Spiritual life

Asian Immigrant Women Building Spiritual Resilience Amidst Cultural Loss

Eugenia Wei-Kuen Lai D.Min.
In Asian cultural contexts, women's voices are often neglected, unnoticed, or actively suppressed in church and society. This thesis-project aims to examine the relationship between the spiritual well-being and the praxes of resilience engaged in by Asian immigrant women to the United States in the context of cultural loss. The interview outcome revealed the praxes of spiritual resilience of Asian immigrant women through their integration of faith and culture. Spiritual resilience is an ongoing living praxis that calls men and women to their prophetic calling in building up the kingdom of God, in whom Jesus is the Triumphant Living Praxis.


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.

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.

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.

Ministering toward congregational maturity : a Reformed perspective

Thomas Paul Eggebeen
The purpose of this thesis is two fold: 1) to highlight some of the key elements of the Reformed tradition which I have found helpful in ministering in the congregation I service and 2) to examine the nature of fundamentalism and how the Reformed perspective on life offers a viable alternative.

Chapter One identifies the theology and practice of infant baptism as the chief expression of covenant theology and the beginning of a Reformed ministry. The practice of infant baptism requires covenant theology; only with this can the distortions of the practice be corrected and its criticisms answered.

Chapter Two, building upon Chapter One, identifies confidence as the chief result of the living within the Reformed tradition. The heart of such confidence is the knowledge that our salvation is grounded in the love and initiative of God. Churches grounded in covenant theology are able to offer their people a "solid rock" on which to build their spiritual life.

Chapter Three focuses upon the "reality and function of doubt within the believer's life. "It is our confidence before God which enables us to accept and understand the presence of doubt within the believer's life and the manner in which God uses doubt to deepen our faith. Doubt is not the opposite of faith, but rather a potential within a living faith.

Chapter Four, flowing from the previous three, articulates some definitions for Reformed spirituality. While the Reformed tradition is theologically strong, our practice of spirituality has been incomplete. The Appendix consists of the various survey forms I used in gathering information. They proved useful and, with modification, could be used elsewhere.

On holy ground : spiritual formation with a reformed accent

Willis A Jones
This project is designed as an introductory course in the roots of Reformed spirituality.

The first chapter, Nee Tamen Consumebatur, is an auto-biographical probing of the question: Is there spiritual life beyond Arkansas?

The second chapter, The Invitation to Holy Ground, identifies those components of spirituality that are the distinguishing characteristics of Reformed spirituality.

The third chapter, The Holy Ground Cleared, explores the positive values of our tradition and the necessity for traditioning. The three characteristics of our Tradition are examined: the catholic, evangelical, and reformed.

The fourth chapter, Holy Ground Surveyed, scans the development of a variety of Roman Catholic and Protestant spiritualities with a view to understanding the thread of unity which develops within each tradition.

The fifth chapter, The Holy Ground Celebrated, focuses on the ancestral roots of Reformed spirituality as found within the Old and New Testaments, the early church, sixteenth century Reformation down to the Liturgy of 1968.

The sixth chapter, The Holy Ground Explored, examines in more detail the unique gifts to Reformed spirituality of our father in God, John Calvin, and other Reformed divines.

The seventh chapter, The Holy Ground Appropriated, investigates the rich treasures we have inherited from our Reformed past, but which can be "recycled for current use" to our profit and advent age.

The eighth chapter, A Barthian Postscript, visits the lecture room of Karl Barth to overhear this Reformed theologian set significant priorities for theologians in thinking the thoughts of God after him.

Generation X meets Saint Dominic

Mary L Donnelly
This project is designed to provide a structure for ministry to young adults, in particular members of Generation X. The research consisted of reading, distributing questionnaires to both college students and to campus ministers and then compiling and analyzing the information and interfacing the information with Dominican spirituality and Dominican life.

The purpose of researching the founding of the Order was to discover if there were any similarities between early thirteenth century middle Spain and late twentieth century United States culture in order to use the gifts of Dominican spirituality as an avenue to ministry with young adults. The research bore out that there are similarities in the spiritual climate of early 13th century middle Spain and that of late 20th century United States. The framework of Dominican spirituality does indeed offer the Church an avenue to address, to reach, and to feed the spiritual hungers of the generation known as Generation X thus providing nourishment for the soul.

Work matters : toward a model of congregational public theologizing about faith and work

Thomas Fitzsimmons Neal
There are over 1,300 parachurch organizations in North America alone, dedicated to the interface between faith and workplace issues. This project examines the rationale, promise and hope for a congregational approach to the integration of faith and work. Action research was done with a study group of church participants over a one-year period to see what might work for this kind of public theologizing in a congregational setting. The research shows that a small group format that includes an introduction to theology, an introduction to a theology of economics, an introduction to cultural interpretation and leadership, together with an immediate application of these to workplace issues does enable participants to engage in public theologizing about workplace issues. The research also shows that an emphasis on personal development that includes Christian spiritual components is highly motivating to those who wish to engage in this area of public theology. A model for congregational ministries of work and workplace integration ministries is developed based on the research.

This is our reconciliation : a dramatic memoir

Stanley Seagren
The theme of lament has been neglected and even shunned for too long in the life and ministry of most North American churches. Though it is a common Biblical theme in both the Old and New Testaments, congregations tend to ignore or even be embarrassed by the complaining and anger which run through Scripture. The purpose of my project has been to bring lament to the fore not only for individual believers, but also for the ministry of the Church as a whole -- in worship, small group ministry, youth ministry and ministry to the lost and broken.

The dramatic memoir presented here is the culmination of the research and analysis I have performed in the Scriptures, in the books I have read, and in my talks with people in the congregations I have served. The dramatic memoir traces a path toward reconciliation between one person and another, and also between a person and God. From the reactions of those who witnessed the dramatic memoir, I demonstrate that dramatic memoirs are one way to stimulate self-discovery and resolution of painful memories in the sacred times and places of our lives.
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