Community--Religious aspects

Confirmation, Community, and Commitment: Evaluating Church Attendance at the Episcopal Church of St. Mary, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Author
James W. Hunter D.Min.
Abstract
his work studies the phenomenon of individuals dropping out of active church membership after confirmation. The positive approach adopted to examine this issue is through Appreciative Inquiry. Rather than trying to "fix" a problem, this paper studies what is good in the current confirmation preparation program, discovering how those good elements can be improved, and the importance of community in retaining members. The problem is analyzed through Holy Scripture, the Great Tradition of Christianity, and the experiences of eleven parishioners who have matriculated through the confirmation process and remained active in the life of the Episcopal Church of St. Mary, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Let all Who Are Hungry Come and Eat - "In Good Faith": Intentional Interreligious Encounter and the Spirit of Hospitality

Author
Chava Stacie Bahle D.Min.
Abstract
This thesis-project explores participant experiences in a long-term Jewish-Christian-Muslim dialogue program. Examined through the theological quests for truth, love and peace, participants reflected on their experiences, placing those experiences in conversation with sacred texts and images from their home traditions. T'shuvah, the Jewish theological act of turning toward the holy, is explored as a transtemporal, liberative and conciliatory gesture, through which the program might create change in the participants' sense of self and other. Reflective storytelling as a method is explored in depth.
The author theorizes that t’shuvah did in fact occur, according to participant interviews. T’shuvah in an interreligious dialogue setting may occur in part because of: the phenomenon of multiple “Us-es,” according to the neurobiology theories of Robert Sapolsky; contact theories through dialogue; and the structure of gatherings proposed by Priya Parker. Ethical considerations of intentional interreligious engagement, especially historical wounds and vulnerability, are also discussed.
The thesis-project used semi-structured, one on one interviews, and applied a novel, four step Jewish theological reflection method conceived by the author: p’shat, thick descriptions of “what happened”; d’rash, placing those experiences in dialogue with sacred texts and images; t’shuvah, how the experiences may have created individual and cosmic repair among the dialogue partners; and k’dushah, exploring whether and how participation in the program translated into action in the world outside the program. Framing the interviews through the lens of “participant as storyteller” is explored in detail as a potential contribution to sacralizing the lived experience of the program.
The rich imageries of shared ancestry, meeting at table, fellow travelers and learning in the presence of the other inform the conclusion that the intentional interreligious engagement of this program may create tikkunim (repairs) in both individual and group to group relationships among Jews, Christians and Muslims.

A church-wide emphasis, with preaching and teaching, provided the platform for instilling in members of Polkville Baptist Church a better understanding of the individual's role in the community of faith, the goal being that a greater percentage of...

Author
Richard Lee Hamrick
Abstract
A church-wide emphasis, with preaching and teaching, provided the platform for instilling in members of Polkville Baptist Church a better understanding of the individual's role in the community of faith, the goal being that a greater percentage of members take an active role in the church. The twelve-member research group was tracked individually, and the control group was tracked as a unit. Following the emphasis, care was taken to discover if there were more members involved in the life of the church than before the emphasis. There was a clear growth in understanding and in the number of active members.

A Case for Lament: Strategies to Augment Cross-Cultural Discipleship Efforts at Bridge Community Church and Cornerstone Church

Author
Sahr Mbriwa
Abstract
American evangelical Protestant churches in multicultural settings are predominantly monocultural. While some churches might be open to the idea of cross-cultural engagement, their discipleship process and methods tend to be greatly influenced by the dominant culture of the church and rarely influenced by the subdominant culture. This can hinder cross-cultural discipleship and engagement. In addition, one rhythm is glaringly absent in our discipleship: lament. Lament is essential to cross-cultural discipleship. This paper will explore the relationship between lament and cross-cultural discipleship. It will also offer four lament-based strategies to augment cross-cultural discipleship efforts in two monocultural evangelical Protestant churches: Bridge Community Church and Cornerstone Church.

An Examination of Discipleship in Army Chapel Ministries Overseas

Author
Jesse McCullough D.Min.
Abstract
Military chapels face unique situations that churches do not. These circumstances complicate making Biblical disciples, especially in an overseas environment. As pastors called to preach the gospel and make disciples, Army chaplains must discern how to fulfill the command of Christ while also working as an Army staff officer. Measuring whether growth is occurring may provide information to help chaplains keep what is working and change what is not. This project is designed to gauge whether chapels in an overseas environment, specifically Germany, are truly making disciples in accordance with the Biblical mandate. The research combines context, theological basis, and surveys of congregants to attempt determining which factors contribute to growth and which are unimportant. Advice for lessons learned and further research are included.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN VIETNAM:
A PASTORAL PROGRAM TO EQUIP CHURCH MINISTERS FOR ACCOMPANIMENT

Author
Sr. ANN DIEP NGUYEN, OP D.Min.
Abstract
Domestic violence is a real issue in Vietnam. This thesis-project is an effort to propose a pastoral program to equip Church ministers for accompaniment. The author, mainly, uses the methodology of Richard Osmer’s as primary framework and, simultaneously, integrates a number of components from Poling and Miller to strengthen the performance of this thesis-project. In the process, this study, by conducting qualitative interviews of Church ministers, examines first, if the Church ministers are aware of the domestic violence situation, and then, what skills they may need in responding to this issue. As a result, this study acknowledges some insights from practical, socio-cultural, theological, and pastoral perspectives. Under this understanding, this thesis-project suggests some recommendations for a pastoral response to domestic violence, and provides a possible pastoral program as a way to equip Church ministers in assisting women who experience domestic violence in the context of Vietnam.

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.

Preaching the aloha spirit roundtable: notion of cultural compatibility in homiletics

Author
Gwendolyn Kehaunani Hill
Abstract
This qualitative research study reflects the challenges a preacher confronts when called to celebrate a newly formed pan-Pacific community of diversity at the roundtable by illumining the biblical faith of the "aloha spirit" - extravagant hospitality and inclusivity. Linking the notion of cultural compatibility from educational theory to homiletical theory, the thesis proposes three significant strategies that help a pastor preach in ways that ensure the sermon is attuned to the local culture of the community of diversity that gathers at the roundtable: a) preacher elevates core images of the "aloha spirit" b)preacher develops "talk-story" conversations of the local culture and c) preacher hails the "sense of place" at the roundtable.

Detectives of divinity: experiences of God in the life of a church

Author
William E Warren
Abstract
Utilizing focus group research, this project explores experiences of God's presence with adults of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Germantown and what the implications of these experiences are for the church. This project makes use of writings on the nature of sacred space and is informed by a theology of the Eucharist. It concludes that the church finds its calling in being a community of unconditional love where people are invited to be "detectives of divinity" in the everyday realities of life and in their struggles to follow in the way of Jesus.

Internet of the heart: a pietistic enclave?

Author
William E Olewiler
Abstract
The author observed with fascination and curiosity as an Internet group evolved from discussion of a specific author's books and philosophy into a mutual support and care group with strong resemblances to a local church, or to a small group within a church. The Internet fellowship shared prayer, Bible reading, homilies, confession, intercession, and personal triumphs and defeats. The group split into two about halfway through its ten-year existence, but the successor groups care about one another and share the on-line culture described above. Is this a church in cyberspace? The author tests the shape and interactions of the Internet group against several definitions of church and concludes that while they are not an Internet church, the groups serve their members as do pietistic groups, such as Wesleyan societies, within the larger church. The needs met by these Internet groups suggest ministries, online or in real space, that local churches may want to explore.
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