Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

A STUDY OF THE USE OF SCIENTIFIC LANGUAGE BY GEORGE MACLEOD, FOUNDER OF THE IONA COMMUNITY

“What’s the matter? … matter is the matter!”

Author
Mitchell Bunting D.Min.
Abstract
A study of George MacLeod, founder of the Iona Community, and his use of language taken from modern physics. He responds to the dropping of atom bombs in 1945 and develops theological insight into the Incarnation of Christ. His words are recalled as pithy sayings and poetic prayers often associated with in his anti-nuclear campaigning in the Church and the House of Lords. The study draws on his published works including the Iona Community magazine Coracle and the documentary film Sermon in Stone as well as interviews with Iona Community members to assess the significance of his use of such language.

Preaching APEST: Observing a sermon series, based on Ephesians 4, as a means of beginning to plant a vision in a local congregation

Author
David Taylor Averill D.Min.
Abstract
A prior study of a congregation in Winter Haven, Florida revealed an overlap in perceived, ideal qualities of clergy and lay leaders of the church. However, these qualities were limited to exclusively shepherding and teaching roles. Through preaching a 5-week sermon series, this project began to shape a vision of shared ministry and leadership in this local church among clergy and laity alike. The series used the APEST model of Ephesians 4, taken from the missional hermeneutic of Alan Hirsch. The project assessed the emergence of an inchoate understanding of the missional imperative through ethnographic data, gathered in a sermon roundtable, and surveys collected congregationally.

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

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.

How can we help people to talk about death?

Author
Ruth Green
Abstract
As people of faith, who have hope in a life after death, is it possible to encourage and normalise this discussion in a safe environment, ideally when people are healthy and before this subject has become difficult and painful? The author interviewed priests in the Scottish Episcopal Church to research their practice in raising death awareness. The results concluded that there are many useful ways that encourage those necessary conversations. By helping each other, their congregations are encouraged to live more meaningful lives.

Investigation of Sanctuary in a Diverse World

Author
Graham McWilliams
Abstract
In a diverse world the provision of opportunities for sanctuary is essential. This practical theological investigation employed preaching and Focus Group discussions to explore four motifs of sanctuary provision: God's provision and protection; A place of God's Name and Glory; Access to the Divine: Relationship; The Sacred Within. Current praxis was explored before reflecting on the most significant way forward using the Action-Reflection Cycle. A theology of sanctuary opened the way for a developing theology of conversation.

Parish Ministry and Leadership How prepared are Church of Scotland Parish Ministers for the leadership role that the General Assembly expects them to play?

Author
Neil J Dougall
Abstract
At the heart of the research was an on-line survey of all Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) Parish Ministers, which produced statistically significant data. 96% of ministers said that offering leadership was a significant aspect of their ministry, a much higher figure than the author anticipated. 60% had experienced 'toxic' leadership, which helps explain some of the ambivalence around leadership in the church. The author concludes that the conversation should not simply be about leadership but about the kind of leadership the church needs, and suggests that it should be servant-like, adaptive, collaborative, facilitative and enabling.

The Psalms "The standard liturgy and grand magazine of devotion for the Church in all ages" [Dr Robert Lee 1857]

Author
Lezley J Stewart
Abstract
This project consists of the re-imagination of a historic book of liturgy inspired by the Psalms. The author takes the original publication of Prayers for Public Worship (1857) by Dr Robert Lee, Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh, Scotland and re-imagines it for use today under the title Let everyone find their voice [Psalm 150:6]. The author's thesis is that the Psalms continue to inspire new psalms of praise. Re-imagining the Psalms for liturgical use the author applies the lens of liturgical theology, employs ethnographic research, and evaluates qualitative data; the results of which show that Psalms continue to inspire devotion and praise today.

An Oasis in a Desert: Introducing Spiritual Practices in a High School Setting

Author
Thomas C Howell
Abstract
Schools that chronically underperform are often situated in neighborhoods that have been neglected by the larger community. Crime, addiction, and high dropout rates are common occurrences. These social ailments may be seen as signs of both personal and communal trauma. Contemplative Christian practices such as divine reading and meditation are a means of countering these sorts of psycho-spiritual trauma. This project will examine the role contemplative practices may have in helping students to combat trauma.

"Blest Be the Tie that Binds," the Church as Life in Communion: Discovering the Congregational Stories that Influence the Theology and Shape the Ministry of Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church

Author
Andrew J Florio
Abstract
This project explores how the interplay between formative experiences and relationships formed in one's community of faith influences one's understanding of ecclesiology. This dynamic will be expounded on by comparing church members' personal stories and beliefs about the nature of the church, with a theological examination of trinitarian ecclesiology and its implications for the faith and practice of Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church. The purpose of this project is to lift up a theological paradigm to the leadership of Chapel Hill as they seek to transform their ministerial context in a manner that is cathartic.
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