Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

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.

The Heavens Proclaim the Glory of God: Science as a Way of Seeking God

Author
Richard Paul Grendahl D.Min.
Abstract
This study presented modern scientific theories along with Christian theological concepts to lead young people to a deeper understanding of their Christian faith. The project consists of four lessons covering The Big Bang Theory and Creation, Evolution and the Image of God, Centering Prayer, and World-Class Scientists who are devout Christians. The participants were surveyed before the lessons began; after the lessons were completed, as well as a month later to determine the effectiveness of the lessons. An evaluation of the project with recommendations for future use is included. A PowerPoint presentation for this project is included in the Appendix.

FINDING NEW OPPORTUNITIES IN CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY
THROUGH THE USE OF TECHNOLOGY

Author
Carolyn Fenner Moss D.Min.
Abstract
This Doctor of Ministry project explores the relationship between Christian community and new technologies in the context of a small, rural, family based Presbyterian congregation. The COVID-19 pandemic introduced technology usage to Slippery Rock Presbyterian Church. This paper describes the demographic, economic and historical context of the congregation. Then, it explores definitions of Christian community, with an emphasis on boundaries that shape Christian communities. It continues considering Old and New Testament Scriptures as they relate to community formation. Finally, the paper presents a project that examined the potential formation of Christian community using a devotional study presented on a Facebook group during Advent 2021.

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.

Dwelling in the Word and in the World: Missional Engagement Through Storytelling

Author
John Foster Magnuson D.Min.
Abstract
The practice of Church mission engagement within a culture of specialization, individuality, and volunteerism has created the opportunity for the North American Protestant church to narrate mission through an identity and story of the individual. However, through the practice of reading scripture and reflecting alongside storytelling, a more robust missional identity can be found within the church. This identity through storytelling moves from viewing church members as an autonomous individual into seeing both church members and neighbors as necessary members of community, together participating in God’s mission in the world through companionship with God and one another. This work moves from a historical background of mission work within a local congregation to then explore the theological basis for connecting storytelling alongside biblical engagement in congregational mission. As a result of the project, a tool for missional story telling through scripture is presented to the reader.

The Art of Seamless Pastoral Transition: A Guide For Church Leaders

Author
Lee D. Kricher D.Min.
Abstract
A standard practice during pastoral transitions is the appointment of an Interim Pastor, who serves for months or years between permanent (“settled”) pastors. A viable alternative is Seamless Pastoral Transition, an option that is becoming more and more common across traditions. With the goal of preserving congregational continuity and momentum, Seamless Pastoral Transition eliminates the gap in time between the service of the Outgoing Pastor and Incoming Pastor. This paper presents several Seamless Pastoral Transition case studies, about half of which are from mainline denominations, and covers three virtues to embrace and six pitfalls to avoid for church leaders in transition.

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.
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