Church and community

Liturgical Drama in the Church: an Application of Daily Scriptural Living

Author
Alma Lee Langley-Ward D.Min.
Abstract
The main purpose of this research was to study the validity of using liturgical drama as a vital tool of expression to help make Scripture come alive for the application and transformation of lives, first of the researcher’s local congregation and eventually of other churches. The researcher wrote and directed a play based on Luke 1:26-35 using members of the Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church as actors and crew. The entire church was a participant of this research as the play was done during a Sunday morning worship service as part of the liturgy. The mixed-method approach presented the most viable pathway for this study and the researcher surveyed a cross-section of the congregation both as actors and audience members. The essential elements considered in using this method involved selecting the Scripture passage; observing the participants during rehearsals to determine their level of understanding of their roles and the motivation for their actions; and administering a survey to measure and analyze the effectiveness of the play in increasing biblical knowledge and inspiring transformation that would produce daily scriptural application. For a more objective case study, the researcher chose those members who presented with a limited understanding of Scripture and were interested in learning through their participation in the play. Rehearsals ran once a week for six weeks with additional rehearsals during the final week. The focus of the observation was on the conduct of the cast from week to week. The researcher assessed each cast member for transformation and changes in behavioral patterns. The findings suggest that using liturgical drama as a model for teaching the Word of God can be an effective teaching tool. The researcher claims that there is still hope of liturgical drama being a key part of the liturgy and worship

Creator God, Humans, and Artificial Intelligence: Framework to Address Theological and Relational Issues

Author
Tinku Thompson D.Min.
Abstract
Technological advancements are happening at an accelerated phase. Five decades ago, no one even owned a personal computer. A decade ago, smartphones did not exist. Today there are 2.71 billion smartphone users in the world, which is more than thirty-five percent of the world’s population. Many developments have happened in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics, and Mixed Reality. AI is the term used to describe a machine’s ability to simulate human intelligence. Characteristics once considered unique to humans like learning, logic, reasoning, perception, and creativity are now being replicated by technology and used in every industry. The problem this project addressed is the lack of a theological framework, and especially the absence of a framework highlighting the character of the biblical God, by which to analyze, interpret, and evaluate AI and its implications for human life in a theologically informed manner. In response to this problem, the researcher explored and identified biblical themes of eight attributes of God from the Bible and the relationality between the creator and creation. A study of current literature on the recent development of AI/robotic technology and the responses and concerns raised by Christian organizations or groups in the form of official statements related to AI, theology, and God were analyzed. The researcher collected data through a survey conducted among young Christian students and interviews conducted among pastors and Christian leaders, Christians, and non-Christians working in the technology industry. The researcher then developed a framework that addresses unique characteristics of God as the creator of all creation in comparison to humans as creators in light of technological advancements in AI/robotics.

The Impact of Presence and Touch on Church Growth

Author
William Charles Berg D.Min.
Abstract
This project addresses the problem of discovering whether, when churches move to be physically present in their communities and engage in appropriate touch through serving, there is a corresponding impact in confession of faith and church growth. To answer this problem, the researcher began with the incarnation and trinity as a model of presence and touch. The researcher reviewed the Gospels to identify Jesus’ use of physical presence and touch in His ministry. The researcher also looked at the impact of presence and touch on the early church in the Book of Acts. He reviewed literature that focused on the importance of presence and touch and its influence on conversions and church growth. The researcher then interviewed senior and associate pastors of seven growing churches. Next, the researcher surveyed congregants from these seven churches. Both the interviews and the survey focused on how serving in the community through presence and touch impacts conversions and church growth. This study revealed that within the seven churches involved in this research there is, indeed, a direct connection between presence and touch and a growth in professions of faith and church attendance. Through his examinations, the researcher identified seven principles of how serving through presence and touch affects churches. As part of their missions, the majority of churches today serve their community in some capacity. Like any organization, the church is limited in time, gifting, and finances. Thus, knowing the effect of a ministry helps the church wisely allocate resources. This project sought to provide the church insight on how its use of presence and touch when serving the community results in conversions and church growth.

Prophetic Activism: Increasing the Academic Achievement Among Low Performing African-American Male Students at Mary B. Martin School

Author
Danny Anthony Everett D.Min.
Abstract
University Circle United Methodist Church in Cleveland, Ohio partnered with Mary B. Martin School to address academic achievement disparities for low performing African-American males. If students participate in faith and culturally based extended school programs, then their academic performance improves. Explorations from qualitative research during a church led after school program were expounded. The approach incorporated prophetic activism based on themes of spirituality, educational inequity, and social learning and critical race theories. The data suggests partnerships between churches and schools improve outcomes for African-American male students. A final project was submitted to the Doctoral Studies Committee at United Theological Seminary in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Ministry.

HOLY LISTENING: CREATING NEW PRACTICES OF MISSION BY EXTENDING PASTORAL CARE BEYOND THE WALLS OF THE CHURCH

Author
Caitlin Thomas Deyerle D.Min.
Abstract
With a goal of developing a new practice of mission to address the disconnect between a congregation and its surrounding community and engage the historical and ongoing limitations of mission practices, this project sought to engage the skills of pastoral care to create a relational focused practice of holy listening. A five-week Lenten Listening program was developed to cultivate this practice and use it to create a deeper partnership with local educators. The evaluation methods used were a survey of the congregational participants before and after the program, and in-person interviews with the educators following the program. The project addresses racial and socioeconomic differences between church and community as a primary barrier to mission partnership.

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.

Reclaiming the church's role in health and healing : educating, equipping, and training people for contemporary whole person health ministries through an online health minister certificate

Author
Thomas Pruski
Abstract
This project addressed the question of what kind of formal, foundational education prepared and equipped congregations and their members to reconnect to their health and healing mission so they could serve the world in this capacity. The educational offering also equipped various professionals who have conviction and passion for addressing health through a whole person health perspective. Under the direction of the author, Wesley Theological Seminary offered a Health Minister Certificate which provided knowledge and pastoral skills to help people reclaim and initiate whole person health ministries.

[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.]

Empowering churches to assist certain ex-offenders through the expungements of criminal records

Author
Leslie Evette Moody
Abstract
This project focused on how the local church can be empowered to assist ex-offenders in filing a petition for expungement. The author attempted to engage four churches in two communities to become trained to begin establishing churches with the necessary tools to help their congregations and communities. This project concluded that it is possible for any church with proper training and guidance to be empowered to assist ex-offenders in filing a petition for expungement.

[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.]

Work theology : how church can assist veterans transition towards civilian employment

Author
Gladys Runetta Robinson Lanier
Abstract
According to the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (JECH), a leading international journal devoted to research and reviews: Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are facing physical and mental health problems with even greater difficulty as well as uncertain futures with new disabilities while transitioning to civilian lifestyle. The veteran's physical and mental health problems often lead to debilitating depression is being linked to suicide with unemployment as the precursor. The researcher will reveal how the church can support the veteran spiritually during their transition into civilian employment that will strengthen the veteran's resilience towards a stable vocation.

[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.]

Transformative hospitality : a guide to welcome the persons with mental health issues in the local church

Author
Millie L. Kim
Abstract
After the closure of the Northwestern Hospital, Rome (GA) has borne the brunt of care for the mentally ill. The author assessed the needs of Second Avenue UMC by interviewing its members and the mentally ill. She took on the task of studying mental health issues, and how the church can be a part of multidimensional support for them. The author preached, led workshops, and hosted community events to bring awareness and solicit support. She created vision of transformative hospitality and protocols to help the church welcome and include persons with mental health issues in the life of the church.

[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.]
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