Theology, Practical

Being The Church For Others: Ethnographic Practice as Public Witness

Author
Brian Stephen Janssen D.Min.
Abstract
The purpose of this project is to explore the place of listening within the practice of being the church in a rapidly changing suburban context. To do this, the use of ethnographic practices, particularly in-depth interviews, were used to demonstrate that listening is a way to show the community, in which the church is a guest, that it is loved. The church encounters people who are moving into the neighborhood in a variety of ways. As people move here, they add gifts, talents, and resources to the community. It is incumbent upon the church to demonstrate a willingness to be welcomed into this new context which is emerging

Empowering American Baptist Pastors of Pastoral-Size Churches to Develop Psychological and Theological Resilience in an Age of Disestablishment

Author
Michael Wayne Oldham D.Min.
Abstract
Mainline churches no longer enjoy the status of being the "established" religion in today's culture. The implications of this disestablishment have left churches and pastors feeling frustrated, powerless and often hopeless. This project is a case study of how a combination of video chats and incremental learning resources increased the psychological and theological resilience of American Baptist pastors who serve in pastoral-size churches. This study showed that this process was effective in helping pastors develop a renewed sense of hope and direction for their ministry and might be used in other mainline as well as evangelical denominations. This project will focus on the role of the pastor as the key leader in their church.

The Abide Project's Effect on Experiencing God's Presence in Daily LIfe

Author
Dean Wertz D.Min.
Abstract
The thesis seeks to answer: How will a three-month all-church focus on abiding in Jesus affect the participants' experience of God's presence in their daily lives? The Abide Project was facilitated in the fall of 2018 for children, youth and adults at Hope Community Church (Denver, CO0; included sermons, small groups and daily reminders; and was measured by mixed-methods. The quantitative assessment (compared pre and post-training scores from the Daily Spiritual Experience Scale by Dr. Lynn Underwood) and the qualitative assessment (8 phenomenological interviews) concluded that the project increased the participants' experience of God's presence in their daily lives. An invitation to abide from John 15:1-11 would increase the participant' attentiveness and experience God.

Preaching to the Heart: Investigating Theory and Practice Among Sydney Anglican Preachers

Author
Andrew Katay D.Min.
Abstract
This project explores the theory and practice of preaching to the heart. Biblically, the heart is a focal point both of the content of transformation in Christ, and the motivating power by which transformation takes place. To understand the nature and operations of the heart, first Scripture, and then secondarily three ‘theologians of the heart’ - Augustine, Aquinas and Jonathan Edwards - are examined. Subsequently, seven principles are elucidated to preach to the heart. This theory is used to analyze ten sermons from each of eight preachers. The study concludes with a program to better equip preachers to preach to the heart.

Embodied Contemplative Practices Within a High School Religion Curriculm

Author
Diane Mercadante D.Min.
Abstract
This thesis-project explores whether affective, embodied contemplative practices enhance cognitive learning in a Catholic high school religion classroom and encourage behavioral changes in students’ lives. The researcher introduced embodied contemplative practices to high school seniors using the lens of Appreciative Inquiry and Osmer’s four questions for practical theological interpretation, then offering students an opportunity to find meaning in their experiences using the Killen and de Beer theological reflection method. This thesis-project enters into a conversation with student experience, Gen-Z culture, and the Christian theological tradition to name the importance of embodied connection, affirm the practice of embodied Christian theology, and address the desire and need for embodied contemplative practices.

STUDYING THE IMPACT OF INTRODUCING A FOR-PROFIT SUBSIDIARY TO A LOCAL CONGREGATION

Author
Bradley Scott Stagg D.Min.
Abstract
This doctoral research project studied the impact of introducing a for-profit subsidiary to a local nonprofit congregation. The study reveals congregational leaders experienced emancipatory feelings of hope and spiritual agency when utilizing the innovation tool of a business Miniplan. Liberating congregations from the oppression of financial scarcity freed church leaders to consider new ways to address increasing costs, particularly deferred maintenance of aging buildings. This project used Participating Action Research as its research orientation, since it is ideal for business and church research. All participants reported significant spiritual growth in stewardship; emancipatory feelings of hope; and generalizability for the larger church.

Apostolic Women Religious in the United States and Their Legacy

Author
Janice J Brown O.P. D.Min.
Abstract
The legacy of Jesus has manifested itself among different populations, within different cultures, and during different times. This thesis-project looks at this manifestation as it unfolds as the legacy of apostolic women religious in the United States. The legacy of each participating congregation was described as a mission or more specifically as the mission of Jesus. It has also been the experience of these women religious that legacy is most tangible in the relationships and trust they built with their students, coworkers, and community members with whom they worked and partnered.
The legacy of apostolic women religious is a witness to the gospel message that took root as Christianity two thousand years ago. The thesis-project begins by exploring the legacy of Jesus, as well as the historical context that furthers God’s mission through the lives of three historical women – Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Siena, and Angela Merici. The research then flows into the brief history of the Ursuline Sisters in the United States. Reviewing the pre and post-Vatican II eras and their influence on religious life helps lay a foundation upon which apostolic women today have been formed.
The primary data was gathered through focus group discussions involving seven congregations consisting of thirty-five apostolic women religious. Their comments are summarized first by congregation in order to maintain the richness within each discussion, then by main themes, and concluded with a reflection on the legacy of these women as it finds meaning through the Gospel of John.
Legacy has many definitions, but what surfaced most prominently was legacy as ministry, and the ministries are what define the women. Legacy efforts included developing relationships, education, healing, inclusivity, and service. All of these works could be imagined as the ongoing narrative of the Gospels, epitomized in the Beloved Disciple.

Assessing the Value of Building Intercultural Competence for Ministers (USCCB)
as a Resource for Preparing White Ministers for Accompanying Latin@ Communities

Author
Megan Catherine Mio
Abstract
This thesis-project analyzes and assess the modular training workshop, Building Intercultural Competence for Ministers, published by the Committee on Cultural Diversity of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in both its print and online formats. This teaching tool is analyzed for its content, sourcing, purpose, and process. The critical lenses of intercultural training and education, the study of white privilege and racism, and Hispanic/Latin@ theologies and ministry are used to determine the ongoing value of this resource to prepare non-Hispanic White-Anglo ministers to accompany Latin@ communities of faith. This thesis-project also makes recommendations for any future revision or update.

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.
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