Theology, Contextual

Lives Aglow: A Study of the Vocational Lives and Testimonies of Congregational Leaders at First United Methodist Church

Author
William Cato D.Min.
Abstract
This project addressed a lack of opportunities for Christian vocational discernment at First United Methodist Church in Arkadelphia, Arkansas (FUMCA). The research question asked what effect, if any, the public speech of leaders would have on the vocational self-understanding of congregants. The hypothesis postulated that the public testimonies of congregational leaders, coupled with a sermon series, would produce an increase in the percentage of congregants who identify as called to participate in God’s redemptive work. While the hypothesis could not be substantiated, the project produced vocational agitation among congregants. Results indicated the need for follow-up measures to sustain lasting change.

CONTRASTING CONTRACTUAL AND COVENANT MARRIAGE IDEAS IN THE LIVES OF BELIEVERS FROM A MUSLIM BACKGROUND

Author
Nakhati Jon D.Ed.Min.
Abstract
Islamic marriage is a contract, and biblical marriage is a covenant. These two principles intersect and form a point of reestablishment in the marriages of believers from a Muslim background (BMBs).

Islamic contractual marriage ideas remain in marital relationships of BMBs. The intent of this study is to explore and understand the influence of Islamic contractual marriage on believers who now embrace the ideas of Christian covenant marriage.

The qualitative research will explore the believers’ understanding of their Islamic contractual marriage and their beliefs concerning biblical covenant marriage. BMBs retain a contractual view of marriage because they have not applied the ideas of covenant marriage, thereby affecting negatively their spousal relationships. Additionally, the use of certain cultural and religious terms reinforces their understanding of their marital relationship, often reflecting either a contractual or covenant perspective.

For BMBs and missionaries there is a deficiency of available literature that compares and explains the differences between the Islamic and biblical views of marriage. This study hopes to be a foundational resource to highlight areas which possibly are retained in these marriages.

An Experiment in Civil Dialogue in a Clinical Pastoral Education Group at Caromont Regional Medical Center, Gastonia, North Carolina

Author
Stephen Allen Lemons
Abstract
An Experiment in Civil Dialogue... was designed to create a setting for civil dialogue concerning homosexuality and Christian faith. The seven-week process involved eight daylong sessions with eight Clinical Pastoral Education students. Sessions focused on a study of biblical passages regarding homosexuality. Passages were examined from a traditional and progressive viewpoint. Six guests presented from a traditional or progressive viewpoint. Participants wrote verbatims and theological integration papers focusing on pastoral care to LGBT persons/families. Research methods included focus and control group and quantitative-qualitative research. Interviews, surveys and written reflections attest that the group maintained civil dialogue throughout the process. The group came to better understand and appreciate those who held views on homosexuality that were different from their own. The participants recommended using a similar form of group process in churches.

Developing a Battle Plan for Spiritual Warfare with the Men of Crossroads Presbyterian Church

Author
Donald Sampson D.Min.
Abstract
The purpose of this project was to investigate the topic of spiritual warfare and assess the level of understanding of it among the men of a Presbyterian congregation in order to develop a plan to enable the men to engage in spiritual battles with the world, the flesh and the devil. The project included a biblical and theological study, followed by interviews with a select sample of men from the congregation. Qualitative analysis revealed some confusion over the phrase “spiritual warfare.” Additional themes that emerged from the interviews included a high degree of awareness of temptations of the flesh as an ongoing source of spiritual struggles and a strong belief that Satan is real. This latter belief was tempered by widespread uncertainty over the relevance of Satan, or any demonic influence, due to a very high conviction about the sovereignty of God. A recognition of the importance of enlisting other men for help in fighting spiritual battles was also a significant theme. While the men interviewed identified the value of having “battle buddy” type relationships, they readily acknowledged the absence of such relationships. Quantitative research via a confidential, online survey confirmed a low level of self-disclosure among the men of the congregation.

The Pastoral Pulpit: Preaching to Offer The Assurance of Grace to a First Generation Burmese-Chin Refugee Congregation in the U.S.

Author
Biak Lian Thang D.Min.
Abstract
This thesis project focuses on preaching to offer assurance of grace to the people who are living in the midst of struggle, and to help them see ‘who they are, what they are, and where they are’ as Burmese-Chin refugees in the U.S.A. It is based on the belief that preaching assurance of grace and of God’s saving act in their journey of life to encourage in a foreign land and assures the congregation of God’s presence and care. The thesis project seeks to show that preaching can offer the assurance of grace that helps a congregation experience God’s grace in their lives so that they can reach the community as the faithful witnesses through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, even though they are invisible, insignificant, and minorities in the society.

Faith Goes to Work: An Impact Study of Integrating Christian Convictions with Workplace Practices

Author
Terry D Koehn
Abstract
The purpose of this project was to impact the missional practices of a small group of Elk City United Methodist congregants through their participation in an eight-week experience focused on the integration of faith with work. The process involved responding to pre-test and post-test surveys, learning and discussing relevant concepts, and reflecting on related articles and videos.
The results of the small-group process revealed that the participants become more adept in thinking theologically about work. The participants also grew in their ability to value God's purpose in the work of others and to develop God-honoring goals for their own work.

Developing an Understanding of the Way People in my Ministry Context Read and Interpret the Bible

Author
Dieuner Joseph Rev D.Min.
Abstract
Developing an Understanding of the Way People in my Ministry Context Read and Interpret the Bible provides an in-depth assessment of biblical interpretation at an African American church through an ethnographic analysis. The research not only offers a systematic approach for examining the relationship between biblical interpretation and spiritual growth in that congregation, it also explores how the African American cultural context of the members of the congregation guides the way they read the Bible and what role prejudice and discrimination against African Americans play in shaping the members’ interpretation of the Bible. Moreover, it examines their understanding of biblical authority and how that understanding impacts the way they apply scripture in their daily lives to enhance their spirituality.

Gift of Self- A New Way: To what extent does perception of St. Peter Julian Eymard's practical theology contribute to the Congregation and Aggregation of the Blessed Sacrament?

Author
Darren Maslen, SSS Rev. Fr. D.Min.
Abstract
This thesis-project explores the capacity and practice of St. Peter Julian Eymard to place the transforming activity of God into dialogue with human experience and action. It is, therefore, chiefly a study of the practical theology of this French priest (1811- 1868), often designated by the Roman Catholic Church as the 'Apostle of the Eucharist', through the lens of the notion of gift of self as transmitted by him.

The current priority given by the Eucharistic religious congregations, and lay aggregation Eymard founded to pursue investigation and study into the significance of gift of self for both him and his constituency within Church and society, gives relevance to the thesis-project at this time.

Through qualitative research, this study suggests and proposes what gift of self looks like in the understanding of members of the Congregation and Aggregation of the Blessed Sacrament, in light of the experience of undertaking faith and apostolate practices. Primarily, the thesis-project attempts to envision credible future ministry, mission and apostolate initiatives built upon the centrality of self-giving in St. Peter Julian’s expressed teaching and reflecting, sourced from the corpus of his written autographs.

AN AUTOETHNOGRAPHIC EXPLORATION OF MY CPE LEARNING PROCESS

Author
Anurag Mani D.Min.
Abstract
In this project I explore the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) learning process through the lenses of my human condition: my being an immigrant who was born and raised outside the United States of America and came to the country and to the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) process in my adulthood. I use the research method of autoethnography to explore and give voice to my experience. As an immigrant, I observe that my experience of my journey to become a CPE Educator has been marked with unique challenges that seemed different to the experience of those who were born and raised in the U.S.A. My research question is: Can a careful analysis and interpretation of my own experience in the CPE education process help other immigrants seeking CPE certification to better understand their own complex and unique experience through this difficult, challenging, and exciting process?

Transformative preaching in Chinese churches

Author
Philip D Douglass
Abstract
The research explored how pastors preach, their spiritual formation and ethos that encourage transformation in the lives of listeners within Chinese churches. This study is composed of a qualitative design using a semi-structured approach to interview six experienced Chinese pastors. This study concludes that sound hermeneutics leads to sound homiletics. Spiritual formation consists of stringent spiritual disciplines and a required development of godly character within preachers. The message delivered by pastors needs to be clear, understandable and have the ability to connect to the Chinese culture in order to encourage transformation within the lives of listeners.
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