• Coping with Death and Grief: Mount Zion Baptist Church Widows' Stories

      Bright, Eddie Lee; McAfee School of Theology
      ABSTRACT EDDIE LEE BRIGHT COPING WITH DEATH AND GRIEF: MOUNT ZION BAPTIST CHURCH WIDOWS’ STORIES Under the direction of DENISE M. MASSEY, PH.D. Three widows were selected from Mount Zion Baptist Church to participate in my thesis project on Death and Grief. Their stories are individually told respectively as shared by them during the interview sessions. Although a semi-structured format was used and open-ended questions were asked, their stories are conveyed in this writing through a narrative as opposed to a verbatim style. Three widows were chosen and deemed sufficient to satisfy this project and to attain the data necessary to organize the Death and Grief Ministry. Two distinctive criteria existed among the chosen participants: (1) Widows had to have been married more than half their years of age when their husbands died. This criterion enabled the project to specifically examine the effect a loss of a husband has on a widow in a relationship that lasted more than half of the existence of her life. (2) Widows must have had the same husband the entire length of their marriage, without separation and/or divorce, regardless of whether the remarriage was to the former husband. This project empowers widows to share their stories, including their thoughts and feelings concerning how their spouses’ death has affected them. Because the narration comes directly from the widows, the uniqueness of each woman’s plight has been demonstrated. These widows’ stories will also be used to educate the congregation and community on how to cope with death and grief based on their shared experiences and stories. The long-term intention of this project is to institute a Death and Grief Ministry at Mt. Zion.
    • Facilitating Transformation Through Narrative Stories at Lakewood Church of Hope

      Burke, Gary; McAfee School of Theology
      This project studied the impact of narrative stories on the life of certain church members at the Lakewood Church of Hope. This unconventional method of ministering to the Members and Guests of LCH to the Lakewood Heights Community will help improve the community's overall spiritual well-being. Through this research, this researcher intended to build stronger spiritual relationships in the Lakewood Heights Community. Initial interviews were conducted with eight men as potential volunteers for this project. Of the eight men, six volunteered to participate in the study. Pre-interviews and post-interviews were recorded and coded to look for keywords and terms. The desired outcome is that the language and terms used at the beginning of the project interviews were expanded in the final interviews as a result of the weekly sessions. The meetings were observed and noted as the volunteers responded to the activities over the course of six weeks. I gave more attention to the language used over the six-week timeline. The results were coded the results and examined for changes throughout the project. In the post-interview, with the hope that they could teach their stories considering the story of redemption, they were asked what their findings or lessons learned in relation to their experiences from this project were. This project opened a door for further research and maybe new methods. The men that chose to be a part of this series have done more than enough to make this a great experience. Many of them were rather reluctant to share their journey. While the men may not have been ready to dive deep into their emotions, they could have been more inspired to uncover things that they had forced themselves to bury with more opportunities of building trust with one another