• A Building Ministry: The Role Of A United Methodist Minister In The Major Building Project Of Dublin First Umc, A Large Historic Church

      Plaxico, David Tyler
      ABSTRACT DAVID TYLER PLAXICO A BUILDING MINISTRY: THE ROLE OF A UNITED METHODIST MINISTER IN THE MAJOR BUILDING PROJECT OF DUBLIN FIRST UMC, A LARGE HISTORIC CHURCH Under the direction of GRAHAM WALKER, Ph.D. Dublin First United Methodist Church is a large historic United Methodist Church located in downtown Dublin, GA. This church is much like many of its kind; it has a long proud history of effective ministry in the community in which it resides. For over 150 years DFUMC has been a faithful body of believers bent on making disciples of Jesus Christ from its location in the heart of Dublin. As time has progressed, the facilities of the church have begun to decline and the existing structure became much in need of renovation, remodel and new construction. The leadership of DFUMC decided that a Building Project was needed to directly address these acknowledged needs in order for the church to continue to be a place of meaningful worship, study and fellowship. The purpose of this Project Thesis came as a result of this decision and of the desire to ascertain what the specific role the Senior Pastor of the church would be in this building project. In pursuit of this end, extensive research on pastoral identity, sacred architecture, institutional change theory and Christian leadership was conducted. Following this research, Qualitative Research methodology was employed through the utilization of subject interviews. The interviews were focused on similarly situated Senior Pastors of large historic UMC congregations that have or were currently undergoing a ! ix ! similar large Building Project. Four such Senior Pastors were chosen according to these criteria and were interviewed using identical targeted interrogatories. The data gleaned from these interviews was then analyzed by coding the resulting information. Specific categories and codes that were identified as pertinent to the study were identified and the data was examined accordingly. The findings were that there is indeed a specific role for the Senior Pastor of a large historic UMC in a Building Project of this type. The identified role was that of a “Managing Agent of Visionary Change.�? The future study of this work is varied and includes the continued examination of Pastoral Identity and perceived ministerial responsibility as it pertains to particular congregations and to the church-specific needs of a Senior Pastor. The information gathered and examined in this Project Thesis may be expanded accordingly and may serve as a foundation for studies on ministerial responsibility within the UMC.
    • A Disrupting Word: Preaching A Theology Of "god As Event" To Engage Theological Reflection

      Thomas, Christopher Paul
      The project outlined in this thesis examined the role of preaching in engaging members of an established, traditional congregation by using the narrative, inductive style of the New Homiletic, with the theological lens of John Caputo’s “God as Event.�? This project took place over five weeks at the First Baptist Church of Williams, with the primary goals of examining how members of the congregation hear theology in sermons, use what they hear to articulate their own theological beliefs, and how discussing such theology leads to the identification of an emerging, local theology. Eight members of Williams volunteered to participate in five focus group sessions which met the afternoon of each Sunday when the sermons were preached. During these sessions I served as a participant-observer, keeping the focus group sessions on track with guiding questions, while recording each session for data analysis. The data collected from these focus group sessions was analyzed in order to examine how the project met the three goals described. The focus group data demonstrated how members of the congregation had heard the theology present in the sermons, often repeating words, phrases, and specific theological ideas directly from the sermon. The data demonstrated how participants borrowed this language to describe their own beliefs, while also reflecting critically on the theological ideas presented in the sermons. Furthermore, the data showed how these eight members began to identify a local theology in the congregation and surrounding community and how they might critically engage with this emerging, local theology. There is the potential for further study concerning the role of preaching in shaping theology in the postmodern, post-Christian era. There is also potential for studying how preaching itself may make space for deconstruction within the confines of a traditional congregation. This project presents the possibility for wider conversations concerning preaching’s role in the theological development of the postmodern Church.
    • African American Clergy Engaging In Pastoral Care And Counseling And Affirmative Counseling With Sexual Minorities

      Estelhomme, Cherry D.
      This qualitative research study will look at how African American Pastors and clergy members offer effective Pastoral Care and Counseling and Affirmative Counseling regardless of their theological understanding of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, in the context of Biblical interpretation, morality, and civil rights. In the African American community, clergy members are frequently viewed as the binding agent that holds all things together, including influencing family stability and areas of social concern. These clergy members have been tasked with counseling parishioners who are dealing with some of the most complex questions and patterns of thought, including political issues of social, racial, and economic equality. African American clergy members tend to preach scriptural texts from a literal point of view especially regarding sexual morality and have traditionally been strongly opposed to same sex marriage (Robertson, & Avent, 2016). These same ethnic minorities were accused of perpetrating the same discrimination that has held down their own disadvantaged racial communities. (Brown, 2007). However, for many of these clergy members, the debate has not always been about civil and/or legal rights, instead the argument against same-sex marriage had more to do with Biblical interpretation and moral standings (Barnes, 2013; Waweru, 2009). Keywords: African American, clergy, Pastor, The Black Church, marriage, same-sex marriage, Pastoral Care and Counseling, Affirmative Counseling/Therapy, interracial marriage, homosexual, homosexuality, homophobic, heterosexual, heteronormative, heterosexist, gender, pastoral care, race, religion, theology, Biblical interpretation, morality, civil rights, race relations.
    • Approaching The Tomb: How Scriptural Reflection And Hospice Education Influence The Church's Conversations About Death And Dying

      Duckworth, Darian
      DARIAN ELISE DUCKWORTH APPROACHING THE TOMB: HOW SCRIPTURAL REFLECTION AND HOSPICE EDUCATION INFLUENCE THE CHURCH’S CONVERSATIONS ABOUT DEATH AND DYING Under the Direction of CHANEQUA WALKER-BARNES, Ph.D. First United Methodist Church of West Point, Mississippi, is a multigenerational congregation experiencing growth in membership. Much of the church’s energy goes into activities for those able to come to the church building. The problem that has developed is that the homebound members and those who are nearing death are at risk of feeling isolated from the community of faith. The project developed as a way to identify what might cause church members to shy away from one another’s deathbeds. The goal of the project was to provide space in the local church for conversations on dying, death, and resurrection. The project measured the effects of Bible study and hospice education on the church’s ability to talk about death and dying. The intention was to help members of the local church articulate and reflect on which components of the end of life of their loved ones evoked discomfort and unease. The seven-week project consisted of a group interview in the first session, three sessions of Bible study on John 11:17-44, two sessions of hospice education, and a group interview in the final session. The project’s methodology involved qualitative research with data collection from group interviews and discussion. Data came from the two group interviews. The type of analysis used was phenomenological inquiry. The results of the project suggested that lack of medical information about the end of life and a lack of theological reflection about death in the local church contribute to people’s fears of talking about death and dying. There was concern expressed in the group about the suffering of the human body as death nears. Developing trust and relationships, especially through storytelling, helped enable conversations in the context of a small group. The study began with asking questions of a group but has become the beginning of a conversation that the local church can continue. Further study would include expanding the hospice education to others in the congregation, perhaps in conjunction with a sermon series on life after death. I would also hope that the project could become a small group study for use in other congregations.
    • Beyond Borders: A Christian Ethical Response to Border Control in the United States

      Ball, Jeremy A; McAfee School of Theology
      Border control is a sociopolitical issue in the United States that has ignited heated conversation and, in some cases, caused division among U.S. citizens. In the midst of seeking solutions to better secure our nation’s borders, many have neglected the fact that there is currently a human crisis at the southwestern border. Thousands of migrant children have been separated from their families and are now forced to live in detention centers where there is a lack of food and proper shelter. There have also been numerous deaths for those attempting to cross our border. Keeping in mind the suffering, the objective of this study is to suggest a Christian ethical response to the crisis at the border. Providing a political analysis of border control and an exegetical study of biblical passages that may be applicable to the current crisis, this thesis proposes principles and policies that U.S. Christians must embrace in order to see the suffering come to an end. While border control is an issue worthy of recognition, my thesis concludes that the well-being of migrants must be prioritized above other matters and that neutrality in the midst of suffering is not a virtuous option for Christians.
    • Breaking The Silence: Courageous Conversations About Race And Reconciliation In The Local Church

      Barnett, Benjamin Uriah
      ABSTRACT BENJAMIN URIAH BARNETT, JR. BREAKING THE SILENCE: COURAGEOUS CONVERSATIONS ABOUT RACE & RECONCILIATION IN THE LOCAL CHURCH Under the direction of DAVID HULL, D.MIN. Fifteen participants engaged in courageous conversations over four weeks to measure how safe, spiritual, and strategic small groups are in breaking through the deafening silence that quite often mutes racial discourse. This project is a qualitative study which used a video series entitled Vital Conversation, which is produced by GCORR (General Commission on Race and Religion) of the United Methodist Church. After viewing each video, fifteen participants then engaged in dialogue based upon questions included with each video session. The results of this research indicate that small groups are a safe, spiritual, and strategic way to break the silence of racial discourse. As each week progressed, participants experienced increased trust in one another and the group. Further study is needed to determine if these small groups are effective with persons who do not share similar commonalities.
    • C.H.A.R.I.S: A Pilot Study Exploring the Potential Effectiveness of an Intrapersonal Forgiveness Model that Utilizes Spiritual and Psychological Perspectives in a Group Process at Redemptive Life Christian Fellowship

      Peabody Smith, Jaye; McAfee School of Theology
      Six African American women from Redemptive Life Christian Fellowship engaged in a six-week psychoeducational group process to overcome their barriers to forgiveness. The curriculum used was called “The CHARIS Model.” This is a pilot study of the CHARIS Model, a uniquely developed psychoeducational group curriculum that addresses spiritual and psychological aspects of interpersonal forgiveness. This pilot study seeks to explore the potential effectiveness of the CHARIS curriculum in the process of interpersonal forgiveness. The study is a mixed-methods approach, quasi-experimental, pre-post test non-comparative pilot study. The study examined the effectiveness of the intervention on the process of inter-personal forgiveness using the General Measure of Forgiveness (GMF) assessment tool (Law, 2008). Qualitative questions were answered by the participants at the end of each weekly group meeting to acquire participants' views of the CHARIS curriculum and the study. The study shows the promising effectiveness of the CHARIS Model. Participants overcame barriers to forgiveness as indicated in the pre and post-assessment of the General Measure of Forgiveness. The group process, in a church setting, provided a community for the participants. Bridging together spiritual and psychological approaches significantly enhanced the forgiveness process.