United States

FOOD, FAITH, AND FILM: Cultivating a spirituality of Hospitality in a Presbyterian Congregation.

Author
Robert Elliot Martin D.Min.
Abstract
Welcoming strangers into a home and offering them food, shelter, and protection were historically key components in the practice of hospitality. Many consider the church to be a home. How do we extend welcome and hospitality to those in our context? In this paper, I link the power of storytelling in film to developing a theology of hospitality. To share meals with strangers is one of the most powerful and practical things we can do to help the church shape a more just and hospitable spirituality. Through film, the study of scripture, prayer practices, and table discussions, can we link our present and future faith practices to a theology of hospitality? A final analysis will allow us to begin clarifying what effective and transformative practices of hospitality in the name of Christ looks like.

"Doing Theology”: A Phenomenological Exploration of Knitting in the Lives of Contemporary Mennonite Women

Author
Gwen Ann Gustafson-Zook
Abstract
This research project explores the theological meaning in knitting for a small group of contemporary Mennonite women. Using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis, including a five-week focus group (Knitting Circle) and intensive interviews, the study validates knitting as embodied theological practice. This research expands understanding of “doing theology” to include making things as a means of embodied theology, thus adding breadth, balance, and substance to the experience of doing theology. The results of this study promote an understanding of lived theology that celebrates creativity and embodied practice as significant and realistic expressions of faith as well as a means of doing theology.

Embodied Spiritual Practices for Brown and Black Bodies Exploring Sabbath Rest

Author
April Rae Gutierrez
Abstract
“Embodied Spiritual Practices for Brown and Black Bodies Exploring Sabbath Rest” addresses spiritual formation, discussing an approach to Sabbath Rest for healing and restoration that is countercultural on personal and societal levels. Through a retreat, participants engaged in embodied spiritual practices that promote rest as a tool for spiritual formation and transformation that is rooted in decolonizing theology and spiritual practices. Working in collaboration with The Board of Young Peoples Ministry and the Hispanic /Latino Ministry of the Michigan Conference of the United Methodist Church, the retreat model was reviewed by the committees for use in the work of spiritual formation for Black and Latinx Young Adults. The implementation of this project and retreat shows that culturally relevant spiritual practices that honor Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) stories and spiritual practices may deepen the encounter with God and relationships with participants within the retreat setting.

Advancing Social Justice: Claiming the Voice of the United Methodist Deacon as Preacher

Author
Eric Pugh
Abstract
In the United Methodist Church, the preaching of the deacon is an underdeveloped voice that should be included among all the other preaching voices in the church. The preaching voice of the deacon is grounded in their call to compassion, justice, reconciliation, and restoration, and is informed by biblical and historical contexts that affirm and confirm the value and necessity of such preaching. Naming and claiming the voice of the deacon as preacher requires deacons to understand themselves, their call to ministry, and the relevance and importance of their voice that calls attention to the need for justice in action as valid and necessary in our world today. The voice of the United Methodist deacon as preacher is a necessary voice in the local church and beyond for the advancement of social justice. This project thesis rests on the belief that for the United Methodist deacon, claiming their voice as preacher helps them more fully fulfill their call to ministry and live into their baptismal and ordination vows.

Preaching Stewardship to Encourage Growth in Missional Outreach in a Small Urban Church

Author
Jeryl Salmond
Abstract
Like so many other congregations, small churches are suffering from declining membership, and many have closed their doors. This decline has caused many pastors to be concerned about their ability to survive. As a consequence, churches have focused on survival tactics which result in an inward focused church in order to safeguard their limited resources. This inward focus minimizes missional ministry and ignores the pain and brokenness of people in the community that surrounds the church. This issue is particularly impactful in the urban context, where social challenges are prevalent and evidenced by the visible amount of homelessness, hunger, and poverty in the community. This thesis investigates the utilization of preaching stewardship to encourage growth in missional outreach in a small urban church. The preacher must be intentional about developing and delivering sermons that demonstrate the symmetry between stewardship and outreach ministry. This project focused on a small urban church and seeks to demonstrate that preaching stewardship is influential in encouraging growth in missional outreach to offset the needs of the community beyond the church.

Gospel Hospitality: A Foundational Pillar for Unifying Clergy and Laity as a Collaborative Community

Author
Pamela Rivera
Abstract
The ongoing categorizing of African Methodist Episcopal churches by membership size and budget has promoted an unconscious practice of succession leadership. This injurious practice ends up impeding the participation of lower-tier churches and hinders the building of authentic Christ-like relationships. This project intends to introduce gospel hospitality as a spiritual value that invites all clergy and lay leaders to the table of relationships as equal advocates. The researcher used constructive narrative theology to collect and interpret the data that was generated through the project. The data concluded, ‘Gospel Hospitality is a Foundational Pillar for Unifying Clergy and Laity as A Collaborative Community.’

Weaving Earth and Sky: Small Group Spiritual Direction for Those in Transition from Loss and Caring for Loved Ones

Author
Tina N. Shelton
Abstract
This project explores the role spiritual disciplines play in the lives of those going through transitions that involve loss or caring for loved ones. This involves inviting God’s presence through spiritual disciplines, learning and relearning strong Biblical characters, and sharing our own narrative stories with one another. Participants at South Elgin Community United Methodist Church took four to six weeks respectively to embark on a healing journey with one another and with God. There was growth and/or healing gained through this project. This growth and/or healing was measured by the new perspectives expressed and the new changes that came forth.

Asian Immigrant Women Building Spiritual Resilience Amidst Cultural Loss

Author
Eugenia Wei-Kuen Lai D.Min.
Abstract
In Asian cultural contexts, women's voices are often neglected, unnoticed, or actively suppressed in church and society. This thesis-project aims to examine the relationship between the spiritual well-being and the praxes of resilience engaged in by Asian immigrant women to the United States in the context of cultural loss. The interview outcome revealed the praxes of spiritual resilience of Asian immigrant women through their integration of faith and culture. Spiritual resilience is an ongoing living praxis that calls men and women to their prophetic calling in building up the kingdom of God, in whom Jesus is the Triumphant Living Praxis.

Talking to Victims of Trauma Through the Lens of Atonement Theology

Author
Ron Wymer D.Min.
Abstract
Metaphors concerning atonement theology that are misunderstood, poorly defined, and clumsily communicated often lead to a mischaracterization of God to those who have experienced trauma or abuse. Theological scholars, local church leaders, and pulpit preachers have discussed and debated the correct way to describe Christ’s work of atonement. However, little concern has been shown when communicating atonement theology toward those who have been injured by trauma and abuse. This study aims to provide a platform for the abused to share their stories concerning their spiritual formation through the lens of their experience both with trauma and theological teaching by church leaders. The use of terms trauma and abuse are defined by the participants in the study albeit as broad or narrow as the participant determines by their own definition.

To test this hypothesis, a survey was distributed to the entire congregation of a medium-sized Mid-Western Evangelical congregation concerning their grasp of atonement theological terms as well as their perceived characterization of the God of their understanding, connectedness with others in the congregation, and grasp of theological terms relating to atonement theology. Following a four-week teaching series, a second similar survey was conducted to gauge movement in the areas of study. Additionally, all survey respondents were given the opportunity to privately schedule individual interviews with the researcher to share their insights and experiences with trauma and the church teaching on atonement theology. Church survey responses were scored by numerical averages.

The results showed a significant increase in knowledge of atonement theology and small increases in correcting characterization of God and connectedness with fellow believers in the congregation. The interviews reported a lack of meaningful interaction with most of the subjects instead it was reported creating their own view of God’s care, comfort, and leading through the traumatic experiences.

SUSTAINING A PRAYER LIFE AMONG CLERGY AND CONGREGATIONAL LEADERS

Author
Philomena Ofori-Nipaah D.Min.
Abstract
This research examines how a Reformed understanding of prayer can be enriched by the use of the Prayer of Nehemiah and the Lord’s Prayer. The project demonstrates that a better-informed theology of prayer results in a deepening of the spiritual practices of clergy and church leaders, allowing them to slow down and be involved in a faithful and sustained discipline. This helps them develop a deeper relationship with God. The results are established by a comparison of participants’ surveys taken before, during, and after they have practiced different prayer rules and through the interviews I conducted with the participants.
Subscribe to United States