Claremont School of Theology

Last Call: A New Practice of Receiving a Pastor in the Baptist Church Based Upon a Biblical Paradigm that Challenges the Call System

Author
Harold Eugene Vann II
Abstract
Baptist polity operationalizes the call system, a process that congregational churches use to select, elect and deselect pastors. An aspect of that polity is autonomy that declares each local Baptist church is a self-governing entity. In this context, lay authority has the potential to be misused and the laity can deselect a pastor at their will. This project, a case study is the presentation of a church to show how the call system works from candidacy to deselection. This study calls for an additional layer of pastoral oversight and recommends that pastors lead Baptist laity in securing pastors. The problem addressed by this project is imbalance in power and authority held by Baptist laity and manifested in the call system. Finally, a new plan is presented for receiving a pastor that is led by a Board of Pastors, which restores balance, and is built on a theological/biblical paradigm that indicates that God gives and sends pastors that are received by a congregation.

A personal struggle between privilege, blessing, and luck and why it matters to God's entire creation

Author
Jonathan B Hall
Abstract
This project seeks to understand the current uses of the words "privilege", "blessing", and "luck" when describing God's actions and character. This project aims to help individuals and communities understand that God's blessings are unlimited and offered to all. Participants in the study were members of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Ventura, California. An invitation was sent out to the entire congregation to participate. Materials used were a movie and a questionnaire. Participants also stayed and discussed the topic in a larger group.

Jesus as a spiritual path for the twenty-first century

Author
Sally S Burton
Abstract
The way of Jesus is a meaningful spiritual path for people in the twenty-first century. For some it has been obscured by dominant theological interpretations that do not make sense to many post-modern people. A goal of this dissertation is to engage with ideas of progressive, contemporary Christian writers and thinkers and to share their possibly transformative ideas for understanding Jesus and his life's purpose and passion. The vehicle for sharing the concepts is three adult education opportunities offered over three consecutive weeks.

Gospel of hope for the world of hopeless: the success of early Christianity and hope for the Tangan church

Author
Sione T Tu'ipulotu
Abstract
This project presents a ministry of hope and renewal for Christianity in Tonga and the Tongan churches in diaspora. Tongan traditional religion which formed Tongan culture and society still impacts Tongan Christianity. Traditional religious culture has a hierarchical structure which has influenced all segments of society and even Christian beliefs and practices. Immigrant churches have adopted the same hierarchical structure and added other social status, such as wealth and achievement, which create more physical and psychological barriers in the church community. The social issues add up to an unhealthy church, ministry, and Tongan community at large that causes divisions among families. This project relies heavily on historical research to identify the ways in which Christianity as a fledgling religion was able to succeed against the great religions of the Greco-Roman world. Finally, the project concludes that Christianity brought a gospel of hope to the world full of haplessness, especially to the masses in the Greco-Roman world. Christianity created a new community that served the needs of the destitute, generated a sense of belonging, welfare/health agency, and treated everyone inclusively with equality. These findings can provide guidance for a ministry that addresses the cultural hierarchy and traditional theological issues for a revitalized Christianity in both the Tongan and immigrant church.

Tongan-American Free Wesleyan Church (TAFWC), Siasi Uesiliana Tau'ataina 'o Tonga-'Amelika *SUTTA): becoming vital US churches

Author
Viliami A Vakalahi
Abstract
This thesis presents an examination of the Tongan-American Free Wesleyan Church as it seeks to become a vital presence in the US. There are several considerations: rooted in Tongan Wesleyan heritage, have a contemporary youth worship in the English language, "coconut theology" and effects, the non-trained preachers and the loss of skills to sing the Tongan musical notes. This dissertation responds to the challenges above and presents ideas and practices in the areas of leadership, worship, preaching, singing, theology and multicultural education. These ideas and practices were presented in a workshop to train leaders. The workshop is discussed and analyzed.

The African-American and the LGBTIQ spiritual communities of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in search of a prophetic and welcoming voice: a case study in music, liturgy, and worship

Author
William Thomas
Abstract
The African-American community and the gay, lesbian, bsexual, transgendered, intersexed, and questioning community of the Christian Church *Disciples of Christ) are often mutually wary. However two Christian communities that are both marginalized by mainstream Christianity further divide God's realm if they are distrustful of each other. To move from suspicion to agape love, each community must find common ground on which to begin to speak prophetically and compassionately to each other and the General Church. This project creates a worship service devoted to healing that was designed by members from both communities. Then by means of a questionnaire the project examines whether working together to create and execute this service had any impact on the theology of praxis of interaction between the two communities both from their respective viewpoints and from the viewpoint of the white heterosexual members who comprise the majority of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Finally it makes some inferences as a result of the project, offers some materials for further study and interaction along the way, and lists possible starting points from which decisive action may be taken.

Passionate preaching: applying the methods of performance to preaching preparation

Author
Olivia Bryan Updegrove
Abstract
The thesis for this project is that performance methods in acting can enhance the ability of the preacher to communicate on a deeper spiritual level. This project combines the methods of acting that have built on the foundation laid by Constatine Stanislavsky in the early 20th century, and the basic research methods currently taught in seminary education. This project will show how these areas of study overlap with one another. At the same time, performative preparation methods can inform sermon preparation methods to help preachers create sermons that are more inspirational and truthful in their communication. A study of the literature ad resources published by acting teachers and performing preaching professors are in conversation with one another throughout this project. From this conversation a syllabus and workshops can be found in the Appendix to provide a variety of ways to share and apply the results of this project in academic and continuing education forums for students and pastors. Homiletics professor and perfomative method advocate Richard Ward was interviewed. The results of his interview were used to compare his teaching methods and experience with mine.

Animal spirituality: integrating animals into contemplative spiritual practices

Author
Myrian Monnet Pouso
Abstract
The thesis of this study is that the relationship between humans and animals can be integrated into spiritual practices to bring inspiration and inclusiveness to engage the contemplative life and gain greater awareness of animal life. The project used a varied methodology including library and proactive qualitative and quantitative research. Qualitative research included videotaped sections oft he spiritual formation program in a local church and participants' journals of the experiences of praying with pets over the same period of time. The qualitative research, a survey to assess individuals' prayer frequency and their openness for integrating animals into spiritual practices was administered in three churches. This research had led me to conclude that including animals in contemplative practices brings spiritual, psychological, and physiological welfare and inspires people to spend more time in solitude with God.

Young adult identity formation in the Syriac Orthodox Church cultural context in St Ephraim Church, Burbank, CA

Author
Alya Basher Iwas
Abstract
The basic principle of this project is that young adults are absent from churches today, especially in the Serbiac Orthodox Church. The church is made of people of every age, and without the young adults the church cannot be whole. This project provides a young adult ministry program that has enabled these young people to become active in the church and grow spiritually. The project grew out of the commitment that I made when I was chosen to be a youth worker. The eight models of spiritual formation created by Arthur David Canales were found to be useful for designing a spiritual formation retreat and four lesson plans for identity that nurtures Syriac spiritual identity in the St. Ephraim congregation in generative ways. This model encourages young adults to intentionally participate in their spiritual journey by engaging in the activity which best suits their own skills, background and interest.

Creation-spirituality practices for cultivating interdependent relationships in the Korean American church

Author
Jeong Taeg Oh
Abstract
This project combines practical suggestions for developing interdependent relationships in the Korean American church using theology, education, psychology, and biblical and cultural studies that is rooted in the creation spirituality of Matthew Fox. The first part of the project is based on library research. The second is interviewing and analyzing other pastors in the Korean American church and congregation. Because of conflicts and splits, the Korean American church is unhealthy and too weak to lead society and young people despite the church's great growth. Both pastors and congregations need to renew their understanding of the relationships that cause conflicts and splits leading to a spiritual maturity and the idea of a vital community. The Korean American church must practice new spirituality initiating and sustaining interdependent relationships internally and externally. This project proposed that this can be accomplished through creation-spirituality practices offered by Matthew Fox.
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