Social action and church

A paradigm for preaching personal and social transformation

Author
Gregory Heille
Abstract
Preaching, in this paper, is broadly presented as the oral midrash by which individuals and communities reappropriate the past and, in the midst of present struggle, step forward into a transformed future. This is personal and communal struggle, made possible by the unfolding miracle of language, regulated by Scripture, and served by the preaching ministry of transformative leaders.

Chapter 1 presents Christian life as an open system, oriented toward transformation. Chapter 2 examines paradigm change in theology and presents preaching as a hermeneutical act in which the believing Assembly seeks historical consciousness by reappropriating tradition in the light of a new paradigm. Chapter 3 compares a methodological shift toward historical consciousness and personal responsibility in Roman Catholic social teaching to a more classical emphasis on law in catholic sexual teaching. Catholics approach the preaching act searching for meaning in this incoherent experience of differing methodologies and paradigms.

Chapter 4 studies language as an agent of paradigm change, first by setting preaching in the context of oral, written, and electronic culture.

Chapter 5 integrates discussion of the ideas of this paper by ten preachers and reflects on the preaching act as an act of choral listening, the importance of the self-definition of the preacher, and the implications of differing paradigms of authority for Christian life and preaching. Chapter 6 concludes the paper by exploring the gifts of insight and imagination by which Christians, in an act of conversion, turn toward God in the sacrament of preaching.

PREPARING THE SOIL FOR PREACHING CATHOLIC SOCIAL TEACHING THROUGH EMPATHETIC NARRATIVE

Author
William Hisker D.Min.
Abstract
The research study explores the theological and social-psychological forces that discourage the preaching of the prophetic message of the Gospel. The study was conducted with seventy-four volunteers and six permanent deacons in the Diocese of Greensburg, Pennsylvania. The study used a combination of quantitative and qualitative surveys and interviews. The hypothesis explored was whether or not the use of narrative techniques, specifically Narrative 4 story exchange would be useful as a technique for preparing congregations to be open to the challenges presented by Catholic social teaching. Additionally, the research sought to determine whether or not the six deacons who participated in the study would find narrative a useful technique in their preaching and evangelization efforts.

Participants completed an empathy profile before viewing one of seven different videos produced by the United States Conference of Bishops on the Life and Dignity of the Human Person; the Call to Family, Community, and Participation; the Option for the Poor and Vulnerable; Rights and Responsibilities; Solidarity; Care for God’s Creation; and the Dignity of Work. Participants were asked to rate the videos and indicate how often they heard preaching of the subject matter of the videos. Participants were also given the opportunity to participate in a Narrative 4 story exchange. Participants were then asked to complete the Interpersonal Reactivity Index a second time to see if there was a statistically significant change in their empathy profile. In addition, participants were asked to evaluate their experience with the story exchange. While there was no significant statistical change, as measured by the Interpersonal Reactivity Index, the interviewees demonstrated a high level of approval for the story exchange as a vehicle for improving the empathetic response of a congregation and as a useful technique for use in the preaching of Catholic social teaching.

A call to action : identifying and actualizing the social justice voice of the First Baptist Church of Highland Park

Author
Rachel McPhail Boyd
Abstract
"The voice of the black church sounds the clarion call for community uplift by nurturing personal piety and fighting for communal liberation. This project is a framework for the design, implementation, and evaluation of a Social Justice Ministry (SJM) in the black church. The study utilizes a review of church literature, ethnographic interviews, pre-intervention survey, communications, community forums, training, and preaching to develop a social justice ministry. This study offers an approach to SJM composition and leadership that engages the voices of church and community to inform the work of, ignite energy regarding, and invite activism to eradicate injustice." -- Leaf [2].

Developing and implementing a public office ministry to grow a beloved community in Willingboro, New Jersey

Author
Carlos Sanchez Worthy
Abstract
As policies and decisions of elected and appointed officials within
governmental structures continue to negatively impact the lives of people for generations, it is important for disciples of Christ to actively engage with a theology that focuses on reforming these structures to serve as a conduit of God’s love, justice, and peace. As governmental, elected and appointed, officials at all levels fulfill their responsibilities through developing and passing policies, these documents serve as the moral thermometer that determine the well-being of a community in the present and for the future. This research examines how a local missional church developed and sustained a ministry of serving in public office with moral integrity that equipped missional leaders to participate in God’s mission through the redemption and restoration of their township into a beloved community.

Implementing The Appreciative Inquiry Approach To Revitalize The Church of Pentecost Canada

Author
James McKeown Quainoo D.Min.
Abstract
The Church of Pentecost Canada is an ethnic Pentecostal denomination with roots from Ghana. Over the last thirty years she has grown numerically, spiritually and geographically across Canada. However, the church is confronted with the need to reflect and explore how to be more relevant to the ever-changing church and Canadian culture.
This portfolio reflects the exegesis of the context of ministry of the church at McKeown Worship Centre in Toronto and the branch in Edmonton. It focuses on strengths, challenges and opportunities, philosophy of leadership, and a research project that initially began with a heightened interest towards exploring soul care and social action. The research project used a guided Appreciative Inquiry approach to enable participants to identify, design, and implement integrative initiatives. A greater awareness and urgency for more social engagements with the wider Canadian community have been created among a cross-section of church leadership. There is the need to use the principles of Appreciative Inquiry further to engage the whole church to develop more contextual and intentional strategic approaches to revitalization.

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

Author
John Matthew Weiler D.Min.
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.

Embodied integrity: realizing the Holy Spirit via the social field in ecumenical conversation

Author
Russell L Meyer
Abstract
Ecumenical conversations can lead to collective actions by incorporating the principles and methods of social field theory, interpersonal neurobiology and behavioral economics. Building on the Trinitarian work of Thomas Weinandy, this conversational process is shown to be the work of the Holy Spirit in realizing new forms of Christian unity and public witness to the will of God. The conversational process was used to facilitate the 2012 annual meeting of Christian Churches Together in the USA in its discernment of how to address the 50th anniversary of the Letter from the Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Mission and stewardship: loving God and neighbor with our heart and our treasure

Author
Brandi Richelle Casto-Waters
Abstract
When asked which commandment in the law was the greatest, Jesus said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" (Matt. 22:36-38). This report explores the relationship of mission and stewardship. It is focused on the life of a particular congregation where increased involvement in hands-on mission has led to a deepened understanding of stewardship. Engaging in ministry with people who are hurting, grieving, lonely, poor, and oppressed, and working together for justice, peace, and reconciliation has directly affected how members of the community are faithful stewards of all that God has entrusted to their care. Jesus also said, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matt. 6:21). This research indicates that the inverse is also true. When people invest their hearts in the mission of the church it is very likely their treasure will follow.

Transformation through the serving and learning experience

Author
Heather H Ferguson
Abstract
Experiences in serving others and learning from those interactions are not new. For those of us rooted in the Christian tradition, following Christ means offering mercy and kindness to others. It means seeking to understand the world around us so as to recognize the places where God longs to be made known. A transformative potential lies within all short-term mission and service-learning events. To tap that potential we must listen to the wise voices of those have served before us and to the Holy Spirit that leads us into transformative relationships. This project explores the works of several researchers and scholars who identify the potential outcomes of service-learning and short-term mission, and those interested in the transformational effects of such experiences. Incorporated into the discoveries are the words of four individuals whose narratives contribute to the collective findings and serve as evidence for the transforming potential within the serving and learning experience.

Joining together in God's work: the relationship between spiritual formation and community ministry at Westwood Baptist Church, Cary, North Carolina

Author
Keith N Vaughn
Abstract
This ministry project sought to draw a correlation between Christian spiritual formation and participation in community service. The project's goals were to research the congregation's knowledge and participation in community service and determine how it affected their faith, and how their faith affected their view of community service as they served those in need. The project also served in providing the minister knowledge, tools, and resources increasing his effectiveness in practicing ministry in the local congregation. The project enabled the minister to understand that spiritual formation and community service are significantly interrelated as one shares the gospel locally and globally. The project also served the minister by enhancing his spiritual growth and learning that spiritual formation is a lifelong process, which integrates our life and faith stories into God's story of redemption and reclamation of human life in the present and the future.
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