Giving up control : a process of group spiritual formation for leading church governing boards from maintaining control to giving permission

Joseph H Eby
The transition of a church governing structure from tradition driven to permission giving is a study in organizational dynamics, paradigm shifts, spiritual evaluation, and, transformation. As evidenced in this project, a revelation determined the course and became the impetus of promoting spiritual growth in church leadership.

Chapter One focuses on the component of self-discovery and the realization that church governing bodies, specifically Chatham (Illinois) Presbyterian Church, was in need of a change in direction and development during a period of exceptional growth.

Chapter Two explains that transformation encompasses all spiritual components of a church body, all driven by a common goal of influencing the congregation, especially when church membership and participation is in a nationwide decline.

Chapter Three illustrates the process of spiritual transformation for the 21st century and the path toward giving up control to God. The worldview of the Church must change in order to be set apart from all other organizations.

Chapter Four offers several means to understand what it means to "give up control of one's life to God." Defining this term as submission, it is understood that submission is a voluntary act by which one yields either to the authority of another, or in the case of equals, yields to another because it is called for in the relationship.

Chapter Five describes the process and experience of the Session of Chatham Presbyterian Church on the spiritual formation and spiritual direction path toward transformation. Session members/Elders had expressed a desire for a deeper spiritual experience and the application began in earnest.

Chapter Six details responses given by Session members/Elders to interview questions regarding the spiritual formation process.

Equipping Selected Members of New Lord's Baptist Church, Mount Prospect, Illinois, in Marketplace Evangelism Skills

Wooyoung Lee
The purpose of this project was to equip selected members of New Lord's Baptist Church, Mount Prospect, Illinois, in marketplace evangelism skills. The project director selected the quipping program model in order to achieve the purpose. First of all, the project director researched and studied what evangelism is, what the gospel is, and what the marketplace is through published materials and Interrnet resources.

In order to equip the selected church members of New Lord's Church in marketplace evangelism skills, the project director developed a curriculum. Before the curriculum and seminar, the project director implemented a student needs assessment and pre-test to control contents, learning experiences, and educational environment. Also, the project director researched existing evangelism methods and chose the Three Circles evangelism method according to the context of the selected churched members.

Due to Covid-19, the project director implemented the seminar on online for four weeks. The project director conducted a post-test to check significant changes after the seminar. Also, the project director conducted a class evaluation survey to check the project director's capacity in curriculum design. Two experts evaluated the project director's results of the research and curriculum

Rolling Away the Stone: Toward Wholeness and Holiness for Queer Catholics

Ryan J. Hoffmann D.Min.
In what ways are the praxes of queer Catholics cultivating affirming approaches to wholeness and holiness? How is DignityUSA, a national nonprofit LGBTQI advocacy organization in the United States, testifying to more inclusive and just expressions of church?

This thesis-project explores best practices of hospitality among DignityUSA chapters and examines ways in which it contributes to LGBTQ wholeness and holiness. Queer Catholic experience, Catholicism, and relevant fields of science serve as dialogue partners. The project asserts points of clarification and identifies six pathways forward for LGBTQ Catholics and the Roman Catholic Church.

The project suggests that radical hospitality serves as an integrative catalyst behind which LGBTQ Catholics more authentically and confidently appropriate their rightful place in the Catholic Church.


Urban Chidi Osuji D.Min.


Urban Osuji, C.M., B.D., M.P.S., D.Min. Aquinas Institute of Theology, St. Louis, Missouri, 2020.

Culture as an inherited conception that has to do with what a person learns from the parents and the society about what it means to be a human being. These include the totality of the norms, ways of acting, and understanding that people learn from cradle which helps them know how to fit into the world. As a child grows in the society the child learns the culture’s general assumptions about family relations, relations between men and women, attitude towards life and death. Of all these inherited conceptions, language is the most symbolic of them all.
The hypothesis is that Fidei Donum Priests can be effective preachers by attending to the linguistic idioms, imageries, phrases, and sentence construction of the local congregation. The language of preaching is the concrete language of everyday life. Preaching language is the language that the children hear and understand and when they do not understand, as their mothers offer a simpler understanding of the language with stories and imageries. Stories and imageries create and leave impressions on the emotional life of the people. When preachers use stories, imageries, and metaphors in preaching, listeners identify God’s presence in their midst.
But the use of concrete language in preaching does not come easy to the missionaries. Therefore, preachers must immerse themselves by taking time to go to the people, live among them, share their lives and learn their language including imageries, metaphors, and stories that have significant value for them. Their choice of words, especially with imageries and metaphors, shows appropriate concern for the effective proclamation of the gospel.

The Spirituality of Fatherhood: Developing a Faith Formation Program for the Archdiocese of Chicago

Willie Robert Cobb Jr. D.Min.
This thesis-project set out to explore the current faith formation programs offered in the Archdiocese of Chicago and the experience of fathers within this context, to support the spiritual growth of fathers and to explore how the church is called to support that growth through faith formation. The meta-method employed for this thesis-project involves the four “movements” of the “pastoral circle” developed by Joe Holland and Peter Henriot, with two additional steps—engagement with theory and correlation. The process included both a broad approach and a personal outreach to those working in the African American and queer communities. Direct outreach to various parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Chicago entailed making phone calls, sending emails, or stopping by a total of 32 parishes. In the end, three focus groups were conducted. The moderator completed all the necessary IRB paperwork and permissions prior to the session meetings. The moderator encouraged participation from each participant in order to elicit information from every single person in the group. To facilitate the discussion, questions were presented to allow the participants to reflect on and share their experiences. Genograms were used to help the participants consider the impact of their personal family history on themselves and their children for several generations back. The project presented and answered the following questions: Does the Archdiocese of Chicago play a role in helping fathers understand how to raise their children, how to fight stereotypes they face about their fatherhood, and how to share their spirituality with their children in a way that interrupts patterns of violence and confronts the social issues they encounter? A two-tiered program was developed to address the concerns that were presented through the course of the project to provide agency for fathers in developing their own spirituality.

Building Community for the Renewal of Mission in Chicago's Catholic Parishes: The Wisdom of the Black Catholic Experience for Renew My Church

Matthew Sean O'Donnell D.Min.
Renew My Church is described as an innovative pastoral initiative in the Archdiocese of Chicago that identifies the three guiding imperatives of making disciples, building communities, and inspiring witness as essential to the renewal of pastoral life and ministry in the Archdiocese. Every parish in the Archdiocese will participate in this initiative. This thesis-project will critically engage the imperative to build community by looking at St. Katharine Drexel parish in Chicago, Illinois. This thesis-project will demonstrate how learning from the Black Catholic experience of building, strengthening, and sustaining community can contribute a spirituality and theological foundation for Renew My Church that is rooted in a communal worldview.
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