Theology, Practical

Baptismal Covenant and Antiracist Identity: A Phenomenological Study of Christian Antiracist Formation

Author
John Matthew Weiler
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to explore the role of confession, repentance, and baptismal identity within the antiracist identity of four white Christians to further the work of antiracist transformation and organizing in the local church. The primary methodology for this work was exploratory, utilizing phenomenological, semi-structured, in-depth interviewing with a sample of four, white Christians at Eastern United Methodist Church in Michigan. The thesis was that baptismal identity, and the Christian practices of confession and repentance in the work of antiracism liberates white Christians to joyfully make space for all people to experience the liberating love of God.

Developing Better Interreligious Dialogue and Collaboration with Korean Muslims: An Exploration in Focolare Spirituality

Author
Mi Sook Han D.Min.
Abstract
This thesis-project focuses on fostering interreligious dialogue between the Korean Conference of Religions for Peace (KCRP), the most active interreligious dialogue organization in Korea, and Korean Muslim leaders who asked KCRP’s leadership to include Korean Islam as a member. This issue is still pending. The project seeks to develop interreligious dialogue between these two groups through an exploration in Focolare Spirituality, a spirituality of unity. Focolare Spirituality aims to promote universal fraternity and to achieve a more united world in which people respect and value diversity.
The project deals with four dialogues: dialogue with religious leaders who are related to this issue, Catholic Church’s teachings on interreligious dialogue, dialogue between religion and culture in Korean context, and dialogue with the Focolare spirituality in order to achieve the goal of mutual understanding and collaboration with Korean Muslims. This project concludes by offering a method from a spiritual perspective for a fruitful interfaith dialogue.

Visio Divina: In Light of the USCCB Curriculum Framework

Author
Eileen B Maggiore D.Min.
Abstract
This thesis-project involved working with eleven high school seniors from two schools while applying visual ethnographic research. The research method for ministry is attributed to Evelyn and James Whitehead’s attending, asserting, and responding. The study addresses three Catholic traditions-- the USCCB's Doctrinal Elements of a Curriculum Framework for the Development of Catechetical Materials for Young People of High School Age, emerging disciples, and Lectio-Visio Divina -- juxtaposed to learning styles and postmodern American teens who attend two Chicagoland area Catholic high schools. The students were asked about their social media usage, teaching preferences and definition of a disciple. The interviewed students elicited a visual image, upon request, which represents discipleship and through the process of lamination described their image. The students spoke to their preferences of teaching styles along with how they would teach younger students. Students conversed about the time when they most felt like a disciple.
The interviewed students exhibited transformative learning after generating visual images from their personal mobile phones. The interviewees’ definition of a disciple became more elaborate as they progressed with the visual ethnographic discussion. The initial feedback to discipleship prompted an intellectual answer and through lamination their response became more personal. The students utilized generative learning to create a thick description of their previous knowledge about discipleship.
The students’ desire is to have their lessons taught with visuals and other supportive techniques, including time to assess new epistemologies. These findings suggest that the students are interested in a more embodied teaching experience which could promote teens into becoming emerging disciples. Transformative learning tools are found not to oppose, but rather complement the USCCB's Framework. It is suggested that the Gospel Visual Creation or to Pray the Lesson are teaching techniques which could assist in the formation of disciples among Catholic high school students.

From Reading To Preaching: Training First-Generation Korean-American Catholic Lay Ministers as Preachers through Online Sessions

Author
DONG UK KANG M.Div.
Abstract
The Catholic Church had a conflicting stance towards lay preaching in the past. However, lay preaching is feasible nowadays outside of Mass since the Code of Canon Law does not prevent the laity from preaching, and the Baptismal grace leads all the baptized to witness their faith. However, the laypeople still hesitated to practice the ministry. The researcher wondered if the lack of preaching education caused hesitation and decided to train laypeople to be preachers.
Six lay ministers and a layperson from a Korean Catholic church in Boston participated in the six-week online sessions. The researcher made fifteen instructional videos on focus and function statements and delivery of the sermons. Watching them, each participant submitted two drafts of their sermons and two preaching videos, and had two or three individual review sessions with the researcher, depending on his/her needs. The researcher measured each participant’s progress using the grading table of St. Meinrad seminary. The changes between the two grades from the first and the second preachings showed that the participants improved their preaching skills over the course of the training. The researcher found that preaching ministry was a teachable subject for the laity through online training.
To triangulate and assess the research outcome both qualitatively and quantitatively, the researcher also provided each participant with pre-training and post-training Likert-scale questionnaires and interviewed each participate using Watson’s five categories. In general, the participants appreciated the direction, convenience, and productiveness of the online teaching program. However, some participants pointed out cultural factors that would make the Korean and Korean-American congregation feel uncomfortable with the ministry. The researcher learned that he needs to study further and to strategize carefully in order to ease the cultural barrier when training future participants.

The Art of Finding Home: Creative Pilgrimage and Placemaking at Immanuel Baptist Church, Paducah, KY

Author
Brittany Riddle D.Min.
Abstract
By guiding participants to reflect on scripture and their life experiences through the creation of art in various mediums, this project was designed to teach a model of creative, theological reflection in order to provide artists at Immanuel Baptist Church in Paducah, KY with the opportunity to deepen their creative identity, to claim their identity as people who are created in the image of a creative and creating God, and to form meaningful community through shared, creative practices.

Participants gathered for seven weeks to visually and creatively reflect on themes of home and community in scripture as a way to practice creative placemaking. By sharing stories, practicing lectio divina, and creating art together, the artists were invited on an inward journey that encouraged theological reflection as an embodied, creative process rather than simply an intellectual exercise. At the end of the seven weeks, participants showed significant movement in the depth of their theological reflections as well as a greater sense of connection to each other and belonging within the congregation.

MATURING CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIP THROUGH TIMES OF SUFFERING: A STUDY IN AN AMERICAN MIDWEST CONGREGATION - NEW HOPE CHURCH; ADEL, IOWA

Author
Thomas Hein D.Min.
Abstract
The project identifies some of the ways Christians grow in maturity during times of suffering. During these times some Christians grow in maturity, while others experience a setback in their spiritual growth. This is a pastoral study, meaning that it is primarily concerned with observation and analysis of the discipleship process in the lives of Christian believers. The project evaluates true and false beliefs about God and spiritual life that occur during the process of suffering in the lives of New Hope Evangelical Free Church (Adel, Iowa) adult believers. Fifty-seven church members answered questions in a quantitative survey inquiring about their spiritual life before and after their time of suffering. Interviews were conducted with fifteen of the survey participants for more in depth evaluation of their spiritual disciplines, attitudes, and beliefs.

The study evaluated some false beliefs about God and spiritual life that Christians may develop during times of suffering. In addition, the study evaluated what true beliefs about God and spiritual life sustained believers during times of trial. Finally, the study evaluated what spiritual disciplines helped people move toward greater spiritual maturity during a season of suffering.

The practical application outcome of the study is a small group workbook entitled, A Journey through Suffering: Processing the Painful Experiences of Life. This resource is designed to be an exegetical devotional guide to help people reflect on their suffering in the context of a biblical metanarrative. Prayerful reflection will potentially lead toward maturing discipleship that glorifies God.

Rediscovering lament : a five week study to help recover a lost practice of the faith

Author
Mark N. J. Charles
Abstract
Knowledge and understanding of biblical lament has been all but lost in the 21st century western church. This loss is a costly one. What kind of engagement with sermons, liturgies, and bible study will help 21st century western Christians recover this lost practice? In this project, the author outlines a five week study experience designed to introduce participants to lament, and help them experience it using bible study, responsive prayer, bibliodrama, and song. Participants from five churches took part in the program. Their responses suggest that rediscovering lament is both possible and needed.

[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.]

EQUIPPING THE SENIOR LEADERS OF FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF MERCED TO CULTIVATE LEADERSHIP BEHAVIORS IN PEOPLE FOR POTENTIAL LEADERSHIP POSITIONS

Author
Joel Alan Dorman D.Min.
Abstract
The purpose of this DMin project was equipping the people in existing senior leadership positions to cultivate people for potential leadership positions to exercise effective leadership behaviors to contribute to the mission of First Baptist Church of Merced. The qualitative research project required Biblical and contemporary literature study in learning leadership behaviors, transferring leadership behaviors, mentoring, healthy leadership, and recognizing potential in people.
The project utilized a multi-phased approach to methodology. There was a survey and focus group discussion preceding a Leadership Lab involving the people in existing senior leadership positions. The purpose of the first phase was equipping the people in existing senior leadership positions with the skill necessary to equip others.
In the second phase, the people in existing senior leadership positions recruited mentees to cultivate them for effective leadership behaviors in potential leadership positions. A Field Guide was provided for the mentors, and data were recorded through bi-weekly meetings of the researcher with the mentors and Field Guides, Leadership Profiles, focus groups, and formal and informal interviews. The results were evaluated, and modifications for future use were presented.
The researcher concluded the process was successful in producing people who were cultivated with effective leadership behaviors for potential leadership positions by equipping the people in existing senior leadership positions. In order for the process to be undertaken subsequently in this researcher’s congregation, the first Leadership Lab and the book studied during the mentoring phase needed to change. For other congregations to benefit from the process, additional instructions would need to be provided. Even with the needed modifications, the project accomplished all it was designed to accomplish: equipping people in existing senior leadership positions to cultivate people for significant leadership positions.

Being The Church For Others: Ethnographic Practice as Public Witness

Author
Brian Stephen Janssen D.Min.
Abstract
The purpose of this project is to explore the place of listening within the practice of being the church in a rapidly changing suburban context. To do this, the use of ethnographic practices, particularly in-depth interviews, were used to demonstrate that listening is a way to show the community, in which the church is a guest, that it is loved. The church encounters people who are moving into the neighborhood in a variety of ways. As people move here, they add gifts, talents, and resources to the community. It is incumbent upon the church to demonstrate a willingness to be welcomed into this new context which is emerging

Empowering American Baptist Pastors of Pastoral-Size Churches to Develop Psychological and Theological Resilience in an Age of Disestablishment

Author
Michael Wayne Oldham D.Min.
Abstract
Mainline churches no longer enjoy the status of being the "established" religion in today's culture. The implications of this disestablishment have left churches and pastors feeling frustrated, powerless and often hopeless. This project is a case study of how a combination of video chats and incremental learning resources increased the psychological and theological resilience of American Baptist pastors who serve in pastoral-size churches. This study showed that this process was effective in helping pastors develop a renewed sense of hope and direction for their ministry and might be used in other mainline as well as evangelical denominations. This project will focus on the role of the pastor as the key leader in their church.
Subscribe to Theology, Practical