Anabaptist Churches

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

Author
Gwen Ann Gustafson-Zook
Abstract
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.

Does God Call Laypeople to Preach in their Local Church? An Exploration of Calling and Introduction to Preaching for Laypeople in the Local Church

Author
Curtis Allan Zoerb D.Min.
Abstract
The purpose of this research portfolio was to identify if God was calling lay people to preach in their local church and begin to equip them for that calling.
Sitting in the pews were people whom God called and gifted to serve the church in many different ministries; some were called to share his word through preaching. Through this field project, these individuals were identified, equipped, and presented with opportunities to preach God’s word in their own setting. The two foci of calling and preaching were essential to answer the research question. Members of Massey Place Community Church interested in learning to preach were invited to participate in the study. Seven people responded. A six-week introductory course was conducted to teach about calling and how to prepare and preach a biblically-based sermon. We found that people were being called to preach, and four of the seven actively engaged as lay preachers. The question at the heart of this research project, “could lay people preach effectively in the Sunday morning service?”, was answered in the affirmative; there were laypeople that God called into the role of occasionally speaking from the pulpit. Further to that, this significantly benefited the life and growth of the church and positively impacted the individuals who preached.

Lamenting youth, believing youth : the role of biblical lament in the faith formation of Mennonite adolescents

Author
Robert Elson Yoder
Abstract
In recent decades there has been an increase in eating disorders, depression, suicide and other mental health illnesses among American adolescents. There is a proliferation for a "feel good" attitude in our American culture that denies or limits constructive expressions of lament, but strives for success and accelerated achievement. Theologically, our society narrowly views God as a therapeutic being who "helps us" when we need to feel good. Mennonite youth are not immune to the societal pressures and various mental health concerns that persist. Lamenting Youth, Believing Youth explores the role of biblical lament in faith formation and pastoral care of early, middle, and late Mennonite adolescents as a response to contemporary cultural realities. The thesis of this Doctor of Ministry project is that Mennonite pastors and youth workers will be motivated to engage youth in expressions of biblical lament by enabling youth to write their own prayers of lament. After describing a theology and understanding of biblical lament, I then explore how regular engagement in practices of lament will aid in the faith formation and pastoral care of adolescents. The method I used to investigate this thesis was to equip three different youth pastors to lead members of their junior and senior high youth groups through a series of timed-writing prayer exercises of lament. In addition, one pastor led this same practice with his young adult church group, while I conducted it with a college youth ministry class comprised mainly of young adults. Observations were then made from the questionnaires that adolescents in this study completed, as well as from their voluntarily submitted prayers of lament. I discovered that young people were comfortable engaging this prayer discipline and appreciated the opportunity to express their emotions to God.

A Discovery of Confessional Accountability Practices of Leaders in the Brethren Church Denomination Based in Ashland, Ohio

Author
Steven Leon Cole
Abstract
A Discovery of Confessional Accountability Practices of Leaders in the Brethren Church Denomination Based in Ashland, Ohio:
The purpose of this project was to discover the personal spiritual practices regarding confessional accountability among leaders in The Brethren Church denomination based in Ashland, Ohio. The participants were evaluated by distributing an assessment both by mail and email. The surveys were returned by mail or completed on a survey website where they were stored for data to be
compiled for evaluation.

The most prominent finding revealed that respondents held a high value
for pastors to have vulnerable relationships but found it difficult to develop and
sustain relationships where they can engage in confession and spiritual healing.

A Resource for the Ohio District of the Brethren Church

Author
Richard G Hagopian
Abstract
A Resource for the Ohio District of the Brethren Church by Richard Hagopian:
The purpose of the project was to create a resource from Smoky Row Brethren Church's structure that could serve as an effective guide for the sustainability of other Brethren Churches in the Ohio District of the Brethren Church, The design of this project included a resource entitled A Manual of Congregational Renewal, which was distributed to and assessed by recognized Brethren leaders in Ohio. The results of the project revealed that the resource can, with some equivocation, be agreed to by the respondents as achieving its purpose.


Developing a support strategy for bivocational pastors affiliated with the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board

Author
Michael Dale Lee D.Min.
Abstract
The purpose of this project was to develop a support strategy for bivocational pastors affiliated with the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board (MBCB). The project director based the process on Hugh Townsend’s Set the Journey: a Strategy Development Model for Associations. The director enlisted a team composed of Baptist leaders – Both bivocational and fully-funded – from across the state. The primary goals of the process were to: (1) create a “Bivocational Pastors Profile,” (2) determine “best practices” within other state Baptist Conventions, (3) develop a finalized strategy, and (4) present the strategy to appropriate leadership for both approval and affirmation in order to proceed with implementation, albeit outside the scope of the actual project. The project relied on survey data and a professional strengths inventory together with focus groups composed of pastors and spouses at six regional Dialogue Dinners. The team merged accumulated data along with practices of various state Baptist conventions in order to arrive at a proposed strategy addressing three primary needs: (1) developing relationships between bivocational pastors and Baptist entities, (2) strengthening ministry marriages and families, and (3) developing the spiritual discipline of prayer.
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