Theses & Project Dissertations

Authors A-K

Below are some abstracts of the [MTS, MPS and MTh] theses and [DMin] dissertations in our collection.

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A Study of Factors that Influence Church Attendance of Young Adults in an Inner City Community in Kingston, Jamaica

The objective of this study is to identify some of the cultural, developmental and spiritual factors that relate to young adults and to investigate how these factors affect church attendance. This study was conducted in an inner city community in Kingston in which there is a church with low young adult church attendance in close proximity to the homes of persons used for this study. The target group consisted of young adults between the ages of eighteen to twenty-four years from the community. In addition, young adults and late adults, sixty-five years and over from the church nearby were participants in the process. Questionnaires and focus groups were the methods used for conducting this study. The result showed that cultural, developmental and spiritual factors influenced church attendance of young adults. In addition, some young adults expressed the desire to be guided in spiritual growth. This means that the church community and wider society has a responsibility to be cognizant of these factors that impact the lives of these young adults and influence church attendance. This knowledge will aid in the process of relating to the young adults in both secular and church related matters and in guiding them in understanding the importance of the role of the church in their lives.

Re-Membered by Gaia: An Ecological Journey to Wholeness with Demeter, Persephone and Hecate

This exploration endeavors to answer the question “Is contact with nature transformative?” Does prolonged contact with a particular place over time facilitate the awareness of being/becoming, and how does this experience help us to engage more fully with our own lives?

My own relationship to the place of my birth, the Saskatchewan prairie, is a major source of my data. The prairie is but one incarnation of the great Earth Mother Gaia. In seeking to examine the major transition points in my life as maiden, mother and crone, the underlying reality of Gaia permeates my exploration. The goddesses Persephone, Demeter and Hecate are other incarnations and their common myth is the framework for the central chapters. Another incarnation is, of course, the flesh and blood person of my mother. The exploration of my relationship with her is woven throughout the work.

The literary part of the study is referred to in the literature review, as well as used throughout the reflection. It includes a variety of voices such as nature writers, poets, ecologists, and theologians. A section on the theology/ecology connection precedes my conclusion. I end by noting some limitations and implications of the study, as well as a short reflection on how it has affected me.

The sections of the document which are in italics are my own memories and dreams.

The Image of God in Suicidal Persons

This is a phenomenological study into the image and the experience of God in persons during times of suicidal stress. The study addresses two questions: what is the experience of painful emotions and image of God in suicidal persons, and how can this knowledge be applied in pastoral counselling?

The study also contains a personal and a theological reflection upon Jesus’ experience in Gethsemane. Two semi-structured interviews were recorded with six persons, all of whom had experienced recent suicidal ideation and (a) prior suicide attempt(s). The results were analyzed and revealed five major themes: the experience of emotional pain in suicidal persons; the role of others when in emotional distress; the beliefs about God when not in suicidal distress; the experience of being in relationship to God when not in distress; and the experience of God when in suicidal distress.

This study examines suicide and religion from a constructivist and feminist perspective. How people experience and understand their experience of emotional distress are linked with Jesus’ experience, to deepen how we understand the relationship between images and metaphors of God, and suicidality. Recommendations for practice by pastoral counsellors include encouragement to explore suicidal feelings with clients, to explore and re-image their experience of the divine, and to acknowledge the legitimacy of suicidal feelings.

Themes of Healing as Expressed in Sand Tray Therapy

This thesis uses a heuristic inquiry methodology to discover themes of healing that are expressed within sand tray therapy. As a participant researcher in the children’s trauma and attachment group program at Child and Adolescent Services Association (CASA) of Edmonton, I witnessed the children in the program creating sand trays. I became increasingly intrigued as they made progress towards healing childhood traumas. To learn more about the phenomenon of healing within sand tray therapy, I engaged in my own intensive sand tray therapy experience. The images that arose in my sand trays were powerful and healing for me. This research is valuable because the discovery of symbols to which an individual responds creates a means of communication and an opportunity for healing on the spiritual level. This thesis explores themes of healing as expressed in sand tray therapy from a Jungian theoretical perspective, a heart-based humanist theology, a personal experience of sand tray therapy, and a children’s group therapy program.

Supervision Training: A Holistic Educational Model is based upon research and practice in developing education programs with persons involved in internship oversight.

The first chapter focuses on the theory base for supervision. The thrust of the discussion is on the importance of providing a total experience that nurtures the mind, feelings and spirit of the person being supervised. The neglect of one of these dimensions or the weighting in favour of one to the exclusion of the others raises significant concern. The discussion of the theory also addresses the concern that supervision be an educational task. Education in this context is interpreted to mean change of behaviour, action and attitude. Making those changes requires an intentionality in undertaking the process. The concern is expressed that persons be thoughtful and careful in the goals they choose for their learning process.

The educational process is enhanced by the use of assessment as a tool for focussing learnings. Such things as tasks in ministry, performance of the work, and the capacity of the person to grow in ministry need to be part of the evaluative procedure.

In the context of every supervisory or work setting authority issues and crises emerge. The focus of one section of theory is on authority concerns, the sources and the use of authority. Other portions deal specifically with the dynamics of cross-cultural experiences and sexuality. These two emerge as topics which are clarified to express some of the more sensitive concerns of those engaged in supervision. Both issues, when identified and expressed openly create a significantly different experience for intern and supervisor. Persons who are comfortable with all these concerns will offer the richest educational experiences for an intern.

Chapter II describes the Program on the Ministry of Supervision as it occurred in April 1981. The largest part of the material for the chapter is the identification of workshops provided by the staff of the event. These are written in some detail and provide an insight into the weight given these workshops by staff. There is also briefer descriptions of the variety of other parts of the program: Worship, Base Groups, Individual Supervision, Bouquets and Beefs, Participant Led Workshops, self-study and other resources available to persons attending the program.

Chapter III reviews the research project which was developed to measure change in participants as the result of the two week program. There were six major categories investigated: Self-perception in Ministry, Rose as Supervisor, Intentionality, Giving and Receiving Feedback, Modelling Supervision and the Theological Component of Supervision. The research indicated significant changes in two of the categories for the Ministry of Supervision participants. When examined over the period of the training program to the end of the summer 1981, the Role as Supervisor and the Theological Component of Supervision were different than the results of the Control Group of ministers not attending the program. Interns related to both groups did not show similar results, although the Control Group interns expressed higher levels of intentionality in learning during that period.

Chapter IV provides theological reflection on incidents from the program. Encounters with four of the participants identified issues that had theological content. When resistance to the teaching/learning setting was discovered, an attempt was made to engage it during the program. Subsequent reflection produced a scenario around Harry in RESISTANCE TO SUPERVISION. Some persons willingly engaged in the intentional learning covenants of the supervision program. When Amanda withdrew from the covenant relationship the reflection upon it was COVENANTING INTO THE PROGRAM. Another key area of theological struggle was around AUTHORITY AND SUPERVISION. Marvin engaged other participants and the staff in authority questions. In the midst of the research, and from post-program responses it was discovered that persons may change, but may not maintain the new pattern of living and supervising. Martha brought to our attention the theological issue of ANCHORING CHANGE.

The last chapter expresses the conviction that supervision is an art form. As in art, the supervisory encounter has as its purpose, the exploration of the unknown. Both learner and teacher engage each other to know and understand what they did not know before. The interaction between the two persons in the supervisory setting has the potential to break open previous barriers of communication. Out of the openness there emerges experiences which create a new dimension of understanding. Art then, is found in these added levels of encounter which bring into being the new and beautiful. Supervision, in the final analysis, like good art, presents a vital way of being human.

Violence and the Holy

The holy is perceived by many as God. This thesis began out of a notion that people do violence to others in the name of God. This is not a new idea. It also presumed that people who are violated do violence to themselves through self-blame.

The journey was taken by sharing life stories of five gay males and their understanding of God. Through this journey a new understanding of God was actualized. It is a retreat from the God of Judgment to a God of compassion.

It is a story of pain and suffering and peace and acceptance. It is a story of change and becoming , nurture and growth, pain and joy.

There is a suggestion for the church to become more forthright in its defense of people of difference.

It has been a journey to acceptance. Thanks be to God! I thank my friends for taking the journey with me. We walked together and found the Holy!

Creator, Created, Creating: The Quest to Restore My Soul Through Artistic Spiritual Practice

Creativity is one of the most joyful and ecstatic experiences. Every creative act we perform affirms the unique positive contribution we can make to the world by using our gifts and talents. When we actualize our creative potential we transcend the world of everyday reality and experience a mystical union with God and all of creation. The blessings of creativity are profound and powerful, but the obstacles to personal expression are formidable, often bringing pain and suffering, so courage is needed for the creative life. Using the lens of my own creative quest, I investigated how a relationship with God the Creative Source, developed through artistic spiritual practices, promotes greater self-understanding, heals broken spirits, provides a healthy antidote to stress and addictions, and points the way towards a better future for all life on earth. My research methodology for this thesis was qualitative and heuristic. The research subject was myself. Two questions were the focus of my research, firstly: What good is artistic/creative expression as a spiritual practice to nourish, heal and transform my soul? And secondly: How do I integrate what I have learned through spiritual practice to produce creative works and to find an occupation that will allow me to use my creative gifts and talents fully? Insights gained from my personal journals, artworks and dream interpretations augmented the conventional research process.

Soma of the Mystery: Exploring Presence in the Body

This thesis is an investigation into the experience of individuals who found heightened psycho-spiritual awareness as a result of remaining present their bodies. It is an exploration and a reflection on the effect of becoming present to one’s body, and as such its impact on the perception and life of the individual. It is also about how such an experience connects one to the presence within and then to her role or place in the world of the living. Five themes emerged in this study. They are as follows: surrender, faithfulness, individuation, the mundus imaginalus, and ground of being. The themes coincide as part of an inner process that unfolded through remaining present to the body. What was learned? As one becomes present to the body she becomes present to an inner presence that is both a guiding force and a mystery that connects her more deeply within herself until everyday life is lived with agency from this place. The place within is a presence that is linked to the imaginal realm and yet is physically experienced in the body. Here the creative and imaginative are tapped. Continually returning to the presence through surrendering and faithfulness strengthen the container to withstand an encounter with the imaginal and support and direct living authentically in the present. The ground of being is the body as grail, as container, as root which embodies and holds the experience and provides the door to enter within allowing for the transformation: the spiritualization of the body and the materialization of the Spirit.

Meaning of Hope for Female Spouses of Coronary Artery Bypass Patients in Rehabilitation

Heart disease is a terminal illness that constitutes a leading cause of death among adult males in Canada. The success of corrective coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABGS) treatment has, since its inception in Canada in 1968, created a new female cohort in Canadian society–the rehab spouse. A CABGS procedure cannot correct preventable life style and behavioural factors that directly contribute to the onset of heart disease. Since quality of life is an integral goal of cardiovascular surgery rehabilitation, successful CABGS rehabilitation must mobilize not only the patient’s physical and psychological resources, but also the personal and spiritual resources of the female spouse. Among these resources is hope. Little, if anything however, is known about the meaning of hope for the female rehab spouse of a CABGS patient during the rehabilitation phase 8 to 16 weeks postoperatively.

My multi-media dissertation focuses on the meaning of hope for the female rehab spouse. The five females selected to participate in my study were each a spouse to a CABGS male patient who was active in the Sudbury and Region Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Centre (SRCPRC) program. I conducted a series of individual interviews with each participant who was Caucasian, English speaking, female, and between the ages of 45 and 50 years.

The primary question which determined the direction of my work was: What is the meaning of hope if you are a female spouse of a CABGS patient who is now in cardiac rehabilitation? Utilizing qualitative research method of hermeneutic phenomenology, six hope themes emerged from the data analysis process: hope as absolute, hope as promise, hope as inner voice, hope as well spring, hope as diminished future and hope as new-us. I provide an in-depth review of each of these themes in relation to the research data as well as the hope literature.

Understood within the context of the female rehab spouse’s lived experience, hope is a vital dynamic of her life, is an integral aspect of her social and historical meaning and shows itself as an innate resource that is a complete and certain influence (absolute) that fosters the assurance of the possibility of inner peacefulness (promise) by an irrepressible self-affirmation (inner voice). Hope is an indubitable facet of the vitality of human life (well spring) that causes her to rejoice in the ultimate importance of the present (diminished future) that can vigorously blossom in renewed interpersonal mutuality (new-us). Hope always has a positive effect on her ability to say yes to life.

Pastoral theologians, particularly those in the parish setting, can benefit from these findings. Based on the findings, I present a parish-based pastoral care intervention strategy that has a broad application for the delivery of pastoral hope care to female rehab spouses and that constitutes a prophetic ministry to the female rehab spouse.

The reader must collaborate with author by engaging the findings and extracting their own insights into the meaning of hope for the rehab spouse. It is the hope of this author and of the female rehab spouse participants, that this work will not only provide a springboard for further research, but also contribute to your understanding of the complex meaning of hope that lives in you.

A Story of Becoming: From Miserable Offender to God’s Work of Art

In my introduction, I describe a spontaneous vision where an image of my inner child ran out from the adult me, crying into the arms of Jesus. My research focus was to discover the significance of this child image and her role in my midlife individuation process. I was interested in this because I was seeing clients at this midlife transition point coming with “inner child” issues. Using the lenses of Jungian psychology and Christian theology, I describe and analyze this individuation and healing process. Through references to my personal journals, essays, and art works, I describe the healing of self-esteem issues, of my image of God, of relationships, and of my negative view of sexuality. The appearance of the child in my vision signified three things: wounds from childhood which were affecting present day functioning; an imbalance in my life with too much work and little fun or playfulness; and the creative child archetype. To tell my story, I employed an autoethnographic methodology because it promised to allow for my blossoming creativity and flexibility—the fruit of my individuation journey. The healing of childhood wounds and negative inner messages was accomplished through scriptural prayer and coming to know my beloved-ness in God. Healing also came through the unconditional acceptance and compassion of numerous spiritual directors and counselors. Finally, I have described the emergence of the creative in my life through imagery and art making. Art making has functioned as a liberating activity and has provided a maternal matrix which can receive and contain my feelings and issues.

This is my Body: Folly as the Completion of Sophia

In a world where masculine images of God prevail, women struggle to see their experience of body and soul reflected back to them as sacred. In an effort to correct the bias of male monotheism, feminist theologians are returning to the pages of the Old Testament and the figure of Sophia. She stands tall as a figure of hope and religious significance and commands authority and respect. Yet Sophia shares the very fate of women immersed in patriarchal, socio-cultural systems. She is a feminine image who is alienated from the fundamental ground of woman’s heing, the body.

The Old Testament provides other images of women that express the pain and suffering of the lost feminine. These images, coalesced in the figure of Folly, are as relevant to women’s experience and spirituality as Sophia Reconciling the images of Sophia and Folly provides a new model of wholeness and represents an opportunity to resolve the body\spirit dualism that is deeply engrained in the Judeo-Christian tradition. The creative spirit, the self-discipline and the invitation to transformation that are inherent in the image of Sophia are returned to relationship with the passion and the depths of Folly.

Women’s psychic, spiritual and physical healing, which is symbolized by the integration of the two figures, finds its fullest expression in the unconditional acceptance and celebration of embodiment. Once returned to their bodies, women lose their vulnerability in a patriarchial culture, and find themselves released from their role as suffering scapegoat. When women are reunited with their deepest, truest soul mysteries, the mysteries of the body, they emerge as powerful and sacred healers for the Christian Community.

This study invites us all, women and men, to reflect on what Sophia\Folly, as an integrated image of the feminine, has to say about our spiritual lives, about our faith experience, and about our perception of the Holy in whom we are nestled.

A Heuristic Self-Study and Art Psychotherapy Acculturation Narrative

Acculturation is the study of cultural, psychosocial and psychological changes that can occur when people from different cultures and languages interact in various social settings. This arts based heuristic self-study used Clark Moustakas’ (1990) heuristic methodology, and his six stages “the initial engagement, immersion, incubation, illumination, explication, and creative synthesis” (p. 27) to learn the answers to my research questions. My research questions are: how might I have experienced self, God and others during my early acculturation transition in junior high and high school, and what model of acculturation might I have used during this period? I am a Guyanese-Canadian woman of South American, and West Indian origins. I was born in Dutch Guyana and educated there in the British system until age 11. Then my family immigrated to Canada in October, 1980, where I adjusted to Canadian life and education in Calgary, Alberta. During my early years of acculturation, I attended junior high and high school in Calgary, and for the purpose of this study, I focused on these years. In the appropriate stages of Moustakas’ (1990) six steps, I used insights from Sandy Sela-Smith’s (2002) self-search application; drew from past memories of my early acculturation period by creating spontaneous art expressions with Margaret Naumburg’s (1966) art psychotherapy theory, and reflected on the nine artworks with her Jungian free thought assessment technique. Throughout this study, I used: a journal; a camera and art making supplies (i.e., heavy craft paper, stretched canvases, chalks, coloured pencils, oil pastels, acrylic and oil paints, and brushes). The information collected was comprised of my spontaneous art expressions of what the experience of acculturation was like; and my detailed reflections, captured in my journal, and by digital recording, on what each art piece meant and evoked about that acculturation time and specific events. To validate the findings in this heuristic qualitative self-study I compared my overall acculturation discoveries with: The Cambridge Handbook of Acculturation Psychology (2006) three main theories and four modes an individual may choose during his or her acculturation process. My research findings suggested that the ways I chose to acculturate may have been influenced by my personal culture, family’s collective worldview, spirituality, and my insufficient knowledge about the variances in norms, values, and communication styles in my new culture.

Examining the Lived Experience of Working Women 40-45 Years as they Balanced their Expectations with the Demands of Personal and Family Obligations while Studying

The recent trend in Jamaica whereby increasing numbers of middle aged working people are engaging in lifelong learning have given rise to many unanswered questions. Being a part of the phenomenon, has arouse my curiosity to investigate the experiences encountered by women 40-45 years and to understand the impact on their thoughts and feelings as they balanced their expectations with the demands of their personal and family obligations while they worked and studied. The research examined the lived experience of seven working women 40-45 years who are participating in tertiary studies and who reside in a small community in Saint Catherine Jamaica. A phenomenological research approach and semi-structured in-depth interview instruments were used to collect the data. Phenomenological research design is one of several qualitative research designs. Verbatim dialogue of the participants’ interviews was used as much as possible to present the data. Nine common themes and other themes unique to different participant were revealed. “Determination to achieve” was the essence of the experiences. The findings led to the conclusion that the participants had similar expectations, and they encountered common challenges during the study process. Various strategies were relied on to maintain equilibrium between their expectations and their family obligations.

When Wholeness Comes: Integration of Personal Life Experience with Learning about Ministry

This qualitative research project/dissertation examines the question of how the integration of personal life experience impacts on the ministry student’s learning about how to be a minister and on his or her practice of ministry. This large research question asks subsidiary questions about how formative learning experiences have transformed the participants and informed their practice of ministry, how experience has shaped their values and their sense of what is meaningful in ministry, and how dealing with their formative family of origin issues has impacted ministry.

The study uses the grounded theory methodology of Anselm Strauss and Juliet Corbin. There are three sampling procedures: purposeful, theoretical, and opportunistic.

The project/dissertation relies on four theory bases: theological education, practice of ministry, adult learning theory, and several psychological theories. Theological education literature provides a description of the context of learning as well as indications of the relative absence of the integration which is the subject of this study. Practice of ministry literature stresses the importance of the authentic, autonomous clergyperson who has a healthy sense of authority, a knowledge of self, and who practices self-care. Adult learning theory underlines the significance of the experience of the learner and the meaning that experience has for the learner. Developmental psychology, self-psychology, and family systems theory are the areas of psychological theory used as theory bases. They establish the shaping of one’s meaning system, the significance of affiliation and attachment for women, the origin of self-esteem, and the recurrence of childhood relationship patterns in adulthood.

This study found that the impact of acknowledging, owning, and attending to certain personal life experiences, that is, integrating them into one’s life, has the tendency to move one from alienation toward community, from low self-worth toward autonomy, and from conflict toward compassion/empathy.

This study raises implications for ministry and for its preparation. There is experience of alienation, low self-worth, and conflict among women in ministry that theological educators and judicatories need to address in their students and ministry personnel. Authority is problematic for the participants in this study. They want to reconstruct it in a new way. The curriculum of the theological school is still fragmentary and privileges the acquisition of knowledge over the development of skills and the integration of personal qualities and experience with ministry preparation. Clinical Pastoral Education, therapy, work with peers, internship, and field placements have all facilitated greater integration of personal experience with learning how to be a minister and with the practice of ministry. They need to continue and to be strengthened.

Loneliness, Solitude and Soulful Creation: Women at Midlife and Beyond

This thesis was an investigation into women’s experiences of loneliness and solitude in mid to later life and the impact that soulful creation had on these experiences. It was a reflection on whether the pain of loneliness was decreased, or the practice of solitude was enhanced, when one undertook a creative act that sprang from the soul. The thesis was also written to honour the lonely women who feel forgotten and discarded and to honour the women who dare to seek solitude. The study was undertaken heuristically and involved the author and four co-researchers, as well as our collective creativity. What was learned?  Women are highly creative in unique ways in many areas of their lives. Being creative can indeed ease the pain of loneliness and can sometimes stave off loneliness altogether, although women who are in despair are not always able to be creative.  A creative woman who speaks her truth develops a greater and a deeper sense of value when she does so. Learning is considered to be an important act of creation and has played a large part in the women’s journeys of self-discovery. When women connected to themselves and the Divine, they were “in the flow.” As women approached midlife and old age, solitude was welcomed and appreciated. Solitude, when freely chosen, is another important part of the path to knowing oneself and coming to wholeness. Creative acts figure prominently into the experience of solitude and can be accompanied by silence or filled with dialogue.  When a woman experiences loneliness and solitude, she is doing her soul work. It is this soul work that begins to gather her parts together, to make her whole.

Getting a Heart of Wisdom

This dissertation is the story of “Getting a Heart of Wisdom.” It is the story of my soul’s yearning to clap its hands and sing, and become conscious in elderhood. It is the story of the need for wise-hearted elders in Church and society. It is the story of “getting”, A Heart of Wisdom: Inspiration and Instruction for Conscious Elderhood—the story of creating a book which chronicles my experience of approaching elderhood and offers that experience to meet the needs of Church and society. Chapter One is a review of the literature on conscious elderhood and on art and spirituality. Chapter Two discusses art as a spiritual practice—how it contributes to spiritual formation, personal growth, and the life of the Church. Chapter Three offers a factual narrative of the conception and creation of A Heart of Wisdom. It details how the methodology of Organic Inquiry was used in this project. It also includes a discussion of the photographs, art work, and poetry as they contribute to the theme of conscious elderhood. Chapter Four offers a narrative of the procedure for receiving and processing feedback to the book. There is a discussion of the aesthetic principles by which the book was evaluated, the book’s achievement of its goals, and of how the feedback contributes to my development. Chapter Six offers my final thoughts on the implications of A Heart of Wisdom for Christian ministry, and the field of conscious elderhood, for my ministry, and for my art. Of particular importance is a discussion of the power of image and of the role of nature and art as a spiritual practice in the work of conscious elderhood and to ministry in general.

Listening with Symbolic Ears: A Narrative Exploration of Working with Core Belief Imagery

Imagery is the pre-verbal language of the unconscious. Core images represent our core beliefs. Using narrative inquiry, I have gathered the stories of practice of four therapists who are intentional in their psychotherapeutic use of imagery. I have woven these stories with my own experiences of personal imagery to come to an understanding of the power of imagery to affect core beliefs. Four major themes were identified in the analysis of the conversations with the therapists who acted as story collaborators. They are: 1. Qualities of the Therapeutic Environment, 2. Qualities of Imagery Work, 3. Healing of Relationship, and 4. Trusting the Process.

A Good Death: A Narrative Account at Life’s End

In this study, a narrative account of the final weeks in the life Andy McQ~, a 59-year-old father and husband diagnosed with terminal cancer, is told from the perspective of the Chaplain/Researcher. Other voices present in the narrative include the dying patient, family member, friends, and individuals from the health care team. The study focuses on the question: What is a good death? A single case study approach is used and the data are collected, analyzed, and synthesized using Narrative Inquiry Methods. Themes in the final narrative include “discovery,” “telling,” “crisis,” “transition,” “equilibrium,” and “unto death.” The questions “did Andy McQ~ have a good death?” and “how did I as the Chaplain help foster a good death?” are discussed. Conceptual material from the disciplines of psychology, theology, and ethics broaden the discussion and a redefinition of a good death is proposed. It was concluded that Andy McQ~ did have a good death experience and that the quality of relationships are key in determining whether persons die well or not. Implications are drawn as to how each of us may better prepare for our own demise. The Chaplain’s role in fostering a good death experience is affirmed and discussed and implications for ministry are outlined.

In Name Only? An Examination of the Relationship Between Religious Labelling and Self-Definition

The purpose of this project is to attempt to understand why people who have never involved themselves in any church claim and maintain a religious label and why that label surfaces especially in transition and crisis times. The need to understand arises because pastors are called “to help” these people. Normally, the pastor does not know the person – only that s/he has a denominational label and a need. Too often, the person cannot articulate why s/he has called on the church and its pastor. I decided to investigate the meaning the claimed label held for this group, hypothesizing that the label is an important part of how a person defines or describes him/her-self.

The research was conducted through case studies. The research instrument was a 39 item questionnaire that provided both quantifiable and qualifiable data. Each of the 27 participants was asked in a face-to-face interview about his/her biographical information, heritage, socialization as it pertained to religion, transition and crisis experiences and self-description. Quantifiable responses were then analysed according to marginal statistic techniques and by correlating selected items. The subjective data was used for illustration.

There is significant evidence from the case studies and other research that the label is part of a person’s identity formation, part of how one describes oneself to self and the world beyond self. There was evidence too that during a crisis everything that was not essential to the person was put aside. It was at a crisis time in their lives that the label surfaced most often for this project’s subject population.

There is also evidence that other factors are involved in the label-claiming, factors that could be the subject of further work. Noticeable differences in how men and women, different age groups, and rural and urban people answered certain questions have been recorded. Socio-economic and educational factors were not a part of this research but may have a bearing on the research question.

The implications for pastoral ministry are many. How do we tell the story behind the label to people who have chosen to stay out of the church so long that they do not recognize the basics of that story? How do we be a servant people without moving into being a servicing agency? How do we help the “absentee churched” experience the meaning of the rituals for which they ask? Will we be able to grow and be transformed because of our relationship with the “absentee churched”?

Transforming Word: Developing Your Preaching Voice: A Reflective Study in Preaching for Bi-vocational Ministers

The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the “RLDS” Church) is the second largest body to emerge from the Mormon religious tradition. Although radically divergent theologically from Mormonism, the RLDS movement shares similar priesthood polity with its historical counter-part in that more than ninety-eight percent of its ordained clergy are bi-vocational ministers. Very few are seminary-trained preachers. This project/dissertation examines the creation of a study in preaching for bi-vocational clergy. The course was designed as a reflective model adaptable for classroom, written correspondence and Internet study. The course entitled Transforming Word: Developing Your Preaching Voice was developed from an action-research model drawn from personal reading, study and pragmatic homiletic assumptions found most helpful from the author’s experience as a bi-vocational and career minister and employs the works of several homileticians to enhance understanding of the preaching task. An action-research model of the course was tested in Lamoni, Iowa at the “1998 Congregational Leaders’ Workshop” co-sponsored by the RLDS Church and Graceland College. Ninety-one bi-vocational ministers participated in the ten-hour class. As a result of the testing the topics Interpreting the Text, Theology in the Pulpit, The Propositional Sermon, Sermon Construction, and The Narrative Sermon were reinforced. The ten-hour class was expanded to an undergraduate college credit course and tested at the “1999 Congregational Leaders’ Workshop” at Graceland College. Evaluations from both pilot-tests indicated the materials presented were helpful. The eight study sessions in this Dissertation plus six additional sessions were produced in print and electronic (CD-ROM) format combined with a study videotape as a prototype course for the RLDS Church. The project views preaching as a sacramental act and provides insights on sermon theory, typology, construction, delivery and rhetoric. The project indicates bi-vocational preachers are responsive to the course materials. They want to be effective in their ministry and the course is a response to their identified needs for homiletic training.

Development of Liturgy in Moderate Mormonism: An Historical Overview of Reorganized Latter Day Saints Worship

The dissertation will examine theological development of corporate liturgy within the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. A primary assumption is that the research will provide a clearer understanding of a religious movement that is either relatively unknown to the wider Christian body, or at best, confused with the present Mormon Church.

The Reorganized Church, founded in 1860, (commonly referred to as the “RLDS” or “Saints” church) is the second largest religious body to emerge from the Mormon religious tradition founded by Joseph Smith Jr. in 1830. The martyrdom of Joseph Smith in 1844 fragmented the Church of Latter-Day Saints. Questions regarding the true successor of Joseph as prophet-president, and the esoteric teachings and practices (plural marriage, baptism for the dead, temple ordinances, sealings etc.) divided the original followers of Smith. The few congregations that emerged into what was labelled the “New Organization” and eventually named the “Reorganization” rejected practices it deemed non-Christian and claimed to be the one true successive church under the leadership of the fallen prophet’s legitimate heir, his son, Joseph III.

Although historically linked to Utah Mormonism, RLDS theology is widely divergent from that of its Utah cousin. The RLDS church has vigorously tried to distinguish itself as a separate denomination. In recent decades it has moved from its roots in Mormonism toward main stream Christianity, thus finding itself to be neither ‘orthodox’ Mormon nor Protestant. This ‘moderate’ Mormon body continues to struggle with a corporate identity which has been coloured by a defensive apologetics.

Corporate worship of a religious body is an extension and expression of its theological method, persuasion and perceived mission. This work explores the changes in RLDS’ worship as the church attempts to distinguish itself both from North American culture and Utah Mormonism.

Was there a unique Latter Day Saint liturgy? How was it influenced by the ‘frontier’ worship models of the day? Does contemporary worship in the RLDS church differ from present day Mormon worship? What sacraments are celebrated? Do women officiate? Is worship leadership the sole province of clergy? What role do “temples” play in Mormon and RLDS liturgy? These questions are addressed as the dissertation chronicles Mormonism’s shift from a worship style originally rooted in Frontier Worship’s “sacramental alternative” (a de-emphasis on sacraments and an emphasis on the preached word) to that of a “sacramental imperative” (a soteriological dependence on sacrament and ritual).

RLDS rejection of Mormonism’s cultic rituals placed the movement on a path leading back to the “sacramental alternative” and the church’s expansion in Asia forced the church to re-examine its basic theology. The dissertation examines the liturgical impact of the RLDS church’s “deliteralization” of its Mormon heritage and the resulting emergence of a RLDS worship ethos of the late twentieth century. In surmary, this work presents a historical/liturgical overview of a uniquely North American Christian body that finds itself neither Mormon nor Protestant, a “people somewhere between,” a people herein referred to as ‘moderate’ Mormons.

Releasing the Poor, Releasing the Earth: A Theology of Relinquishment

The focus of this work is the assertion that an appropriate theological response from a context of relative affluence (i.e., the wealthy nations of the North) is one of “relinquishment”, or the returning to others and to creation that which one does not rightfully possess. The author suggests that both the interminable poverty of the majority of the world’s people and the planetary ecological crisis have a similar root in the unwillingness of the powerful to release undo control of the world’s resources and capacities. The Sabbath tradition is explored as a biblical model of relinquishment and is interpreted in light of current economic and ecological realities. The implications of this model for both spirituality and ethics are carefully considered.

From this premise, the author conducts a critique of current economic patterns that foster inequity, are based on unsustainable growth and which represent attempts to transcend the fundamental limits of the human condition. An economics of sufficiency is alternatively suggested. A consideration of the anthropocentric bias inherent in Western culture reveals the need for re-positioning of all human enterprises and the biblical imperative for liberation firmly within ecological realities. The liberation of the poor and the liberation of the earth are thus considered as complimentary struggles. The author concludes with a reflection on “exile” as a metaphor for our current cultural crisis, and suggests that relinquishment is the lens through which we must search for the way home.

The Elephant in the Office: A Phenomenological Study of Spiritually-Informed Student Therapists’ Feelings of Incompetence in Early Therapeutic Encounters

This phenomenological study explored the lived experiences of spiritually-informed student therapists’ feelings of incompetence (FOI) in early therapeutic encounters. This aim was achieved by conducting two rounds of semi-structured interviews with three student therapists, who identify as spiritually-focused practitioners. Together, with field notes, researcher’s reflections and the reviewed literature, four major themes were revealed. Key findings included: 1) Uncertainty is certain, where somatic symptoms were indicators of ambiguous feelings. This theme also explored uncertainty as feeling powerless and experiences of uncertainty in supervision. Loneliness, isolation, and the impact of personal uncertainties completed the first theme. 2) The game-changer syndrome captures student therapists’ unrealistic expectations for their clients. This theme includes a discussion on perfectionism and comparison as subsets of this condition. 3) Practicing with presence illuminates the role of silence in attaining deeper therapeutic connections, commonly experienced by participants. 4) Therapists as conduits for the Divine is a conversation of spirituality’s role in alleviating feelings of incompetence. The principal conclusion was for educators, supervisors, students and colleagues to engage in a dialogue about these realities and ultimately mitigate these feelings of incompetence.

A Conceptual Framework for Understanding the Institutional Dynamics of a University Responding to an Allegation of Racism

This thesis begins with the story of an incident that the author experienced at a Canadian university. The events recounted gave rise to questions about the nature and functioning of the “Powers and Principalities” of institutional racism. In particular, the author’s interest was drawn to studying the response of the “Powers and Principalities” when there is an allegation of racism within an institution.

After telling the story, the thesis puts forward a proposal for an exploratory-descriptive study of the research question: “What were the institutional dynamics following an allegation of racial harassment at the Canadian University Social Work Department during the 1994/95 academic year?” The thesis includes the literature review, conceptual framework, and detailed research proposal for an exploration of this question.

The purpose of this research is to make a contribution to Diaconal Minister’ efforts to achieve social justice in the institutions where we study and work through a deeper understanding of “Powers and Principalities.”

Searching for Truth: Unearthing the Spiritual Base of Eating Disorder Recovery

The process of life is a journey and a struggle. Put an eating disorder into the mix and you have a chaotic adventure. Coping with an eating disorder can become part of the life-long journey. I knew however, that recovery was possible for I myself had recovered. I also knew that, in least in my case, spirituality had played a significant role. So I set out to discover whether or not my own experience with an eating disorder was a solitary journey or whether or not there were others who walked the same path as I had.

Stories bring to life the essence of experience. Thus, using a narrative approach, I listened to the accounts of two courageous women as they described their recovery experience from an eating disorder. What I found was that we three women shared a common bond. Each of us had fought the battle with the “demon” – and we had won. We had found solace, comfort, support, and strength from something deep within, something spiritual, which guided us on our path to wholeness.

The purpose of this research was to explore whether or not the spiritual dimension was an important component for women recovering from an eating disorder. Indeed, our three personal stories pointed to this conclusion. I discovered however, that my findings were not supported by most of the literature or by the traditional treatment approaches. That is why this thesis was significant. It points to the need to explore other areas of the recovery process, the need to address the significant role that the search for wholeness plays in the lives of these survivors. It also points to the need for therapists to be more cognizant of spiritual concerns, and more capable of addressing these concerns for women who are recovering from an eating disorder.

What do Clergy need to do to Counsel?

The purpose of this study was to determine what clergy need to do to counsel. This literature review examined the role of seven components of pastoral counseling including faith, self-care, competency, ethical standards, boundaries, power and multiple relationships. Special emphasis was given to rural counsellors and clergy psychotherapists. Also discussed was the relationship of pastoral counsellors with regard to competitor and compatriot organizations such as the American Psychological Association (APA), Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), Canadian Association for Pastoral Practice in Education / Association Canadienne pour la Pratique et l’Education Pastorales (CAPPE/ACPEP) and the American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC). Forty-seven recommendations were made to counselors, educational organizations, denominational organizations, professional organizations, and for future research.

Pastoral Counselling in Catholic Parish Communities

This study answered the research question, “What are the needs for pastoral counselling services in Catholic parish communities?” An Exploratory qualitative research method was used. Eight sample parishes within the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton were represented by seven Pastors and seven Parish Workers. These respondents were interviewed using a research instrument consisting of eight basic questions. The questions dealt with requests for counselling services, major problems presented, handling of these problems, preparedness for counselling, filling of counselling needs in the parish by professional pastoral counsellors, methods in making professional counselling services available, preparation for pastoral counsellors, and whether pastoral counselling could lend meaning to the Sacrament of Confession. The results showed much evidence for 1) need for professional pastoral counselling in the parishes studied; 2) a need to revisit our baptismal mandate and use talents and skills in a partnership of laity and priests to systematically develop pastoral counselling ministeries in parish communities; 3) a five-point thrust in training of pastoral counsellors: pastoral, academic, spiritual, personal and continued professional development; and 4) a clear relationship between the dynamics of professional pastoral counselling and the Sacrament of Confession or Reconciliation. The principal conclusions were: 1) that an Archdiocesan entity be established to pilot a ministry of professional pastoral counselling in a parish or a deanery; 2) that an Archdiocesan entity be established for the recruitment, training and formation of professional pastoral counsellors among laity and priests, and 3) that front-line parish workers be trained as ministers of empathy and introduction to resources.

Eyes, Windows to the Soul: Exploring and Opening the Myopic Window through Artistic Approaches to Meditation and Prayer

This work; Eyes as Windows to the Soul, is about the unseen world that manifests in our observable reality through our belief systems.   It is about vision, the whole of our vision based on the concept that there can really be no distinction between ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ realities. It is a work of personal research as to how my belief systems and the development of a felt experience of the divine stream of abundance – an irrepressible inner light –affects my vision and the need for prescription lenses. Natural Vision Improvement has been a subject of controversy since the 1930’s with the work of William Bates.  He devised a series of physical exercises to achieve relaxation and reinstate the tone of the eyes.  A degree of success was achieved.  With new developments in wholistic and behavioural optometry came the recognition of psychosocial and emotional changes within the person who wishes to see more clearly. It is in my experience, through my research, that I have come to know that seeing clearly is much more than a physical or emotional journey.  It is a spiritual one.  My research, beyond that of a personal and spiritual reawakening, serves to make a statement to the state of overall health of the human species.  That statement is that our ability to continue to thrive upon the earth depends on a reawakening of the divine element within each of us that enables us to see clearly how our very existence implicates reality itself.   We are, each of us, essential elements of Creation and if we are not happy with what we see in our lives we have to look no further than in the chambers of our own hearts for the key to abundant prosperity the world over. To start your journey, don’t wait for a life crisis, war or disaster to gift you with a new perspective on life.  Shift it slowly yourself by starting with a reduced optical prescription and be willing to see, feel and act based upon your new awareness.

Date of the Crucifixion and Resurrection Investigated: Did It Really Happen?

The arguments in the manuscript attempt to prove the historicity of the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Largely an investigation of the time period of the Passion Week, this Master’s Thesis project gathers information on coordinating dates from various calendar systems that impact on the choice of the day, month, and year of this crucial point in Christian history. It also considers historical data, both Christian and outside the Christian realm of influence, astronomical and meteorological data and calculations, folklore of various world religious groups, and the impact on the lives of those who were directly, or very closely, impacted by this event, as illustrated by the biblical record.

One is unlikely to discover such an eclectic range of material pertaining to the Crucifixion and Resurrection in one place. Underlying this study is the thought that there must be a reason why God has chosen to obscure this pivotal date in the relationship with humanity in the ashes of history. This study advances the search for that elusive date.

“I Speak as to my Children”: 2 Corinthians and Paul’s Relationship with the Church at Corinth

The purpose of this project was to examine Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians in order to investigate how he expressed the nature of his pastoral relationship with this congregation. An exegetical study of the text was conducted, which made use of sociological insights pertaining to relationships in the Greco-Roman period. This study revealed the manner in which Paul defended himself against the influence of his opponents in the Corinthian congregation, opponents who had raised various socially-based criticisms of the apostle and his ministry. In his efforts to effect a restoration of the troubled pastor-congregation relationship, Paul explained to the Corinthians the true character of Christian ministry. He testified to the depth of his concern for them, as it was manifested particularly in his ongoing sufferings. Paul asserted that he had treated the Corinthians with a fatherly love and integrity, and was dedicated to bringing about their reconciliation with God and their continued spiritual growth, culminating in their eschatological perfection. In light of theological, cultural, and ecclesiastical similarities between Paul’s time and our own, his perception of his pastoral relationship with the Corinthians can provide aspects of a pattern for contemporary Christian ministry. His letter can be read today for instruction in the general manner of ministry, as well as in the activities and ideals of preaching, ministerial suffering, being dedicated, nurturing believers, and setting pastoral goals.

Spirituality and Religious Imagination: Women’s Dilemma in the Church

The focus of this study is on the role played by collective and personal construction of reality as it pertains to expression of spirituality. This study uses an inductive approach and moves from a general review of spirituality that traces the etymology of Christian spirituality to a description of the development of the discipline of spirituality which embraces the many polarities operative in one’s relationship with self, other, God, and world.

Our contemporary situation, characterized by an awareness of pluralism and secularism has plunged religion into a very specific crisis. This crisis challenges women and men who seek religious affirmation, with an heretical imperative if they are to develop spiritually as adults in contemporary times. An heretical imperative means choosing beyond the limits and constraints of the patriarchal spirituality fostered by religious tradition and institutions. This choice of awareness beyond institutional tradition serves as the impetus for a paradigm shift in the religious imagination.

In particular, this study addresses the dilemma that Christian women of feminist consciousness face in the Church. The ascription of masculinity to God in the conventional Christian religious imagination limits and constrains the full development of human being because it limits and constrains the feminine aspects of human being. The ascription of masculine gender to God poses a problem for women’s spirituality to the extent that some women have felt the need to abandon the Christian Church because they cannot fully express themselves there or find an acknowledgement of their experience where “man” is considered to be the norm and God is perceived as male.

This study maintains the possibility of feminists struggling for religious affirmation through a ‘therapy’ of religious imagination. Healing the religious imagination of its masculine bias involves not only acknowledging the patriarchal underpinnings of our religious imagination, but also resurrecting and amplifying the Feminine in both its elementary and transformative dimensions in personal development towards wholeness and holiness, as well as in communal, corporate development toward wholeness of the church.

Through a process of consciousness-raising, comes the experience of the dark night of the soul with its resultant transformation and the call to conversion. Tranformation entails dying and a death experience as well as birthing and a rebirth experience. The new wine of this spiritual tranformation must be put in new containers for it will burst the seams of the old. As reconciliation of the feminine with the masculine occurs through the Holy Spirit in the lives of women and men in the church, there will be new wine requiring new wine skins. The new wine of feminist spirituality has grave implications for the patriarchally structured church. This study calls the church to experience transformation (not reformation) and conversion to new ways of being; toward whole community and holy communion that celebrates the unity of the diversity in All.

The Role of Counselling in Pre-marital and Marital Relationships in Three Christian Churches in the Environs of Spanish Town

The increase in divorce rate and separation among couples in the Christian churches; led to my interest in identifying the reasons, and whether counseling services were utilized. Twenty participants not all couples, but married, were selected from churches in the environs of Spanish Town. They were drawn from two Open Bible Churches, one Pentecostal and one Seventh Day Adventist. Participants completed an anonymous demographic questionnaire, and responded to questions formulated from four research questions. The qualitative phenomenological approach was used to explore and understand the lived experience of the phenomenon and focus group and semi-structured interview instruments utilized to collect data. The findings revealed that some counsellors lacked the requisite skills for effective counseling, and there was little or no scriptural teachings imparted during the sessions. Improvement of these relationships will require government legislating laws for compulsory marital and premarital counselling prior to marriage and divorce. Future studies of this topic should utilize a larger representative sample of denominations across churches in Jamaica. Training of counsellors in the churches should improve relationships and result in improve stability of family life and the wider society.

Spiritual Journeys into Social Justice Ministry: Discovering a Spiritually Formative Curriculum of Life

As an educator with a passion for social justice, I undertook this study to learn what was spiritually significant for Christian social justice ministers to become aware of and committed to this type of ministry as their vocation.

Using narrative inquiry as the research method, I engaged in reflective conversations with four formally trained Christian women and men who work in social justice in the Maritime Provinces of Canada. They shared with me stories of the spiritually significant moments in their lives for forming their commitment to justice. Together, we saw some of the many ways that these moments were influential in their justice commitments.

The significant moments in their spiritual journeys include the contexts of the family, the church and the times. Participants also named individuals who were significant witnesses, examples, teachers and mentors. They highlighted important relationships with colleagues, friends and the significance of communities and networks. They also shared significant educational experiences including justice-oriented courses, programs and self-directed studies. They demonstrated integrated spiritual formation and spirituality per se as important in their studies and commitments. Finally, they noted spiritually significant activities. These included justice commitments and proximity to justice issues as well as personal and professional risks. Within these stories, there was also a sense of mystery and openness to grace.

This study makes the implicit spiritually formative dimensions of these findings explicit by identifying and reflecting on them through the lenses of feminist theology and spirituality, the literature of spiritual formation for ministry and the concepts of consciousness-raising, conscientization and conversion.

I argue that the findings as a whole are a spiritually formative curriculum of life. This “curriculum” was spiritually formative for the participants’ awareness of and commitment to justice as their vocation. I suggest that these findings can help to determine significant elements of formation for ministry programs that have social justice as one of their goals. In addition, I outline some of the ways that the findings can be applied to further spiritual formation for justice ministry.

Down to Earth: An Alchemical Hermeneutic Arts-Based Self-Study

This research has occurred over a twenty-one year span, most intensely during this past year. At twenty-six years old, after sighting a Bent Willow Chair, I became completely enchanted with creating with the willow tree. During the same period I moved to Northern Saskatchewan where the willow tree in its boreal forest eco-system awakened in me a new spirituality. This thesis tells the story in the power of this awakening by engaging in the questions, “How does the willow tree call and reclaim the feminine voice? What is the power in this reclamation?” The willow tree invited me to enter an imaginal place where I always felt the presence of an ancient matriarch who held me in her wisdom, compassion, peace and unconditional love. This space became my lifeline. Eco-Art Therapy and storytelling lead the path to the cornerstone of my literature research, Jungian depth psychology. Diving deeply into the archetypes at play in both the silencing and reclaiming of my voice has been entirely transformational. The transformation has occurred in the realm of healing a split between masculine and feminine values. What began for me as an enchanted encounter has now embodied my way of life as a woman.

Educational Supervision: A Rich Ministry Made Richer by the Gifts of Spiritual Direction

The study is an examination of the interconnectedness of Educational Supervision, Spiritual Direction, and Therapy. The indefinable reality of spirituality, which undergirds all three, is examined. Although the roles must not be combined in one person and setting aside the work of Therapy, the author argues that spiritual maturity is the particular province of Spiritual Direction. There are aspects in this specialized ministry that could be supportive to the work of Educational Supervision so that ministers in training might become more profoundly authentic as religious leaders. Four such aspects are examined in detail as well as the possible differences in a Spiritual Direction interview from one in Educational Supervision.

Alternative Models of Education for Ordered Ministry

This thesis is an exploration into the existing educational model in our theological colleges and was prompted by the changing demographics in those colleges; the changes in contemporary pedagogical styles and concerns about how the church will fare into the twenty-first century.

The literature which is reviewed and discussed describes the current demographic make-up of theological colleges, a variety of educational models and some prophetic words about the church from folk inside and outside the church structures.

Nine persons were interviewed about the most helpful experience in their educational process. These folk were chosen to represent a variety of theological colleges, and are women and men in ordained and commissioned ministry.

Recherches sur les constituants de l’expérience de s’accueillir soi-même des personnes-clefs en pastorale (Befriending Self)

Cette thèse de doctorat qui s’inscrit dans le registre de la recherche qualitative, porte sur l’expérience de s’accueillir soi-même des personnes-clefs en formation pastorale. Cette recherche dégage les constituants, ainsi qu’une structure-type de l’expérience de s’accueillir soi-même. Ce que l’analyse met en lumière, c’est la difficulté d’accueillir la dimension ressentie de l’expérience de s’accueillir. Tout en intégrant la méthode phénoménologique dans l’analyse de récits de six co-chercheurs, femmes et hommes, la présente recherche ouvre des voies quant à la prise en compte de la dimension émotionnelle de l’intervenant dans tout programme de formation pratique. Elle permet ainsi de dégager une démarche accessible à tout intervenant, dans quelque domaine que ce soit; de même, elle propose l’exploration du concept de co-présence et apporte des bases expérientielles en vue d’élaborer une théologie de l’Incarnation signifiante pour les hommes et les femmes de notre temps.

Transforming the Addiction to Perfection and Defeat

This study is an in-depth exploration of one woman’s experience of coming into relation with such functions as authenticity, personal and professional agency, and creative expression. As interpreted through a Jungian lens, these functions are associated with masculine energy. The mythical figure of Sisyphus, condemned by the gods to endlessly push a gigantic boulder up the side of a mountain, has been used to symbolize an addictive pattern of perfection and defeat that, with the critical inner voice of the “never good enough,” prevents the individual from claiming these traits. As a result of walking through the fire of the research process, the final learning is that by coming into relation with the masculine, in this case with Sisyphus, it is possible to know a wholeness of self that brings one into connectedness with others and with transcendence. Although ideas were drawn from a number of methodologies, including feminist research and narrative inquiry, a heuristic approach defined by Moustakas and Sela-Smith, and deepened by Romanyshyn’s understanding of doing research with soul in mind directed the process. With the challenge posed by these authors, the researcher engaged in a concentrated praxis of action and reflection that finally exposed a depth of knowing that established congruence with personal values and academic requirements. The concept of facing and coming into relation with a complex belongs to Jungian thought and it is this framework that has guided the research. Many authors contributed but the most significant insights came through a dynamic interaction with women authors who share the feminist belief that personal experience cannot be separated from the political and it is by understanding the nature of these interwoven threads that one accesses essential truths. The final message is that a fierce and persevering desire to be in relation with masculine energy brings one to the center of experience. By standing at the core, there is the realization that, for a woman, this is the vast diffuse wisdom of the feminine and it is the masculine that gives it concrete form. With this awareness, there is a significant shift for the researcher on both a personal and professional level. To be free of the “never good enough” brings an authenticity of connection that alters relations in one’s immediate circle and in the counselling room with clients. Furthermore, it is believed that this form of energy ripples outward. To heal oneself is to bring healing to others and hopefully to the planet as a whole.

Being – The Essence and Vitality of Rural Congregational Life and Ministry

For this thesis the co-researchers listened to the stories of five rural United Church of Canada Congregations in the Peace River Country. Qualitative Research methods were used to address what it is that sustains, nurtures and enlivens these congregations. The following areas were identified as common themes: church as presence, spiritual needs, the stress of multiple responsibilities, leadership and self-esteem.

It was concluded that sustaining rural congregational life and ministry may happen without nurturing and enlivening. Sustaining in and of itself is maintenance and is seldom life-giving. Nurturing seems to be the key that offers the ability to sustain rural congregational life in an enlivened way.

The presence of the church as BEING is the essence of rural congregational life and minstry. BEING represents this animation of life and soul. BEING is the presence of God. BEING is the expression of mission of the rural church.

Seeking Our Foremothers: Sacred Moments – An Integrative Study Research Paper

When my mother died, and my father died soon after, I set out on a spiritual journey seeking that which I could not name. The people I met through the remnants of their stories are my ancestors. I took particular interest in women who embodied the ways of my Celtic ancestry. In these women, I discovered the archetypal images of the feminine: maiden, mother, and matron (crone, wisewomen). In these women, I discovered the expression of God in the daily rhythms and tasks of their lives. They are my foremothers. In affirming their gifts, I affirm my own.

In the beginning God created humanity, male and female, in the image of God; as imago Dei (Genesis 1:27). In the beginning God as Holy Spirit, ruach, filled our lungs with air and God as Creator called us good. The Holy Spirit blows among us as She will, breathing new life through the cycles of our lives. Deep in our souls we can celebrate that we, female and male, are created in the image of God.

The Girls Brigade Movement – Encouraging Desirable Character Development in Jamaican Girls and Women

The Girls’ Brigade movement is a worldwide Christian organization that recruits young girls and women who are prepared to live the motto – “To seek, serve and follow Christ.” This study attempts to identify ways in which programs designed and carried out by the movement in Jamaica could be impacting positively on the personal development of Jamaican girls and young women.

The sample was comprised of 45 Brigaders, including 7 Officers. Questionnaires were used to collect the data and guided informal interviews provided additional insights. Analysis of the data revealed that the Girls’ Brigade programs have had some positive effects on the personal development and attitudes of its members.

In assessing the areas of character development emphasized by the movement community service involvement was the area most emphasized. Results also showed that while moral values are being emphasized meaningful spiritual development shows some deficiency. The area of self confidence was not as developed as was expected. Leadership training seemed to be one of the focal points within the movement. Other areas such as conflict management skills and moral education were adequately promoted.

The researcher recommended firstly that the movement redesign and restructure its programs to attract membership from this technologically oriented post-modern generation. Secondly, that the activities be made more relevant to the developmental process of its members. A third recommendation was that young leaders be given more scope to practice and develop the leadership skills learnt by participating more in activities within their spiritual families.

First Nations and the Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage

What attracts increasing numbers of First Nations people to the yearly pilgrimage at Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta? The numbers of Native people attending this pilgrimage has consistently outnumbered the numbers of non-Native people attending this pilgrimage. Could there possibly be a history such as Lac Ste. Anne being known as a sacred site to First Nations prior to the arrival of European Christians? A brief history will expose how colonialism and near genocide of First Nations implemented by the government and the church for hundreds of years perhaps facilitated the loss of memory of traditional sacred places such as Lac Ste. Anne as well as of its meaning to many First Nations persons in what is now known as Canada. One example of colonization is the Catholic missionary priests’ mis-translation of the name Manitou Sakahigan (Lake of the Spirit) to Lake of the Devil and renaming this lake to the Christian name, Lac Ste. Anne. This misuse of language suggested that this aspect of Native spirituality was evil. This example and the internment of Native children in residential schools, loss of religious freedom, loss of huge tracts of land base are examples of the methods of colonization which caused not only damage to personal and cultural identity to many Native people but also the likely loss of memory for much of Native people spirituality including the location and meaning of sacred places. However, do Native people come to the Lac Ste. Anne pilgrimage because they have been successfully assimilated into Christianity or because of a gradual return to Native spirituality by making their way back to a sacred lake formerly known to their ancestors? This thesis will explore the reasons Native people say they are coming to the pilgrimage and the possibility of the return to a sacred site such as Lac Ste. Anne, or Manitou Sakahigan, and what non-Native persons can learn from this pilgrimage.

Music as Liturgy: Singing Our Emerging Theology

Each generation has the privilege and responsibility of continuing the ongoing theological dialogue by recording a relationship with Holy Mystery as experienced in their context. The purpose of this Work of Art thesis is to create six pieces of worship music expressing our emerging theology. These hymns and liturgical music are intended for congregational singing and follow the seasons of the church year. The pieces make a connection between biblical story and the hopes and fears of our lived experiences.

This work begins with some of the voices of emerging theology offering an interpretation of the Christian story related to our current context. Worship music currently used within the context of the United Church of Canada was reviewed, as well as literature about the writing of worship music and its significance in the worship experience. Meetings with congregational focus groups provided an array of images and activities associated with each season of the church year. The literature and the focus group images provided the ground work for the creation of the new music and lyrics.

Music can be a powerful element of our worship liturgy if it expresses what we believe about Holy Mystery and makes the connection between our faith story and what we know of life and our world. The act of uniting our voices brings us together and allows us to physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually engage in the worship experience. It is hoped the music created for this thesis can help bridge the gap between Christian paradigms with a timely and contextual interpretation of the good news of the Gospel. This is the offering of a new song inspired by an ancient voice.

The Art of Compassion: Exploring and Integrating Counter-Emotions

Through arts-based research, interviews and facilitated discussions, this research explored how six volunteer participants were able to detect and integrate their counter-emotions; those emotions that represent a conflict between how we internally feel and experience an emotion, with our actual presentation of ourselves to others because of social conditioning. Participants explored the eight basic emotions (joy, trust, fear surprise, sadness, disgust, anger, anticipation) and through the creation of art, self-reflection, and discussion became present to their experience of having a counter-emotion. By exploring and unlearning previous negative beliefs about themselves, when experiencing a counter-emotion, they found a more compassionate view of self-emoting. Through this process, five central components surfaced for uncovering and integrating counter-emotions: lack of self-compassion; lack of congruency or a divided-self; a search for our true-self; a more compassionate self; and an emotional-spiritual experience. Learning self-compassion was another benefit of this artistic exploration of counter-emotions. Through self-acceptance and emotional honesty participants came closer to a truer self; more accepting of their counter-emotion and of others.

Changing Lenses

Frequently when people call our agency for counselling at the Pastoral Counselling Group, they say that they found our name in the yellow pages of the telephone book. Occasionally they will ask, “What does ‘Pastoral counselling’ mean? Does it mean that you are a religious group? Do I have to talk about God? How is it different from what psychologists do?” These questions suggest an intuitive sense among many people that “pastoral” does indeed include dimensions that the psychologist would not immediately consider. As the inner work unfolds clients are often surprised to discover that the “spiritual” has a way of appearing in the apparently “mundane” events of their lives. However I assure our callers that they can talk about whatever they may need to talk about. That may include what they might term specifically “spiritual matters”.

I think these potential clients ask a good question: “What does ‘Pastoral Counselling’ mean?” Over the last two years I have been thinking of how I might approach my Integrative paper. In addition to the courses I have been doing at St. Stephen’s College and the University of Alberta, I have been participating in the CAPPE (Canadian Association Pastoral for Practice and Education) in the stream of training in Pastoral Counselling. So I have decided to explore this question and to articulate for myself how my Christian theology, my membership in the Roman Catholic tradition and my personal faith journey influence how I minister.

I was catapulted into this process in a most vivid way by a session I had with a client last May. Since I was plunged into so much reflection after that session I decided to use that experience as a focusing point for me in my paper. I will share the content of the counselling hour and then reflect on the various levels of the inner conflict that I became aware of as I sorted out my feelings and my decision about how I was going to be with this client. Those decisions are intimately tied to my own faith journey, my personal struggles and my healing, and are influenced by various mentors who have assisted me to reach this point in my life.

As I reviewed my story I was aware that my perception of God has changed throughout the years. Sometimes it seemed as though I were walking blindly, sometimes with blurred vision. At some points my vision seemed to be so crystal clear only to become muddy again. The image of “lenses” came to mind. I found myself asking at various points in my journey, “What set of lenses am I using at this stage of my life?” I will use this metaphor from time to time.

Wholistic Ministry as Seen Through the Creation of a Musical Theology for Young Children

The Chinese symbol of yin-yang is one in which the differences found in life such as male-female or black-white are seen not as opposites but as complements to each other. Ministry is made up of complements — comforting and confronting, giving and receiving, affirming and challenging, being and doing. Often in ministry, however, we are one-sided. We tend to favour logic, rational thought and law over intuiation, poetry and spirit. This dissertation thesis explores complements within a wholistic ministry as seen in the project of creating a musical theology for young children.

The author’s theology of ministry (being an enabling steward intentionally offering oneself as a loving companion in a journey towards shalom) is developed through reflecting on storytelling from her own rural pastoral experience in the light of biblical exegesis, historical and theological readings. A survey of research and ideas around right and left-brain dominance is presented as a prelude to exploring “right” and “left” within God, Jesus, the Bible and pastoral ministry.

The project is the creation of songs (a musical theology) for very young children. These songs were taped by the author and friends, and are now being sold by Wood Lake Books as “I’m God’s Child”. The dissertation follows this process through market research, developmental statements re young children (including storytelling), selection and creation of songs, copyright searches, the technical process of recording music for distribution and the creation of the accompanying book.

The evaluation process was an eight week “user-friendly” time to sing the songs in both families and Sunday Schools. Feedback was received through the use of open-ended and forced choice questions. The evaluation gives an over-all sense of people’s (children’s and adult’s) reactions to the project, rather than a statistical analysis.

The dissertation closes with a reflection of the aspects of wholistic ministry seen and experienced through the project. The conclusion of the thesis is that the creation of a musical theology pulls out diverse parts of a wholistic ministry. Some of the possibilities of a wholistic ministry in rural pastoral ministry are outlined.

The project tape and book are presently being distributed in three countries. They are a musical-theological resource for the young and the young in heart.

Tearing the Veil: A Poetic Journey Towards Wholeness

The life of the spirit is a continuing and never-ending journey toward wholeness. In our patriarchal society, all sustain physical, emotional and/or spiritual wounds from the damaging experiences of childhood and adult life. These wounds can keep us from the fullness of life lived in intimate relationship with the Holy One. As we journey into the depths of our souls, however, we move toward healing, integration and wholeness.

This is the story of a poet’s journey into greater integration; it is my story, a narrative about significant events in my spiritual journey. As I tell my tale, I am both subject and researcher, both the teller and the interpreter of my experience.

My study consists of two parts: the first is an exploration of my introduction to a Jungian approach to Ignatian spirituality and my first experiments with writing poetry as a way of deepening my prayer life. The next, the heart of my story, delineates my experience with Spiritual Exercises of Ignatian. As I tell my story, I explore how writing poetry and engaging in other creative arts enable me to enter more fully into the Exercises and to draw more benefit from the prayers and spiritual practices that are their soul.

In summary, this is narrative study of a spiritual journey which involved not only using a Jungian approach to make the Ignatian exercised relevant to today’s environment but also drawing on creative arts to deepen their impact.

Interdisciplinary Ministry Collaboration: Faith and Health

This dissertation uses a heuristic reflection method to describe the experience of co-authoring a book on the topic of Nursing Within a Faith Community: Promoting Health in Times of Transition. Specifically, the dissertation follows threads of heuristic inquiry in relationship with the question: What benefits, possibilities, barriers, and limitations need to be considered for interdisciplinary ministry collaboration to be fostered between faith community (parish) nurses and faith group leaders in promoting a renewal of both faith and health in times of transition? Data for heuristic reflection has been gathered over a period of five years within the context of (a) experiencing interdisciplinary collaboration, (b) reflecting upon interdisciplinary partnerships between parish nurses and pastoral leaders involved in two six credit university nursing courses and an extended basic unit of clinical pastoral education (CPE) intended to provide both theoretical and clinical support for beginning professional practice in parish nursing, and (c) producing the book as a significant piece of interdisciplinary literature. Themes of faith and health, promotion of inquiry, and narrative sojourning have emerged as meaningful “discoveries” at the heart of interdisciplinary ministry collaboration between nursing prepared and theologically prepared professionals who share a commitment to wholeness and well-being.

Standing in the Tragic Gap: Courage and Resilience in the Lives of Ordinary People

The goal of this narrative inquiry was to gain an increased understanding of courage and resilience in the lives of ordinary people who have overcome adversity. The research question was, “What is the Lived Experience of Courage and Resilience in the Lives of Ordinary People who have Overcome Adversity?” The qualitative methodology of narrative inquiry was used to explore the lived experience of three ordinary people; Catherine, a woman in her eighties, survived the suicide of her first husband, and the tragic deaths of her son, son-in-law, and daughter. Lee, a woman in her early fifties, has been legally blind from age five. Mark, a young man in his mid-twenties, lost his older sister, a victim of incest, to suicide. The courage of each participant or co-creator was explored in a theological framework and resilience in a psychological framework. The narratives engage the reader in a manner that leads to a cognitive, and most importantly, a visceral understanding of courage and resilience. Participants readily admitted to being resilient. However, they were reluctant to admit to being courageous. It may be easier for people to identify with what they do than with who they are. Courage is a quality of the soul. Courageous people are humble. Ordinary people demonstrate courage through acceptance of what is and a fierce determination to live life to its fullest. Perhaps it is the very sacredness of courage that makes it difficult to admit to. The thesis has much to offer people who are supporting clients who may be “standing in the tragic gap”. The references, as well as the themes that were identified, will be useful to psychotherapists and others. They will be of interest to people who find themselves in a caring/supporting role.

Falling Backward Away from the Light

“Suffering is down at the centre of things; deep down where the meaning is. Suffering is the meaning of our world. For Love is the meaning. And Love suffers. The tears of God are the meaning of history.” – Nicholas Wolterstorff.

This is a study of the phenomenon known as parental bereavement. Eight people opened their lives to me and this project. They did so without being offered any guarantees that this work would discover anything new about parental bereavement, or that the dissertation would be of benefit to anyone including the participants. To offer such qualifications would be to impose an agenda on the experience. I too had to suspend my assumptions and belief. Thus, without any absolute assurances that anything would be harvested this dissertation became a venture in faith.

Quickly this faith journey in parental bereavement became a dangerous venture. With this realization came the discovery that for bereaved parents the relinquishing of assumptions and belief systems is a daily reality. The landscape of what it is to be a bereaved parent appears to take the listener deep down to the centre of things, down in the place of meaning, of suffering and discovery. Hope appears to reside in the enduring, the willingness to cope with immeasurable pain and in the discovery that even in absolute devastation discoveries do occur.

In Search of the Lost Soul: The Experience and Meaning of Estrangement

There are many individuals in prison who have no expectation that their lives will improve following completion of their court-imposed sentence. Prison is simply a continuation of the incarceration they perceived to be life. What others have found to be life giving, they have lost and they understand this void to be permanent. For them, it is irreversible because they are deserving of this experience. The characteristic of this experience is void in relationships with God, others and self. This phenomenon is called the lost soul experience.

This phenomenological research involved in-depth field interviews with four male inmates. The research unfolded their experiences and my own and shed light on the dark world of the lost soul. I explored and described the lived experience of the lost soul. I examined the process of humanity’s struggle from existence to essence, examining in detail the impediments to that process. I sought to deepen my understanding of the experience of being estranged from the essence of one’s being.

My analysis was grounded in Paul Tillich’s Systematic Theology and Paul Ricoeur’s Philosophy. I drew on the psychological theories and Ana-Marie Rizzuto, W.W. Meissner and Sigmund Freud. The parable of Dives andLazarus (as recounted in the canonical Gospel of Matthew and in the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas), the story of John of the Cross, and the statue of the Red Man in the North End of the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada were also helpful for understanding the experience of the lost soul.

I conclude that ministry with person living in the dark world of the lost soul does not involve focus on the other side of the “abyss” (i.e. on the outside, either of self or of prison). Rather, ministry with such persons involves trying to help them focus within themselves, where they may begin to find their essence, their identity.

Soul Searching: Narratives of a Spiritual Community in a Local Café

While the small communities of our past are diminishing, a new type of community has emerged in local coffee shops, which now cover the Canadian landscape. The rapid rise in popularity of local cafés brings questions of why, in a society that prides itself on individualism, are people suddenly seeking the public arena. What happens when people interact on a daily basis? This study explores the essence of a spiritual community in a local café. Qualitative research involving phenomenological and heuristic methods was used to investigate the spirituality in a local café. Sociological, psychological, and theological literature, and as well as scripture, were reviewed to discover a sense of a spiritual community in a café. Depth studies of four people, who are regular customers, and who felt there was spirituality at the local café, were undertaken. Their stories and my reflections on them are in this study. What was learned? This café was alive with a rich, invigorating, and dynamic spirituality. Authentic belonging evolved when people saw each other on a regular basis, connections were forged, and unconditional love increased self-identity, giving lives inner meaning and purpose. A theology of panentheism emerged that promoted self-transcendence and harmonious connections to God, others, and the environment, allowing mystery and mysticism to unfold as participants discovered a spiritual café community.

From Obsessio to Epiphania: A Visual Pilgrimage

In this Work of Art thesis, I have created a series of eleven assemblages art pieces as a way of making visible my lived experience of invisibility and self-alienation. For each assemblage piece, I have provided a written reflection in order to place the visual image of the art piece within a theological, creative, personal, and spiritual context. I have mapped these eleven art pieces together within the broader theme of a pilgrimage in order to provide an external bridge of understanding from, and into, the internal theological landscape of my spiritual journey towards wholeness. I have used the creative process of assemblage art as a method of reconstructing an authentic sense of self, and deepening my felt experience of the sacred.

Vessels of Evocation

In this art project/dissertation, I give artistic expression to the contemporary evolution of Christian awareness, toward a post orthodox Christianity. I present eight pieces of my art–two acrylic paintings and six pieces of sculpture–that express my experience of patriarchal Christianity and my journey out of it. Some of the psychospiritual effects of patriarchal inflation are visible in the art, including evidence of deep spiritual fragrnentation and isolation. From the midst of this woundedness, the art contains intimations of wholeness and hope that anticipate a new religious order.

In the dissertation, I describe recovering creative foundations of ministry and suggest a theology of ministry for creativity and healing. By considering the work of Paul Tillich, Carl Jung and Martin Buber, among others, I establish a context for healing spiritual impotence, the legacy of patriarchal Christianity. Healing this wound requires a new depth tradition inclusive of masculine and feminine energy mediated through symbol and metaphor. In the dissertation, I consider the fundamental relationship between artistic process and theological development and include a reflective discussion of my art, a critique of the art and a photographic record of it.

In the present evolution of Christianity, we are being forced to build new relationships with our psychic depths and with our experience of the transcendent. This work is turbulent, intense and creative. In it, we are finding new images and language for our most basic religious assertions. This project, by integrating my religious experience as an artist and as a Christian, describes the work of recovering one’s own experience of God and of art.

Anointing of the Sick by a Lay Person: Extending the Sacramental Role of Anointing of the Sick to the Lay Person

This thesis explores the possibility of the administration of the sacrament of the sick by a lay person within the Roman Catholic faith tradition in order to meet the spiritual needs of the sick. The decreasing number of ordained priests forces those working with the sick to discuss the pastoral and practical aspects of the anointing of the sick by a lay person.

This research initially explores the historical and theological development of the sacraments- particularly baptism and the anointing of the sick. Sacraments have evolved since the early Christian beginnings, but the sacraments, as we know today, became official only in the twelfth century. The understanding and practice of the sacrament of anointing of the sick varied over periods of church history.

Today, it is imperative to re-examine further the need and purpose of the anointing of the sick for both the minister and the sick and the dying.

This researcher concludes by drawing on relevant personal experiences, practical problems and reflections within the hospital setting.

Stitching the Sacred: Bound in the Bundle of Life

I have created a liturgical quilt based upon images found in two verses of Scripture. The first verse is 1 Samuel 25:29. It is a proclamation by Abigail to David that his life would be securely bound in God’s bundle of life. The second verse is John 14:2. It as affirmation made by Jesus telling his followers that in God’s house there were many mansions. I have interpreted the images from both verses and created a stitching reflecting my belief that everyone, regardless of gender, race, colour, sexual orientation or religious belief is at home in God’s bundle.

I have presented the quilt to people and encouraged them to respond. People told me their stories of how difficult it was in their own lives to relate to the religious buildings that were stitched on the quilt. When it came to the bundle of life, people could more easily relate and readily engaged. They shared their dreams and hopes about humanity, and how there needs to be interdependency among people fostering mutuality, dignity and respect among all people.

I have written the stories people told me when they engaged with my quilt. I have extracted themes and common threads from their vignettes. I have tied Feminist Theology and theory together with my own stories and reflections to produce a tapestry of shalom, healing and wholeness. I invite observers to enter this world and to listen to their own stories through the medium of my liturgical quilt.

God Keep Our Land: What is the Experience of God in Alberta’s Wilderness?

The thesis, God Keep Our Land, investigates the relationship between geography and spirituality. To this end, our setting is Alberta’s wilderness and the characters herewith are a combination of historical personalities in text and contemporary interviewees as per the research behind this project. The product is a reflection of spirituality as articulated in the context of an eco-theological paradigm. To be sure, this is not a systematic theological development or meta-narrative on the varieties of religious experiences in a natural setting. Instead, this thesis attends to an underlying premise: that geography and the human experience are inter-related, and, that such a conversation necessarily attends to a post-modern fascination with the authenticity of phenomena. The significance of this work rests on the observation that there exists both environmental and spiritual disillusionment in this current era, and, that their synthesis offers insight into possible congregational directions in our twenty first century.

The qualitative research conducted here represents a blend of historical and phenomenological approaches, via literature reviews and interviews respectively. In order to articulate something authentic about Alberta, geography is discussed and defined according to its parameters: historical, societal, and natural. Subsequent to this, it is the narrative of this project that synthesizes the dialectic between geography and spiritual experience.

What God Keep Our Land uncovers is Alberta’s authentic geographic factors and their spiritual consciousness. From this, it is observed that Alberta’s spirit is a unique summons to a peoples’ awareness; an eco-theological wake-up that transcends seasonal and denominational boundaries.

Holy Leisure: A Life of Prayer, Contemplation and Celebration

Holy Leisure is an experience of freedom, wholeness and connectedness anchored in the Divine that is accessible by all people, in all places and in all circumstances of life. While ritual can play a key role it is not essential as the experience of Holy leisure, as exemplified by Jesus of Nazareth, is rooted in the spiritual disciplines of prayer, contemplation and celebration. Through the examination of Leisure Studies Scholarship, particularly the Leisure Ability Model, leisure in Greek and Roman mythology and philosophy, in Hebrew scripture and in the Gospel accounts of Jesus of Nazareth it will be demonstrated that Jesus provides a blueprint for a unique understanding of leisure.

Ordinary Time: Celebrating Encounter and Growth in Short Fiction

The Project portion of this Project/Dissertation is of the Work of Art type as described by St. Stephen’s College. This collection of six short stories offers a variety of perspectives on the lives of contemporary men. Each story describes a chapter in a man’s life, from a few hours to a few months, during which he encounters others and discovers something about himself. Through reflection on events, characters come to value particular relationships with greater conscious awareness. The male characters let go of an inflated fantasy or unrealistic ideal, and find the energy to relate to themselves and their world as they are. The contexts for these transformations include relationships with girls and women who challenge the men to grow. The church is present in each story, always as a part of the culture, even if sometimes an uneasy part.

The Dissertation reflects upon the six short stories, the writer’s own story, the writing process, and the role of narrative alongside theoretical paradigms in understanding experience. Paul Tillich’s theological analysis of the human capacity for courage, Jungian analyses of the human psyche, Luke’s account of the crucifixion, and the myths of Sisyphus and Narcissus are brought into the conversation. The four issues of stuckness, intimacy, shadow, and feeling are explored with reference to the short stories and to current thinking on these issues. This Project/Dissertation celebrates courage as it is expressed by those who struggle for faith, relationship and self-awareness in the ordinary circumstances of life.

Divine Dialogue: A Mystic’s Exploration of Embodied Wisdom

This thesis is an exploration of a modern mystic’s experiences and their emerging meaning. It asserts that our bodies are conduits for divine dialogue and that direct experience of God flowing from a fully embodied spirituality can be a reality for Christians today. It engages in the discipline of mystical theology which takes personal experience seriously in its search for the wisdom that comes through love and offers suggestions for practices which are accessible to others. It seeks to demonstrate that mystical experience can be profoundly incarnational as well as transcendent, revealing new-ancient truths found not only in doctrine, tradition and scripture, not only in one religion or another, but in intimate relationship with the Source of Being that lies at the heart of all religion. Throughout, the reader is encouraged to recognize the divine possibilities that can emerge when personal embodied experience points symbolically to universal meaning. Connections are forged between past and present, between science and spirituality, between experience and meaning, and a new paradigm for the Incarnation is presented, the Prismatic Jesus, where two strands of religious wisdom weave together a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts. Ultimately, this thesis asserts that through the finite we can encounter the Infinite, and such encounter is available in each moment in the relational interconnectedness of all creation. There is no separation.

H.H.S.C. Spiritual Health Care Centre: Integrated Spiritual Health Care Graduate Academic Programme

This proposal is part of the comprehensive approach of a functional Spiritual Health Care Centre to integrate the increasing interest and research regarding spirituality in health care into an academic programme. This thesis is part of the proposal by Chaplaincy Services Department of Hamilton Health Sciences Corporation (HHSC) in Hamilton, Ontario for a Spiritual Health Care Centre. This thesis outlines the Integrated Spiritual Heath Care Graduate Academic Programme (ISHCGAP), which is a component of the Spiritual Health Care Centre. The programme, thus far, consists of the proposal for a Spiritual Health Care Graduate Diploma Programme that has two concentrations: one in Clinical Spiritual Care and one in Work Life Spiritual Care.

There are two core courses proposed: “Spirituality in Health Care”, for the Clinical Spiritual Care Concentration and “Spiritual Work Life: Applied to Health Care”, for the Work Life Spiritual Care Concentration of the Graduate Diploma Programme.

This HHSC Spiritual Health Care Centre: Integrated Spiritual Health Care Graduate Academic Programme is a product of the number of years of effective ministry, faith and labour. Now is the season of this vision coming to life through the lives of those it touches in a myriad of ways.

Use of Psalms in Worship: Their Role and Some Contemporary Re-creations

The Psalms are multifacted expresssions of faith that tend to call up vivid images and emotions in their readers/hearers. These ancient Hebrew prayer-poems are known and loved for a variety of reasons, but the focus of this journey into the expansive area of psalm research is the role that the Psalms have played, and still assume today, in various faith traditions.

In an attempt to underscore the Psalms’ inherent dynamism, there is an investigation of some historical liturgical roles regarding psalm use and also some contemporary traditions. This exploration begins with a glimpse into the Psalms’ early Hebrew roots and the milieu of that ancient time. Although much about the specific use of the Psalms is no longer retrievable, some psalms themselves provide tantalizing hints regarding their possible origin and cultic role.

It is also important to examine current Jewish practice with regard to the Psalms, for too often we limit our discussions to the past and never become acquainted with the manner in which worship has evolved over the aeons.

Parallel to the section on Jewish services and festivals, there is a chapter on Christian liturgy and the Psalms. Attention is focussed on some of the traditions in the Early Church, and various uses of the Psalms in the liturgies of the Patristic and Middle Ages. With the Protestant Reformation, a dynamic indigenous approach to psalmody flourished and numerous metrical psalters and literary paraphrases of Psalms came into being. To ensure that this section also remains contextual, there is an examination of psalm use in four Protestant denominations.

The final portion of this study focuses on the area of hermeneutics and proposes some contemporary connections. The poetic re-creations found in this chapter are my meditative, reflective attempts to rewrite some of the Psalms in order to heighten modern day applications. This is a technique which provides a vital link with the hodayot, original psalm-like, poetic re-creations based on thanksgiving Psalms that were found in the Qumran caves. It is a process which echoes extemporaneous psalmody likely a feature of the Early Church, and Medieval Hebrew piyyutim, special religious poems based on psalms. The original re-creations in this dissertation also stand in the creative tradition of the seventeenth century hymn writers like Isaac Watts.

Throughout this study, but particularly in the concluding chapter, I have employed Walter Brueggemann’s broad outline of psalms of orientation-disorientation-reorientation; a schema which itself alludes to the cycle of life-death-resurrection central to our celebrations of baptism and communion. Each of the three areas suggested by Brueggemann encompass a number of sub-topics. Orientation includes songs of creation, Torah, wisdom and well-being. Disorientation suggests expression preceding experience, individual and communal laments, the violated covenant and confession. Reorientation involves songs of thanksgiving, songs for the once and future king, expressions of confidence, and hymns of praise.

The use of the Psalms in liturgy, both historically and in the present, is a vast and expansive area. However the intention of this investigation, with its historical over-view and taste of some of the creative possibilites within the Psalter, is to invite and encourage the participation of others in this challenging and energizing aspect of worship.

Victim, Survivor, Co-creator: Healing from Sexual Abuse as a Spiritual Journey

This is a heuristic study of the phenomenon of healing from sexual abuse. By definition, such a study focuses on the meaning of the research rather than the attempt to generalize it into theory. “Heuristics is concerned with meanings, not measurements; with essence not appearance; with quality, not quantity, with expenence not behavior.” 1 Heuristics focuses on the intense experience of the investigator. Healing from sexual abuse is a very intense process which causes great upheaval in the behavior and perception of oneself and of the world. Therefore, the following is an attempt to name what it has meant to me to heal as a victirn of sexual abuse, and how the process of healing has affected my faith and spitjtuality. The primary question is: What has it meant to me to be in a process of healing from sexual abuse? The secondary question which arises is; How has this affected my faith and spirituality?

Suicide Resiliency in People with HIV

Suicide Resiliency in People with HIV is a phenomenological study into the experiences of people living with HIV who have considered suicide and who are no longer suicidal. This study addressed the following questions: “What are the experiences of people with HIV who consider suicide?” and “What helped them to be resilient to suicide?”

These questions are important as suicide is a significant concern for people living with HIV. An increase in suicidal thinking is first evident when a person seeks an HIV diagnosis and continues to be high throughout the course of the disease. HIV is associated with a number of factors that are independently associated with suicide.  This includes: pain, stigma and discrimination, isolation, cognitive impairment, and depression.

This study involved semi-structured interviews with six individuals who were living with HIV and who had previously attempted suicide. The results were analyzed using NVivo and major themes identified. The main themes that emerged from the interviews have been grouped into four major sections: Suicide, Stressors, External Resources, and Coping.

This study also includes a theological reflection on the Book of Job. A number of similarities between the experiences of the co-researchers in this study and the experience of the character of Job in the Book of Job are explored.

The information relating specifically to suicide in this study supports much of the previous research on suicide. This study provides indications about the kinds of interventions that will be helpful to those with whom we work as counsellors.

Some Factors Influencing the Internet Usage Patterns of Jamaican Adolescents and the Impact of these Patterns on Adolescent Social Development in Rural Secondary School in Central Jamaica

The purpose of this study is to investigate factors influencing the Internet usage patterns of Jamaican adolescents and the impact of these patterns are having on their social development. 111 Grade 9 students participated in a mixed methodology survey. For the quantitative study, the sample size was (n) = 92; 30 males and 62 females. For the qualitative study, the sample size was (n) = 19; 7 males and 12 females. The results revealed that Jamaican adolescents display very similar Internet usage patterns like North American adolescences. Factors which affect their usage patterns are parental involvement, computer location, Internet access and their Internet activities. The adolescents are socially adept but have had exposure to Internet risky behaviours. The implications from the study are (1) parents need to increase monitoring their adolescents’ Internet use, (2) Risky Internet behaviours are low among Jamaican adolescents but parents should exercise caution. The area of Internet Use among Jamaican adolescents still has scope for further studies.

Suffering without Mercy-Act of Solidarity: Southern Sudanese Christians, Non-Christians and Indigenous People of Sudan

This paper was an Integrative Study for a Bachelor of Theological Studies degree, and is not available for the public.

The Integral Role of Spirituality in Recovery from the Long-Term Effects of Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects 32 million people worldwide each year, causing immense tragedy. The vast majority of research in this area has involved medical diagnosis and rehabilitation methods of both the brain injury itself and associated conditions. In comparison, research concerning spirituality and its relation to TBI compose a minuscule amount of current and historical literature. The aim of this paper was to determine the experiences of TBI survivors who believed that their spirituality was essential in their recovery from the long-term effects of TBI. Data was collected using qualitative research interviews with 4 participants who had lived with TBI for three to 32 years. A phenomenological method was used to analyze transcribed interviews. This study discovered that TBI survivors found meaning and purpose in the midst of pain and suffering. This purpose amounted to an objective of giving unconditionally to others with or without TBI. Co-researchers ultimately placed complete trust in the God of their understanding. Their sense of despair was a springboard to rediscover, re-examine, and reinforce relationships with a personal God. This information will be valuable for psychotherapists as it confirms that incorporating spirituality and spiritual interventions into treatment with TBI survivors can provide significant benefits during their recovery process. Researchers will understand how TBI survivors exclusively experience and utilize their spirituality greater than one year post-injury, thereby increasing the depth of academic knowledge in this area. TBI survivors will profit from this research by possibly identifying with this study’s participants and by borrowing one or more spiritual ideas for advancement of their recovery.

A Study of the Loss of Self in Domestic Violence

The concept of conversion suffers from reductionism and associations to fundamentalism. Paul Robb, PhD. a Jesuit priest, and Alan Jones, PhD, a Protestant minister, call for a renewed understanding of conversion and develop theological perspectives to that effect. Using the work of Robb and Jones, this thesis explores and synthesizes their work and uses creative writing to demonstrate that the work of conversion pervades human experience.

Conversion Through Self-Knowledge: The Desert Way

Emotional and psychological abuse are often overlooked as forms of domestic violence because they are neither against the law nor necessarily visible to the onlooker. Yet, the daily barrage against the victim diminishes their understanding of themself and undermines their relationship to the world. In this study, I use a qualitative approach to explore the experience of emotional and psychological abuse within an intimate relationship. Experiences of emotional and psychological abuse were segmented into seven clear categories. Although these ‘gates’ make for a non-linear story telling method, they allow for a means to understand the implications of emotional and psychological abuse on the various aspects of one’s life. These gates are labeled (a) control; (b) objects; (c) comfort; (d) community; (e) identity; (f) madness, and; (g) death. They can be used to not only understand the descent of an individual in domestic violence, but also in the ascent – the recovery from abuse.

Coming Home to the Self Through Freeing the Singing Voice

This is a case study exploring the experience of a female singer in the process of freeing her voice. The main co-researcher used the metaphor of “coming home to myself” to reflect the process of reconnection to her body, emotions, and cut off parts of identity, such as sexuality, that occurred through freeing her voice. Breath is examined as the catalyst of reconnection to body and emotions, and the role of shame in resisting reconnection with certain aspects of identity.

Case study method was used to explore the life history of the co-researcher as it pertained to her vocal journey, and some heuristic methods were used to explore the vocal experience of the researcher. Data collection methods involved interviewing, listening to recordings and live performances, observation of a week long vocal workshop including daily master classes and voice lessons, and the researcher’s experience of a voice lesson. Interviews were done with the main co-researcher, her partner, and five master class students.

Literature was reviewed from multiple disciplines including vocal pedagogy, music therapy, self-psychology and object relations as applied to shame and identity development, and theology pertaining to shame. The findings include the power of breath to re-connect to one’s body and unlock emotions, the psychological process of change in freeing the voice, and the role of the teacher-student relationship in vocal progress and the parallel process of change in pastoral counseling. Practical applications are suggested for voice teachers and pastoral counselors.

A Story of Lost Opportunity: The Apology to Deaconesses Disjoined by The United Church of Canada

This project tells the story of the removal of United Church of Canada Deaconesses from ministry when they married and examines the apology given to these women by the United Church in 2006. The act of removal, called disjoining, was officially ended in 1960 but the practice and its negative effects continued for several decades. The study explores the development of the biblical and theological history limiting women’s vocational choices. It traces the enactment of disjoining in the Deaconess Order with an emphasis on the period of the 1950s and 60s as the rule disappears. Remembrances and reflections of women who were disjoined during this period enflesh the archival records. They tell stories of lost opportunity. A theological framework of eight stages is applied to assess the success of the apology in attaining the goal of a true conversion of heart. The apology is also a story of lost opportunity. The church’s confession of its sexist policies and practices is oriented to the past, without thorough truth telling. There is no application of the insights from the disjoining practice to continuing patterns of gender based discrimination. Recommendations for the United Church to further the commitments made in the apology conclude the project.

Befriending Life: An Approach to Retreat Work in the Tradition of Creation Spirituality

The writer describes an approach to retreats which focuses on befriending life through employing the four paths of Creation Spirituality as developed by Matthew Fox. She provides an overview of the development of retreats over the centuries, as well as related literature from the areas of spirituality, contemporary wisdom writers, adult religious education, and developmental psychology. She uses Moustakas’ heuristic methodology to present, analyze and reflect on three specific retreats and her experience of leading them. The writer concludes with extended reflections on the process and offers guidelines for others interested in retreat ministry.

Integrative Study: Forgiveness and Dance

Forgiveness has a profound influence on individual spiritual well being and is critical in the development of healthy relationships. There are four characteristics of forgiveness: 1) Forgiveness is a gift, 2) Forgiveness is given unconditionally, 3) Forgiveness does not mean that what happened was okay and 4) Forgiveness consists in forgiving the unforgivable. Three different forms of dance are used as metaphors of forgiveness. The first is the solo ballet. Here the dancer is alone in the processing of forgiveness. The second is the country two step where there is limited interaction between the dancers. The final is the ballroom waltz where there is full engagement and interaction between the parties. The kinds and depth of forgiveness is reflected in the interaction, or lack of it, between the dancers. The case studies illustrate these different dances of forgiveness. They also are examples of the value of forgiveness and show the positive and negative consequences of participating or not participating in forgiveness.

Spiritually Playful Community Experience of Summer Youth Staff at Sorrento Centre

This study explores an example of a spiritually intense community experience for youth aged 15-18, at Sorrento Centre, an Anglican Church Retreat Centre located in Sorrento, British Columbia.

Through the application of a qualitative research approach based on Grounded Theory and the superimposition of Liberation Theology the following question was addressed: What was the experience of Summer Youth Staff at Sorrento? The terms most commonly employed by interview subjects to describe this experience were “fun,” “growth,” “experimentation,” and “love.” The experience encouraged youth to explore their sexual-spirituallty, life in community, and the nature of unconditional love. The primary facilitating factor in this experience was the openness and trust established by the community experience. This was strengthened by the integration of play and spontaneity in all aspects of community life — work, worship, and social activities.

This study finds that youth ministry at Sorrento Centre was based on the premise of “mutual ministry.” This experience empowered youth and provided them with a framework for living that embodied authenticity, integrity, love, and — most importantly — play. The study concludes that if congregationally-based ministry adopts the same techniques of youth ministry then an environment can be created that empowers all members of the faith community while marginalizing none.

Reclaiming Lament: A Model for Engaging the Human Spirit in Journeying Toward Transformation, Healing and Justice-Making

Lament is an ancient literary form through which our Hebrew ancestors expressed to God their distress about injustice and suffering. The work of some contemporary scholars, however, indicates that lament has not been valued by the Christian church or Western culture. This research project, which centred around interviews with 12 people, demonstrates that lament is integral to healing and transformation as it engages the human spirit in an interactive, communal process through the following elements:

  • Loudly crying
  • About our pain and hurts
  • Makes it possible to
  • Engage with others in ways that
  • Name injustices and can lead to
  • Transformation and healing.

In this study, we discovered that lament itself is not enough and that four factors must accompany it if healing is to be realized. These factors include: acceptance; analysis and critique; power and authority that affirms change in the direction of justice and healing; and actions that can be risked. The model which emerges forms the basis for a theology and ministry of transformation and justice-making, as well as a compelling argument for RECLAIMING LAMENT.

One Note Sounded, One Word Spoken: Exploring the Intersection Between Spiritual Direction and Story Theology

This study began with the question of the nature of the relationship between the discipline of story theology and the practice of spiritual direction. First, I did literature reviews of each of the areas, weaving in stories of my own and others’ experience where appropriate. As I have personal experience in both of these fields, I used a heuristic approach which values experience to explore their common ground and their distinctiveness. To examine the similarities and differences, I shared a personal dream, establishing it as story, and then approached the dream first from a spiritual direction perspective and secondly from a story theology perspective. In the former, I applied Jean Raffa’s dream analysis approach and in latter I used Marcus Borg’s understanding of salvation images and stories and W. Paul Jones’ thesis of theological worlds.

Using certain criteria to compare the two disciplines, I concluded that in fact the two disciplines shared much common ground around the centrality of story, purposes for being, scope and significance. Some differences were discovered around distinctive patterns and practices, a definable group of practitioners, a discernible developmental history, and distinctive methodologies. I determined that they are discrete processes which could be complementary to each other.

I included an impact statement noting the personal value and learning for me resulting from this work and ended the paper with a creative reflection on my experience.

Called to Continue: Vocation and Calling in Later Life

This is a qualitative study using phenomenology as its methodology. The question being explored is, “What is it that influences vocational choice and calling in later life?”  The purpose of the study is to explore, from the experience of those who participated in the study, what it is that influenced them in their later life vocational choices and helped them understand and pursue their callings. With increasing life-spans, improved health, and changing demographics in Western countries, the ability and opportunity to respond to one’s sense of calling beyond the generally accepted age of retirement is increasing. Individuals who made vocational changes in later life were interviewed and asked to relate their experience in connection with vocation and calling. Responses were grouped under the two general categories of internal and external influences. Themes that emerged relating to internal influences included increased self-awareness, the growing need for meaning and purpose, the need for improved self-esteem and sense of accomplishment, and the desire for creativity and freedom. Themes relating to external factors that influenced callings were the support of family and friends, difficult or traumatic life events, financial and family changes, and synchronicity or chance (career happenstance). Based on the insights gained through this inquiry, suggestions have been made on appropriate counselling approaches and activities to assist clients seeking support in pursuing later life callings. Addressed are such issues as the usefulness of assessment instruments, the creation of Self-Portraits, journaling, and the “narrative” approach to counselling.

In Whose Image?: The Role of God Representations in the Pastoral Identities of C.P.E. Students

An exploration was made of the role of God representations in the lives of Clinical Pastoral Education students as they develop, refine and express their pastoral identities in ministry with patients in a hospital setting. The researcher gained an understanding of the nature of the pastoral identities and God representations held by the students and the connections the students understood themselves to be making between these two dimensions of their personhood. A series of interviews took place with each of the eight students, their training supervisors and patients selected by the students. In two final interviews, conducted within the two student peer groups, the students spoke of the importance and usefulness of the exploration of this aspect of their pastoral identity formation and spirituality.

The God representations of these Clinical Pastoral Education students have a prominent and vital place in the fabric of their pastoral identities. There is a process of weaving continually at work, wherein each student experiences the fabric of God’s nature being intertwined within them as pastors. In this constant process of identity development and expression through relationships, a likeness of Pastor and God is cultivated, the differentiation of God and Pastor is created and maintained, the pliable boundaries of God and Pastor are explored and serviced, and barriers are erected and fortified against the “Not I” of Pastor and God.

The learnings, and their implications, acquired from the participants are discussed in relationship to traditional understandings about theological education, the spirituality of pastors and Supervised Pastoral Education.

Pastor’s Exit: A Study of the Dynamics of Involuntary Termination of Pastor’s in the Mennonite Church

This study’ speaks to the issue of the involuntary termination (I-T) of pastors in the churches of the Conference of Mennonites in Canada.

The main purpose of this project is to create awareness in the church of this practice. It is hoped that this project will provide a stimulus to necessary and ongoing discussions regarding pastor-congregation relationships and the nature of leadership in the churches.

The major part of this project focuses on the experiences of pastors in I-T. The material was brought together from taped interviews with pastors, their spouses, and from representatives of churches where I-T had taken place.

In reviewing the tapes, I listened not only to the words, but the feelings and pain behind those words. Out of this information an agenda for the church emerged. Out of the agenda numerous recommendations were made to the church. These recommendations were sent to fourteen elected and appointed leaders in the Conference for testing.

My anticipation is that as the Conference and the churches accept the agenda and struggle with the recommendations the climate in the churches could change appreciably.

The outcomes of the project are many. Already during the research and writing, considerable awareness regarding the malady of I-T has been observed in various sectors of the constituency. The issues attending this phenomenon have in these years surfaced with greater regularity and concern.

The reasons for I-T are not the same in all cases, but most I-T’s have similar components. The termination syndrome, although very ambiguous, is prevalent. While professional incompetency is only minimally present, interpersonal incompetency on the part of the pastor is the single most important reason for I-T. Factions and coalitions are liabilities in pastor-congregation relationships. In an attempt to escape self-judgment troubled persons project their inadequacies on pastors. Value/goal conflicts are also only minimally present, but loss of trust and respect grow along with other dissatisfactions.

This study has pointed to an array of dynamics that is present in the process of I-T. Unfinished business characterizes most I-T’s. That is, pastors leave the community of their ministry with unresolved anger. The community is left with guilt. The relationship prior to the event is riddled with avoidance. Pastors suffer rejection and loss of self-confidence. The whole family system is hurt. Because I-T is often the result of pressure from a minority, the congregation grieves at the injustice hurled upon their pastor. Mennonite churches generally have not come to terms with conflict.

The recommendations of the project relate to greater responsibility and accountability of the congregation and greater self-awareness on the part of the pastor. The high incidence of I-T’s raises questions about the current mono-pastoral system. A partnership ministry, which merges the traditional multiple lay and professional models, is proposed as a new model.

The study also surfaces issues that provide continuing agenda and require further research. Some of these issues are: 1) The use/abuse of power in Mennonite congregations; 2) The theology and practice of installation and termination of the pastor as it relates to calling and ordination; 3) The concern for effective training of the contemporary pastor in a partnership ministry, specifically as it relates to the pastor as an equipper of saints for the work of the ministry; and, 4) The need for models of conflict resolution has become evident.

This study project does not envision a church without conflict or suffering. Instead, it looks to healthful ways of managing conflict and to helpful ways to alleviate the pastor-congregation relationship of vile or unnecessary pain. The project envisions a church that assumes greater responsibility and accountability for its commitments and relationships. It sees its pastors as servants in a partnership.

Proposal for Rites of Christian Initiation, Exploration and Discipleship and the Implications for Congregational Curriculum and Liturgy

The purpose of this project is to create three rites of spiritual passage beginning with Christian Initiation for infants and children entering the community of faith, Christian Exploration to mark the transition from childhood to adolescence and Christian Discipleship to highlight the possibility of mature discipleship and ministry.

This work is an extension of the 1978 Task Force on Christian Initiation appointed by the United Church of Canada to examine the theology and practice of Christian Initiation. This group brought forth several theological affirmations and thirty-three recommendations for the preparation, celebration and follow-up to the Christian Initiation of infants and children.

The project was carried out in several steps. First, the nature, purpose and function of ritual, especially as it applies in the United Church, was examined. Secondly, the rites of infant Baptism, Confirmation and adult Baptism in the Roman Catholic, Lutheran and United Church was researched and compared. Thirdly, a rationale for the timing (in a person’s life journey) and the content of the preparation and the ritual itself was developed on the basis of several psychologists who work in the psycho-social, cognitive, moral and faith development areas. Fourthly, a theological basis for the rites was proposed on the basis of Biblical teaching. Fifthly, several organizing principles by which the rites might be constructed were noted. Finally, using a method of lateral bridging, the rites and the form and content of the preparation of the Participants were designed.

The rites were carried out in the author’s congregation over a period of two years. After the first year’s trial and evaluation, they were modified and attempted again. All three rites and the curricula used in the preparation received favourable responses in general. In all, eighty-three parents, children, congregation members and ordained clergy took part in the written evaluations.

The result of this project is that the Board of the Church is anxious to continue these rituals and several United Church clergy have requested copies of the rituals and the preparation and follow-up materials. The experience has given the author some clues as to constructing a model for change in the area of spiritual rites of passage. This is noted in the last chapter of the project.

Witnessing The Word, Growing A Faith Community

This is about two congregations who were facing a slow death if they did not change how they were doing ministry. One congregation had done a mission statement and realized they could not do alone what they believed and valued in ministry. Two congregations came together to seek ways of doing ministry in their local community and to discover ways of growing together in faith. Amalgamation was planned, a joint mission statement was draw up and the congregation developed a process to fulfill their objectives in the mission statement. The only was guide was the mission statement, the people’s faith and courage. At the time of this ministry their were few resources to guide us so we took a risk in faith and discovered what might be possible. The congregations chose life.

An unexpected opportunity of local mission occurred when Maria Barahona and her five children showed up on the doorstep of Trinity United Church. With the support of the larger Kitsilano community and larger United Church, Trinity United responded to give Maria and the children a home while they worked to stop the deportation order given to Maria and the children.

This thesis will tell a story of a faith journey that Trinity United only had mapped out in a mission statement and how that mission statement served as a guide to accomplish a new thing in the congregation and the community.

Forget Me Not: The Spiritual Care of People with Dementia

This thesis seeks to explore through research and theological reflection, the challenge of spiritual care for those suffering with senile dementia. This document will present some conceptual models of spiritual care for those suffering from dementia. The research includes my personal experiences and reflections and qualitative findings from other caregivers, which further illustrate the observations presented.

Those who are cognitively impaired have spiritual needs that require attention, and those engaged in the ministry of pastoral care, both in health care institutions and in the church, have a theological mandate to extend spiritual care in a manner that best meets those needs.

The concept of spiritual existence at all points in life and the exploration of alternative methods of ministry with those who suffer from cognitive impairment is of particular personal interest for me for two reasons, beyond my professional interest in performing role of chaplain in a more effective manner: 1) my grandmother was afflicted for nearly 20 years with a type of dementia. Recently my uncle, her son, has been diagnosed with a type of dementia. 2) I am concerned as a Christian that we not only meet the spiritual needs of these members of the kingdom of God, but also that we avail ourselves of the gifts and wisdom of these precious, but most marginalized people.

Within our society, there is an ever increasing number of people suffering from all types of dementia, in a quickly aging population. There is tremendous need to bring to society’s awareness that all human beings, regardless of their cognitive abilities, have spiritual needs. In addressing those needs, we not only increase their quality of life, we increase the value we place on all persons in society.

The methodology which is used in this research is phenomenological and descriptive. This study uses as data the conceptual research, theories and discussions of the current literature which is found in nursing, psychological and theological professions. As well it includes ideas that have been developed in England in this newer area of research. It will also include the research I have done, and the observations I have made in the care setting where I am employed as a chaplain.

Validation of particular understandings is based upon whether or not these understandings are widely held by a number of persons in different disciplines, as evidenced by their inclusion in current professional journals or publications. Such understandings are also checked against information which arises out of personal experiential data.

Theological Field Education: Establishing a Program at Newman Theological College

The purpose of this project was to establish a program of theological field education as a core component of the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree at Newman Theological College (NTC) in Edmonton, Alberta. It began in the same year that this Roman Catholic college began offering the M.Div., with a view to seeking accreditation from the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS).

Field education is an experience-based, intentional learning model that promotes the personal integration of theology. As such the work proceeded on the assumption that it provides an invaluable contribution to preparation for ministry. The questions that gave focus to the work were two:

1. How does theological field education (practicum learning) fit into a degree program in which the majority of the courses are taught according to the methods of traditional academia?

2. How does theological field education fit, as a core requirement, into the Master of Divinity program at Newman Theological College?

The project resulted in the writing of a comprehensive policy statement for theological field education at NTC. Validation was sought from colleagues in theological education through the accreditation process completed in January of 1992 and through a survey of M.Div. graduates conducted at the time of writing this document.

This report has been written according to the case study method used by students in the field education program. It is a reflection on the writer’s experience of having become a field educator in this context. In the process an effort has been made to conceptualize major learnings from this particular experience.

Major insights can be summarized as follows:

A. Just as the context of the ministry base shapes the ministry offered, so too does the context of the particular theological college shape the field education process developed for its programs.

B. The use of the experiential learning theory of David A. Kolb, as well as the Tripolar Model of Theological Reflection developed by James D. Whitehead and Evelyn Eaton Whitehead with students in the field education process has particular advantages. Both these theory bases demonstrate the close connection between theological theory and life. As such, they enable theological field education to play an important role in the formation of individuals for ministry.

C. When women become aware of the patriarchal nature of the Church and their victimization by it, they are faced with making a choice to leave or to stay within it. Those who stay do so with the realization that it will involve accepting a call to promote change not only in the practice, but in the theology of the Church. In a process parallel to their efforts to change the system, they must also work to rid themselves of any habits of victim behaviour they may have developed in order to survive.

D. The process of theological field education is, in itself, an agent for bringing about change:

a) in the education system of seminary colleges.

b) in our method of doing theology.

c) in the discernment process by which we affirm vocations to ministry.

d) in the quality of ministry offered in the community.

A Deeper Kind of Craving: Healing Food and Body Issues through the Practice of Presence

A Deeper Kind of Craving; healing food and body issues through the practice of presence is about understanding what is at the heart of overeating. Despite the attention on the obesity crisis there is little discussion of the spiritual underpinnings of overeating. This research explored the spiritual practice of presence and how it reconnects us to our bodies and results in healthier eating and relationship with the body. The researcher, who has a history of overeating and chronic dieting, embarked on a heuristic self-study exploring the experience of healing food and body issues through the practice of presence rather than dieting. The researcher engaged a process of practicing mindfulness, mindful eating, meditation, art making etc. Four distinct healing processes were observed: illumination, embodiment, connection and emergence. Illumination involved heightened clarity and insight, resulting in a compassionate curiosity towards the body and eating behaviors. Embodiment involved embracing the body and learning to hear and respond to its needs appropriately. Connection was characterized by a sense of oneness with one’s body, with others and with the world at large. Emergence was an experience of transformation in both eating behaviors and the relationship with the body. The researcher discovered that the obsession with dieting and the ensuing rejection of the body is more hurtful than the weight itself. The researcher experienced presence as a profoundly spiritual practice that unites one with alienated aspects of oneself. The researcher concluded that presence offers what one is truly craving when one overeats: a wholeness that offers peace.

The Power of Forgiveness in the Personal Healing Process for Victims of Violent Traumatic Events: A Qualitative Study

The literature on forgiveness (Enright & North, 1998) indicates a growing interest in the phenomenon of forgiveness in the interpersonal, social and political perspectives. However, I found no research published or reported, nor any formal theory concerning forgiveness among victims of torture. The purpose of this qualitative study was to learn if former victims of physical violence-torture-as a result of political unrest were able to forgive their former abuser. Four men and one woman, all ex-political prisoners over eighteen years old who had suffered torture in their country of origin over five years ago, were selected to participate in the study after being screened with three self-administered questionnaires. The data was collected in two in-depth two-hour face to face semi-structured interviews. The format for the interviews was framed as a set of eight open-ended questions related to the past violent trauma and subsequent experience of forgiveness. The results from this phenomenological study indicated that none of the victims forgave their torturers, even long after the abuse occurred and regardless of the distance from the milieu of their abuse. It was also indicated that the participants were still actively seeking justice and compensation for their losses and suffering. The participants had suffered a sense of powerlessness and hopelessness since the beginning of their experience, which was perceived as an external locus of control. By not being able to overcome their suffering, their condition may conform to a type of posttraumatic stress disorder. It was also observed that they suffered a persistent sense of isolation from the mainstream of Canadian society as a result of their psychological conflicts and residual feelings of distrust, coupled with continued longing for their country of origin. The participants did not deny the possibility of forgiving their abuser in the future, but their granting of forgiveness was conditional on displays of the torturer’s repentance and asking for forgiveness. The participants perceived forgiveness as not being necessary from a Christian or religious context, but from a moral and social perspective it was still very fundamental to them. This study suggested a need for a well-defined therapeutic intervention for victims of torture. This is viewed as especially vital within Canada’s boundaries as a result of our compassionate and generous immigration/refugee policies, which have resulted in many individuals who have been subject to political abuse and torture seeking asylum in this country.

Marriage Preparation: The Interchurch Challenge

Ministry to the engaged is a comparatively new field of study only beginning to attract the attention of researchers in the last several decades. My involvement with this ministry during this time has ranged from presenter to facilitator, program developer, and researcher. I approach this research from my background as a Roman Catholic and thus this bias is the lens through which I examine this research.

All couples seeking marriage in the Roman Catholic Church are required to complete a marriage preparation program. Over the last two decades, I have perceived an increase in the number of couples seeking marriage who celebrate their religious beliefs in different Christian denominations. These interchurch couples face unique challenges and marriage preparation is the ideal venue in which to address these issues.

The purpose of this study was to develop an interchurch marriage preparation session based on the experiences of interchurch marriage preparation facilitators, interchurch engaged couples, and personal experience. The interchurch session was developed under the guidelines of the Church in Society theory; a theory that combines the teachings of the Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops on marriage preparation and Social Exchange theory. This theory combined with the theological tenets inherent in the Sacrament of Marriage in the Roman Catholic Church set the parameters in developing the interchurch marriage preparation session.

Utilizing the narrative inquiry method of research, the stories of the interchurch facilitators’ and interchurch engaged couple’s pilots were recounted along with my own personal journey. These stories and my own experiences were instrumental in developing a marriage preparation tool that addresses the unique challenges of the interchurch relationship.

Regard My Wounds: The Relevance and Meaning of Spirituality in the Treatment of Substance Use

“I’m really not a bad person, I am just lost and trying to find my way home.”

These are the words of one of the co-researchers interviewed for this thesis. The purpose of this study is to explore the influence and meaning of spirituality in the lives of those suffering with addiction and how it affects their recovery. Spirituality is a difficult concept to define. One of the most accurate descriptions of spirituality comes from the significance it has given to those that have reached beyond their own natural gifts, strengths and intellect for that “other” source that heals the spirit.

Addictions inflict many wounds; their victims often suffer unspeakable anguish as they “try to find their way home” or the road to recovery.

The intent of this study is that the reader may witness the potential that applied spirituality has in the treatment of addiction. By allowing the read to hear the voices and listen to the hearts of these wounded travelers, I pray that we may be more understanding, supportive, and caring when God places in our path a person who is on this similar journey as ourselves, the journey to wholeness and healing.

Just to Be is a Blessing: A Study of the Experience of Living in the Present Moment

This study arose from my desire to live in the present moment. My conscious living in the moment had been mostly a now and then experience. The impact of those experiences left an underlying urge to have more moments of feeling fully alive, at peace, and at One; to have a more continual experience of living in the present rather than living for some rather elusive, occasional moment of significance. I became curious to know how other people ‘lived in the present’. This created the focal question for interviews with eight co-researchers: “What is your experience of living in the present moment?”

The heuristic research method guided the course of this study. Narrative verbatim accounts of the co-researchers’ descriptions of living in the present moment and written descriptions of my experiences formed the body of the research data. Literature resources assisted in identifying and understanding the themes that emerged from these experiences. The literature was drawn from areas with a focus on living in the present such as holistic healing; grief and dying; spirituality, which included meditation practices, the writings of mystics, spirituality and science, and spirituality and psychology; and the healing and spiritual aspects of creativity.

Five primary themes arose from the descriptions of living in the moment: Attention, Awareness, Appreciation, Acceptance, and Mystery. The synthesis of these themes culminated in the overall theme of Be-ing.

The results of this study imply that living in the moment is a state of Be-ing. There appears to be a growing interest in living in the present, in finding fulfillment in the experience of each day. Fulfillment comes with the awareness that Just to Be IS the Blessing. The task now is just to Be and in so doing, others may become aware of their Be-ing.

Soul Retrieval: Storied Journeys of Shamanic Healing from Trauma

Through the employment of narrative inquiry methodology, the study sought to hear the storied experiences of two modern, urban shamanic practitioners who employ soul retrieval to help individuals heal from the negative effects of trauma. The main task of the research was to immerse myself as completely as possible into the world of these shamanic practitioners and the practice of soul retrieval. By doing so, I would then be better able to ascertain whether, I too, could experience the healing benefits of this practice for myself. A secondary task of the research process was directly dependent on the first and main task. If I could confirm the healing power of soul retrieval, my goal was to initiate a cursory exploration into how psychology and the shamanic practice of soul retrieval might be compared and contrasted. The final written narrative is an effort to draw the reader into the world of shamanism and associated healing practices. I hope the reader will find the written narrative persuasive and intriguing as the qualities of depth and breadth were intentionally created by intertwining three strands of exploration, stories from the two shamanic practitioners, related literature, and self-reflection on the initiation process into shamanism.

Lost Shepherd: Why Individuals are Leaving Full-time Ministry in the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, Alberta District

People are leaving the full time ministry in the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Over the last five years, an average of ten pastors have left each year in the province of Alberta. Many of these “lost shepherds” have left the church as well as their call. Others have left and gone to other denominations while some find their way back into ministry in the Pentecostal church. My thesis is that this departure is largely a systemic problem and can be eliminated to a large degree with a renewed sense of call and genuine denominational collegiality.

The purpose of this Project/Dissertation is to discover why pastors are leaving full time ministry in the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. The nearly 10% annual drop-out rate of pastors in the province of Alberta demands an answer. Forty “lost shepherds” initially agreed to take part in this study. Chapter three contains the data supplied by this group.

Biblical theology holds a place of significant importance in Pentecostalism. As a Pentecostal I will give this dimension of theology considerable attention. Chapter two will be directed to a theology of call and ordination. It is believed some of the problem of drop-out begins in the formulation of these two concepts for some ministerial candidates.

Delphi methodology will be used. This method of data collection has three characteristics which make it suitable for study. First is anonymity. Competition is a reality for both rural and urban pastors. There also exists in the thinking of some that a pastor should never have problems or doubts. Many taking part in the study expressed fear that some senior district officials would find out about their participation and this could affect the possibility of further ministry placement. It was essential that anonymity be maintained. Second was the need for iteration with controlled feedback. By iteration, the respondents may change their minds and options as they consider the responses from the other participants. Responses from other panel members may persuade some to consider items, ideas, or dynamics missed or previously thought unimportant. Third there was a need for a statistical group response. The statistical response indicates the opinions of the entire group on a single question, “Why did you leave the full time ministry?” Feedback is placed on a Likert-type scale to obtain consensus. Together with their previous rating, the mean or median response and comments to the question are fed back to the panel members. This enables each individual to see where their response stands in relation to that of the group. The group mean is improved by the anonymous feedback, and eliminates the tendency to bow to social desirability.

By way of introduction, chapter one explores the development of the denomination. This process will set the theological rationale for call and ordination to ministry, and for the question raised in this project.

The implications of this study could be far reaching, if district officials, presbyters, congregations and pastors knew the factors contributing to the large numbers departing ministry within the denomination. It would be of great value if those involved in preparing our future pastors for service could incorporate this information into the process of guiding candidates to develop a personal theology of call, ordination, and ministry. There are too many “lost shepherds.” Knowing why there are so many departures could prevent future losses.

Healing by Touch: Energy-Touch Healing in the United Church of Canada

The central topic explored in this project dissertation is the emergence and development of energy-touch healing ministries in congregational settings of the United Church of Canada. Although energy-touch healing refers to a variety of healing techniques that use the hands to transfer energy, I use the term to identify specific Christian congregational ministries that are based on Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, and/or Healing Touch.

Two grounded theory research projects form the backbone of this work. The first explored how a group of United Church ministers integrated the concepts of energy-touch healing with Christian theology. The second focused on the experience of United Churches where energy-touch healing ministries have been established. In both cases, it was possible to extrapolate a theory from the experience of the participants. More specifically, a common process was employed for developing the energy-touch healing ministries in the congregations under study. The process is organic rather than linear and parallels the seasonal work of growing a garden. Certain factors that contribute to the growth of a healing ministry were isolated. These include spiritual leadership, healthy ministry relationships built on trust, and support of key members of the congregation. It was also discovered that leaders of energy-touch healing ministries draw upon similar strategies for addressing the challenges that arise as the program develops such as creating task groups to wrestle with specific issues, forming practice groups, and offering educational opportunities for practitioners and other member of the congregation. And finally, the establishment of an energy-touch ministry in the congregations under study produced a common outcome—a deepening of faith and spiritual intimacy in the participants that ultimately led to the formation of a healing community. A comprehensive description of this process is shared in the project—a guidebook titled “Growing Energy-Touch Healing Ministries in Christian Congregations.” The second project also included the development of ethical guidelines for congregations and practitioners who practise energy-touch healing in a Christian context.

Both projects affirmed the social reality of healing in the particular contemporary Christian context. The stories told by the participants bear witness to the present of healing in the lives of those who have explored energy-touch healing either as practitioners or as recipients.

The Holy Spirit in the Natural World

The thesis has been written out of a concern for the lack of connection that exists, both in theology and the secular world, between the work of the Holy Spirit and Creation. Using the method of a literature survey, the thesis has identified those points in history where the link between the Holy Spirit and Creation has been lost. This thesis has been designed to connect the findings of modern day physics and cosmology to the characteristics of the work of the Holy Spirit in Creation. The thesis has reached the conclusion that theology, especially in the last five hundred [500] years, has largely deleted from its deliberations references to the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit’s work in Creation and has identified those influences which caused that to happen.  It has further shown that the findings of modern physics and cosmology have consonances with those things that characterize the work of the Holy Spirit in Creation. These conclusions point to a way in which the Holy Spirit and Creation can be re-connected and the sacramentalism of nature re-established.

Church as Home: What Young Married Couples Value

This dissertation explores the concept of home with reference to one’s own residence, a church home and a spiritual home from the point of view of newlyweds. Using qualitative methods, the researcher interviewed ten couples married by ministers of the United Church of Canada. The participants were between the ages of 22 and 35 years, were childless and not previously married, and had been married less than three months. A focus group with three couples who had been married more than three years and less than eight years and who were actively involved in United Church of Canada congregations was conducted to hear and to compare their views with those of the newlyweds.

Results indicate that newlyweds understand home, whether it be one’s own residence or church home or spiritual home, to be where they can be comfortable, be one’s self, find satisfying relationships, have memories and be renewed or find energy. These findings were supported by the results of the focus group. The study demonstrates the need of rhythm and healthy oscillation in one’s theological and psychological life by using W. Paul Jones’ Theological Worlds and Bruce Reed’s theory of oscillation respectively.

An Assessment of the impact of the Teaching of Sex Education on Adolescents’ Secual Activity

This research assesses the impact of the teaching of sex education on adolescents’ sexual activity. The sample, of two hundred and twenty adolescents of both genders originated from four high schools and two communities in the urban area of Jamaica. Quantitative and qualitative methodologies: frequency count, percentages and bar graphs were used to assess the Likert type questionnaire as well as responses from focus groups. The findings suggest that students are obtaining valuable information from the curriculum but the impact of peer pressure and cultural factors act as an impediment to the utilization of knowledge. Additionally, the findings suggest that students recognize that spiritual values play a role in decision making and sexual activity but the concept of relationship needs to explore.

Embracing the Second Fall: Theology from the Shadow Side

We live in a complex pluralistic world which collectively possesses the powers traditionally ascribed to God. This new and threatening context necessitates that we come to understand God and ourselves in a new way. The postmodern thought of John Cobb Jr. and David Griffin attempts to do this and offers us categories in which to reconceptualize our place and function in the cosmos as well as that of the divine.

Carl Jung anticipates these postmodern proposals but as a pioneer in this process falls victim to the prevalent modern worldview of his time. Jung’s work lifts up the problems of the modern scientific worldview in regards to God, religion and humanity. His life experiences and the emerging insights of his psychiatric practice form an example of trying to transcend the Inadequacies of modern thinking while remaining victim of the presuppositions none the less. So we find some of Jung’s most brilliant insights while still extremely valuable are tainted by inadequate premises.

Jung realized that we must rethink our concept of God’s power. His solution was to posit the unconsciousness of God. God is all powerful but not all aware of God’s power. Postmodern thought posits the divine power as persuasive (not possessing all the power). Both positions recognize our coming to consciousness as divine incarnation, however Jung’s unconscious designation requires a completion of God while postmodem thought views the process as a realization of God in creation only. Jung’s concept also questions divine goodness while postmodernism maintains it.

Jung challenges the doctrine of atonement, seeing the process occurring within God on the one hand and within ourselves on the other. Christ is more a symbol of self realization than an historical figure. Unfortunately this continues to rob humanity and the incarnation of any intrinsic value. Here Jung unwittingly remains with the substitutional aspect of atonement while trying to transcend it. Postmodern thought bypasses this problem by recognizing the autonomous creative power in life most especially in humanity which is necessary for divine realization in creation.

Living within the dominant warrior hero motif of his times Jung fails to recognize other heroic possibilities. The Trinity for him is the separative heroic process of individuation on our side and divine incarnation towards consciousness on the other. The Trinity is a process not a snapshot of the divine. While postmodernism agrees with the process concept it differs by rejecting the separative heroicism of Jung. Rather the three step process is understood relationally as three divine natures of love, primordial, consequent, and creative.

None the less, the three step divine unfolding for Jung reaches completion in a final fourth, which includes humanity. The fourth is necessary because God needs us as we need God, however it doesn’t account for all the deficiencies of the patriarchal Trinity. Jung leaves his insight unfinished by not expanding it beyond the fourth to adequately include the fallen trinity comprising the feminine, the demonic and the material world.

Here proposed is an adding of the divine three and the worldly four to form three polarities resolving in a common mean or seventh of love. Jung’s secular agenda blinded him from seeing the obvious religious symbol of seven, three heaven plus four earth, creating a new wholeness.

A new heroic stance of soft individualism issuing in true community results from the postmodern proposals. This heroicism lowers not erects barriers and accepts diffuse awareness as empirically valid. Jesus’ message of God’s radical immediacy to each and every individual and therefore between individuals compliments the organic imagery of postmodernism.

Jung as a pioneer contributes much to postmodern thought. His many controversial insights support and advance the emerging cosmology. Where there is divergence it is secondary to the main insight or else an inconsistency between early and later research, or an incomplete proposal.

In conclusion, the foundational insights of postmodern thinking are contained throughout Jung’s work, however in specific cases they are not fully developed or become coloured by personal and cultural biases. Jung remains a pioneer of postmodern thinking and offers an empirical psychology to compliment the philosophical theology of Alfred North Whitehead, Charles Hartshorne, John Cobb Jr. and David Griffin. Taken together their work forms a structure in which to embrace positively the second Fall, humanity’s fall through creation into the responsibilities and prerogatives of the divine.

The Whisper of the Scarlet Buffalo

Jung’s Word Association Experiment has been used for many years to uncover complexes in individuals as a way of unearthing singular psychic constellations. This project focused on the complexes and ultimately archetypes that were uncovered through Jung’s test. Although the Word Experiment itself is both qualitative and quantitative in nature, particular interest is placed on the heuristic component surrounding my personal experience and subsequent interpretation of the results. This thesis delved into complex indicators that were revealed during my experience with the Association Experiment to uncover underlying complexes and ultimately archetypes that may have contributed to my attraction to a career in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. This method of inquiry was chosen because it best addressed a method to probe into my unconscious for clues about why I elected the dynamic career of policing. My interest in this inquiry was fueled in part because no one else in my family history has displayed a desire for a career in policing; most particularly the women.

Integrating Service into High School Education: An Exploration of the Impact of Community Service Experience on Personal Development

This exploratory study responds to the question: what is the impact of participation in a community service program on the personal and interpersonal development of adolescents? Qualitative research data was gathered through personal interviews with six participants who were enrolled in a faith-based independent secondary school which required fifteen hours of community service of each student at each grade level. Students felt strongly that the school’s community service program had a positive impact on their personal and interpersonal development. I was impressed by the ways in which service experiences influenced the spiritual development of high school students as they learned to “live out their faith” through helping those in need. Some other areas of positive impact were noted in students’ ability to create connections to peers, to other adults and to the community itself. Although students felt that participation in service opportunities had influenced their personal values, they understood that the values of their families and church community had a significant impact on their personal development as well. It appeared that for the participants, the school’s service program had an impact on their awareness of social issues and their own privileged position in society. At the same time, they had more difficulty envisioning or articulating visions of innovative programs which would address some of the causes of social needs in the community. I concluded that the particular service program of this study had positively influenced the students’ development, but that the impact on critical thinking and analysis would be increased through guided reflection as part of the service program.

Mapping a Male Minister’s Midlife Experience: Images, Issues and Implications

The dissertation attempts to map an ordered male minister’s midlife experience. The author views and interprets the extensive literature on midlife through his own midlife experience to help illuminate some of the images, issues and implications of the significant midlife developmental period for ordered male ministers (professionally and personally), as well as for congregations and the larger istitutional church. It also offers encouragement to all on the life-giving journey of deepening intimacy and integrity with God-in-Christ, self, others and creation.

Is Christ in the Court? A Narrative Study of Litigation in The United Church of Canada

This Project/Dissertation explores, through narrative inquiry, five presbyters experience of litigation within the United Church of Canada. The author introduces the reader to the impact litigation has on the United Church by illustrating his own struggle with litigation while serving as a Chairperson of presbytery. He then offers an overview of ecclesiastical and civil legal process prior to exploring the research participant’s stories of church litigation. These stories serve as a basis for the development of a theology of suffering and compassion to address church litigation. The author concludes the dissertation with suggested models of spiritual discernment that can be used by the church as a pro-active response to litigation.

Lived Experience of the Toltec Path to Personal Freedom

This thesis examines the experiences of seven individuals who choose to follow the Toltec path to personal freedom, working together as a group. A single research question was posed: “What is the lived experience of following the Toltec path?” Interviews were conducted in two sessions and resulted in two themes that are central to the work of these individuals: the development of awareness and the central aspect of energy in the work they do. The group mostly viewed Toltec as a set of tools and a perception which guided them, and acknowledge that anyone practicing this work will interpret it differently. There is no describable outcome, but the outcome experienced is to live from a place of awareness in each moment. It was also established that using words to describe this work was extremely difficult. The researcher’s enquiry was also to establish whether Toltec work has a place in psychotherapy or spirituality or both. Various other philosophies are compared to Toltec philosophy and practice. This study provided an opportunity to gather information about a modern practice of an ancient shamanic path towards personal freedom that has not been studied in the scholarly literature to date. It sheds light on the ancient path of Toltec priests and how their practices are translated into everyday practice in modern western culture through the wisdom and insight of present day Naguals, specifically don Miguel Ruiz. It also shows how this practice can provide deep healing and self-awareness for those who follow it.

Soil and Soul: Reclaiming the Garden as Sacred Space

Horticultural therapy, or gardening as therapy, has been used in a wide variety of situations. It is common wisdom that spending time in a garden is good for the soul. Concepts like healing garden, prayer garden, meditation garden, spiritual garden, Zen garden all speak to the experience of well-being that can occur when in that space. However, the spiritual aspects of gardening as therapy have not been widely addressed in the academic literature. This thesis project sought to answer the question: How is the garden experienced as a spiritually healing place? Through a literature search, definitions for spirituality, healing, soul and sacred space were determined. Using the phenomenological methodology of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, which specifies a small, homogeneous sample, the author interviewed four sisters who were life-long gardeners to discover what meaning they gave to their gardens. Eight super-ordinate themes emerged that reflected the participant’s experiences in the garden and the meaning they attributed to those experiences. From these themes, four aspects became apparent relating to the spirituality of the women. They all talked about experiencing the presence of God in their lives, they have a deep connection to the soil, they have never lost their wonder of the created world, and they see God as part of, and manifest in, the natural world. In addition, it became apparent that their mother was very influential in modelling a connection to the garden. The thesis project concluded that, in order to address the spiritual aspects of horticultural therapy, it is important that the leaders of a horticultural therapy program model a passion for gardening, express awe and wonder for the created world, and understand the importance of physical connection to the soil.

Study of Transference in the Male to Male Counselling Relationship

This thesis is a study of how male therapists experience the transference in their counselling relationships with male clients. The research consisted of interviews with eight therapists who shared their understandings and experiences of transference.

A phenomenological methodology was used to look for essential themes in the data. The data produced a framework of how transference manifests in therapy and how this impacts the therapist. The data also revealed issues that are unique to the transferences that arise between a male therapist and a male client.

The participants expressed a variety of definifions and understandings of transference which had been shaped by their personal experiences. Transference is a complex and challenging aspect of the human unconscious. The data and the literature indicate that effective responses to the transference will have a positive impact on the therapeutic relationship and on the outcome of the therapy.

Transference offers the therapist valuable insights into the intrapsychic functioning of the client and also clues to what the client needs for psychological healing and growth. Furthermore, transference and the countertransference offers the therapist an ongoing opportunity and demand for growth and healing.

Comparison of Social Ministry in Two Different Settings

Social ministry has often meant outreach work in the community from a church base. Diaconal ministers in The United Church of Canada, trained for ministries of service (social ministry) as well as education and pastoral care, find it difficult to be commissioned to social ministries in community agencies outside a congregational base.

There is little documented literature about social ministry practice, thus a qualitative study was conducted in two community-oriented programs with purposes and practices consistent with the perception of social ministry.

Participants in a church based collective kitchen and a community based adult literacy progran were questioned in semi-structured interviews about their experiences in the respective programs. Responses of the participants in the two different settings were then analysed and compared. The programs appeared to meet the professed life skill needs of the participants in both settings.

A supportive community was formed in both settings, however the participants did not appear to criticize or collectively address the underlying social causes of their situations. There was not strong advocacy for social change.

There is a need for diaconal ministers in social ministries to be intentional about raising social justice issues as well as responding to perceived needs.

Marriage as a Psychological and Spiritual Relationship to Wholeness

This thesis is about developing a new paradigm for understanding and living a Christian and fully human marriage. In the first chapter, I explore a theology of ministry and the need for marriage ministry within the Roman Catholic Church despite its history of a clerically dominated hierarchy. In chapter two, I present a theology of marriage based on scriptural metaphors of covenant and the wedding feast. I note that the symbolism of marital love and the wedding feast are used repeatedly in the Scriptures to help us grasp the depth of the marital relationship as a spiritual journey while serving as a sign to others of the constancy and wonder of God’s love for humanity. In the third chapter, I explore depth psychologist Carl Jung’s concept of the archetype of the hierosgamos or sacred marriage. Jung emphasizes that all human psychological and hence spiritual growth occurs in developing a conscious relationship to self and others. He viewed marriage as a complex psychological relationship that is both extraordinarily demanding and richly rewarding. Marriage is a journey of many years that can lead to what Jung labels “individuation”, a synonym for the process leading to psychological wholeness. Chapter Four is a manual developed for use as a model ministry for marriage by local churches and couples. The manual, Marriage Matters, incorporates the imagery of Scripture and Jungian insights into a practical and workable program for developing and enhancing the marital relationship from the days of courtship through the richness of mature years. Finally, in Chapter Five, I offer a personal reflection on the journey of marriage using the Biblical account of the Emmaus story. This story emphasizes the encounter with a stranger by those on their journey, and how this encounter with the numinous provides the catalyst for new growth in our most personal of relationships, marriage.

The Role of Clergy in the Intervention and Prevention of Elder Abuse

This thesis examines The Role of Clergy in the Intervention and Prevention of Elder Abuse. Elder abuse is a complex issue that is prominent in today’s society but does not receive the attention that it deserves. This paper provides appropriate and effective intervention and prevention strategies to serve as a guide for clergy to help eliminate the crime of elder abuse and neglect. Through personal experience, and literature review, the initial chapters examines the definition, signs, symptoms and patterns of mistreatment that define elder abuse and provides the foundation for this paper. Chapter Three considers interventions for the caregiver. The following section sets the theological foundation and emphasizes the significant role of clergy. It further identifies the role of the abuser and the association to mental health issues and other forms of abuse. The concluding segment investigates multidisciplinary approaches and provides models for effective prevention. Success in addressing this complex problem will require the combined efforts of people from many disciplines. With further understanding, we must move forward to continue to engage in strategies for change, and build a society where seniors are respected as valued members. With hope we trust that this goal may be achieved.

Coping with Sudden Job Loss in the Cayman Islands: Three cases of career civil servants

The phenomenon of sudden job loss has existed globally for decades, and the Cayman Islands are no exception. The main aims of this study were to seek to understand, within the context of the Cayman Islands: (1) what types of emotions were experienced as a result of sudden job loss, (2) how individuals cope with this life-altering situation, what coping strategies were employed, and (3) the role of Pastoral Counseling and Spirituality in aiding those who experienced sudden job loss. A qualitative approach was used to explore and seek to understand the phenomenon of sudden job loss, and the study is presented as a qualitative phenomenological study using a psychological approach. Interviews were conducted with participants utilizing a relatively in-depth semi-structured interview schedule. Data collected were analyzed using content and cross case analysis from which themes emerged. Four themes were identified from the data on emotions the participants stated they experienced. These were: a sense of pride, a deep sense of loss, lack of closure, and feelings of discomfiture. The findings show a mixture of emotions among participants, which were at times heightened by various factors. Coping strategies were undertaken with an overall positive approach. Three themes were identified from discussions of coping strategies. These were: maintaining control, community activities, and financial matters. Other themes emerging from the data were: personal and political factors, ‘small town syndrome’, and professional abilities. Implications for pastoral counseling include raising awareness of available counseling and, assessment of the client’s emotional state to uncover suicidal or homicidal tendencies.

Ministry and Spirituality: How are we Spiritually Nourished by Our Work of Ministry?

The focus of this study has been to discover more about spirituality and the ways in which Diaconal and Ordained Ministers may find spiritual nurture in their work. This thesis attempted to see if there might be any differences and/or similarities between the Ordained and Diaconal Ministers, regarding their understanding of ministry and spirituality, and how they might experience spiritual nurture.

It was consistently found that in the United Church today, Ordained Ministers lack a clear understanding of Ordained Ministry, while Diaconal Ministers are very clear both about their identity as Diaconal Ministers, and their understanding of Diaconal Ministry. In analyzing this finding in terms of a perspective of power, it appears that those who have power do not often have a clear understanding about the role they hold within the system, while those who have little or no power in the hierarchy, know their role, and can identify themselves within the system. It is generally true that within the church Ordained Ministers have an inherent amount of power in their position, which is greater than that given to those who are not ordained. Despite attempts at offering a clear understanding of Ordained Ministry, the United Church has focused more on developing the ministry of the whole people of God.

Spirituality was commonly understood by those in both focus groups as connecting us with the world, with others and therefore, with God. Relationships were stated to be a key element in spirituality by both the Ordained and Diaconal Ministers. These beliefs are compatible with those of Christian Spirituality which states that spirituality needs to be incarnational. When our spirituality is privatized and oriented only towards our self it does not reflect our Biblical roots. It was also noted that the work of ministry does provide spiritual nurture for each group. Even though relationships are an important component of spirituality, however, it was discovered that those in the Ordained Ministry community did not know each other well. The history of Ordained Ministry shows that the position of the Ordained Ministers has set them apart at the altar and the pulpit, and their being ‘set apart’ seems to have also alienated them from one another. In contrast, with the Diaconal Ministry community which has been on the margins of ministry in the United Church of Canada since 1925, a strong community has formed which has been important for its very survival.

For Our Own Sake: Adult Nature and Faith Development in a New Church Development Congregation – Midlands United Church, Calgary, Alberta

Abstract unavailable.

How the Church Facilitates Jamaican Immigrants to Canada During their Process of Acculturation and Adaptation

Jamaicans have historically chosen migration as an option for upward mobility and the pursuit of a higher quality of life. Canada has been known to be a choice destination to achieve these goals. Unfortunately for some, often not recognized are the challenges that sometimes accompany the acculturation and adaptation processes enveloped within migration. This research paper therefore reports the findings of a phenomenological study which explored how three churches facilitated the acculturation and adaptation process of Jamaican immigrants to Canada. In-depth interviews were conducted with 10 Jamaican immigrants who are members of churches in the local Winnipeg area. The research found that churches play a pivotal role in the facilitation of Jamaican immigrants’ needs, mainly through the provision of material, emotional and familial support. Participants’ acculturation and adaptation were further enhanced through the churches dedication to fulfilling its biblical duties. Recommendations such as the execution of a longitudinal study within this ethnic group is put forward so that changes overtime in immigrant needs and levels of facilitation by the church can be gauged. The applications these findings may have on policy makers, pastoral counselors, employers and the church are also outlined for consideration.

A Call for Stories: Storying and Its Implications for Pastoral Care

Storying embraces the inseparability and interaction of storytelling and storylistening and is defined as “a way by which and through which we come to know and understand ourselves, others, the world around us, and even God”. Kevin Bradt, Story as a Way of Knowing (Kansas City: Sheed & Ward, 1997) viii.]

In this thesis I seek to examine the nature of story as an expression of the holy within interpersonal relationships and to explore some of the implications of storying for a pastoral care ministry. This thesis is based on my experiences as a chaplain and pastoral counsellor, my reflections of those experiences, the existing literature, as well as responses by patients and clients to a questionnaire concerning their experiences of story. I have come to believe that those involved in the ministry of pastoral care need to recognize the great healing and transforming power inherent in a storying relationship and be seriously intentional about eliciting the story of those to whom they minister.

Included in this thesis is my conviction that storying should be structured into the patterns of care for the dying as well as for those who are grieving.

A Narrative Inquiry Into the Experiences of Bereaved Children

In my work with bereaved children, I witnessed that children grieve and mourn far more profoundly than most adults acknowledge and more than much of the existing literature suggests. Many agree that children who have experienced the death of a loved one are more at risk for psychological, spiritual, physical, and behavioural difficulties than those who have not experienced such a loss. However, children are often not encouraged to mourn nor provided with alternative ways to mourn when they are unable to do so verbally. In our society children are often “forgotten mourners” (Wolfelt, 1996, p. ix). Grieving children need our care and concern.

In much of the literature children have been put into age groupings with the group’s expected understandings and responses to death. The uniqueness of each individual’s loss experience seems to have been overlooked. I also discovered that, with few exceptions, many researchers have neglected to invite bereaved children themselves to tell about their experiences of loss, grief, and mourning. In many studies parents have been asked to report about their bereaved children.

How do children grieve? How should we respond to their grief? How can we help children mourn? This study strives to deepen the understanding of a child’s experience of loss, grief, and mourning, and to validate children’s need and right to mourn. This study both critiques and contributes to the existing literature.

The underlying research question in this study was: What are the storied experiences of children who are bereaved? Narrative inquiry was the research methodology used because “narrative inquiry is a way of understanding experience” (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000, p. 20). Proponents of narrative inquiry believe that this method captures personal and human dimensions that cannot be quantified into dry facts and numerical data. Narrative inquiry does not consider the universal case to be of prime interest, but rather the person in context is of prime importance. Data gathering began immediately or within a few weeks after the death and children were invited to give input about their own grief.

Following several chapters constructing a theological and theoretical framework for the study, one will read the stories of a many children whose experiences of loss, grief, and mourning were storied on the landscape of an expressive arts grief support group over a period of eight or, in a few cases, sixteen weeks. These are followed by three longer narratives of three children whose experiences of grief and mourning were followed over a period of from one to three and a half years. Anna-Marie was five years old when her father died from malignant melanoma. Logan was six years old when his father died from a brain tumour. Andrew was five years old when he experienced the death of his best friend. We learn much from these children as they story their experiences of bereavement.

The findings of this study, among other things, challenge the dominant 20th century model of grief currently used by many, that bereaved individuals need to let go of their ties with the deceased, need to reach “closure” and move on. They concur with the findings of some other studies and both their narratives and their art work exemplify that bereaved children make much effort to maintain a connection to the deceased. This study makes a strong case for a post modern perspective of grief that values and encourages continuing bonds with the deceased.

This dissertation can be used as a helpful resource for both parents and professionals and can inform and guide more effective ministry and pastoral care with bereaved children.

Waiting to Die, Learning to Live: A Journey Through Depression to Hope, Joy and Fullness of Life

It is critical that women share their lived experience and their experience of the Divine in an effort to discover spiritual authenticity. This heuristic research project brings together my discoveries from writing and reflecting on my personal narrative, conducting theological reflections on my lived experience, and integrating insights from the literature studied on themes that emerged. This thesis document represents a confluence where living and dying have joined together in a new sense of vocation. As an eighteen-month-old child I required a medical intervention, an intubation, to save my life. This was the first in a series of traumas that I believe resulted in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As a result, on-going depression and terrifying fears of death were my constant companions. In 1983, with an in-breaking of God, I began a twenty-year healing journey as I searched for spiritual truth and authenticity. That journey has resulted in a transformation that has allowed me to embrace life with hope and joy, which I never imagined were possible. For years, I saw my life as a tragedy. The discovery of PTSD explained many behaviors and attitudes that I had struggled with in my life. I wanted to change my story to a story of hope and inspiration. Using a heuristic process of inquiry, I reviewed written journals and artistic work that dated back to 1970, asking the question, What is God calling me to discover as I write my life story, “Waiting to Die, Learning to Live”, seeking to tell my story as one of hope and joy? The creative synthesis of the work is presented as My Spiritual Perspective. My hope is that in sharing my personal story others, suffering from depression and/or struggling with institutional religion, might find hope.

Learning from Personal Symbols as a Method of Faith Development

The purpose of this Project/Dissertation is to test an educational process of faith development which the author created and implemented in his ministry. Faith development is the process of change and growth in trust, in one’s understanding of the meanings of one’s life and in one’s commitments to God, self, and others. The author’s thesis is that one can identify and deepen the present stage of faith development by participating in a personal symbol. This participation is an interactive, meditative dialogue with an image which emerges from journaling or prayer life.

There were three consultations, which included meditation, scripture, journal writing, symbol choosing, and symbol dialogues, with each of three small groups so each group member also did exercises at home. Participants completed ten process review sheets in which they reacted to the content and process of the consultations. Participants answered identical open-ended questions about the nature of their faith at the start and finish of the whole program. The author summarized and interpreted the written data from all the process review sheets. Through comments alongside this data, he also identified the faith stages and themes of each participant, using his own adaptation of the stages suggested by James W. Fowler.

Nineteen people completed the program. They evaluated the meetings together as most effective. The participants evaluated the use of Scripture, the author’s leadership, medication, journal writing and the personal symbol in a descending order of effectiveness. The novel elements in this project, the journal and the use of the symbol, even though rated lower, were evaluated as “quite,” or “very” effective by over half of the participants. About one third of the participants did not find the use of a personal symbol very effective. These people may have had more affinity to the rational aspects of life than the intuitive.

The author’s description of what happened to the participants includes verbatim comments from the written work and summaries of the following: Program Effectiveness, Faith Themes, Values of the Journal, Values of the Symbol, Symbol Themes, Faith Stages, Relationship of Stages and Symbols, Faith Values, Faith Structure and Faith Sharing.

Participants indicated that the community building exercises, the sharing of their symbols, and inter-personal dialogue were very significant for their faith journey. Because of the flexibility of the timing within the consultations, there were opportunities to question, discuss, think, write and deal with individual concerns.

The author explores issues of leadership, intimacy and educational style as he comes to a deeper understanding of his own faith and ministry.

Journal writing and symbol participation have the potential to deepen personal faith. Concentration on a personal symbol deepens one’s intuitive awareness of the inner life: driving forces, issues, and conflicts. The themes and actions thus produced indicate significant foci of the trust, meaning, and commitments at that moment in a person’s faith. The spirit of God directs both the intuition and the mind to expand and interpret personal symbols so they can become immediate channels for God’s Word.

The most significant discovery of the project is that it points to the role of the symbolic in the succeeding faith stage. People participate in the symbolic as an entry into the next developmental faith stage. While not applicable to everybody, the use of personal symbols involves a methodology which can be adapted, enlarged and strengthened in the process of faith development.

The project design is pre-experimental. The evidence indicates promise for experimental research on the relationship between the role of symbols and the stages of faith development.

The author outlines implications for integrating worship with education, one’s own story with the Biblical Story and personal symbols with one’s developing faith journey. He also includes a leader’s guide and cassette tape in which he outlines the details of a seven-week study program of faith development.

The process and content of this project, while not equally effective with all people, do illustrate a valuable and fresh approach to faith development for some people, and particularly for those who have a strong intuitive capacity or potential for that way of “knowing.” The author affirms that one can hear the call of God and live with deeper faith through the act of participating with personal symbols.

Pastoral Ministry with Abused Women in Rural Saskatchewan

To gather the voices of rural Saskatchewan women as they experienced pastoral care with abused women, this researcher sent out a questionnaire to five rural United Church Womens’ Units in four Presbyteries. This thesis is qualitative, using Phenomenology as the starting point to gather the experience of everyday life of rural women in pastoral care within their congregations and community. It was written following the Kolb and Solberg Life-Long Spiral of Learning: Action/Reflection Learning Model in Theological Education.

It was concluded that leadership of the United Church of Canada when applied to the learning spiral is well done in the knowledge, theory and awareness portion. However application phase could be strengthened. Congregations are aware of abuse against women but reported having no pastoral experience of supporting abused women within their congregations and stated needed more education and training.

The respondents to the questionnaire recognize the need and the seriousness of this issue. They are willing to do more with the help of more education and training. Integration of personal/concrete experience with observation and reflections and theory can lead to action as effective pastoral ministry with abused women.

Silent Stories: A Narrative Inquiry into Men’s Journey with Grief in Middle Age

The phenomenon of men’s grief during middle adulthood after a significant death has been largely neglected in the literature. This narrative study provides insight into the lived experiences of three recently bereaved men as they recounted their stories of grief and loss. Data was gathered using semi-structured interviews, field notes, and follow-up interviews. The data was analyzed and reorganized through a process of restorying each narrative into a common framework which was validated by the men. Further understanding of the phenomenon was gained through examination and interpretation searching for themes and commonalities in the stories. The results indicated three distinct phases were present in each grief story at the macro level, (1) The Descent, (2) The Struggle, and (3) The Expansion. Within these three phases, ten narrative themes were also evident. These phases and themes were then studied in conjunction with theoretical models of grief, male psychological development milestones and difficulties, and a spiritual dimension. The findings suggested each man’s experience of grief and loss transformed the process into a personal quest for salvation, healing and meaning. The encounter of death and bereavement in middle age became catalysts in their heroic journey for greater self-awareness, psychological growth, and spiritual maturity. In order to better serve the bereaved male population in middle adulthood, a re-framing of the male grief experience was required. This re-positioning of grief work for men would suggest a heroic encounter to integrate the losses into their life stories, and make meaning in their lives and speaks to the masculine psychology necessary to attract men to counselling support.

Issues Effecting Increasing Church Membership: A Case Study Examining the Vocation to Share the Gospel

The purpose of this research is to identify and examine the attitudes of lay and ordained leaders in an Anglican parish in a suburban neighbourhood towards inviting, welcoming and integrating new members into their parish. The research employed the tools of qualitative inquiry to interview particular leaders, and to examine parish documents, especially minutes of parish meetings and annual reports.

“Attitudes” in this context includes thoughts and feelings. “Attitude – a manner of acting, feeling, or thinking that shows one’s disposition; opinion.”1 For the purposes of this study I assume that attitudes influence behaviour and are generally made up of personal experience, personality, beliefs and convictions.

This study examines some of the interplay of feelings and thoughts of those interviewed, and thoughts based on participants understanding of words like ‘evangelism’ (Matthew 28.19). The study explores the relationship of these attitudes in an attempt to identify what these leaders mean when they talk about inviting, welcoming and integrating new members in their parish.

Related questions to be explored in this study include; What do the words “Evangelism” and “Church Growth” mean to parish leaders? Is “Evangelism” something Anglicans really want to do? Finally, the impact of the organisational life of the church at all levels, local, regional and national is also considered as it effects the shaping of attitudes. What role do these constituencies play in the development of “evangelism” at the parish level?

Sacred or Scared: Post-Death Encounters and the Surviving Spouse

In the past ten years, an exciting field of research investigating and documenting post-death communication has emerged. Post-Death or After-Death Communication (ADC) is described as a spiritual experience that occurs when a person is contacted directly and spontaneously by a loved one who has died. Contact varies with each individual and can range from feeling the presence of the deceased to full-blown sensory experiences where the bereaved reports seeing or hearing the deceased. The literature supports that there are at least twelve types of encounters recorded. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore the impact of post-death encounters on the surviving spouse. The effect of post-death encounters on the grieving process, spirituality, and belief in the afterlife were also explored. Using the heuristic method of inquiry, semi -structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with four widows who believed their husbands had contacted them after their death. These encounters were considered sacred by each co-researcher and had a healing effect on the grieving process for each participant. The knowledge that their beloved was assisting, guiding and supporting them even in death, and the realization that they were not alone, was very comforting. Each is ready to move forward, and although open to the possibility of forming new relationships, they will continue to have a bond with their beloved. In conclusion, counselors should be educated about post-death encounters so that the bereaved can share their experiences in a nonjudgmental, understanding and supportive environment.

Believing our Way Through Disaster: Qualitative Phenomenological Research of Spiritual and Religious Coping During and Beyond Natural Disasters

Believing our way through disaster is a qualitative phemenological research of spiritual and religious coping during and beyond natural disaster. The research sought to understand the essence of enduring Hurricane Ivan for participants described as Christians. The research explored the religious/spiritual beliefs and practices which contributed to positive and negative coping.  Participant’s realization of God’s immanent presence was the key factor in helping them cope. Specific religious practices illuminated God’s presence in the midst of the devastation and trauma. For Christian participants, Hurricane Ivan became a spiritual, transformative and transcendent experience of God’s presence. The results offer Cayman Islands counselors and caregivers both practical and spiritual ways to support themselves and others as they cope with natural disasters.


An Investigation into how Knowledgeable and Aware the Grades 7-9 Students at Three Junior High Schools in the Rio Grande Valley of Eastern Portland Jamaica are of the HIV and Aids Epidemic

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus and the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV and AIDS) pandemic has become a social and economic disaster with far reaching implications to Jamaica. The adolescent population has not been spared by this epidemic. The study was prompted by the steady increase of HIV infection among adolescents with HIV and AIDS the second leading cause of death, among 15-24 age groups in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean. The research sought to examine how knowledgeable and aware the grades 7-9 students at three Junior High Schools in the Rio Grande Valley Of Eastern Portland Jamaica were of the HIV and AIDS epidemic. The specific research questions were (1.) How extensive is student’s knowledge of HIV and AIDS epidemic? (2.) Do students believe in myths about HIV and AIDS? (3). Are students fully aware of how to reduce their chance of getting HIV?. The information sought was collected using self –administered, closed-ended structured questionnaire. Data analysis was done using quantitative data. The key finding of this study was that students are at high risk of contracting HIV and AIDS. In general, the study revealed a variable lack of knowledge and awareness about HIV and AIDS among students. Based on the major findings the researcher recommended that HIV and AIDS be acknowledge as a core curriculum subject that is taught daily starting from grade one, with students being assessed on a term basis as they do in the foundation subjects like Mathematics and Language Arts, this will be one way to dispel deeply held myths and misconceptions the students have about the disease, as well as, to keep teachers, schools administrators and curriculum planners  abreast of how knowledgeable and aware students are about the disease.

Touched by Transcendence: Shaping Worship that Bridges Life and Faith. The Worship Committee: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

The basic need of worship is to have our lives touched by transcendence. The basic issue this paper explores is how to plan and develop corporate worship which facilitates that encounter between persons and God. Such worship will need to take into account the real needs and real questions and real issues of contemporary persons. It is my conviction and experience that the task of listening to and understanding the worship needs of a congregation, and of building integrated worship services which connect those needs with our transcendent/imminent God, can best be done by a worship committee. My thesis is that a worship committee can be particularly helpful in planning worship that is a bridge between our lives and our God.

The basic purpose of this Project/dissertation is to develop a worship committee worship planning model and to test this model with worship planners from four diverse Mennonite congregations. Chapter three of this paper contains the model that was developed, and chapter four the course that was developed to test that model. Four congregations–Lendrum Mennonite Brethren, Tofield Mennonite, Holyrood Mennonite, and Faith Mennonite–were asked to send their worship planners to this course. The course was given in five two-hour sessions over a ten week time period. Chapter five contains an evaluation of the perceived effectiveness of that tested model.

The evaluation was done using three tools:

(1) An evaluation questionnaire which participants filled in at the conclusion of the last training session; (2) a written critique of the worship planning model (chapter three) by one person selected by each of the participating worship committees; and, (3) a personal evaluation interview, recorded on tape, with each of the respective committees conducted within three weeks of the conclusion of the course.

By way of introduction to the worship committee planning model chapter one is an exploration of the theological and historical underpinnings for the participatory nature of worship and of worship planning. It gives a theological rationale for worship committees. Chapter two explores Biblical and theological understandings of worship itself.

The conclusion of this paper defends the basic thesis that the worship committee is a sound idea whose time has come for implementation. It is significant that the worship committee planning model presented in the course was strongly affirmed by course participants. The model was seen as a logical extension of a theology of the participatory nature of worship and of worship planning. It is also significant that the worship issues raised were affirmed as being important considerations in the ongoing struggle to make corporate worship meaningful and relevant.

The implications of this study would be rather profound if many churches could be encouraged to establish and use worship committees for their worship planning. Each church and each denominational tradition would of course need to shape and structure its worship committee in such a way as to be congruous with its own nature.

It would be helpful if each committee received training for its task. What is still needed is a long term evaluation process which can measure the effectiveness and impact of a worship committee planning process over an extended period of time.

To be touched by transcendence–that is the goal of worship. Congregational participation in planning worship will help meet this goal.

Hunger and Thirst: Women’s Images of God

This research is focused upon women’s images of God. The hypothesis behind the research is that women and men will image God in different ways. My expectation is that women will tend to use images of God that suggest immanence. The images of God that women voice are compared to the images of God presented by men in the same circumstances as well as to a sampling of images drawn from Augustine’s Confessions, The Works of Martin Luther, John Calvin’s Institutes and John Wesley’s Sermons.

The images of God that are offered by contemporary men and women are gathered from Bible studies that use stories and prayer groups that use several ways of focusing in silence. The Bible study process was developed from the methods of Walter Wink and from the work of Ernesto Cardenal. The process required discovering how the Biblical material intersected with the lives of the participants. The images gathered in this process described what God was like for the participants. The prayer groups prayed the Lord’s Prayer attuned to their breathing, a psalm, a hymn, a picture, a Biblical story of a healing done by Jesus and a repetitive invitation to the Holy Spirit. In all of the prayer sessions, the images were shared in response to the question, “What was God like for you in that prayer time?”

Images were categorized as immanent if they spoke of God as close, personal, inherent in ordinary life and intimately involved with The world. Images were categorized as transcendent if they spoke of God as external to the world, distant, impersonal and as a principle in the cosmos. Images that could not be clearly identified as transcendent or immanent were labelled as unclassified or as having elements of both immanence and transcendence.

Recurrent themes were noted. Images that appeared in themes were analysed with reference to categorizations and sources. I considered recurrent themes to be important because they indicated areas that were of concern to participants on more than one or two occasions and in different groups. Where a theme recurred in such a pattern as to indicate that it mattered more to one gender than the other, that was indicated. Where a theme recurred among women and men in a pattern which duplicated (or nearly duplicated) the ratio of women to men, it was noted as being of equal concern to both.

Images that carried heavy emotional weight were also noted at various times in the presentation of the data. If an image drew tears, or general recognition in the group (which can be a round of laughter, especially at something that is not funny in itself) or a strong response of any kind, that was noted. Some images were presented in unusually strong terms, which meant that they were of special significance to the person who offered them to the group.

For the participants, the assurance that their images were not “wrong” was important. Freedom from a judgmental atmosphere was essential. Every image voiced by the participant had to be treated as a holy gift and recorded with reverence and respect.

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator was administered to discover whether some personality types were not represented in the project and to determine how heterogeneous the groups were. The participants received information from the MBTI in extra sessions and (in a few instances) in private consultations so that they would know as much about their self-reported type as they wished.

The expectation that women would present immanent images more often than transcendent images was borne out by the data. Men also used immanent images more frequently than transcendent images. When women’s ratios were compared to men’s ratios, it was clear that, in these groups, women described God in immanent images more frequently than men. By comparison, the four theologians imaged God in transcendent terms far more frequently than in immanent terms. John Calvin in particular spoke of God as transcendent.

Some of the important themes had connections in other writings of the present time. The themes of nature and land are important in Wicca (modern witchcraft and Goddess worship) and in native American spirituality. Justice, particularly for women, is an issue for feminists, as are matters of relationship and family.

Some areas for future research include studies of how the use of people’s images of God might enhance public worship, Christian education, sermons and counselling. Since both men and women use immanent images of God to a far greater degree than the four theologians used in this study, it may be important to study how consciousness has changed in the past two centuries and whether the trends in theology are predictable. The MBTI revealed that four distinct personality types were not part of this project. The Church will want to know whether these types are represented in churches and how their spiritual needs may be served.

People have a hunger and thirst for God. There are countless ways of describing what people mean by “God” and the images of God have no limit. There is a hunger to be met. It is the task of the Church to provide such food for the spirit that the hunger and thirst can be filled.

‘More Than Meets the Eye’: Visual Medium for Ministry

I have prepared and evaluated a resource for ministry that describes the universal search for transformation. It is a resource that portrays, though videotape, an individual dancing through transformation and a study guide that offers a process for viewing this artistic rendering. Using visual medium, this project-dissertation renders the black and white text of our ancient story of new life into living color images, using graphics and video.

The design for this project was the creation of the video, “Through the Pane” and the first edition of a study guide. This resource was given to twenty respondents who then critiqued the process initiated by the study guide. The data of the respondents were analyzed and revisions to the initial study guide identified. The complete revised study guide (final edition) is found in the body of the dissertation.

The resource uses several theoretical bases that support and illuminate the understanding of transformation. Transformation is seen through the lenses of: theology, feminist psychology, adult education and spirituality. Each of these theories is foundational to the potential use of this resource.

The implications for this unique resource include the challenge it presents in using media as a way of ministering and the need for the church and theological schools to embrace, in tangible ways, the transformative power of images.

Thus, from dreams and visions, a journey is traced to ever widening circles.

The Preacher Shrugs: Reading Ecclesiastes in the Twenty-first Century

This work revolves around a contextual reader-centred hermeneutic brought to the Old Testament wisdom book of Ecclesiastes. After investigating the history of the interpretation of the book and its central themes, I develop my own reading of the work. My reading interprets Ecclesiastes as ultimately salutary, through admitting to life’s darkness, brevity, and absurdity. After that, I delve into how Ecclesiastes might speak to my time, my culture, the post-modern condition, and the present environmental crisis. I then bring the lens of phenomenological research to two church group readings of Ecclesiastes: first with an adult group, and then with a teenaged confirmation group. Neither group is entirely receptive to Ecclesiastes, but the book proves nonetheless to be a remarkably effective tool of discovery, prompting readers to articulate significant aspects of their own spirituality. I conclude by theologizing about the timeliness of Ecclesiastes as an antidote to the death-denial of modern North American mainline Christianity and culture. The appendix includes a number of my own creative sermons which emerge from my study.

Paths of Transformation for Wounded Healers

In this thesis the spiritual and theological dimensions of the painful process of wounding and the transformative process of healing, for those in ministry, was explored. In the interview process of storytelling and the story listening, participants’ stories of wounding, healing and transformation were examined to discover the personal meanings embedded in their lives. A qualitative design with the methodology of narrative inquiry was chosen by which such meanings were analyzed. Narrative interpretation and theology embedded in living processes, as well as a mysterious sense of being guided by an Immanent Spirit into deeper healing. Supportive relationships and healing practices created sacred spaces for individuals to honestly name wounds shed limiting beliefs and destructive behavior. Biblical figures and metaphors, dreams and symbols, led to new truths that nurtured attitudes of openness and questioning. Some individuals discovered healing rituals in their own traditions that spoke with power to them, while others crossed cultural, political, and religious boundaries, to seek meaning and new life in other traditions. External Images of the divine changed to a sense of an Immanent Spirit present in all areas of life. Participants’ lives were radically altered in the path from woundedness to healing as individuals awakened to movements towards wholeness. Integrating new meanings, embracing life with more authenticity and self-differentiation, transformed personal and vocational identities. Ministers became more conscious healers, living out the truth of their own calling and responding to ethical imperatives to become change agents with a passion for right relationships.

A Study of a Select Group of Youths who Particpate in the Salvation Army Programmes Within an Inner-City Community

This study was conducted to investigate how crime and violence affect youths who participate in The Salvation Army activities in the Blue Town Community. The emotional, psychological, spiritual and social dimensions of youths are often perceived as non-essential in terms of the emphasis placed on addressing the complexities of youth exposure to community crime and violence.  By exploring the primary focus of the study from historical and general research conducted on the subject, I provided evidence or findings that crime and violence negatively affect all aspects of the lives of youths who participate in The Salvation Army activities in that, they experienced spiritual, psychological or emotional and social effects.  I also, suggested sustaining interventions that The Salvation Army may engage to help reduce crime and violence in the community.

Enter: The Front Door is Open (On Empowering the Faithful for Ministry)

Empowering the faithful for ministry is a vision and a task that evolved as a result of the Second Vatican Council in the Roman Catholic Church. During this event (1962-1965), bishops from throughout the world in union with the Pope assessed the Christian life project within the contemporary framework of time and culture. The changes that were introduced effectively “open the door” of the house of faith to all the baptized. The impact of these orientations is slowly being felt at the grassroots level of the church.

This research project focuses on Christians involved in ministry to increase understanding of empowerment from the perspective of people actually using their gifts in service to the community. Two assumptions pertaining to empowerment underlie this research. The first places the Christian’s personal giftedness at the core of empowerment for ministry; the second affirms that empowerment is a multi-faceted reality.

The objectives pursued are also two-fold: to discover elements that characterize “empowerment for ministry”, and to propose a hypothesis pertaining to the learning process in ministry formation.

In order to achieve the aforementioned objectives, a qualitative research project was carried out. Ten informants, all perceived as gifted for ministry by both the leadership and the membership in their respective parishes, were invited to share their journey to empowerment through a personal story-telling process. They recounted the significant events and moments that shaped their involvement in ministry.

A multi-disciplinary approach drew information pertinent to empowerment from the fields of andragogy, religious education, sociology, psychology, and from the perspectives of feminism. These five areas provided the basis for the initial review of the data.

The significant areas that emerged from the informants’ stories were placed in dialogue with an ecclesiology flowing out of Vatican II, an ecclesiology seen as generating and supporting the empowerment of the faithful.

Results of this research project include a theological statement about empowerment for ministry and a hypothesis focusing on education for ministry. Although these research conclusions are more directly linked to “ministry formation” endeavours, they offer insights of benefit to persons in church leadership as well as the faithful involved in various areas of ministry.

Discerning God in the Essence of Conversion: A Phenomenological Study

The philosophical assumption guiding this phenomenological study asks the ontological question, “What is the nature of reality?” The purpose of this study is to discern the essential meaning of a Christian spiritual conversion experience through a hermeneutic, phenomenological methodology used to drive the study. The participants are asked to narrate their story of conversion so that the phenomenological facts will reveal what happened and how the phenomenon was experienced. Qualitative research is a holistic approach to questions of meaning in people’s lives. Phenomenology seeks the essence of the meaning of lived experiences.

Images of Healing: Art, Salvation and Imagination

Healing Images is about salvation, the visual arts, the creative imagination and their power to heal. We are called toward a closer relationship with God seeking wholeness of body, mind, spirit and soul. How will we know the truth? The truth cannot, in the final analysis, be understood. It can only be experienced; hinted at through the work of the visual artist and then only by those who truly seek to portray their story from the inner realm of their soul. We will know the truth because the truth heals. The research design is called Organic Inquiry: Research in Partnership with Spirit that has evolved from transpersonal psychological methods. The imagination fuels my quest for meaning by leading me into the creativity of the visual arts as a framework for transformative change. In this context, healing means a sense of well-being, of respect and mutuality in all relationships. A relationship with God underlines the essence of this inquiry with the guiding question, “Do you want to be well?” The question compels us to search our hearts and minds in response to what truly functions as our ultimate love: the sacred or the mundane. The dissertation seeks a deeper understanding of the importance of the creative imagination through the visual arts and how they affect healing. Christianity is not basically concerned with knowledge but with healing; faith means accepting the complexity of what cannot be proved and accepting God’s grace that is determined by faith’s ability to captivate the imagination and heal the soul. The question is do we want to be healed, whole and free to walk with the Spirit of God? When Jesus asks the crippled man if he wants to be made well, the man nods his ascent, then Jesus tells him to pick up his mat and walk, a story from the Gospel of John 5: 2-15. The images from this story are as powerful, provocative and as true for us today as they were two thousand years ago.

By What Authority? Theological Reflections of a Lay Woman in Hospital Ministry

This integrative study explores the authority of a laywoman in hospital ministry. The impetus for this study was a “critical incident” — an experience that produced feelings of inadequacy and raised questions about her ministerial authority. Chapter One discusses concepts of authority and presents a typology of authority. Chapter Two examines four sources of authority in Christian theology: Scripture, tradition, reason/culture and experience. Voices from feminist Christian theology are heard alongside others. Chapter Three introduces the woman-friendly metaphor of quilting for the process of exploring the author’s authority and Chapter Four adapts this metaphor to a model of theological reflection. The model — a composite of three models by other authors — offers four points of entry into theological reflection: as a way to self-knowledge, as a way to learn about others, as a way of discovering the collective story of a faith community and as a way of doing social analysis. Each of these entry points is utilized by the author as she explores the authority gained through her experiences of the Holy (Chapter Five), of suffering (Chapter Six), of faith community (Chapter Seven) and of liberation (Chapter Eight). In the Conclusion (Chapter Nine) she analyses her own sources of authority in the light of the typology from Chapter One and the insights from theological reflection.

Calling or Co-optation? Revisioning Ministry in the United Church of Canada

This project/dissertation explores the choice of diaconal ministers in the United Church to become ordained, from the perspective of a feminist ecclesiology. This work can be included in literature pertaining to the nature of ministry and the relationship of vocations in ministry, as well as feminist research methodology. Using a feminist approach to qualitative research methodology, nine diaconal women were interviewed to examine their reasons for choosing ordination. Personal and systemic reasons emerged, including sense of calling, need for education and employment security, career development, influences from context and church policies. Factors, such as sexism and the marginalization of diaconal ministers, were revealed. This dissertation analyses the tensions between calling and pragmatism, authority in ministry and the sharing of power, hierarchical privilege and feminist perspective; and proposes recommendations for the revision of ministry.

Theological and Cultural Accommodation: Matteo Ricci and the Jesuit Mission in China

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” (Matt. 28:19) If we follow the teaching of Christ, evangelization is a mission for everyone.

China presents a challenge to us. Today, the number of Christians in China is small, compared to its vast population. Can history help us to understand the slow process of bringing Christ to the people in China?

Apart from the Nestorians brief effort in 635 C.E., Matteo Ricci was the first Christian missionary to China in 1853. As a Jesuit, he followed his Order’s guideline of cultural accommodation. In addition to adopting the local language, social customs and manners, he went further to initiate intellectual exchange of scientific, philosophical and theological ideas, resulting in a syncretism of East-West cultures. Thus, in Christianizing Confucianism, Ricci had won a respectable place for Christianity in Chinese society, at a time when both Europe and China were experiencing a renaissance of their own.

But how far could he go in his effort of cultural accommodation without coming into conflict with Christian theology? The Chinese Rites issue was the biggest stumbling block, and the Jesuit mission met with strong opposition in their accommodation effort from the Dominicans and the Franciscans, who later followed the Jesuits to preach the Gospels in China. Finally, the Jesuits received a fatal blow from Rome: the Vatican forbade any Chinese Christians to venerate their ancestors and Confucius. In the reality of the Chinese culture, this command actually meant that to remain a Christian, one had to cease to be a Chinese. In response, China started persecuting all Christians in the Middle Kingdom.

Since then, for almost one hundred and fifty years, Christianity was totally wiped out from China until 1842, when China was defeated by Britain in the infamous Opium War. Christian missions became a part of imperialism and colonialism in China, contrary to the effort of Ricci and the Jesuit mission who presented Christianity to the Chinese with respect and peace.

Today, the challenge to every Christian in the evangelization of China remains – how do we reconcile theology to cultural accommodation?

Matteo Ricci will forever be remembered as a “bridge” between the cultures of the East and the West. He is loved by the Chinese people as one of their own.

Planning Christian Witness in Canada’s North – Proposals for Future Outreach of the Synod of Alberta and the Territories of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

Traditional methods of doing mission work in parts of northern Canada employed models of Christian community and ministry that were ofttimes spiritually divisive and alienating. This project dissertation proposes a way of sharing the Good News that is unifying and integral with the northern areas under consideration and with its inhabitants.

A primary paradigm of the study has its source in the Latin American base church experience and liberation themes emanating from that highly creative development. The base church pattern roots its agenda in the life of the people. Structures evolve and mature through a dialectical process of action and reflection, listening and responding to the Word of God in the midst of God’s people. A new northern church can integrate local and universal themes. It can affirm both native and non-native spirituality. The writer presents a Lutheran perspective but the strategy is written with a desire to serve the whole people of God.

Research has assumed the following direction. A study of the history of the North with a concentration on the mission story provides insights that help to bridge the gap between past practice and future possibility. An undergirding mission theology begins with the image of ‘one body yet many parts’. It attempts to demonstrate that while common teaching and witness takes precedence each communion of the church has something special to contribute to the catholic tradition. Ministry and community models are presented to suggest that no single pattern fits every circumstance. Local particularities need to be respected. The study posits ten principles to be considered for effective conduct of future mission planning. It concludes with a suggested means of implementing the strategy through existing and evolving structures of church and society.

This proposal attempts to provide a means of proclaiming the Gospel in Canada’s North that is both ecumenically sound and contextually viable.


Healing Touch: A Path to Transformation is a thesis that explores the transformative nature of Healing Touch, an energy based healing treatment used by the Healing Pathway, a program offered by Naramata Centre, a retreat and educational centre affiliated with the United Church of Canada. The thesis offers definitions for healing and transformation. It offers insights into energy work that is specific to the Healing Pathway but is applicable to other forms of energy work. The thesis outlines the history of the Healing Pathway including healing traditions from the Gospels and the early Church, the work of modern energy healers and organizations such as Agnes Sandford, Brugh Joy, Therapeutic Touch, and Healing Touch International. It briefly presents a scientific rationale for energy based healing including the connections of stress, hormones and the physical body that Gabor Mate outlines in his work. The thesis is a qualitative research project which uses a specific model of theological reflection developed by Robert Kinast with the acronym NAME, (Narration, Analysis, heart of the Matter and Enactment) to interview four co-researchers about their experiences with the Healing Pathway. This model encourages co-researchers to share their stories so the paper is also a form of narrative inquiry and because I use my experiences to validate the experiences of the co-researchers it is heuristic in nature as well. The thesis discovered that people are transformed in a myriad of ways. The Healing Pathway has a role to play in the modern church as it is what Sallie McFague refers to as an embodied way of knowing God.

Psychological Abuse of Married Women: A Phenomenological Study of Three Women in the Cayman Islands

The objectives of the investigation were to explore what constitutes psychological abuse for three married women in the Cayman Islands and how they perceived their experience of psychological abuse from their spouse. The qualitative phenomenological methodology was employed for this study. Data collected were by interviews that concentrated on the lived experience of the women and how they interpreted their experience of psychological abuse. Data analysis involved constructing a composite textural-structural description of the meanings and essences of each participants’ experiences and then integrating all their descriptions into a summary experience representing the group as a whole. The findings summarized the abuser as dominating and controlling and the victim as submissive and passive. Their experiences indicated both overt and covert psychological abuse that followed a specific pattern and cycle of destruction which included verbal attacks, monitored family and social activities, control of money, sexual dominance, abusive attitude such as tone of voice and facial gestures et cetera. The main conclusions of the study were that these women endured invisible wounds, the psychologically abusive relationship was mostly kept hidden from others, the abuse was continuous, all the abusive marriages ended in divorce, and that society in general accepts psychological abuse. The abuser believes his behavior is reasonable and right and there is no need to change his communication pattern or behavior in the relationship.

Overcoming Sexual Dependency: Using Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP) to Heal Attachment Wounds

This concept paper explores the influences of trauma and attachment with brain development and sexual dependency. Attachment failures in childhood and the development of attachment styles will be acknowledged as potentially predisposing individuals towards adapting sexually dependent coping strategies. Treatment modalities involving psychosomatic processing as discussed provide substantial promise for addressing clients with sexual dependence. Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Therapy (AEDP) is an emerging approach which provides emotional and experiential healing while optimizing brain plasticity. This therapeutic approach to trauma acknowledges the deeper emotional wounds which commonly underlie addictive behaviours. By addressing emotional dysregulation within the safety of the therapeutic alliance, therapists can facilitate emotionally-corrective and reparative experiences. Sexual dependency treatment methods will be further discussed, while incorporating practical examples of these up-and-coming techniques.

Brokenness Infused in a Mother’s Heart: The Art of Living with the Sacredness of Life

This paper charts the process of moving through the trauma of the loss of my adult child to murder. A heuristic in-depth self-inquiry methodology complements the phenomenological art therapy process I engaged in to accomplish this work. A depth of peace in brokenness emerged from dialogue with the divine, expressed through art, writing, and the images that arrived in nature. Art therapy facilitated a recognition and embrace of the coexistence of life and death in daily existence.

Discipline and Dispute: The Development and Transformation of Conflict Policy in The United Church of Canada

In 1995, the General Council Executive (GCE) of the United Church of Canada began a process to change the way the church deals with conflict. This process started with a “working group to develop a report with recommendations, for consideration to the 36th General Council regarding some form(s) of dispute resolution procedures appropriate to the United Church” (GCE Nov., 1995). With this mandate before them, the working group brought forward a Draft Dispute Resolution Policy (DRP) that came into effect in 1997 as resolution 65 of the 36th General Council. With good response and result from the DRP of 1997, the church stated that from this day on, the United Church of Canada’s starting point in addressing conflict would be that “there is an important benefit to the parties and to the church in resolving conflict at the lowest level of escalation possible” (DRP S.8).

This was a transformative change for the church.

This change came about primarily through:

a change in the way the church understands how its processes and those of the civil court systems work together, and

a change in the way we understand conflict.

These changes led to a new model for the church, that in fact starts from the premise of the Congregational Church at the time of church union, that was not considered in the creation of the United Church polity at union.

How has The United Church of Canada worked through its understanding of discipline and dispute, leading up to the creation and adaptation of the Dispute Resolution Process? The purpose of this study is to provide an overview of the move in the United Church from primarily dealing with discipline, to primarily dealing with dispute. The intent is to articulate a broad understanding of the development and transformation of conflict policy in The United Church of Canada.

Abortion: The Journey Towards Healing

The purpose of this study was to explore how women describe their experience of healing following an abortion. After a critical review of current literature about abortion, the appropriateness of the hermeneutic phenomenological method for this study was indicated. Five women, between 20 and 53 years, participated in three in depth, audio taped interviews. The lived-experiences of these women were described in narrative form. Analysis of the women’s experiences of healing revealed ten themes: (1) telling the story, (2) witnessing the story, (3) contextualizing the story, (4) connecting with self, (5) connecting with others, (6) spiritual connections, (7) living with the tension, (8) making meaning, (9) the gift of time, and (10) images of healing. The themes were described separately and then understanding of the women’s experiences of healing was deepened through an integrative reflection of the themes. The study also highlights potential implications for the practice of pastoral counselling.

Sex, Shame, and Spirituality: A Study of Lived Experience

The concept of “emerging adulthood” (Arnett, 2000) marks a new independence from social roles and normative expectations. While sexual and spiritual identities are important aspects of self, with such freedom comes an increased vulnerability to experience shame, an example of this being the many faith communities morally opposed to premarital sexual behaviours (Barkan, 2006). A review of relevant literature on the topics of shame and a history of sexuality is provided, and offers a critique of several major theorists while identifying gaps in the literature related to this research. Guided by the tenets of hermeneutic phenomenology (van Manen, 1990), individuals’ shameful sexual experiences were explored through interviewing, reflecting an in-depth investigation aimed to describe and better understand the essence of shame. Findings include a rich and nuanced description of many layers of shame, which can better assist one to infer the influences of shame on the self, interpersonal relationships, and spiritual well-being. A discussion of the description of shame links aspects of individuals’ lived experiences back to relevant literature, and an exploration into several directions of future research is provided. Inferences gleaned from this research might assist individuals and helping professionals to alleviate harmful aspects of the experience of shame among themselves and their clients and equip individuals to develop healthier understandings of themselves, while also contributing to quality relationships and community-building. Closely looking at shame through this lens can prepare counsellors who work with clients struggling with such experiences.

Voice of Hope: One Woman’s Experience

This document presents, from a heuristic perspective in a narrative genre, epi-sodes which convey the lived experiences which have contributed to a personal theology revealed as hope. Reflections which introduce the sections draw attention to hope as a “voice” which speaks to life, lived between a series of dichotomies, as a search for meaning. Family of origin, the noticing of the marginalized, the power of suffering and the call of the transcendent are reflected in the voice heard through a life time.

Ordinary Women – Extraordinary Lives: The Experience of Being a High Achieving Professional Woman

This thesis is a qualitative research project based on in-depth interviews of eight professional women holding leadership or management positions. The project explored the women’s lived experience of the journey of achievement throughout their careers, including how they defined achievement, their career goals, motivating factors, and the sacrifices they made along the way. The women described advantages and disadvantages they had experienced, and how they were able to balance their professional and their personal lives.

A number of common themes are evident in all of the stories. The women, for the most part, did not view themselves as being on a journey of achievement. Nor were they ambitious, in that none was seeking status or power. Each woman had responded to opportunities along her journey with deliberation and intention, arriving at personally satisfying outcomes. Few would be comfortable suggesting that their accomplishments are extraordinary, and most seem to see themselves as very ordinary women.

Values provide a solid foundation for how these women choose to work and live, and connections with friends, family and community are important to all of them. Several of them have made, and continue to make, significant voluntary and philanthropic contributions to the community. Gender scripting is evident in their experiences, as each one talks about her ties to the traditional female role. Each one struggled against significant odds, with perseverance, determination and initiative being part of every story. Their experiences provide insight into the complex lives of hardworking, intelligent, passionate and committed professional women who are making a significant contribution through their lives and their work.

An Investigation into the Self Esteem and Social Behaviours of Deaf and Hearing Students

This study seeks to ascertain whether deaf or hearing children between the ages of six to twelve years show any marked differences in self esteem and behaviour despite their hearing status. Chi square analyses revealed that there was a statistically significant relationship between gender and self-esteem (?2   (2) =6.72, p=.035). There were no statistically significant relationships between hearing status and the four subscales on the Conners’ Parent and Teacher rating scales.

An Investigation into the Preparedness of Jamaican Teachers between the ages of 45 and 65 for Retirement: Its Woes and implications

The retirement construct has changed.  Fifty years ago, an employee worked for a pension and his or her savings at retirement would have been enough to see him or her through the worst of times in his or her retirement years.  It is not so today.  Retirement is a transition.  Robert Atchley’s 1999 defined retirement as: “Retirement is a condition in which an individual is forced or allowed to be and is employed less than full time, and in which his or her income is derived at least in part from retirement pension through prior years of service as a job holder.”  This statement could be interpreted to mean that retirement is detachment from the workforce as a fulltime employee.  Therefore planning for retirement must be a priority.  This study investigated the preparedness of a selected group of teachers, between ages 45 to 65 years, for retirement and also the traumatic stress suffered by retired teachers who were not prepared financially, emotionally, psychologically nor mentally.  Reviewed literature highlighted some planning and investment options and strategies as well as findings of different studies on the importance of effective planning for retirement.  A non-random sampling technique was used to select participants. Questionnaires and interviews were used to collect the empirical data from a sample of teachers who were approaching retirement.  An in-depth interview was conducted with selected retired teachers, an education officer and a Jamaica Teachers’ Association officer.  The findings of the study revealed that 38.5% of the selected teachers in the study who were approaching retirement were well prepared, 23% were prepared and 38.5% were not prepared.  It was found that retirement planning was a topic that was seldom discussed with teachers until they received the notice from the Ministry of Education one year prior to going on pre-retirement leave.  It was discovered that 100% of the group had no investment plan.  82.6% had savings in commercial banks and 100% of them had savings in credit unions and Life Insurance and 21.7% had private investment.  The lack of effective planning, organizing and investment were the main contributing factors to the emotional, psychological, mental and financial stress suffered by some teachers upon their retirement.  Many retired teachers experienced “lifestyle relapse” a term used to describe those who have suffered a major lifestyle decline during retirement.  It came as a surprise how small a pension retired teachers received monthly. The research pointed to the need for teachers to be educated in the areas of effective planning for their future, organizing of their resources and implementation of sound investment strategies early in their career.

Entering Sacred Ground: Listening to Mothers Speak of Their Children’s Dying

This pilot study involved in-depth interviews with three mothers whose children had died two to three years previously in either the pediatric or neonatal intensive care units of an acute care pediatric hospital. The researcher, a hospital chaplain, initially sought to understand the meaning of rituals for this parent population. Guided by hermeneutic phenomenology, the researcher discovered that a prior question was embedded within the original query, ‘What are the meanings of rituals for parents of critically ill and dying children?’ The meaning of ritual was discovered within the broader story of the mother’s recollections of the child’s living/dying-death/living-on-in-memory. It became apparent that the child’s dying is but part of the story. The mothers could only speak of that time in the context of their child’s living/dying-death/living-on-in-memory; the whole story. Even that is a story within a story of the child’s relationship within the family, and the family’s history of loss; the mother’s relationship with the child, inclusive of the mother’s spirituality, the meaning of ritual for her and the meaning of her child’s life. Inviting the reader to dwell in the sacred space of their stories, the mothers paint the landscape of their loss with descriptions of what it was like to be the mother of a critically ill and dying child, those moments she would never forget, the process of coming to know that her child might die and her struggles to let go, and messages to pass on to staff and other parents.

A follow up study is proposed focusing on the core of the experience: “What was it like to be the parent of a critically ill and dying child?” Purposeful sampling is suggested, emphasizing the importance of hearing the experiences of fathers as well as mothers.

From Whence Cometh Grace

This study illuminates straight parents’ experience of the coming out process of their gay child or children. The specific objectives were two-fold:  first to explore the current experience of loss for straight parents of gay sons and lesbian daughters, and second to discover how these parents make sense of their situation today if their losses continue to be unacknowledged internally, in their support network or in the community at large. Four parents with a gay child or children were interviewed. They were asked what it was like for them when their child came out or when they found out their child was gay. Their responses portrayed an assortment of emotions and feelings. Two of the parents spoke of their experience of loss spontaneously; the other two parents were asked to describe any losses they may have had. Qualitative methodology with a heuristic element was used to collect and analyse the interviews. The transcribed interviews were crafted as story by the primary researcher. The collective narratives including the primary researcher’s story were then analysed to determine whether the experience of the parents in the current study reflected or diverged from that of parents in the literature. The theological concepts of lament and grace were introduced adding another frame of understanding. Although each parent’s story was unique, collectively the parents in the current study have similar experiences of loss as parents of a gay child or children. Their common experiences were examined relative to results of two related studies done ten and twenty five years ago. One notable difference in the current study was the significant contribution Affirming faith communities made to the parents’ understanding and celebration of their child’s same-sex orientation. A second difference was the parent’s immediate and unconditional acceptance of their child’s or children’s sexual orientation.

Spiraling Journeys:  Art, Transformation and the Prodigal Daughter

Charlotte Kasl (2005) has aptly observed:  “The purpose of life is to be alive” (p.xxi).  Our lives have the potential to be a spiral journey, a movement from darkness into light; from enmeshment to individuation, from stagnation to movement; from blindness to sight.  My own life experience has borne out this rhythm and the way through the tough places of stuckness has been enabled by my gifts as an artist.  This drew me in to exploring my release.  Using phenomenological method to unfold the experience of stuckness, I had the privilege of interviewing four women artists to discuss with them their lived experience of the spiral path through life. Much to my surprise, the feeling of being “prodigal” came out in the interviews, in different ways.  The Story Of the Prodigal Son echoes and sheds light on the women’s journeys – a fact they, themselves, observed — and through this a pattern of the “prodigal daughter” emerged.  The journey from stuckness into flow resonated with the older, mythic parable.  Other biblical stories of transformation, such as the Garden of Eden and the prophetic Valley of Dry Bones also offered places of resonance and deeper understanding. Through the lived experience of being un-centered, the women artists come to their senses.  Through their bodies’ wisdom and discernment, they began the process of healing and movement.  They heed the traditional steps of a good journey, flowing through time, space and rhythm.  Through the layers of their own truth-telling, the artists move out of isolation (longing) into community (belonging).  Finally, they come home to the beloved self and are able to claim themselves as artist, an identity they were unable to name at the outset.

Hidden Treasure: Scripture Study Among Adult Catholics in Rural Alberta

This research project set out to discover How has structured group scripture study made a difference in the lives of the rural Albertan Catholic participants?

The purpose of the study was to discover the role that scripture has played and could play in the lives of those interviewed. The results of the study revealed that studying scripture for the first time as adults made a significant difference in the lives of the people with whom I spoke. Scripture study has not always been supported by the Catholic church. An accurate understanding of scripture in the tradition of the Catholic church has enabled these members to grow in faith, prayer and scriptural comprehension. The reflections of the group confirm the findings of the literature survey. This report is significant because very little research has been done in the area of structured group scripture study in the Catholic church. Further promotion of scripture study is still necessary.

From the Future Created: A Look at the Processes of Change in a Creative World

Change in world view and its effect on creative decision making is discussed in terms of images, of systems theory, and of experience. The discussion is centred around three publications which deal with these issues: Fred Polak’s De Toekomst is Verleden Tijd (The Image of the Future), Thomas Kuhn’s The structure of Scientific Revolutions, and Riane Eisler’s The Chalice and the Blade.

It is concluded that choices for creative action originate, at the subconscious level, in the interaction of different experiences. Since myths provide a particular experience of the world, familiarity with different myths will encourage decisions which are inspired by the needs of the wider world community. These decisions will need to be expressed at the personal level of decision making before a change in corporate attitude can be expected. Attempts to universalise different ways of knowing the world will occur at the cost of intensity of experience, thus impoverishing creativity.

God, Body, Dance: A Theology and Praxis of Ensarkosis

An honouring of the body is not antithetical to Christian thought but is, in fact, at the heart of our tradition. Christianity is a religious tradition centred on incarnation. Women and men are created in the image and likeness of God; in and through Jesus, the gift of knowing our creatureliness is restored to us. Mortality is part of the Christian doctrine of liberty and teaches us that human life is not the life of disembodied spirits or the life of the mind. Rather, our enfleshedness is at the heart of creation and salvation and is how the Christian tradition has understood our participation in the Eternal. God, we are taught by scripture and tradition, delights in the human person, in our enfleshment. Yet, this aspect of the Christian revelation and tradition has often been side-stepped in a return to a fear, hatred and denial of our physical selves. The classical dichotomy of body and mind, matter and spirit, has lead, over and over again, to the demeaning of our bodies. Yet at the true heart of Christianity lies an affirmation of the body as holy precisely because we are created in the image of God. By reclaiming the message of the Incarnation at the centre of the Christian tradition, we deepen our understanding and experience of the gift of life.

This thesis examines some key passages in scripture that speak of the affirmation of the body, including the creation narratives of Genesis, the Song of Songs, portions of the Psalms, the stories and words of Jesus in the gospels and the apostle Paul’s letters. My personal lived-body experience is brought into conversation with some of the great figures of the Christian tradition. Athanasius, Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich, Meister Eckhart, Teresa of Avila, and St. Francis of Assisi are some of the figures from history who are of special interest to me. Together with them I explore the deeply held and highly regarded truths of Christian theology about the body and its place in the being of the person. I examine how this understanding has informed spiritual praxis for those who seek to live an incarnate life free of the Gnostic elements that have often dominated our tradition. This topic is also explored from an interdisciplinary perspective. I engage the philosophical phenomenology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and others, as well as the ideas of process philosophers, physicists and other scientists. I consider pertinent ideas which emerge out of Jungian psychology, somatic therapy and dance. Feminist hermeneutics is the background for all aspects of this work. Poetry is the undercurrent. This thesis is philosophical in nature but moves, in a limited way, to a consideration of clinical healing attitudes and practices which arise from many of the ideas explored herein, with a particular focus on the role of dance in the recovery of our full humanity. The body is holy and, as dancers have known throughout time, has a wisdom and knowledge that we need to listen to if we are to become fully alive.

Toward a Fuller More Satisfying Ministry

This Dissertation describes a model of ministry project. My project was to develop a workbook that would assist groups of ministerial colleagues to work through a process leading to a fuller more satisfying ministry. My process is designed to include six sessions of approximately four hours each. It is designed for groups of five to eight participants. Different time structures and group sizes could be negotiated among people using this resource.

The process I describe comes from my own struggles. I have generalized the steps I have taken on my own journey, and written up the process in a way that can be used by others. A simplification of my theory is that clergy have developed patterns of competition that have robbed us of one of our primary support systems, which is each other. Through a process intended to build trust while guiding participants through a reconnection with the sense of call and vision that brought each of into ministry, I attempt to build a community of colleagues.

My purpose is to introduce participants to some tools that will help them to develop ongoing collegial support. A secondary goal is to build colleague groups. I have written my project in such as way that it could be used to develop a new group or to be used by a pre-existing group.

I include the theological and secular theories I have used in the design. I develop a theology of collegiality and mutual support based on the relationship between Moses and seventy elders, as well as the relationship between Jesus and his followers. I include a theology of evaluation and feedback, based on some biblical images of mirroring, pruning and smelting.

I outline a history of the relationship between my own journey and my project. I include a brief discussion of Qualitative Research, which was my theory base for analysing the effectiveness of my project. I include a representative sampling of the data I collected, with some of my impressions and analyses.

I offer some concluding remarks including my own impressions of where my work might lead me in both my personal and professional spheres. I append the two workbooks I have written, one for participants and one for facilitators.

Christian Education in a Digital World: The Use of the Computer in Christian Education

In this Information Age of rapid technological change, computers have become an integral part of our everyday world. They are a familiar tool in homes, offices, and schools, but rarely in the church school. This project explored the use of the computer in Christian Education by reporting on the development of a Computer Centre for a Sunday School, interviewing Christian Educators using computers in their programs, reviewing software for use in Christian Education, studying the strengths and limitations of computer technology in Christian Education, and reflecting and theorizing from an educational and theological perspective on the findings of the study and the implications for Christian Education. The computer was found to be a useful tool for enriching Christian Education programs by increasing their child/youth appeal, learning potential and cultural relevance.

The Canadian YMCA (1966 – 1996): A Movement Toward Inclusion

Throughout its history, the Canadian YMCA movement has changed and responded to community concerns and issues in a way that is unique to its Canadian setting. The thirty years of YMCA Canada history, between 1966 and 1996, has seen fundamental changes in the organization of the Canadian YMCA and it is in this period when the majority of the process that has taken the Canadian YMCA from an exclusive, Christian organization to an inclusive, inter-faith one has occurred. The purpose of this study is to explore the uniqueness of this Canadian experience and what, if anything, in the Canadian identity fostered its development.

Using hermeneutical phenomenological and feminist based case study methodology, data were collected through documents searches and through self-structured interviews of individuals who have been active in the Canadian YMCA movement during the time period being examined. The group included part-time and full-time volunteers, current and former/retired staff, Christian as well as non-Christian, male and female, and those in management and board leadership positions. Interviewees’ length of involvement ranged from eight to fifty-five years. Themes that emerged through these interviews were used as a basis for analysis.

The driving force behind the inclusive statements is the explicitly Christian value system on which the Canadian YMCA is founded. As Canada has moved away from it Christian roots and developed into a multicultural society, the YMCA has mirrored the changes. As Canadians have moved away from Christian churches, the YMCA has moved away from teaching Bible study. The Canadian YMCA provides a reflection of the changes in Canadian identity and the movement towards becoming inclusive.

Unto Us a Child is Given: The Experience of Being A New Father

In this study, the stories of six new fathers are explored from a hermeneutical and phenomenological perspective. The study focuses on the question: What is the experience of being a new father? The stories are transcribed, analysed for the themes and then retold in a manner that attempts to mirror the experience of the new father. The themes which deal with various dimensions of being a father are looked at both for the specific character of being and becoming a father and for the general character of being and becoming itself. Six themes which delineate the scope of fatherhood were identified, namely: the initial experience of becoming a father, father and child experiencing each other, the growing awareness of being a father, the burdens involved in being a father, the basking of father and child in the transcendent dimension, and lastly, looking back at the experience of being a father.

The phenomenon of the initial experience of being a father is set against an hermeneutic background whereby the meanings are teased out of the themes by a constant interplay between researcher and data. The interplay is spurred by questions and comments of co-researchers and others pertinent to the project. In this sense then, there is no final product, only what is at the moment; there are no definitive answers, only the considered interpretations of the researcher. The reliability of the methodology is assured by an initial testing of the research question in a pilot project and by a committee which has acted as a guide. The validity of the methodology is assured by the periodic checking of assumptions with fathers, new and old, and with those who have observed fathers such as spouses and children.

The study’s implications for ministry are useful inasmuch as they serve to enrich, support and challenge some of the more traditional ways that ministers have carried out their roles. The limitations of the study are noted and elaborated on.

Finally, the study, both its content and its method, as well as the program as a whole, is looked at from a personal, mythological and theological perspective.

“Sadly There are no Diaries” Healing Ancestral Wounds: An Exploration of Two Grandfather’s Personal Mennonite Texts, 1852-1945

Before I began my studies at St. Stephen’s College, I had observed that I felt weary and trapped by traditional descriptions of God.  As early as my first few classes I began to see the parallel myth of the Divine Feminine, something I had never been taught in my religious background.  It ignited a spark within me and fueled a desire to understand. In the midst of this unrest I saw my own wounds, wounds that had manifested into both rational and irrational fears of harm coming to my children, risks of loss of property or finances, as well as a need to be pure and perfect.

The longing to heal myself and explore the unspoken gap of the Divine Feminine led me to a study of my Mennonite ancestors, ancestry that can be traced back to 1584, when Mennonites were still a fledgling religion. In that study I learned about their traumas, their wounds, as well as the strengths that carried them through their lives.  A trip to Ukraine in 2008 took me back to their homeland to learn more about the paradigm of their times in what was then Czarist Russia (1800s and early 1900s).

There are three themes I observed as I have spent the last few years researching my ancestral history, their struggles, and some of their unanswered questions.  These themes are the ones that weave their way into my present life and connect deeply with my own heart.

The first theme is the births and deaths of babies and mothers, both before and during the revolution.  Without birth control, many mothers birthed and buried child after child and eventually “they themselves were bled empty of all strength to nurture” and they lay in their own graves. Thus the initial statement of my title, “Sadly there are no diaries of the Grandmothers,” remains unexplored.  These still quiet tombs are yet to come to life.

The second theme is my ancestors’ response to the loss of property, finances, violence and hunger, as they watched everything they had worked to acquire and create, swallowed up in the anger and destruction of the powerful wave of revolution and anarchy.  Their doctrines, theologies and beliefs often created conflicts and questions, the principle of Mennonite pacifism during periods of lawlessness being one of those dilemmas.

The third theme relates to a sense of unworthiness that is especially prevalent in the diary of Great-Grandfather Epp. There seems to be a big chasm between the perfection of God and the sinful sinner. Amidst the emphasis on grace and forgiveness the words sinfulness and unworthiness are frequent throughout his writings.

Two texts/journals of great-grandfathers, as well as attention to my night time dreams and experiential reflections, have been my road map to explore their paradoxical lives as Mennonites in Russia at the turn of the century.  I have been enriched, enraged, and horrified by this journey and have felt both the gentle touch and overwhelming confusion of drops of shifting and healing deep within my ancient and present day wounds.  My intense fears have lifted.  I have experienced more passion and inner freedom to be true to that which is within me. My son, whose health challenges have kept me in a constant state of vigilance, tells me I have changed. I have been able to loosen my grip, and in small steps, open my hands, my arms, and my heart.

“The Phenomenological Experience of Zentangle® and the Implications for Art Therapy

This is a phenomenological exploration of Zentangle and its link to mindfulness, spirituality and Art Therapy. This study was developed from a personal practice of Zentangle as creative expression and art meditation. This expanded to understand Zentangle as a mindful/spiritual practice, and how Zentangle and Art Therapy facilitate healing and personal growth. Van Manen’s interpretive phenomenological method with art as research was used to reveal the lived experience of Zentangle. The study collected data from a focus group of a Zentangle experience, an art response, and semi-structured interviews. Seven participants in the study identified the experience of Zentangle as meeting definitions of mindfulness meditation and spirituality. The predominant description of the experience of Zentangle was its centering effect, which allows for alleviation of emotional and physical pain. The results showed that Zentangle is an alternative means to mindfulness, spirituality and can promote self-awareness, insight, creative problem solving and is used for self-expression. As a mindfulness, spiritual and Art Therapy tool it can affect emotional and physical well-being. Limitations of the study were the number and bias of participants and researcher. Additional studies regarding the use of Zentangle in therapeutic environments and with different populations would enhance its understanding, generalizability, and use for the Art Therapy profession.

The Brilliance of Beauty: Theology and the Expressive Arts

This study explores the theological nature of beauty as lived experience in the expressive arts studio. The methodology, rooted in phenomenology, is a blend of heuristic and arts-based research. I consider my own experiences of beauty as well as those of several co-researchers. Together, we participated in a two-day studio workshop which I designed and facilitated in the form of a retreat. The studio was multimodal: the participants created works of visual art (painting, collage, sculpture), music, dance, and poetry. A portable labyrinth was used to enhance the experience. The co-researchers and I shared our experiences during several circle discussions.  Ten co-researchers participated in the retreat; six were subsequently interviewed.  The thesis includes reproductions of several examples of visual art and poetry in keeping with a heuristic/arts-based approach.

The thesis draws extensively from the literature and praxis of expressive arts therapy. However, it is framed primarily by a theological rather than a clinical perspective. I explore the transformative nature of beauty more in a spiritual context than a psychotherapeutic one. I focus more on the creative process than the finished product of a work of art. In other words, it is more about the artist than the art. The later works of Thomas Merton form an integral part of the theological literature, in particular his exploration of Zen. This serves as a springboard into how our essential spiritual nature – to use a Zen phrase, our Original Face – can be explored through the creative process.

Clowning for Change: An Object D’Art Portraying the Role of the Transforming Clown

“Clowning for Change” examines the role of the clown throughout history and in different cultural contexts. Clowns come from a tradition of truth tellers and healers. They use humour to expose oppressive and harmful structures in society. They show us “another way” to be in the world.

The playshops present methods to explore Jesus as clown, as well as looking at the wisdom of fools in non-Christian settings. The format of the playshops is a simple step by step guide that people of any or no experience can follow or adopt.

Women and Food and the Sacred: A Complex Recipe

My purpose in writing this thesis was to explore the subject of women’s experience of preparing and serving food for guests and the ways in which this process could be understood as a sacred experience. My intent was to make the experience of food preparation by women more visible and to explore the possibilities that such consciousness can bring to one’s awareness of the sacred. This exploration was conducted through review and discussion of literature relating to all three facets of the topic; women’s experience in food preparation, philosophy of food, the nature of the sacred, and through reflections on the stories and insights of four women who shared their personal experiences about preparing food for guests. My reflections include an understanding of my own story and the importance of this subject to me, as well as an exploration of this subject through the lens of Feminist Theology. This study of women, food and the sacred has increased my understanding and experience of God. In seeking loving relationship with food itself and those preparing and eating it, we bring the sacred into the garden, farmer’s market, the kitchen counter and the dinner table. Such awareness invites us to honour the ordinary, to see cooking and food preparation as sacred rituals, and the sharing of food as a sacrament.