prayer can be enriched by the use of the Prayer of Nehemiah and the Lord’s Prayer. The project demonstrates that a better-informed theology of prayer results in a deepening of the spiritual practices of clergy and church leaders, allowing them to slow down and be involved in a faithful and sustained discipline. This helps them develop a deeper relationship with God. The results are established by a comparison of participants’ surveys taken before, during, and after they have practiced different prayer rules and through the interviews I conducted with the participants.

Educación teológica Pentecostal y su impacto en la iglesia local, en el contexto de la Iglesia de Dios de la Profecía en Chile

Sergio Cedeño González
This thesis analyzes the impact of Pentecostal theological education in the local church and the community, in terms of the fulfillment of the church's mission. This work focuses on the context of the educational programs of theological formation of the Church of God of Prophecy in Chile. The purpose was to verify how the local churches have been impacted by the Pentecostal theological formation programs and to find out if the pastors and members who participate in these programs have developed in terms of their spiritual life, preparation to serve and commitment to the local church and its mission. And at the same time to evaluate if the curriculum responds to the needs of the local church and the context where they develop the mission.

In order to achieve this purpose, I used documents and reports related to this topic, and interviews with actors involved in these formation processes. Secondly, I used the survey methodology, directed to about 60 students (30 pastors and 30 members), which allowed us to have a representative sample of the population to be studied.

I came to the conclusion that the majority of the students surveyed have experienced progress in their spiritual development and commitment to the local church where they serve, however a smaller percentage, but no less important, understands that important changes are needed in the approach of the curriculum.

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.

Seeing and believing : using visual art in spiritual formation in the local congregation

Philip G Schairbaum
The purpose of this project is to explore how visual art can help individuals and local congregations move in some new directions as they seek to reclaim the essence of their calling--namely, the life-long process of growth toward the fullness of Christ.

Part One is a general inquiry into the place of aesthetics in the Christian life. Its conclusion is that art is a gift which God has given to humankind in order to glorify God and to refresh and strengthen the Christian life. A case is made that we are called to seek out and involve ourselves with works of art as they inform us theologically, enrich us spiritually, and serve as channels through which God may speak.

Part Two addresses how spiritual formation takes place in individuals and congregations. The work of Urban T. Holmes and Corrine Ware is used as a foundation for identifying different types of spirituality and for exploring how visual art can assist people in their spiritual journeys. The spiritual discipline of "Lectio Divina" is re-defined and re-interpreted as "Visio Divina" for use with visual art.

Part Three is a presentation and analysis of actual experiences individuals and the congregation at large in Charlevoix have had using visual art in religious education, corporate worship, personal prayer, and outreach--categories that parallel the spiritual components of Holmes' Circle of Sensibility. Some examples are offered as to how visual art has been used to enhance spiritual formation in the First Congregational UCC in Charlevoix.

This project gives evidence that utilizing visual art in more intentional ways will not only bring a renewed sense of spiritual vitality to those individuals who engage it directly, but can move whole congregations through its power to awaken, inform, illuminate, and deepen our life in the Spirit.

Good news offered anew

Peter Van Elderen
This project is designed to articulate a theory of communication for preaching and teaching which will take into account the formidable changes in communication which have occurred in the last thirty years. This is an exploration of the preaching and teaching event especially as it applies to passing on the doctrines of the church using the Heidelberg Catechism. Particular study is directed toward contemporary thought in business, homiletics, and education as they impact content and style of communication in preaching and teaching in the church.

This project demonstrates that technological changes in a post industrial society do not deter the Gospel from being preached and taught in reasoned passionate testimony apprehendable to all who will listen. This project also reveals that the Bible is not without resource for changes in style of communication, but rather continues to offer a message applicable and critical for both life and death in contemporary society.

Living with God in our culture : a manual for directors facilitating an Ignatian group retreat

Philip A Shangraw
Living with God in Our Culture: A Manual for Directors Facilitating an lgnatian Group Retreat is a practical and creative guide to directing an eight day, values clarifying retreat based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

The manual succinctly illustrates the interplay of values, culture, and spirituality for contemporary Americans using clear, pointed examples. This blend grounds the author' s basic assumption : values determine what people notice and influence their spirituality.

The principles of Ignatian spirituality-awareness, intelligence, reasonableness, responsibility, and love-as postulated by Bernard Lonergan, S.J., and five basic Lucan values-dependence on God, compassion , inclusiveness, right use of possessions and nonviolence-are highlighted in the manuscript and provide a manageble retreat framework for both director and retreatants.

The manual includes prayer exercises, guidelines for the discernment of spirits from a cultural context, practical suggestions for preparing and directing the retreat, and examples from the experience of retreatants.

Ignatian spirituality in a Presbyterian context : a suggested Presbyterian use of the Ignatian method of spiritual exercises

Gerard John Vanden Bylaard
This project is the product feelings of restlessness while Presbyterian Church in Canada.
of my response to deep ministering within the Something essential to my pastoral and theological work seemed to be missing. One day, while visiting the local library, I came upon John Sanford's helpful book entitled The Kingdom Within. In this volume, the author stresses the need to "journey inward", that is, to listen to· the "inner voice" of the unconscious. Here the work of the Holy Spirit may be experienced as a gentle· prodding toward growth and wholeness, a wholeness such as is perfectly seen in Jesus Christ. Here there may be found a whole realm often denied by the proponents of a more materialistic and scientific view of life.

Within modern times, Sanford points out, "the importance of humankind's inner world has been lost." But the early church always held that humankind's "conscious life was immersed in a sea of spiritual reality." The discovery of the unconscious, Sanford holds, has challenged the materialistic view of humankind and its negation of the New Testament.

Spiritual growth through journal writing as a therapeutic intervention with victims of post-traumatic stress disorder

Donald A Amidon
This book describes the use of Intensive Journal Writing as a spiritual development mechanism for Vietnam War combat veterans who are Post-traumatic Stress Disorder victims.

Chapter One describes the trauma of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and addresses the therapeutic task of healing.

Chapter Two presents a description of the physiological and psychological effects of stress. Effective coping mechanisms and stress management techniques are evaluated.

Chapter Three reviews the biblical concept of prayer and the implications of spiritual development for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder victims. Attention is drawn to the response of God to prayers of petition.

Chapter Four reviews theological perspectives which pertain to Intensive Journal Writing as a psychological and spiritual development resource. As the revealed activity of God becomes the work of redemption, healing activity is defined.

Chapter Five presents the Intensive Journal Writing technique of Ira Progoff. The use of this Journal Writing system as a part of a Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Rehabilitation Program is described. Special consideration is given to the spiritual dimension of journal development.

Chapter Six demonstrates that Intensive Journal Writing is a productive means of spiritual development. The deepening character of Journal Writing is described as a method of stress reduction, spiritual development and healing.
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