• Hardwired For Purpose: A Journey In Reclaiming Call Language As Narrative At University Of Lynchburg

      Brooks, Katrina Stipe
      ABSTRACT KATRINA STIPE BROOKS HARDWIRED FOR PURPOSE: A JOURNEY IN RECLAIMING CALL LANGUAGE AS NARRATIVE AT UNIVERSITY OF LYNCHBURG Under the direction of Dr. Robert N. Nash, Jr., Ph.D. Despite the interpretations of Christian tradition and history, restricting call language exclusively to the ordained lacks biblical support. Reclamation of call and call language requires a new framework to restore it to its original and biblical meaning in the life of the church. This qualitative, ethnographical study investigates a sample population’s journey to reclaim call language and restore it to its original and biblical meaning in the life of the church. The study aims to observe the ability of a sample population, comprised of seven evangelical students, to imagine a new framework for call language as inclusive language for all Christians and assimilate the call language into their personal narrative. Over the course of five sessions, the sample population engaged the biblical text, Call Waiting: God’s Invitation to Youth, and group session materials. Responses to the reflection questions and session materials were recorded in the student journal entries. In addition to the journal entries, the session engagement tools, the project evaluation rubric, and call stories written by the sample population served as data collection tools items. Analysis of the collected research data indicates the sample population engaged the sessions at a high level and assimilated the call language into their personal narrative as evidenced in their journal entries and call stories. Recommendations for further study include: changing the sample population profile and analyze the data’s connection to the project goals, substitute a different text and/or reflection questions, increase the number of sessions, change the context to the church, and explore call and call language in the life of the ordained. Another recommendation for further study would be finding a church that implemented call language as inclusive language for all Christians and explore the catalyst for change, methodology implemented, or impact on the membership.
    • Haunted By Faith: An Ethnographic Study of Signals of Transcendence in Nones

      Napier, Nathaniel James; McAfee School of Theology
      Study after study demonstrates that Christendom is no longer the dominant regulative force it once was. Faith, specifically faith in the Christian story, can no longer be presumed as the dominant narrative in West. According to Pew Research, 1/5 of the US public and 1/3 of adults under 30 years of age, are now no longer religiously affiliated. To press the point further, Nones (persons who claim no religious affiliation) now comprise 20% of the total adult population and it is estimated only 15-20% of the US population regularly attends Sunday worship. The cultural landscape of American religiosity has shifted. This new culture, dubbed by philosopher Charles Taylor as A Secular Age, is milieu in which the church now finds itself. Given the rise of the Nones, the church now has a mandate not only to label them, but to understand them so that it can better understand how to communicate the Gospel in a changing world. While data demonstrates a lack of devotion to institutional religion, one may wonder if there are expressions of something more than immanence in the lives of those that claim to be Nones? Is there a non-reducible experience to which their lives attest, expressions that are regular occurrences but not empirically justified? If so, what are they and might these expressions be a means of connecting people of faith to people who are non-religious? To this end, this thesis ethnographically explores the sociological phenomena of signals of transcendence in Nones as a means of discerning where the old world of the gods may still be operative experientially for those that have never been a part of organized faith. As a point of further novelty, this thesis does not interview former Christians, but focuses on those who have been raised in this Secular Age and never had a personal confession of faith. To accomplish this goal, this thesis has three primary large movements: theory (chapter 2), method (chapter 3), and research (chapter 4). After introducing the parameters of the thesis in chapter 1, chapter 2, explores the philosophical, biblical, and theological foundations within which to understand this problem and engage it. Charles Taylor sets the stage of our problem, providing a history of ideas that lead to our context. Pierre Bourdieu’s sociological theory then provides a frame for understanding human behavior from within his concepts of habitus and field. The Book of Acts and the Psalter provide biblical engagement. Finally, phenomenology as theological method is introduced, and an anthropological model of contextual missions issued. In chapter 3, method is specifically framed, with special attention to the various sorts of transcendence at work in persons. The project goes into greater statistical depth about the church’s cultural challenges, and then turns its attention to the qualitative approach at work in this thesis and the reflexive interviewing method employed. This chapter ends with a brief description of the participants and a pastoral understanding of the role of ethnography within the missional enterprise of the church. Chapter 4 is the main body of the reflexive interview process with human subjects and the application of ethnographic technique. This chapter uses five registers of Peter Berger and Edward Farley that occur across all interviews as a means of interpreting participant data. The categories of Tradition, Obligation, Play, Damnation, and Hope are explored in detail as viable transcendent signals in Nones. This chapter ends by framing these findings. Lastly, the thesis concludes by offering a summation of the research and offering a taxonomy of deep symbols that are embodied in Nones. It presents the novel findings of the research, including the new root metaphor of Home for all signals. Finally, it argues that ethnography must be included in any new missiological mandate of the church.
    • Healing Through Story: Exploring The Use Of Storytelling Preaching As A Means For Healing A Congregation

      Collins, Robert Don
      This project explores a preaching approach to healing a congregation that has experienced serious conflict within the church. Through the use of storytelling preaching, this project studies the ability of a story to break through the emotional barriers and deep-seated fears within a congregation. The goal of this project was to guide congregants toward overcoming their fears associated with major church conflict. This project is a qualitative study that utilized guided group discussions and a six-week sermon series to promote healing across a congregation. The sermon series exclusively and purposefully used a storytelling approach to preaching. Group discussions occurring before and after the sermon series provided data about the amount of church-related fear experienced by the participants and the progress made at the conclusion of the sermon series. This project guided the congregation to engage biblical stories throughout the sermon series that focused on overcoming fear associated with crises, conflict, and change. Hearing these stories helped people remember their own stories and embrace God’s call on their lives and the life of their church. The results indicate that storytelling preaching is a useful tool for helping a congregation moved beyond their fears and into a season of healing and hope. The project participants exhibited decreased levels of fear and a healthier understanding of their fear. They also demonstrated a much higher level of hope about their church and its future. Further study is needed to truly understand the full potential of combining group discussions with sermons to create a healing atmosphere and culture throughout the congregation.
    • Helping The Helper: Analyzing The Effects Of Clinical Supervision On Levels Of Burnout

      White, Adrienne Denise
      The hallmark of mental health counseling requires working with people who are experiencing current or previous pain, trauma, stress, grief, anxiety, as well as various complicated psychological needs (Maslach et al, 1996). The constant experience of sadness and emotional fatigue can lead to a form of stress called burnout. Studies report that beginning counselors have been shown to be more vulnerable to symptoms of burnout (Freudenberger, 1990; Tziporah and Pace, 2006). However, despite the knowledge and research on burnout, little attention is devoted to the therapeutic value of beginning counselor’s engagement in clinical supervision to combat symptoms of burnout. This research evaluated and identified a significant relationship between the symptoms of burnout, using the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), and supervision styles, using the Supervisory Style Inventory (SSI) among beginning counselors in the United States of America.
    • Hidden Figures No More: Factors That Contribute To Stem Graduate Degree Attainment In African American Women

      Booker, Ansley Alicia
      The purpose of this study was to explore the lived experiences of African American women with STEM doctoral/professional degrees to gain insight into their unique perspectives of barriers that inhibited and catalysts that facilitated their matriculation, graduation, and job success. The methodological approach used to address the research problem was qualitative, specifically grounded theory, to allow each participant to describe her journey and experiences as an African American woman STEM graduate. Participants held doctoral/professional degrees in computer science, physical sciences, or engineering. A purposeful sample of the population was interviewed in order to provide a narrative account of their persistence. The data unearthed seven major themes including Effects of the “Double Bind�?, Effects of Academic Environment, Intrinsic Constructs, Influence of Support, Barriers, Facilitators, and Career Determining Factors as it relates to African American women overcoming barriers in STEM graduate degree attainment and career choice.
    • High School Students' Physics Epistemological Beliefs

      Smeltzer-Schwab, Audrey D.
      ABSTRACT AUDREY D. SMELTZER-SCHWAB HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS’ PHYSICS EPISTEMOLOGICAL BELIEFS Under the direction of KAREN W. SWANSON, Ed.D. This study was conducted to examine the extent to which high school students’ physics epistemological beliefs varied from the beginning of the semester where they had no physics instruction and after 11 weeks of high school physics instruction. A correlational study was conducted in the fall of 2017 at an urban high school in southeastern Pennsylvania. Fifty-two students completed the Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey (CLASS) before any physics instruction. The CLASS was also completed by the same students after 11 weeks of high school physics instruction. Scores were evaluated on a 1 to 5 scale, ranking students’ physics epistemological beliefs on a novice-to-expert continuum. Data was analyzed with a repeated measures ANOVA. A statistical significance was found between the overall pretest and posttest scores. All of the mean scores for the posttests were higher than the pretests, showing that physics epistemological beliefs became more expert-like with more physics instruction. Overall, none of the controlling factors were influential. In terms of the controlling variables, gender, grade level, and GPA had no statistical significance on any category of the CLASS. Ethnicity was statistically significant in the Personal Interest category and socioeconomic status statistically impacted the Problem Solving Sophistication category. Small to medium effect sizes were observed throughout the study. Results from this study demonstrated that high school students’ physics epistemological beliefs can become more expert-like in high school after traditional physics instruction. However, further study on high school students’ physics epistemological beliefs is necessary.
    • Histone Acetylation Patterning: A New Direction To Reveal The Clinical Efficacy Of Hdac Inhibitors

      Nguyen, Trang Thuy Thi
      Recent data highlight the virtually unlimited therapeutic potentials of histone deacetylation (HDAC) inhibitors in treating cancer, inflammatory diseases, and psychiatric disorders. This unlimited therapeutic potential is due to the pleiotropic effects of HDAC inhibitors at cellular and systemic levels. The wide range of effects induced by HDAC inhibitors may have different consequences on histone acetylation that may result in various responses from cell type to cell type and from individual to individual. In this project, we used six different transformed mammalian cell lines from three species and different tissues. We treated them with sodium butyrate (NaBu), vorinostat (SAHA), and trichostatin A (TSA). After that, we used high-resolution two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis to resolve histones and show the global changes in histone acetylation without using antibodies. We found that NaBu, SAHA, and TSA differentially caused an increase in acetylation of core histones in different cell lines. This result indicates that HDAC inhibitors may cause differential epigenetic patterning in different cell types. Thus, we chose seven different HDAC inhibitor drugs, which belong to different classes, to treat the HEK cells. The purpose of this experiment was to test how different HDAC inhibitor drugs affect the histone acetylation in one cell line. We hypothesized that HDAC inhibitor drugs differentially targeted histone subtypes with potentially differing consequences in chromatin structure, gene activity, and clinical outcomes. We found that both canonical and variants histones involved in histone modification and acetylated in a sequence. We proposed that the histone acetylation pattern may be a new way to learn the efficacy of HDAC inhibitor drugs.
    • Histone Variants In Gene Therapy And Cancer Epigenetics / By Earnest Landon Taylor

      Taylor, Earnest Landon
      Part I Enhancement of DNA transfection by NP, a highly basic and reversibly phosphorylated peptide derived from the N-terminal region of sea urchin sperm histone variant SpH1, was investigated in HEK293 cell cultures. NP and its corresponding C-terminal peptide CP were prepared by digestion of purified SpH1 with Staphylococcus aureus V8 protease followed by separation of the resulting N-terminal and C-terminal peptides using hydroxylapatite chromatography. Transfection vectors containing NP or CP, NP or CP mixed with polyethylenimine (NP-PEI and CP-PEI, respectively) and NP or CP crosslinked to PEI (NPxPEI and CPxPEI, respectively) were generated and mixed with a plasmid bearing a FLAG-tagged beta-2-adrenergic-receptor gene (FLAG-β_2AR) to create the corresponding transfection complexes. Free peptides (NP and CP) didn’t enhance transfection, rather they suppress transfection compared to PEI alone. Transfection efficiency of chemically crosslinked NPxPEI-DNA enhances transfection rate up to 1.4 fold increase compared to PEI-DNA. The data shows that the NPxPEI vehicle had an improved condensing capability than that of PEI alone at same mass ratio. Our results demonstrate that NP is a potential transfection vehicle when crosslinked with PEI. Part II Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States and accounts for 25% of deaths, which are roughly 1,600 deaths per day, and almost 587,000 deaths per year. Cells become cancerous due either to changes to their DNA or epigenetic alterations that cause misregulation of histone modifications. The acetylation alterations of H2A, H2B, H3, and H4 histone were also screened by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis. The retinoblastoma binding protein 2 (RBP2), a histone demethylase belongs to the JARID1 protein family and is known to demethylate the H3K4 methyl groups. First, Wbras and H2009 cells lines will be screened for expression of RBP2 by western blot analysis. The histone deacetylation drugs, Vorinostat, MS-275 and 4-Phenyl-3-Butenoic Acid (PBA) were used at varying concentrations ranging, to test its effect on the expression of RBP2 and H3K4 methylation marks in H2009 and WBras1 cells. Results indicate that PBA showed the ability to increase covalent histone modification of H3, H4 and H2B in WBras1 cells while only modifying H3 and H4 in H2009 cells, and very similar migration patterns can be seen with it structurally similar compound Vorinostat (SAHA). RBP2 expression was decreased when treated with MS-275, SAHA and PBA, which lead to an increase in H3K4me2 and H3K4me3 expression.
    • Housing As If People Matter: Analyzing The Impact Of Interpersonal Interaction And Increased Familiarity On Housing-related Decision-making In The Old West End Neighborhood Of Danville, Virginia

      Hearne, Joshua
      ABSTRACT JOSHUA DAVID HEARNE HOUSING AS IF PEOPLE MATTER: ANALYZING THE IMPACT OF INTERPERSONAL INTERACTION AND INCREASED FAMILIARITY ON HOUSING-RELATED DECISION-MAKING IN THE OLD WEST END NEIGHBORHOOD OF DANVILLE, VIRGINIA Under the direction of Rev. Melissa Browning, Ph.D., Supervisor This project explores the degree that a deeper level of familiarity between diverse persons has an impact on the way they think about housing-related priorities and factors. More specifically, this project analyzes how both insiders and outsiders to a particular neighborhood (the Old West End in Danville, Virginia) think about housing in the context of a particular neighborhood both before and after getting to know each other over the course of a series of meals. In establishing its context and ideological foundation, this project considers the history of housing policy in the United States in light of the work of E.F. Schumacher and John M. Perkins. By applying both Schumacher’s person-focused economic principles and Perkins’ philosophy of community development as a lens through which to consider housing-related decision-making, the project explores a philosophy of housing-related decision-making that is both person-focused and rooted in Jewish and Christian scripture and theology. This project uses two instruments to gather data both before and after a set of meals that included both free and guided conversation. The first instrument asks participants to rank a set of fourteen housing-related decision-making factors from most important to least important. The second instrument is an interview including questions designed to gather each participant’s latent and manifest values related to housing as well as what they perceive to be the assets and challenges of the neighborhood. Administering the same instruments both before and after the meals and conversations produced data about how priorities, values, perceived assets, and perceived challenges converged and diverged among participants from before to after the meals. The data demonstrates that interpersonal contact and increased familiarity have the effect of producing some convergence of opinion on matters discussed at some length during the meals as well as producing an overall increase in participant confidence as to the relative importance of some housing-related decision-making factors. Further study of the data as it relates to other demographic differences would likely be beneficial. Additionally, it would be valuable to consider how the data changes over a longer period of time and with greater degrees of interpersonal contact and increased familiarity.
    • How A Philosophical Assessment of the Text of Mark 4:34-41 Illuminates an Understanding of Divine Authority in the Person of Jesus

      Robleto, Moises; McAfee School of Theology
      ABSTRACT (Under the direction of JEFFREY WILLETS, Ph.D.) Explicitly or implicitly and whether we like it or not, there are problems which arise when modern Christians read the Bible as a Christian text, as part of their religious practice. The focus of this study will be on the philosophical problems caused by the historical distance between the Biblical world and ours. Those problems arise when a modern lens is applied to an ancient religious text. In this thesis, I will give particular focus to the ways that conceptual confusions arise in understanding the text by providing a philosophical analysis of the concept of miracles in Mark 4:35-41 and how this Biblical account in the life of Jesus and his disciples illuminates the concept of divine authority. I will show how modern assumptions can distort readings and meanings of the text. I will also show how the reading of the text may be freed from these confused assumptions by making a philosophical assessment of the concept of miracles to support the claim of Jesus’ divinity. There are many philosophical questions to be asked about what we find in the text of Mark 4:35-41 regarding a miracle performed by Jesus and how we can ascribe sense to it as twenty-first century readers of the Bible. The stated purpose for undertaking this inquiry was to study the concept of “Divine Authority” this was accomplished by means of a thorough study of leading postmodern scholars own published writings, and lectures, giving special consideration to the work in Philosophy of Christianity by Gareth Moore. How are we to understand the story of Jesus calming a storm? Such writings tended and clarified what we find in the story of a Storm Stilled. The story is not told in causal terms, it is not a matter of cause and effect, in fact, the story is told as one simple command and nature obeys. And so in this essay I respond to the disciples question, not “How did he do it” but, the real question, “What sort of a man is this, that even the winds and sea obey him?”
    • How Can Music Assist in the Subversive Intent of the Eucharist?

      LeGrand, Caroline Dean; McAfee School of Theology
      This thesis explores the Christian ritual of the Eucharist in conjunction with another crucial Christian ritual element—music. It first looks to scripture—1 Cor 11:17-34—and considers what the Apostle Paul believed was the original intent of the Eucharist as established by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper. The conclusion is that it is intended to be a subversive ritual for liberative communal change. The thesis then takes a shift to explore music and its capacity to both solidify and, contrastingly, subvert the existing structure of communities. Operating through the lens of postcolonial theory, it asserts that music can allow subaltern peoples to subvert hegemonic culture through musical hybridity. The thesis finally brings these two elements together—Eucharist and music—to explore how music can assist this subversive intent of the Eucharist in contemporary worship practice. The conclusion is that hybrid music can be applied in the worship of congregations where a hegemonic culture is in the majority population in order to disrupt the homogeneity of that congregation’s music practices and allow outside voices—the voices of the subaltern—into the boundaries of the community, thereby beginning to shift a community’s hierarchical social structure. This hybrid music worship practice, crucially at the moment of the Eucharist, assists the Eucharist in fulfilling its intent to liberate oppressed peoples. The hope is that the method established in this thesis can be applied wherever hegemonic and subaltern forces are at play in the world.
    • How Does Using a Trauma-Informed Preaching Framework Influence Hearers' Experience of Shalomic-Healing During The Preaching Event?

      Gill, Tara Ann; McAfee School of Theology
      (Under the direction of Angela Parker, Ph.D.) Ten minority ministers from four Churches of God engaged a three-part sermon series addressing trauma. The sermons exhibited features of the ICONS Trauma-Informed Preaching Framework. This study was designed to determine if people could experience those features of the framework and thereby experience aspects of Shalomic-Healing. The purpose of the study is to determine the efficacy of the framework as a vehicle for mediating Shalomic-Healing and to refine the framework if research findings dictate such. The study shows the promising effectiveness of the ICONS Trauma-Informed Preaching Framework as evidenced by participants experiencing the features of the framework, which is indicative of the in-breaking of Shalomic-Healing.
    • "I Just Can't Give Up Now": An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis Of The Role Of Spirituality In The Persistence To Graduation Of African American Male Students At Four-Year Institutions

      Wright, Brandon Joseph; Tift College of Education
      African American males have had the lowest baccalaureate graduation rates compared to all other races/ethnicities and genders in higher education (NCES, 2019). Researchers have identified salient factors that contribute to or impede this population’s persistence to graduation to mitigate this problem. One factor contributing significantly to African American males’ college persistence is spirituality (Herndon, 2003; Riggins et al., 2008; Salinas et al., 2018; Walker & Dixon, 2002; Watson, 2006; Wood & Hilton, 2012b). Thus, the purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the role of spirituality in the persistence to graduation of African American male students at four-year institutions. Smith et al.’s (2009) interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was chosen as the research methodology for the study. Using criterion, homogenous, and snowball sampling techniques, the researcher recruited 14 participants. All participants were African American males who had graduated from a four-year institution in the 2018-2021 year span. The researcher employed one-on-one, semi-structured interviews (12 participants) or an electronic, open-ended questionnaire (2 participants) as data collection methods. The researcher used an audit trail, a reflexivity journal, triangulation, member checking, and rich, thick descriptions to ensure trustworthiness. The researcher used Smith et al.’s (2009) six-steps of data analysis and NVivo to analyze the data presented. The seven superordinate themes that emerged were (1) Spiritual Beginnings, (2) Embracing Identity, (3) Interconnectedness, (4) Oppositional Stimuli, (5) Spiritual Coping Practices, (6) The Spiritual Resolutions, and (7) Spiritual Enrichment. The results of this study suggest that spirituality functioned as a transcendent source of support that provided connection, operated as a coping mechanism, and enriched the lives of African American male college students. In sum, these three auxiliary functions of spirituality supported the participants’ persistence to graduation. Based upon the findings, the researcher recommends a future mixed-methods longitudinal study utilizing the College Students Beliefs and Values (CSBV) survey to track Black males from admission to degree completion. The spiritual and religious measures of the CSBV are comparable to the findings of this study. The researcher also recommends studies to focus on the intersectionality of spirituality, sexuality, and Black identity development of Black queer college males; African American spirituality in Black male college persistence; and spirituality and academic disidentification of Black college males.