Church and community

Mmanwu Ritual In Igboland: Lessons and Implications for Inculturation and Christian-Muslim Dialogue in Nigeria.

Author
Peter Elochukwu Muojekwu Rev. Fr. D.Min.
Abstract
Although “inculturation” is a relatively new term in the long history of Christian theology, it’s roots are found in the mission of Jesus Christ himself. Despite the many important complexities and nuances of sophisticated theologies of inculturation, what it refers to is simply an ideal for how the Gospel of Jesus Christ transforms the human family. It refers to a mode of evangelization by which specific cultures avails themselves to the Church, and the Church to specific cultures, for a mutually enriching dialogue in which nothing that is truly good and holy is at lost. Unfortunately, the history of Christianity is littered with the tragic results of various processes of confrontation and domination (particularly of the colonial sort) masquerading as evangelization, but actually profoundly at odds with the inculturative model of Christ. Far from providing for a holistic and authentically “holy” union of universal Gospel and local culture, these processes have created what, in many instances, have been unnecessary rifts and even hostilities between what is perceived as “Gospel” and what is perceived as “culture.”
This thesis project is aimed at exploring the phenomenon of Mmanwu, an indigenous Igbo religious institution which has for centuries been at the center of what might be referred to as one of the many examples of both the misadventures of inculturation gone wrong in Nigeria and the pregnant possibilities of inculturation done properly. Because questions about inculturation with respect to Mmanwu are inherently interreligious, the thesis will conclude by attempting to apply some of the lessons from the questions around Mmanwu and inculturation to yet another important locus of inculturation in Nigeria: Christian-Muslim dialogue

That They May Have Life: The Congregation's Opportunity to Strengthen Resiliency and Foster Wholeness Amid Trauma in the Lives of Volunteer First Responders

Author
Jason Cashing D.Min.
Abstract
With every emergency, first responders are exposed to a degree of traumatic stress. This Secondary Traumatic Stress can sap the life and purpose from first responders, and the accumulation of unaddressed STS can lead to burnout, unhealthy coping mechanisms, and even suicide. The congregation, though practices of Sabbath and Lament, can offer pathways to help mitigate STS and strengthen resilience. Looking at the invitation to Abundant Life in John 10, the Church’s calling and the world’s need intersect, providing a framework and a language to help first responders and congregations alike realize the fullness of Life offered to all.

Praying the Church Beyond the Walls

Author
Redonia M Thomas
Abstract
What kind of intercessory prayer ignites and energizes a church to become more engaged in the community? Research shows there is a consistent decline in people attending church. The two congregations I serve are experiencing this decline. They were more inward focused and less missional minded. At one time, the four walls of the church were sufficient for ministry, because people came to the house of God. However, there has been a shift in the demographics, the attitudes and behaviors of the community. This project focuses on how intercessory prayer helps congregations seek the welfare of the city.

Reclaiming Mission and Evangelism as Wesleyan Christians in Our Church and Neighborhoods for the Transformation of Lives and Communities

Author
Deborah C Suddarth
Abstract
How can Collierville United Methodist Church wholistically address the spiritual yearnings of mind, body, and soul of those in the church's immediate neighborhoods by sharing God's incarnational love through community development, while at the same time revitalizing the intentional discipleship of the congregation? The author embarked on a community development project, bringing together the congregation, neighborhood and community churches, and four targeted neighborhoods in Collierville, TN, creating a coalition: Collierville Connected. Spiritual and leadership development were emphasized in every team meeting. Surveys conducted determined possible goals for the coalition, the first resulting in the opening of a Neighborhood Resource Center.

Fostering Revival and Growth in an Urban Blighted Area through Community Stakeholders

Author
Ronald L Slaughter
Abstract
How can community stakeholders partnering with Saint James Church address urban blight? The author researched how a partnership between the church and community stakeholders can lead to creative financing of a new church building and the revitalization of an urban blighted area. He studied how Nehemiah's strategy for redeveloping urban Jerusalem, can become a model for the 21st century urban church. He presents insights from interviews with community stakeholders along with creative marketing strategies to launch a capital campaign to keep members excited. Lastly, the author shares relevant strategies for building a new church in an urban blighted community.

Developing a ministry evangelism strategy for Ridglea Heights Baptist Church, Escatawpa, Mississippi

Author
Dustin H Stewart
Abstract
Ministry evangelism occurs when the needs of the community are met with the love of God's people and the truth of the Gospel. The purpose of this project was to develop a ministry evangelism strategy for Ridglea Heights Baptist Church, Escatawpa, Mississippi. The project was focused upon four main phases. First, the project director researched contemporary practices of evangelism ministry to determine what practices may be effective in the local community. Second, using demographic data and a local community needs survey, the project director and team analyzed the needs and lifestyles of the community in Escatawpa, Mississippi. Third, using a strategy team consisting of active church members, the project director developed a ministry evangelism strategy for Ridglea Heights Baptist Church in an effort to reach those in the local community who are not connected to another local church body. Fourth, the project director and team presented the ministry evangelism strategy to the deacons and staff of Ridglea Heights Baptist Church for approval.

Breaking In Community Engagement through Intercessory Prayer

Author
Susan E Boehl
Abstract
To the unchurched, the local church is largely absent and nominally relevant to their circumstances. This fundamental disconnect threatens to leave the church impotent to walk alongside and impact its unchurched neighbors. This author proposes a common denominator for the community and the Gathered Church, namely, Intercessory Prayer. Through planning and implementation of five public Intercessory Prayer activities with internal complements, the author details the re-introduction of relationship-building, mutual vulnerability, and authentic connection between those inside and outside the walls of the church. Interviews and first-person narratives reveal the journey toward collaboration with, and transformation of all, through sacred encounter.

Missional Cultivation Through Groups First United Methodist Church at Trussville's Effort at Reengaging the Community

Author
Joseph B DeWitte
Abstract
Post-Christendom, the church is left with a choice: to remain as though it dominates culture and continue to lose effectiveness, or to find the spirit that once birthed a church in the midst of not mere apathy, but persecution. The author explored the potential for a church firmly embedded in the mindset of Christendom to find that missional spirit once again through a covenant community seeking connection with God through spiritual disciplines to rediscover that the church is the continuation of God's mission of salvation to the world.

Becoming A Stronger Credible Witness United Methodist Churches in the Metro District Strategic Engagement with the Growing Diverse People in our Surrounding Communities

Author
Stephanie M Hand
Abstract
These project objectives are to design, implement, and coach a new Multi Cultural Multi Ethnic Cohort to lead five United Methodist churches through a yearlong process of discernment, new learning, strategic visioning, and community engagement. The cohort will address religious culture shifts from majority Anglo to a more ethnically diverse one in the Metro District, Western North Carolina Conference, The United Methodist Church. Additionally, the cohort is charged with developing Ministry Action Plans and identifying Adaptive Challenges inside and outside the churches, to engage with and be transformative, credible witnesses to and with Metro's diverse homogenous faith communities.

An Assessment of the Mission Ministries of Arlington Heights United Methodist Church, Fort Worth, Texas

Author
Mary K Spradlin
Abstract
This project proposes to help one congregation move from a one-way model of missional giving toward a model of mission ministries that emphasizes relationship-building, empowerment and community development. Congregation members attended a community development conference, participated in small group book studies, and engaged with a blog focused on an empowerment model of mission ministries. These activities prompted small but significant changes to existing ministries. Additionally, members of the congregation are motivated to pursue further evaluation of existing ministries and creation of new ministries that encourage relationship-building and follow an empowerment model rather than a handout model.
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