Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

RENEWING THE PRESBYTERY: LISTENING TO COMMISSIONED RULING ELDERS

Author
Samuel Lapsley Pendergrast D.Min.
Abstract
In Utica Presbytery we have eleven Commissioned Ruling Elders (CREs) serving twelve congregations out of thirty in the presbytery. I interviewed twelve CREs who are currently serving or who have served as pastors to learn about their experience and how they evaluate their work, training, and relationship with colleagues in the presbytery. The interview results were categorized, then the group of CREs discussed the results. We developed recommendations for the presbytery in a variety of areas. In the report I interpret the results in light of pastoral theology and the history of ordination. Questions for further study emerge concerning the difference between seminary-trained pastors and commissioned elders, presbytery mission strategy for using CREs, and contextual theological education.

FROM ASHES RISE AGAIN: SPIRITUAL IDENTITY BASED RESILIENCY

Author
Charles Christopher Mason D.Min.
Abstract
The focus of this project was to consider the question of how to build and maintain resiliency. While the project was developed and implemented for chaplains in a health care system, the principles of spiritual identity based resiliency may be an answer for others looking for ways to be more resilient. Spiritual identity based resiliency at its core is a focus on understanding one’s personal value, meaning and purpose as a way to cope and be resilient in stressful and anxious situations. The project was designed to inform participants of the importance of orienting their lives on the basis of their spiritual identity, this is the means of being able to manage external and internal influential pressures that distort or confuse understanding of value, meaning and purpose. The result of a lack of focus on value, meaning and purpose is a lack of resiliency and may eventually lead to burnout.

Authority of Scripture in Today's PC(USA)

Author
Peter David Jones D.Min.
Abstract
For this project, a small group of dedicated adults studied the Authority of Scripture using historical, theological, confessional, and experiential methods seeking to better understand scriptural interpretation and application to daily life. Of specific interest, the group ended with a case study of scriptural approaches to the topic of homosexuality, seeking to understand how biblical interpretation affects daily life.

Below is an excerpt from the project report:
"Too often, clergy treat some information gathered in seminary as secret knowledge reserved for those deemed worthy enough to obtain it. This must emerge from either too high an opinion of oneself, too low an opinion of congregants, or an addiction to the power of knowledge, but the end result has been a highly educated clergy speaking to relatively ignorant congregants. This, of course, is no indictment of congregants, but rather a commentary on the ineffectiveness of clergy in appropriately and clearly providing people with the tools necessary to grow in their faith; to grow beyond the children’s sermon understanding of the Bible itself. This project is one example of ways in which the clergy can engage with congregants on a more level playing field, trusting in their abilities and Spiritual maturity to guide the process of learning. I have often heard it said that people enter seminary with strong faith, have their faith shaken, then emerge even stronger than when they entered. Why do we not believe that congregants can and should follow that same pattern in their faith journeys?"

Learning to Pray Without Ceasing: Instilling the Importance of Prayer and its Connection to Social Justice in Youth

Author
Wesley Brian Jamison D.Min.
Abstract
Progressive churches continue to struggle with retaining youth, who often seen little merit in the church's traditions and rituals. These spiritual practices are essential to nurturing the strength and vision necessary to create a more just, equitable, and sustainable world. This project offers a model for integrating these practices into the regular activities of youth ministry as a way of reconnecting them to the struggle for justice. It was tested by adding the observance of the daily offices of prayer to a youth mission trip and examining the views of participants concerning prayer and its connection to justice before, during, and after the trip. Noticeable changes were measured during and after the trip, indicating that youth came to see spiritual practices are more important to the work of justice. These findings suggest that the church would do well to look to its own history of monasticism as a model for youth ministry in the post-Christian era.

AN AUTOETHNOGRAPHIC EXPLORATION OF MY CPE LEARNING PROCESS

Author
Anurag Mani D.Min.
Abstract
In this project I explore the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) learning process through the lenses of my human condition: my being an immigrant who was born and raised outside the United States of America and came to the country and to the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) process in my adulthood. I use the research method of autoethnography to explore and give voice to my experience. As an immigrant, I observe that my experience of my journey to become a CPE Educator has been marked with unique challenges that seemed different to the experience of those who were born and raised in the U.S.A. My research question is: Can a careful analysis and interpretation of my own experience in the CPE education process help other immigrants seeking CPE certification to better understand their own complex and unique experience through this difficult, challenging, and exciting process?

That They May Have Life: The Congregation's Opportunity to Strengthen Resiliency and Foster Wholeness Amid Trauma in the Lives of Volunteer First Responders

Author
Jason Cashing D.Min.
Abstract
With every emergency, first responders are exposed to a degree of traumatic stress. This Secondary Traumatic Stress can sap the life and purpose from first responders, and the accumulation of unaddressed STS can lead to burnout, unhealthy coping mechanisms, and even suicide. The congregation, though practices of Sabbath and Lament, can offer pathways to help mitigate STS and strengthen resilience. Looking at the invitation to Abundant Life in John 10, the Church’s calling and the world’s need intersect, providing a framework and a language to help first responders and congregations alike realize the fullness of Life offered to all.

The church in transition: equipping congregational leaders for missional discernment

Author
Kevin M Starcher
Abstract
This project explores the hypothesis that a meaningful grounding in theological thought will yield richer and nuanced understanding of congregational growth in a transitioning Christian society. The project consisted of intentional education, research and analysis of the intersections of evangelism, Family Systems Theory, Reformed theology, cultural exegesis, and Christian missiology, and used these understandings to explore and analyze growing Presbyterian (PCUSA) congregations in the American West. The results of this qualitative research indicated that project participants valued the process and felt the project was helpful for a congregation experiencing numeric/cultural transition.

A Christian Exploration of African American Masculinity

Author
Clarence Lanely
Abstract
A Christian Exploration of African American Masculinity examines the cultural complexities of masculinity by investigating manhood acts and how they are enacted by African American men in their quest to obtain masculine (patriarchal) power. Those with cultural power, mostly white men, deny power to white women, men and women of color. In this project, biblical, cultural and theological insights are explored that offer African American men a life giving and progressive masculinity. The incarnation of Christ offers an image of masculinity that frees men to follow Him, allowing men to be in relationships with others in intimate and meaningful ways.

A Collegiate Exploration into Celtic Spirituality

Author
Casey L Callahan
Abstract
This project seeks to educate college students about the particular spiritual understandings and practices of the ancient Celtic peoples and to establish an historical, religious connection with their own instinctive spiritual insights and practices through the development, implementation, and evaluation of an educational curriculum. "Thin Places: A Collegiate Exploration into Celtic Spirituality" utilizes teaching sessions and engaging experiences framed around "Five Essential Threads" of historic Celtic spirituality.

Engaging Aging Church Members Faithful Living in a Covenant Community

Author
Deborah K Uchtman
Abstract
This project explores why it is that some aging church members in my context experience a feeling of hopelessness and seem to disconnect from their faith. This question will be explored with the book of Ruth and in particular, the character of Naomi through a bible study, sermon series and a special congregational event that features a storyteller.
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