Theses & Project Dissertations
Below are some abstracts of the [MTS, MPS and MTh] theses and [DMin] dissertations in our collection.
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There are many paths and roads that we take in our life and we meet at the intersections. Each has travelled a different road to arrive there. Some will stop and some will travel on. The intersection is part of the world moving and challenging. We can claim the past and look to the future. Emancipatory transformation can take place. This where ministry happens. Theology Talk can be part of the ministry at the intersection.
Theology Talk is a project that has brought together the author’s perspective of diaconal ministry and education. The result has been a game that meets the following goals:
- Players are assisted in identifying their preferred theological stance.
- Players are supported in their acceptance and understanding of theological diversity.
- Players are assisted in learning theological terminology.
- Players are supported in improving Biblical literacy.
- Community building is promoted among the players.
This study used a heuristic method to explore the question: “What is my experience of drawing the mandala?” The mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning both center and circle. The purpose of this dissertation was to arrive at a description and understanding of the experience of drawing the mandala and its meaning in the author’s life and ministry from a theological, spiritual and psychological perspective. Two co-researchers were chosen for this study. This work examined the research question through the stories of the author, which unfolded throughout the creation of her mandala drawings and the co-researchers’ stories of their experience of drawing their mandalas. The author used image dialogues with her mandalas, while open-ended interviews were conducted with the co-researchers to gather the themes for this research. Major themes of self-integration and expanded awareness led to a deeper trust in the experience of drawing the mandala to express the individual’s spiritual and psychological journey of transformation. One of the unique contributions of this dissertation is the inclusion of the author’s original mandalas, as well as those of her co-researchers.
Since the 1960s, a new language has evolved in Alberta Catholic Schools to describe, to nurture and to act upon the meanings experienced. This is the mission and ministry language of the post-Vatican II Catholic school.
A Lexicon With a Vision presents a sample of this language development. The 30 chosen words/expressions are situated in their educational and theological contexts. They emanate directly from the Blueprints movement which is an Alberta Catholic School renewal process.
The design for this study involved extensive and lengthy consultation with representatives of the Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association, the Blueprints’ sponsors since its inception in 1981. They validated both the chosen words and the content which was developed.
A Lexicon With a Vision includes a comparison of the Alberta Catholic school vocabulary with Quebec’s Catholic school lexicon. One of the main results of this comparison is the remarkable similarity in vocabulary development between the two provinces. The author has written this section in French.
Do You Mean What We Mean? is the project for this study. It is a handbook for teachers, parents and clergy. The handbook features an ecumenical thrust which focuses on the necessity of Catholic schools to work with majority public schools, to recruit like-minded supporters and to promote a genuine social pluralism.
This dissertation incorporates a comprehensive Alberta Catholic school bibliography.
A Lexicon With a Vision demonstrates three fundamental realities about the distinct language used in Alberta’s Catholic schools in the 1980’s. First, a distinct language exists as manifested through the 30 words/expressions identified for this project. Some of these words/expressions are new since Vatican II; others have existed for a long time. Second, this language has identifiable and community based meanings attached to each word. Some of these meanings emerged from Vatican II; others are an extension of previous understandings. Third, the language system advocates a distinct vision of schooling, one which leads to specific actions.
This study has some limitations in scope, design and results. By intent, this Lexicon does not present an exhaustive theological development. The chosen words/expressions reflect the vision of a particular group of trustees at a definite point in time. This Lexicon is not necessarily the official position of the Alberta Catholic school trustees. Neither the trustees, nor the researcher purport that this word list is definitive. The results reflect the official church and formal theological viewpoints to a certain extent. However, the Lexicon is meant to be a more grass-roots reflection, a needed complement to the more hierarchical view of church and of school.
A number of implications flow from this study:
specific mission and ministry language should be more evident in Catholic schools. IT should affirm or critique current practices;
- the Lexicon handbook could become a common reference tool, be part of staff professional development and be integrated with policy statements;
- the Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association continue to promote and to incorporate the Lexicon in all its projects;
- more lexicon development could occur to update this effort and to expand the original list;
- a greater ecumenical awareness is desirable regarding the role of Catholic schools in Alberta’s pluralistic society.
Noise of Solemn Assemblies: Enhancing Awareness of Relationships Between Liturgy and Social Justice Within the Worship Assembly
The purpose of this project was to develop and implement a means for enhancing the awareness of a worshiping community relative to worship and social justice. The project sought to bridge a perceived gulf between liturgy and social justice groups within a parish and bring them into dynamic, faithful and creative relationship for mutual support, edification and meaningful worship.
The project had four goals:
- To develop an adult education curriculum that would engage and enhance the awareness of selected people from within a worshiping community to better understand the intrinsic relationship between liturgy and social justice.
- To utilize the developed curriculum in three diverse adult education settings during the Season of Advent, 1986.
- To assess the curriculum, its implementation and the resultant experience of worship within the Advent Season.
- To provide information for a post-project revision of the course materials.
The methodology within the project derived from those four goals:
Goal I: The curriculum that was developed consisted of an adult education resource book, the pericopes for Advent 1986, and the personal experience and expertise of both the group and leader. The major component of the curriculum was a resource book entitled, The Noise of Solemn Assemblies: A Primer on Liturgy and Social Justice. Its content was engagingly interactive, addressed both theory and practice and focused on practical elements of liturgical celebration in parish worship.
Goal II: The utilization of the developed curriculum is best described in terms of content, method and context. The content of the resultant course followed the structure of the primer: Introduction, Principles of Liturgy and Social Justice, The Gathering of God’s People, The Liturgy of the Word, The Liturgy of Baptism, The Liturgy of Eucharist and The Sending Forth of God’s People. The Advent texts for 1986 served as key biblical resource material which focused the primer’s reflections. Personal experience and expertise of both the group and leader also made up a significant portion of the content.
The principal method of instruction was to utilize the primer in a discussion based format. The discussion followed the methodology of Adult Faith, Adult Church1 and of Thomas Groome’s pedagogical insights to name/critique categories, analyze them and re-vision new possibilities.2 The courses employed three styles: a series of five consecutive weekly sessions; a series of three, alternate weekly sessions; and a weekend retreat. A practical, experiential learning component was added to the course as participants were asked to implement their course learnings as they planned and led worship in their parish.
The context involved three diverse settings: a rural, small town congregation; an urban, suburban large parish; and an ecumenical campus ministry community at The University of Alberta.
Goal III: The assessment of the project involved a thorough critique of the primer, course evaluations and observation of the resultant Advent worship. The primer was critiqued by each of the course participants, as well as by a selected ecumenical audience of liturgical, educational and social justice experts. The course evaluations were solicited by means of a questionnaire which was adrninistered before and after the course. This questionnaire, joined to a post-course survey instrument, inductively gathered qualitative and subjective responses. The responses gathered after the course were compared to pre-course responses to identify changes of perception and awareness among the participants. The experiential learning component of planned and implemented worship was observed and critiqued.
Goal IV: The critiques of the primer provided substantial insight which will be employed in a subsequent revision of the primer for publication.
The assessment of the project revealed several significant outcomes. The responses gathered after the course demonstrated a remarkable growth in the perception of participants as to the relationships existing between worship and social justice. This enhanced awareness of the connections between liturgy and social justice was further evidenced in the comments made by the course participants. The questionnaire and survey instrument fulfilled their intent in gathering inductive, qualitative and descriptive responses. These responses demonstrated significant growth and change among the participants.
The survey instrument allowed participants to speak for themselves. Their comments indicated that the perceived barrier between liturgy groups and social justice groups in a parish had been bridged. Participants whose primary interest was social justice were brought into fruitful dialogue with those whose main concern was liturgy.
The survey instrument also provided substantial and valuable information concerning the course curriculum. This information proved to be a major asset for a revision of the course curriculum. The identified needs within such a revision centred upon pedagogical methodology in terms of number of sessions, a sense of community among the participants, supplemental use of audio-visual resources and additional experiential learning components.
The experiential learning component provided a bridge between the theoretical content of the project and the practical implementation of course learnings. The project became grounded in the worship life of the participants. In theory and in practice, their experience of, and appreciation for their worship life were deepened. The participants were empowered, encouraged and revitalized in their personal living out of liturgy and social justice.
The critiques of the primer afforded excellent insight for a revision of the primer. A future revision of the primer will need to incorporate these insights which centred, among other areas, on pedagogical, language and ecclesiastical considerations.
The implementation of the primer confirmed that it was a timely and valuable resource for churches. The publication of an amended primer would provide a useful tool for the educational ministry of Lutheran and other churches.
An Interpretive Inquiry Into the Lived Experience of Being a Preacher in an Easter Season
This interpretive inquiry explores the lived experience of being a preacher in the six weeks of Easter. A subtext for the study is a wrestling with the question, “What does it mean to be faithful as a Christian preacher in this time and culture?” A critical review of the purposes of preaching is offered and a series of commonly held expectations or intentions of Christian preaching are clarified. Using a hermeneutic phenomenological approach, the preacher/researcher engages seven mainline Protestant preachers in an intensive six-week study of their lived experience of being a preacher in an Easter season. This study helps broaden our understanding of what it means to be a preacher in an Easter season, the praxis of preaching and dynamics at work in being a preacher. In addition, it offers implications for preachers, preaching and being faithful in this post-modern cultural context.
The Prologue in the Gospel of John invites us to return to our nature. We participate in an estranged and objectified relationship with our bodies. We have idealized notions of our humanity and divinity and as a result we have rejected and disowned aspects of ourselves that do not fit the ideal. We have lost the awareness of our wholeness and the natural and sacred energy of the “Word”. The Johannine Prologue invites us to re-enter into our relationship with the embodied, physical world and discover our own ‘lost soul’.
Dynamic Theological Reflection in Field Education: A Support Group Application of Whitehead Methodology to Issues Arising in a Four-Month Internship
The purpose of this Project/Dissertation was to conduct a critical investigation and validation of the following hypothesis: An Internship Support Group, supervisor and intern can use the Whitehead method of theological reflection (1) to address issues or concerns which arise during a four-month field education appointment, and (2) to formulate action-strategies which can be implemented by the intern and evaluated by the participants during that period.
The rationale for the Project developed from (1) a need felt at Kirk United Church for a ‘bridge-group’ to connect up the various field education activities and concerns of the intern, congregation and supervisor, (2) a common resolve of those involved to be as effective as possible in shared internship responsibilities, and (3) the hope that others in similar situations might benefit from the findings of this Project.
An Internship Support Group, intern and supervisor cooperatively engaged in critical thinking about three issues from the intern’s learning covenant. The Whitehead methodology employed led to dynamic action-strategies in the intern’s pastoral ministry&emdash;hence the Dissertation title.
Project implementation took place in several steps: (1) Kirk congregation endorsed the formation of an Internship Support Group which was then recruited and oriented to the Whitehead methodology in its first four meetings; (2) with the intern’s full participation, dynamic theological reflection took place during eight group meetings held over a four-month period; (3) pastoral action-strategies, corresponding to each of the three issues before the group, were implemented by the intern; (4) group members, intern and supervisor assessed the results, and the process used to achieve them; (5) a final group meeting, for review purposes, was held after the intern’s departure.
The assessment of results allowed useful conclusions to be drawn which verified the hypothesis and inferred wider usefulness for this particular Whitehead application. All of the participants benefitted, and assessed the Project seventy-seven percent effective in reaching its stated goal.
Several important findings emerged from this Project:
The Whitehead methodology was well suited to Kirk’s ’emerging adult’ intern who was seeking to achieve both personal and vocational integration within a plurality of views and data. The openness of the tri-polar field to a variety of data, without prejudice or pressure, and the suspension of judgment which might have been reactive or premature, gave the intern the opportunity for (andragogical) learning with respect to three specific issues.
The Whitehead methodology did contribute constructively to the operation of a support group. It was demonstrated that lay people can successfully handle this approach. This finding meets a potential need for good methodology which may exist in other similar groups.
The Ministerial Profile and Trend Sheets, which were used to gather and display behaviour-in-ministry (mathetic information), proved surprisingly useful. A new tri-polar work sheet also proved its worth as a visual memory aid to this methodology.
Some weaknesses were discovered in this application of tri-polar theological reflection:
- The Internship Support Group (I.S.G.) needed more discussion time for each issue. Fewer issues, more meetings, or a longer internship period were some suggested means for improvement.
- The contribution of data from the pole of Culture could have been larger. More advance planning,greater use of community resources, and direct teaching by specialists were some of the suggestions offered.
- The I.S.G. would have been more effective if its size had been reduced from twelve to nine members. Some representation should also have been included from the intern’s own age group.
- A caution was raised that experiences at Kirk cannot be generalized to other interns, supervisors, or support groups without further testing.
In conclusion, the Whitehead methodology, which was selected for use in this Project, proved very effective in drawing forth not only the tri-polar resources immediately available to the intern and I.S.G. through this Project application, but tri-polar resources in and around the supervisor. This secondary benefit&emdash;the application of “Dynamic Theogical Reflection” in the mind and life of a participant-observer&emdash;is a valuable bonus for anyone using this approach in field education.
ANDREW SHUNG KAP LEE
A Model of Ministry for Pacific Asian Congregations in the Mainline Churches: The Development of the Language/Cultural Presbytery
In 1981, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada approved the concept of a “Pluralistic church”. In many congregations are people of various ethnic backgrounds who bring different Presbyterian and cultural traditions, adding spiritual strength to these congregations. We are living in a Canadian multicultural society.
Yet mainline churches in Canada are failing to welcome new immigrant Christians to their churches as members. In the major cities in Canada, the non-white immigrant population are approaching 50%. However, the huge beautiful churches are filled with tens tens white senior member. How have mainline churches responded to significant developments and shifts in population dynamics? Not very well.
In the 1996 General Assembly of the PCC approved and adopted the overture to the General Assembly, that the Korean brothers and sisters within the PCC form two Han-Ca Presbyteries. The challenge is to maintain the unity of the church while embracing many decidedly different cultures in Canada’s multicultural society.
The separate autonomy structure would be Language/Cultural Presbytery which might be called a ‘vessel’ which will preserve their culture and traditions. The General Assembly of the PCC approved and adopted Han-Ca Presbytery. I have traced the steps, which the Korean congregations in the PCC and the General Assembly of the PCC have taken, over the past seven to eight years, to establish a separate judicatory, the Han-Ca Presbytery. My researches are based on social religious researches and studies.
Men in ministry face unique challenges negotiating the complex inner work demanded by the years of midlife. The work of this project presents a way of validating this critical passage within the context of the Christian faith tradition. The reader is taken on a self-reflective journey into the issues of midlife where an excursion into the Sinai wilderness serves as a metaphorical environment to nest one’s reflection. The work incorporates an artistic and phenomenological approach.
Mountain Moving Women: A Study of Structural and Systemic Change for Justice in the Church
This research examines how structural and systemic change for justice comes about in the church by studying the development and implementation of the Women in Ministry staff position in the United Church of Canada. The work can be included in the bodies of literature pertaining to women in ministry, feminist and research methodology theory. Using feminist qualitative methods, six participants were interviewed for their participation in the change process. Factors that effect successful change for justice were revealed and analysed. These include: the social and institutional climate of the day; the existence of supportive people in key leadership positions; the development of strategies that challenged existing structures and systems; and the intentionality of the change group in undertaking social analysis, theological reflection and group maintenance. Where transformation for justice is needed in congregations, presbyteries, conferences or General Council Divisions, this study has application for diaconal ministry as it affirms a vision of community and an empowering style of ministry for justice.
Bringing the Pieces Together is about my search and the recovery of my self worth and the ability to acknowledge my sense of esteem. My journey has been one in which I have been challenged to recognize my sense of worth; first to others and to myself as a woman and a person. The journey through this study process has forced and enabled me to look at myself from my early childhood – as much as I remember – and to work to determine where I want to go in my future.
There have been many people who have stated that I have many excellent qualities of esteem, worth, leadership, and knowledge; however, it has been a challenge and a struggle for me to accept that recognition. While I may still have some doubts, accepting positive affirmations is becoming easier and I am learning that I do have many positive characteristics. This recognition does not come in a form of vanity or conceit; but, I think in a humble form.
I am learning not to dispute what others believe are true characteristics of my skills and leadership. In acknowledging their acceptance, I am slowly learning to affirm my gifts, again reluctantly and with humility. Upon completion of this work, I realize my thesis is a reflective journal of my work and studies.
This paper presents the challenges and lessons learned during a pilot project of an online professional development program. Based on participant interviews and using a transformative learning framework, the researcher postulates four assumptions that appear to have been made by the instructional developer. These assumptions are critically evaluated in light of the participant interviews and related research, and are transformed as a result. New directions and suggestions for program improvement are offered.
I set out to find the crone, the wise woman whose identity has been obscured in the mists of time. I knew when I began my exploration that older women lack voice in a patriarchal society that has not yet accorded us consistent respect and rights. I perceived the need for someone to challenge the double jeopardy of sexism and ageism to which we older women have become too inured. I intended to find and to hear the voices of older women and to have them tell me and the world about their spiritual development, about what in their contexts made them who they are.
What I found was that the five women who grew into being my co-researchers were more than eager to tell their stories and to articulate the wisdom of their life experiences. We shared our thoughts, our feelings, our pains, and our joys, and all the while we learned more about who each of us is. Something numinous happens when women tell each other stories of their lives. Through an interpenetrating of each others’ Selves, both the story-tellers and the story-hearers are transformed in some measure.
Thus I searched for the crone, and I found her: we are she! She resides in the women whom I interviewed, in myself, and in many other older women. She is wisdom, balance, and freedom. She lives out these attributes with an invincible spirit of courage, resiliency, adaptability, and survivability. She lives with deep respect for connections to God, to others, and to creation. May we crones live the last quarter of our lives with a sense of freedom and courage that we could only imagine in our earlier years!
This feminist study is a search for the nature of bonds that exist and function among women who share genealogies–daughters, mothers, grandmothers. I am of the belief that we bring all of our complex selves into our relationships with other people, especially those with whom we share life most intimately. We bring patterns that are of primordial origin that reside deeply within our psyches at an unconscious level. The secular and religious histories of women generally, herstory, and our personal life stories affect who we are as women and how we relate to each other. Religion and its scriptures have not given women’s stories as told through the voices of women prominence, and theology has not taken into account the nature of women as spiritual beings. Family systems and relationships can be fragile, but also indestructible. Groups of people who are tied to each other by strong emotional bonds can invigorate or hurt, embrace or ignore, nurture or demean each other. The women who are part of my study find many ways to bring wholeness and security to their families, and they tend carefully their roles in their family systems. The oldest woman in the family, the grandmother, has a special opportunity to be a wise presence and a catalyst for ensuring life-giving functioning and right connections among her family members. Inherent in this work is the passion to have the voices of all generations of women heard, but especially the voice of the oldest women in the genealogy, that of the grandmother-crone. Women in the beginning of the twenty-first century are generally more vocal and visible in the public realm and assertive within their families than were their progenitors eighty years ago, but older women are still under-represented, a deficiency that I address in this work.
Where Have All the Men Gone? A Study of Men’s Issues and Male Images in the Mainline Christian Church from the Perspective of Alienated Men
This project/dissertation examined the contemporary phenomenon of middle-aged men abandoning the mainline institutional Christian Church in Canada. A Gallop Poll in Canada has documented the steady decline of church attendance, from 60% in 1957 to 27% in 1990. Men of thirty-five to fifty-five in particular seem to have departed the religious institutions with which they were once involved.
The author’s initial interest in middle-aged men’s issues evolved from 20 years experience as a parish pastor observing decreased involvement of men in congregational worship life and ministries. Further interest in men’s studies came from the discovery of limited research and writings in this field, especially those critical of traditional patriarchy. Feminist theologians have written on the effects of patriarchy, but not from a men’s or masculinist viewpoint. The sudden death of the author’s father during the early phases of the research brought a new perspective to the work, namely the issues of fathers and sons, and the images of Father-God and fatherhood in the Church.
The area of interest explored was in several implications of the question, “Where Have the Men Gone?” Why are the North American middle-aged men exiting the Mainline Christian Churches? Why do middle-aged men address mid-life issues outside the context of the mainline Christian Church which has historically asserted patriarchal dominance, strength, status, and power? These questions formed the basis for the sensitizing concepts that focused the study.
The qualitative research methodology was employed for this project/dissertation. Responses from the interviewees through use of a standardized open-ended questionnaire revealed the “lived experience” of the men in terms of their life issues and religious/spiritual attitudes.
A number of important interpretations emerged from the analytical dialogue between the responses and theory. Middle-aged men are facing conflicting pressures between the needs, demands, and values of the older and younger generations. Their own identity is challenged by other external forces. Most prominent are the Women’s Movement, the explosion of information through the computer age, and a growing disenchantment with social institutions.
These middle-aged men experienoe the Christian Church as representative of the traditional male-dominant cufture which is of no meaningful assistance in addressing their issues. They view many religious leaders and their teachings as irrelevant to their critical concerns and aspirations. God is distant and inconsequential for these men.
The dissertation closes with implications for the Christian Church. There is value in re-examination and re-interpretation of the Church’s theology, worship, and pastoral ministries in light of the dynamics and issues of middle-aged men in Canadian society. A holistic view of human life and creation needs to be fostered for integration of personhood and renewed purpose in the lives of middle-aged men.
The purpose of this thesis is to discuss lay pastoral ministry in the United Church of Canada. To assist with the discussion, a questionnaire (Appendix 1) was prepared and sent out to lay pastoral ministers and lay pastoral ministers in training through the LPM Network, a newsletter which is produced several times a year. The questionnaire dealt with the person’s reasons for choosing this stream of ministry and the level of acceptance of this stream throughout the church. Experiences of lay pastoral ministers and lay pastoral ministers in training and comments on the education and supervision programmes for lay pastoral ministers were also explored. There was a question concerning the future viability of this form of ministry in the questionnaire. This thesis is devoted to analyzing and reflecting upon the responses to the questionnaire.
It is hoped that the information offered in this thesis will contribute to better understanding of this stream of ministry in the United Church of Canada and will promote recognition of the continuing significance of lay pastoral ministry in the church of the twenty-first century.
In The Eye of the Beholder: The Theology of Culture of Paul Tillich as Related to the Visual Arts
This thesis examines the relationship of the theology of culture of Paul Tillich in relation to the visual arts. The thesis makes extensive reference to an attached appendix of illustrations that provide visual examples of Tillich’s analysis of religion and art.
The thesis begins with a biographical sketch of the early influences of Tillich’s life as related to visual arts. His childhood, war experience, post-war life, personal, philosophical and artistic influences and his emigration to the United States form the foundation upon which to explore his theology of culture.
Through a presentation of Tillich’s method of correlation and his theological language and concepts, key themes emerge in Tillich’s theology of culture as related to the visual arts. Having established this groundwork, the thesis proceeds to explore the visual arts as a focussed expression of Tillich’s theology of culture. A brief review of Tillich’s personal interest in the field of visual arts and his theological language and concepts as applied to religion and art form the foundation for a detailed articulation of his thoughts, views and understanding of visual art.
The thesis then explores the relationship of the visual arts and religion in the theology of culture of Paul Tillich. There is a particular emphasis on what constitutes and characterizes religious art for Tillich. The conclusion of the thesis summarizes the entire work and suggests why and how Tillich’s theology of culture in relation to the visual arts continues to be valid and vital for the world today.
Life is a series of stories, each remembered with meaning and all enhanced with emotional nuances. We are shaped by our experiences and honed by those we allow into our lives by relationships. This Integrative Study used the vehicle of metaphor as found in Flemish oil painting masterpieces of the 17th century. Step by intricate step the painting takes form. Each succeeding technique builds on the one preceeding it. There are no short cuts. When the final brush stroke has been carefully applied, the portrait is singularly unique and bears the hallmark of distinctiveness. Such is my life.
The purpose of this study was to explore, from a phenomenological perspective, experiences of loss and healing. Two men and two women addressed how they moved towards healing after reflecting upon how significant life losses impacted them. Through conversational interviews, co-researchers (participants) recounted personal experience, which captured unique life journeys. While there was variation in each person’s story of personal loss, patterns and themes arose which were common in the lived experience of moving towards healing. This phenomenological investigation captures the realization that loss need not confine one to its initial negative effects. By facing and understanding the meaning suffering and hardship has as a result of loss, each person in this study was able to transform his or her life and move towards healing. Healing themes which arose were: the need to tell and retell personal stories, uniquely processing one’s own grief, assessing relationships to self, God, and others, (connecting, reconnecting and letting go), and drawing on professional and community assistance.
Improving the Quality of Spiritual Care to End-of-Life in Canada: Alleviation of Suffering
This project/dissertation began with the question: Is it possible to alleviate or diminish a person’s pain and suffering in the transitional space from the time of the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness throughout the illness trajectory until death, and his or her family’s subsequent period of bereavement? The question evolved from my work as a Hospital Chaplain on the oncology and palliative care units witnessing various ways illness and suffering lead one into the spiritual domain where questions about God and life’s meaning or purpose emerge. The focus of the study took the form of a two-year qualitative research project with staff, patients, family members, and friends who commented on their perceptions and/or experiences within the health care system identified on the “Continuum of Palliative Care” [© The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association]. The analysis revealed that when serious illness arises in the life of an individual, it is usually accompanied by suffering. Suffering does not affect just the person experiencing illness; illness is a family affair and suffering is pervasively present, yet not always recognized. Spirituality has been found to play a key role in health and illness; however, the spiritual domain is often neglected, overlooked, or forgotten. Health care teams need to be prepared to respond with sensitivity to dying patients and their families; identify spiritual needs /concerns; incorporate compassionate interventions to alleviate or diminish suffering, foster hope and healing to improve the quality of care to end of life, and offer bereavement care after the death. This research project also developed into personal work. The journey involved coming to an understanding, not only of her husband’s terminal diagnosis but her own journey with God and functioning in health care ministry as a Christian exemplifying respect, love, and compassion for patients, their families, and staff of all faith traditions.
KENNETH JOHN MACLEOD
Close Encounters of a Story Kind from Test to Story: A Primer for Story Preaching
The purpose of this project was to ascertain whether an Introductory Process for Story Preaching would enable clergy and theological students to craft story sermons. More specifically it dealt with peers in the Presbyterian tradition and students at Presbyterian College, Montreal.
The methodology called for the conducting of two workshops, one with peers in the local Presbytery and the other with students at Presbyterian College, Montreal. Each workshop consisted of two sessions. The process contained four different stages, two of which the participants worked through in the workshop sessions and two they worked through on their own time.
The workshops were recorded and written up in verbatim form. These verbatims served as one aspect of the evaluative process. The participants filled out an evaluative form after the process was completed and a second evaluative form after they had preached a story sermon. The final part of the evaluative process was the response of three persons in each congregation who heard the sermon preached. These persons were selected by the participants.
The general outcome of this project was that peers were able to craft and preach a story sermon while students, due to circumstances relating to their seminary program which were beyond their control, were unable to preach a story sermon. There were some significant outcomes. There appears to be a correlation between the length of time one preaches using a particular method and the ability to change to another method. In preaching as story, it is necessary to believe that story can communicate the gospel in preaching. There is evidence in this project to suggest that this is a theological issue in the sense that one’s view of the Bible may determine whether one preaches in a story form.
A further significant finding is that participants found the initial stage of this process the most positive in approaching and developing story. This indicates that the more creatively and imaginatively one engages the text the more likelihood of crafting story sermons. It would seem, too, that the more one can verbalize in the various stages of the process the greater is the potential for crafting story.
Finally, there are indications that story sermons have the power to humanize preaching and the preacher but also have the power when too personal to cause the listener to miss the sermon’s intent.
The discoveries in the process indicated a particular weakness in the story crafting segment. To eliminate that weakness, the process has been revised.
There are now only two stages. The first one includes meditating on the text, exegesis, and an examination of biblical genre. The second stage consists of the actual process of crafting the story. A model has been created for each stage, and literary theory has been applied to the process.
Within the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) there is a phrase that summarises well its understanding of conflict: “Conflict is inevitable, violence is not.” The Johannine Community, as experienced in the New Testament, offers the reader an opportunity to explore how the Early Church lived out its understanding of Discipleship within a reality of various tensions – tensions in which the community lacked power. The context of the community existed within clashes that were both inter and intrapersonal – for the Johannine community there developed a reality in which people were polarised into ‘us’ and ‘them.’ From the pressure of the dominant culture of the Roman Empire, in which violence was pervasive, the religious discord between the Jewish and evolving self-identification of the Christian community to internal theological differences, the presence of conflict presented the Johannine Community with opportunities that possessed the potential for creativity or division – new life or death. There have been many approaches to better appreciate this community that has left a deep mark upon the Christian psyche. The following examination will endeavour to add to the extensive work that has come before. In order to further this ongoing dialogue, this journey will make use of some of the processes and terminology that comes from the contemporary ADR paradigm. Any approach that attempts to parallel or imagine the past with concepts foreign to its context – in this case the Johannine Community of the Early Church – possesses the potential to either trivialise or misconstrue the historical circumstance. The benefits, however, of such an approach hold the potential to offer insight that might, as of yet, been only glimpsed. Within the tension of such an approach, it is the intent of this investigation to better appreciate the Early Church through the lens of conflict as currently understood within the framework offered by ADR.
When the guru sat down to worship each evening the ashram cat would get in the way and distract the worshipers. So he ordered that the cat be tied during evening worship. After the guru died the cat continued to be tied during evening worship. And when the cat expired, another cat was brought to the ashram so that it could be duly tied during evening worship. Centuries later learned treatises were written by the guru’s scholarly disciples on the liturgical significance of tying up a cat while worship is performed.
— Anthony de Mello
While much has been written about liturgy, this is a study of the experience of worship. The qualitative research explored the question: What is the lived experience that makes worship meaningful for persons within the United Church of Canada?
The research explored phenomenologically the lived experience of three women and three men. Taped conversations were transcribed, and developed into narrative stories. Themes were subsequently identified with analysis and hermeneutic exploration.
The worship experience appeared to be influenced by a variety of factors, both from within the persons worshipping and the worship context. The liturgy points to a language both verbal and non-verbal that is multidimensional in nature. Relevant worship themes included: hospitality, space, embodiment, and a felt sense of authenticity and awe.
Challenges for worship were raised in the following areas: the development of hospitable ways for welcoming persons who attend liturgy; the involvement of each of the senses through signs and symbols, stories, songs and structure; the importance of worshippers having a felt sense of authenticity with worship leaders; and a need for the church to affirm persons’ experiences of awe in nature and daily life.
The writer looked at the following variables: What impact does the environment have on the learning attainment of our children? And is there a correlation between children’s attendance at school and their learning outcome? Here environment will be defined as our children surroundings that is their school, home, church, and community. Care of the environment or how we manipulate it to serve people’s selfish needs can either be advantageous or disadvantageous. We are all products of our various environment, they shape us to fit into the surrounding in which we live. On the other hand, learning is the acquisition of knowledge and through knowledge acquired one may become successful in life. The agents or avenues of learning are the following; home, school, church and the community. Learning takes place directly through formal teaching at school and home and indirectly through the community, peers, and church. Human beings learn mostly through indirect channel. Due to this fact it is important that the society becomes cognizant of how best children learn and fashion their environment to best suit this. To come up with answers as to how the environment impacts on the learning of our children the writer first employed the ethnographic approach. This approach helped the writer to understand his subject’s world by becoming a part of the subject’s life, being a surrogate parent. The writer also used questionnaires and interview in soliciting answers. The finding shows that children that live at the bottom of the social strata prosper less in school and are more inclined to be involved in anti-social activities at school and in the wider community.
The Heart Way of Knowing: A Narrative Review of Contemporary Mystical Experience
Mystical experiences are often dismissed in the western Christian tradition, where objectivity has taken precedence over personal experience of union with the divine. This research explores the questions: “What is the experience of spiritual seekers today of the ‘heart-way of knowing’? How does mystical experience impact one’s ‘knowing’, faith, and personal expressions in the world?
Through a narrative form of inquiry, the contemporary spiritual experiences and journeys of four women and three men were explored. Key elements of their experiences and resulting impacts on their faith journey were synthesized from personal interviews. Allowing these key elements to resonate with the mystics of the past and current authors has provided a unique opportunity to witness and bring to words the contemporary nature of what I have called, ‘the heart way of knowing’.
Mystical experiences, while uniquely personal, are similar across time. They are transformative moments resulting in significant personal shifts in understanding of self, relationships, faith, commonly held beliefs and societal constructs. Faith communities are challenged to grow in their capacity to recognize and nurture the personal, communal, social and cultural nature of mystical experience. Having these experiences validated and allowed to resonate in our lives is important.
The thesis is based on how puppets can become an avenue or vehicle for reaching out to congregations, in allowing the inner child to surface for each individual. People are encouraged to see and hear biblical stories, stories of humor, and everyday life situations through puppet plays. Puppetry used during a worship service can become the children’s story or the sermon all in itself.
Throughout this thesis, the reader will learn:
- the historical overview of puppetry
- how a puppet ministry can become a reality in churches today
- about life changing transformational stories of people who have come into contact with puppetry and have been drawn closer to God because of that experience.
In a conversation with Rev. Alan Schooley on March 1, 2001, Rev. Schooley stated that in 1961 there were 757,000 children in United Church Sunday Schools. In the year 2000 there were less than 141,000, a decline of 81%. Population has increased by 60%.
The next generation is not in place. We have to renew our programs for children. I believe puppetry is one of those ways. Innovative, high powered, exciting dynamic plays bring excitement and enthusiasm to a program for children. Puppets need to be animated and the ministry in the church needs to be full of energy and on charge to do the work of God.
This thesis will bring the reader into a world where puppeteers, everyday ordinary people, learn how to become empowered and enthused about their ministry of puppetry.
Wife battering is a widespread problem in Canada today. Women are the victims of physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse by the men who are important in their lives. This violence follows a cycle of three different stages. Battered wives and their batterers both exhibit certain characteristics that enable the abuse to occur. The first phase in this work involves exploring the nature of the problem of wife abuse, as well as the historical background of the mistreatment of women.
The church has played a major role, both by its theology and its practice, in contributing to the attitudes that have led to wife battering. This study looks at the mind-body dualism that has been a part of the church’s theology, patriarchal ideology and the doctrine of the submission of women, the doctrine of suffering for righteousness sake, hierarchy within the church and Christian teachings on marriage and divorce.
The study also takes a look at what could be the church’s response to the problem. The kind of pastoral care that can be given a battered woman is explored. The question is addressed of gender in our religious teachings, how we use scripture to reinforce our images of women, what role models there are for women in the church and male versus female images of God.
A questionnaire was distributed to all clergy in the Anglican diocese of Edmonton to ascertain their views about wife battering and their experience in helping battered women and/or batterers. The response was excellent. The replies are recorded and comments are made.
The church has only begun to confront the problem of wife battering. It is hoped that this investigation will encourage more people to look at how women are treated in the home and in the church, to quesfion some of the church’s teachings and to be able to give help in a meaningful way.
GRACE ELENA MCDONALD
Care for You While You Care for Your Elderly Parents: An Exploration of the Spiritual Psychological, Social, and Counselling Needs of Adult Caregivers Taking Care of Elderly Parents
The purpose of this research was to examine the circumstances, experiences, needs and coping mechanisms of adult caregivers in Kingston, Jamaica caring for their elderly parents. Additionally a model of care for those adult caregivers was designed.
The design encompassed both a qualitative and quantitative approach using a non probability sampling model. The snowball sampling technique was employed along with purposive sampling. A self administered questionnaire with a Likert scale was developed. The questionnaire also included a qualitative component and had four (4) sections: Demographic, Psychological, Spiritual and Social. Ninety four (94) questionnaires were completed.
Ranging from 28 to 57 years, the majority of the caregivers were single females with no children, caring for parents at home. The study surveyed three research questions: (a) Do Jamaican adult caregivers frequently experience more negative psychological impact in caring for elderly parents? (b) Do Jamaican adult caregivers of elderly parents demonstrate limited use of respite or other care facilities? (c) Do Jamaican adult caregivers of elderly parents more frequently experience feelings of being rejected by God?
Respondents desired support to include national system support. They reported their difficulties to include the decline in parental functioning. Their coping mechanisms included the use of spiritual resources. A model of care was created to include non-judgmental counseling. Also included were coping strategies, such as, understanding and showing patience.
This hermeneutic study of workplace violence demonstrated that trauma, as a result of intercollegial violence, can be processed. Focusing can be applied as an intervention for intercollegial violence in nursing practice environments, which opens up possibilities of engagement with the universal condition of suffering. Suffering, within the context of the thesis project, exists when a nurse experiences trauma and incurs a wound, consciously or unconsciously dealt or received, through an abusive interaction with a colleague. Focusing may be explained as a self-exploration and self-reflection based on listening to the body’s wisdom (Gendlin, 2007; Madison, 2001). The key discovery in Focusing’s evidence-based research is that a person’s ability to affect change depends on how closely he/she attends to his/her experiencing. For the purpose of this study, five themes were identified and explored: workplace violence, poor healthcare (its effect on an individual’s stress level), resilience (an individual’s ability to rebound), embodied spirituality (in relation to an individual’s sense of health and wholeness), and embodied caring (the human’s connection to the complex life force of environment, Self/body). Because of metaphor’s usefulness in qualitative research (closer to “story” than statistics), metaphoric elements were explored during the Pre-and Post-Focusing workshop interview stages of the study. Implications for the co-researchers, the practice of the researcher, the healthcare system, the Focusing, counselling, and psychology communities were identified.
KAREN ANNE PATRICIA MCGIBBON
Rehabilitation as Reformation: Pastoral Counselling for Criminal Offenders – Confronting Jamaica’s Crime Dilemma
This study investigated the efficacy of Pastoral Counselling as a fitting approach in rehabilitating criminal offenders in Jamaica with the aim of reducing recidivism rates among the prison population. Qualitative methods (interviewing, case studies, and focus groups) were utilised. Three basic aims were examined: the effectiveness of current rehabilitative methods, receptiveness of male criminal offenders to Pastoral Counselling and the effectiveness of Pastoral Counselling to rehabilitate criminal offenders. Findings suggest that a desire to serve and please God significantly influences inmates to obey the laws. The combination of spiritual mentoring, discipleship and opportunities to earn an honest living may lead to a productive lifestyle and community service. Findings confirm the literature on Christianity based rehabilitation of criminal offenders that faith-based rehabilitation significantly reduces recidivism rates. Additionally, recommendations are offered for corrections and Christian prison ministries.
Thesis: Prayers of Love and Mourning: The Experience of Spiritual Questioning in my Personal Writing
Like many people living in this current era, I have been victim to the cultural stance of alienation from our essential spiritual centers. My personal writing, that spans the decades of late teens to early fifties, holds questions I was unknowingly asking about the nature of spirituality. This questioning took place even as I denied the existence of anything greater than the scientific world in which I lived. In this research I engaged in a heuristic self- study, using a phenomenological viewpoint to tease out the nature of my questions. The intention of this study is to generate an understanding that, parallel to my own experience, many individuals seeking support in our society deny any need to explore spiritual questions even when spirituality is the most pertinent puzzle piece missing in their lives. The illumination of this paradox can be helpful to care- givers to assist those in need to be open to spiritual conversation.
Using heuristic inquiry this study looks at the experience of chronic illness and disability as a spiritual journey from a Wiccan perspective. By exploring her own experience and that of three co-researchers within the Reclaiming Wiccan community, the researcher gathered data through storytelling, audio-taped informal conversational interviews, follow-up interviews, and the examination of personal journals, artwork, and literature related to the question. In analyzing the data the researcher identified and described several themes relating to the impact of spirituality on illness and illness on spirituality. The themes include loss of the ability to do, challenges related to identity, meaning, purpose, and value, and discovery of dimensions of being. Other themes focused on the contributing factors to illness and healing, including responsibility and cultural expectations, and the connection between illness and the state of the Earth. In concluding the researcher addresses areas of Wiccan practice that might benefit from this knowledge and summarizes the wisdom the study reveals into practical considerations for pastoral counsellors working with those who live with chronic illness.
DONOVAN ANTHONY MCGROWDER
Conducting a Community-Based Survey for Counselling Intervention in Rose Town
The study sought to identify the existing and emerging issues and concerns of residents of the inner city community of Rose Town. There was also the exploration of psychological, psychosocial, emotional challenges, attitude towards and awareness of counselling intervention. Descriptive and narrative methods used to collect data were questionnaires and focus groups. Two hundred randomly stratified households were surveyed and respondents completed a 40-item questionnaire. The two focus groups consisted of nineteen residents that were conveniently selected. The existing and emerging issues and concerns of the residents of Rose Town include crime and violence, poverty, unemployment and underemployment, poor physical infrastructure and lack of access to basic amenities, poor parenting and teenage pregnancy. Most of the participants in the focus group reported that they fear that something may happen to them and/or family members. Some respondents experienced negative feelings such as blue mood, despair, anxiety and depression. Although most of the residents were willing to seek professional help, there appears to be culturally-based reasons for reluctance to seek psychological help among some residents which could be overcome by education and increasing awareness regarding counselling intervention. The study offers insights and perspectives into the lives of the residents. This knowledge will be useful in the development of an effective counselling intervention programme that is knowledge-based, culturally aware and meeting the needs of residents. This programme will include the engagement of experts in psychological and pastoral counselling skills with the residents who seek psychological assistance.
Continuing Spiritual Formation of Women in Career Lay Pastoral Ministry: Exploring the Spiritually Transformative Potential of the Significant Incidents in Their Experience of Ministry
During the past two decades, the number of career lay pastoral ministers, especially women, in the Roman Catholic Church has risen dramatically and will most likely continue to do so. While some of these lay ministers will have had considerable spiritual formation in their ministerial preparation programs, others will have had very little. In any event, the work of spiritual formation is a lifelong activity and deserves ongoing attention over the entire course of ministerial service.
The aim of this research, therefore, was to explore and describe the power of the significant incidents in lay ministers’ experiences of ministry to shape their spirituality, defined essentially as quality of relationship with and style of response to God. Using a qualitative case-study research design and looking through the lens of transformative learning theory, this project involved field-based, in-depth interviews with five purposefully-selected lay ministers from several different regions of Canada who were professionally trained for ministry and who had been working in ministry for some time. The research findings unfold their perceptions that significant incidents in their ministry have led to greater awareness of and understanding about spirituality, have promoted their continuing spiritual formation, and are opening up new spiritual directions.
Silence is revered and practiced in all the world’s major religions. Yet, there is very little written about the experience of silence. This research answers the question: “How is deep silence experienced and described?” The projectidissertation begins with a cultural analysis of the way silence is popularly regarded in contemporary North America; from here a preliminary phenomenological study of silence is undertaken resulting in an initial grammar of silence.
From this introductory basis, the qualitative research phase of the study begins. Three women and two men who are dedicated to the practice of silence are interviewed about their experience. An analysis of the interviews results in a summary description of silence. These qualitative fmdings are then compared and contrasted with the descriptions of silence found in the sayings of the desert fathers and mothers of the early-Christian Church, the writings of the Quaker movement, and in Max Picard’s classic The World of Silence. After this review, a final integrated description of silence is presented, limitations to the study are noted, and ways this research may be of value in ministry are examined.
Paul the Apostle writing in his letter to the Christians in Rome talks about the gospel as being ‘the power of God for the Salvation of everyone who believes’. Liberation Theology is again proving Paul’s statement to be true. The power of God in terms of Liberation is the action of faith in the latter part of the Twentieth Century. It is a thrilling story of God’s Spirit at work through the poor and marginalized, that good news is proclaimed and the oppressed set free.
Success in a church seems to be equated with a youthful congregation and well attended youth activities. When I told a colleague about researching the problems of aging he wondered why such a subject. Why not the problems of youth? My reply was I owe a tremendous debt to many older people. Some of them have had a profound influence on my life, and this study has given me a chance to see what can be done for them in return.
The miraculous birth stories of the Hebrew Scriptures introduce important characters to the Hebrew text. Each birth story begins an important Hebrew faith narrative. This thesis contrasts four birth narratives. I will look at the similarities and differences between the four birth narratives and contrast them. This contrast will include non-biblical literature from the Ancient Near East.
Also included in this study is an examination of key words. I look at how the key words developed and how they were typically used in the Hebrew text and neighboring Semitic languages. These word studies help the reader to understand some of the emphasis that the writer(s) of the narratives developed for their stories.
The thesis begins with some brief sections that introduce the reader to biblical ideas of family, adoption, inheritance, role of women and pregnancy. Also included in the introductory material is a brief comment on intertextuality. These sections help introduce the thesis reader to possible background material the original readers of these narratives may have had prior to reading them.
A large part of the population is affected by issues of mental illness. Yet, there has been a corresponding lack of spiritual content in how we have been defining mental health. In an attempt to respond to this lack, the World Health Organization acknowledged that, “An expansion of the WHO definition may be necessary to include a spiritual dimension of health if social scientists can agree that spirituality is part of health and not merely an influence” (Larson (1996, Abstract).
More recently the definition of mental health changed,
Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community. (W.H.O., 2009, Mental health: As state of well-being, para. 1)
This study is an attempt to contribute to this growing awareness and need. In particular, and based on the belief that integrating the Spiritual is a relational work that involves deepening counsellor understanding of that work, the chosen focus is one of self-study. The question posed is “What is my experience of learning to integrate a spiritual component into counselling psychotherapy?” This thesis developed from the lack of spiritual content in the definition of mental health.
From the lived experience of the author, there is a large part missing from psychotherapy. The interest in the question of integrating a spiritual component into mental health therapy was first ignited by my changing role from mental health worker to counsellor. The heuristic research was collected over a period of one year using journal writing and art journals.
The thesis begins with the theological metaphor of a weaver weaving the thread of spirituality into counselling psychotherapy.
What is necessary, though not enough, is a capacity to know how the patient is experiencing himself and the world, including oneself. If one cannot understand him, one is hardly in a position to begin to ‘love’ him in any effective way. We are commanded to love our neighbor. One cannot, however, love this particular neighbor for himself without knowing who he [sic] is. (Laing, 1969, p.34)
Effects of Therapists Worldviews on Theoretical Orientations and Practice: A Post-Modern Exploration
“Effects of Therapists’ Worldviews on Theoretical Orientations and Practice: A Post – Modern Exploration” is about the exploration of how therapists choose a theoretical orientation, and how their values, beliefs, and worldviews affect these choices. For the purpose of this research project I interviewed six people on a one-to-one basis. Each of those people professed to be orientated from different theoretical orientations. Within these orientations there is a Jungian Analyst, an Art Therapist, a Body Therapist, a Behaviourist, a Family and Marriage Counselor who focuses on Bowen, and a Therapist who comes from an Integrative Orientation. As this is a heuristic research, I have also discussed my own theoretical orientation, which I would also consider to be eclectic. Part of the study also focuses on the worldview of the participants, which also vary. There are aspects of Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Athiesm, Shamanism, and Agnostic that emerge through these interviews, as well as the unique perspectives of the individuals themselves. Finally, my conclusion is that the most obvious theme is that of connection: connection to each other, to society, to the earth, and to spirit. It is connection to another that drives therapists from all theories, and how they draw from these theories is their unique way to facilitate connection.
Early Numinous Experience: a Serious Look at Childhood Wonder is a qualitative research study of retrospective accounts of childhood experiences. The study explores early numinous experience and the significant impacts these experiences have on an individual’s life. For the purpose of this work spirituality is defined in terms of relationality. This study addresses the questions: how does an early numinous experience impact an individual’s relationship with themselves, the world and the divine, and how might this knowledge pertain to pastoral counselling? This qualitative study’s theoretical approach is based on hermeneutic and heuristic phenomenological approaches. Semi-structured in-depth interviews with four adults are the basis of the textual exploration. The researcher’s own story of early numinous experience also informs the research effort. Seven themes are discussed: childhood wonder, the child suffering and alone, the child in relationship, untold stories of soul, an enduring enchantment, knowing and not knowing, and the numinous seed of becoming. A number of observations are made. One key perspective developed is that the early numinous experience is a relational encounter with mystery; it is an important spiritual learning, an important psychological learning, and an important learning about how to be in relationship with the world as it is. As such, it is possible that early numinous experience is an expression of a profound human capacity for connectedness and intuitive knowing that exceeds our current understanding as it is today. Finally, implications for pastoral counselling practice and suggestions for further research are discussed.
This research is about opening to the possibilities of the creative process. Experiencing the healing and revealing powers of artmaking as a student of art therapy, I wondered if I could find the same kind of solace in the art if I brought my struggles concerning faith. After losing faith in Evangelical Fundamentalism I experienced an ever present spiritual vacuum. I asked the question; “Can I recover a sense of spirituality by intuitively following a numinous image through artmaking, with the intention to tell the story of my journey with Fundamentalism?” I turned to the open studio process which consists of setting an intention, making art and engaging with the images through witness writing. The findings show that artmaking and the creative process are effective methods for tending to our deepest soul questions and needs. They also demonstrate the importance of integrating various art modalities for transformation.
Facilitating Dynamic Worship has been written to provide for adults, Christian educators, ministers and parents, a guide to programming that will invite young people to encounter the Living God. I work through topics such as: Why children matter, Who they are, What is their faith and Spirituality, and what type of programming might fit for them. Along the way I provide practical insights and helpful advice from my experience and from the people that I have read and the research I have done. I have gathered information and programming that I have used with success. At the end, I introduce my example of how this thesis could be used, by talking about Peace Seekers, which was run as a Vacation Bible School in August of 2006.
We live in turbulent times. As we move from the modern to post-modern era there is a call for leadership in all institutions. The Church is no exception. Leaders with vision and compassion are needed to help move the church forward with direction and purpose to meet the evident needs. This project/dissertation looks at many of the changes taking place, the type of clergy leadership being called for, and the Church structures which help or hinder the raising up and supporting of such leadership.
This research project uses a descriptive, qualitative methodology. To begin, six clergy were interviewed within the Anglican Diocese of Calgary. Each priest was asked their views of the factors in the Church that enhanced or detracted from the exercise of their leadership. The findings from the Calgary Diocese were presented to five other clergy for their response. These clergy were from three separate Anglican dioceses within Canada.
The findings from the research showed that there were many areas of agreement between the eleven clergy as to the Church factors which helped or hindered their leadership. The most important finding was that there seemed to be little within the Church organization which specifically promoted or encouraged clergy leadership. Various suggestions were made which could help to enrich the institution in this vital area of leadership. The few areas of divergent thought are also examined.
The experiences of clergy exercising their leadership in parishes were quite similar in this study. Given that there seemed to be little to develop and support clergy leadership, the Church, at present, is better structured to maintain itself within the modern era rather than move into the post-modern era with vision and purpose. It was strongly emphasized that changes were needed in our Church structures. Primarily, there was a call to implement an overall plan to raise up, train, support and encourage leadership at all levels of the Church. Such changes would help to create effective leaders to meet the changing and challenging issues facing us all.
Clergy Couples and the Double Relationship Issues at the Heart of Clergy Couple Ministry
This project/dissertation focuses on the following research question: “How does the intensity of the professional relationship impact upon the personal relationship of the clergy couple in team ministry?” Six couples were interviewed by a clergy couple using an interview guide. Themes were addressed that the interviewing couple experienced in their five year team ministry together. The researcher claims that his bracketed experience opened up insights that an interview team without such experience may miss.
The researcher highlights the observation that clergy couples in team ministry together live a “double relationship.” They attempt to work together as team ministers and to live a personal private family life as husband and wife. The couple participants offered evidence that it is nearly impossible to separate these two modes of being. This factor is shown to have tremendous impact because it is a major source of stress for clergy couple teams.
Other themes that are addressed include issues of power and control, competition, conflict, issues of gender and the necessity of clear boundaries. The author focuses on the shadow side of clergy couple ministry accepting as a given that there is adequate research to show the benefits of such teams.
Because of the tensions inherent to the double relationship, clergy couples participants demonstrated the need for a plan to deal with the inevitable stress. Couples who failed to take this need seriously saw their team relationship threatened and their marriage put at risk.
The final chapter is written in the genre of “towards a theology” that is “credible enough” for clergy couples in the team setting. As they face personal challenges and professional demands, couples seek a theology that permits compromise with integrity.
This thesis is a personal explorations propelled by a yearning for an understanding of God. It reflects upon the thoughts of the world’s great thinkers-secular, religious and Christian in science, philosophy, theology, hymns and from ecumenical events to arrive at how the writer has come to understand God in her own context.
The purpose of this qualitative study was to meet both a personal and scholarly need. When I began this study I was searching for a better understanding of God and God’s relationship with me and this world. From introductory courses I suspected that I could find that in the literature concerning Celtic Christianity. As a woman concerned about the stories of women, I hoped also to discover the faith stories of women who practised in the Celtic Christian tradition at its beginning. Once on this journey of discovery I felt it was necessary to talk with others who knew about Celtic Christianity to see if it had enriched their faith, to see if they had concerns about Celtic Christianity as it is known today, and finally to find if they saw this form of Christianity as a way to revitalise our Christian church today.
The literature was reviewed to find if themes or concepts existed that together made up what we now call Celtic Christianity. Women’s stories were researched to obtain a female perspective. Thirteen post modern men and women who had a knowledge about Celtic Christianity were interviewed. Their responses were analysed looking for themes. These responses were then analysed to see if there was a difference between genders.
Most of the participants who had studied Celtic Christianity found that it had enriched their spiritual lives. Themes that did so were similar to those found in the literature and lived out by women in the earlier centuries of Celtic Christianity. Although there were some differences between men and women in their responses, their similarities were more striking than their differences. Neither gender was particularly responsive as to whether Celtic Christianity might revitalise our Christian church today.
Through workshops, discussion groups, and personal study, individuals might enrich their Christian faith but Celtic Christianity is unlikely to draw large numbers of new people to the Christian faith or post Christians back to the church. Knowledge of Celtic Christianity
is not likely to lead to the practice of New Age Wicca, as was an expressed concern of some of those in the research.
Further studies might look at what personality types are drawn to Celtic Christianity, and other faith practices within Christianity. Studies might also be done to look behind the myths of Celtic Christianity to understand them better and to explore the metaphorical meanings pertinent to post modern men and women.
This thesis entitled “Dealing With Adult Sibling Grief” looks at the stories told by eight persons who have lost siblings. The Interview Schedule was conducted to discover how each person dealt with his/her grief and how each finally reached the point of acceptance. The Researcher was one of the eight persons, and this gave the Study a very personal if not subjective journey into the whole subject of grief and possibilities for recovery. The interviews brought out some ways of handling grief and suggested ways of recovery. The major findings were that people who have never lost a sibling tend to treat this phenomenon lightly, and do not really think that the death of a sibling is as traumatic an experience as the death of a parent or a child. In the concluding chapter the Researcher has suggested some ways whereby grieving siblings can make their return to normal existence in an easier manner. Some of the suggestions tried were Bibliotherapy, Journaling and Story Sharing. Others have also been listed for persons who may seek direction in their search for closure or acceptance.
ANDREW JACKSON MOONEY
Facilitating Access and Insight to Worldview through Jones’ Theological Worlds and Story
Paul Jones believes that Christians tend to hold a worldview primarily within one of five Theological Worlds. Within these Worlds we live between the poles of obsessio (our dilemma) and epiphania (the resolution of those dilemmas). The Theological Worlds Inventory, a methodology developed by Jones, determines the World in which a person resides. The theory behind Theological Worlds and the Theological Worlds Inventory is a valuable tool to effectively and appropriately engage with clients around the construction of meaning, value, and belief in their lives. In my research I worked with four Christian participants; two residents of World One and two residents of World Five. Each participant was met on two occasions; firstly for an interview and a second time to describe an early story of the emergence of their Theological World. Participants were able to access early memories of emergence of their worldview through story and did so with relative ease. Their stories contained valuable information regarding obsessio and epiphania, as well as conveyed movement toward a greater level of independence from the mother. Results would indicate that use of the Theological Worlds Inventory facilitates access to participants’ childhood memories and stories around early emergence of their worldviews allowing the therapist to access a meaningful place to work with clients.
Art Therapy for Relief of Physical and Existential Pain in Women Diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease with debilitating symptoms often including stiffness, joint inflammation, fatigue, and mood changes. It affects more than 20 million people worldwide. The purpose of this study was to examine whether group art therapy could help decrease existential and physical pain in women diagnosed with RA. Five women with daily RA pain were recruited to participate in a four-hour workshop, during which they created two intuitive mandalas bridged by a short journalling session. For their initial mandala, the participants were invited to represent their experience of pain. Following this, they journalled about resources they used to cope with their illness. In their second mandala, the participants imaginally represented about what they had journalled. Data collection included photographs of the women’s artwork and journal entries completed during the workshop, along with transcribed audio-recordings of the women’s discussions, and post-workshop interviews. Pain rating scales were utilized to record pain levels. In addition, I created two mandalas post workshop to gain a deeper understanding of the participants’ experience. Analysis of the data yielded four major themes, along with a number of related sub-themes, including: (a) experiencing physical and existential pain, (b) holding pain in, (c) tapping into resources, and (d) how art therapy helped. The women’s mandalas, workshop, and interview conversations indicated that pain was significantly reduced at the end of the workshop. Thus, the study demonstrated the potential benefit of group art therapy with a meaning- making focus to help relieve physical and existential pain for women diagnosed with RA.
The purpose of this study was to reflect on betrayal as experienced by clergy, to discover how they deal with the stress in an effort to find something to help clergy through this kind of crisis in their ministry. As much as 25 % of ministers are forced out of, or fired from, a ministry position during their career. This suggests that betrayal is common. For this study, ten co-researchers were interviewed. Their answers were summarized and common themes were discovered. A literature review also uncovered some themes common for stress in the workplace. The main factors causing stress in ministry can be divided into two categories: work factors and personal factors. Betrayal is a special case of work factors which affect different people according to their personalities or personal factors. Burnout which comes from this stress is a wearing down of values, dignity, spirit and will. Among the factors which seem to be significant to the incidence of betrayal for clergy are: high or conflicting expectations, high idealism among clergy, idolization and simultaneous criticism of clergy by members of the congregations, lack of support for clergy, and personality types vulnerable to betrayal. The impact of betrayal for the co-researchers was found primarily in anger and doubts. Coping with, and healing from, betrayal came for the co-researchers through a combination of practices and philosophies.
Women of the Roman Catholic faith are directed by the Catholic hierarchy to accept Church doctrine and tradition without question. Frequently they have not been involved in discussion about issues of direct relevance to them. Over the centuries women have lost a sense of who they are. They are, for the most part, unaware of the valuable contributions they have made – herstory contributions which are not generally recorded as part of the Church history. Women’s place in the Roman Catholic Church is reviewed in three parts: pre-history to the 1960s, Vatican II and the first forty years of Church response, and women’s role in the Church at the dawn of the twenty-first century. A series of eight workshops introduces or reintroduces women to their common heritage and to the grace, particularity and insights that women have devoted to the Catholic Church over the centuries. Workshop titles are: The Role and Status of Women in Jesus’ time; The Goddess Remembered; In the Shadow of Eve; Mary, Mother of God; The Cloister Years; The Witch Hunts; Women in a New World and The Post-Vatican Years.
Pastoral Supervision and Contextualisation: A Programme for Seminarians in South Africa is a project designed, implemented and evaluated as an educational experience and a research project in a South African milieu.
The programme originated as a response to a perceived need in theological education. The need was identified as a quest to integrate theory and practice in pastoral care and counselling and in the whole theological enterprise in South Africa. The objective of the project was to put to test the pastoral supervision model, to find out whether it can cross cultural barriers while still retaining its potential to be a facilitator of personal and professional growth. According to this project/dissertation the major thrust in growth for the African theological student is contextualisation and integration.
This project/dissertation discusses what is identified as the foundation of pastoral supervision. This foundation is based on the accepted theories of pastoral supervision. These theories are presented. Further, a theological foundation is presented. The writer had to identify this theological foundation himself in the light of the South African context. This supervision programme was designed and implemented in the light of unique South African problems and potentials which characterize this country. Christology was perceived as the central theological theme for this project.
The pastoral supervision programme which is reported in this project/dissertation was designed to fit within the seminary curriculum. The faculty was invited to participate in the group discussions. It was in the group discussions that pastoral care reports and verbatims were discussed. The faculty involvement was one of the strategies to achieve the objective of integration. For the purpose of contextualisation specific instruments were designed. These were the pastoral care report form and the self-diagnosis instrument.
Twelve senior students (completers) were supervised in their ministry to people with various needs. The students had to report on these visits. They were helped to reflect on their work in individual and group conferences. In the group students were learning to supervise others. Through the aid of the self-diagnosis instrument each student was being introduced to the habit of becoming his/her own supervisor. A considerable amount of discussion is devoted to the measurable data, which was obtained through the aid of the self-diagnosis instrument.
A major objective of this project was to systematically observe whether pastoral supervision retains its effectiveness when it crosses to other cultural contexts. Supervision has its origin in a Western milieu. The specific context of this programme was the South African context.
Pastoral supervision as an educational model is presented in this project/dissertation as a facilitator of personal and professional growth for future pastors. It is important, as this project/dissertation found, that theological students should grow in their ability to relate to people with various needs. The objective of this project was to help the student to learn relating to people instead of ending with book theories. A considerable portion of the project/dissertation reports on the outcome of this objective. The supervision programme brought out clearly and powerfully for me that seminary education must be rescued from being an ivory tower exercise. It must take seriously the concrete questions which people are asking. If it avoids this challenge, theological and pastoral irrelevancy will be the outcome.
This project/dissertation does not report of polished theological statements which the students produced during supervision. This was not its mandate. However, it does report students’ own observations on the importance of integration and contextualisation. These were their own genuine observations.
Through the pre-test and post-test questionnaire an observable change in attitudes was noted.
Specific issues emanating from the African context surfaced during the programme. These issues were not anticipated. They included the following: supervision and healing, language and pastoral care, confrontation and supervision, supervision and diversity in cultures, relationship of Christianity to other religions, authority and culture and community and ministry in Africa. Supervision does raise contextual questions. The issues which surfaced raise many questions which were discussed in individual and group conferences.
The project/dissertation presents arguments to the effect that pastoral supervision on its way to maturity will have to cross cultural barriers. In this process there should be a systematic observation of its effectiveness or lack of it. It was further found that it is possible to design a programme to address specific needs of the students. This is possible, as this project/dissertation demonstrates, if specific strategies are designed.
Pastoral Supervision and Contextualisation: A Programme for Seminarians in South Africa was designed, implemented and evaluated from an African perspective. It is an attempt to contribute constructively to the current debate on contextualisation in pastoral work and in theologising. Through this project it was found that Anton Boisen’s educational philosophy is applicable to Africa. He spoke of learning from “the living human documents”. The African students themselves spoke highly of this educational model. They witnessed for themselves the importance of relating theory to practice.
The following is an Arts Based and Collaborative Inquiry research thesis, in which four female adolescent co-researchers engaged in group sessions to make altered books. The objective of this thesis is to explore the experience of empowerment of young women through creating altered books. The research question is, what happens when young women are given an opportunity to express themselves through the art practice of altered bookmaking? Four sessions of artmaking were held with the co-researchers as a group; subsequently, individuals met privately with the researcher to develop their chapters. The researcher used witnessed-art making to further investigate the empowerment of female adolescent voice. The findings included several themes: trusting the Spirit and therapeutic relationship, claiming authentic voice and wit(h)nessing spiritual connection revelation.
Seventeen respondents, primarily non-believers, and from scientific backgrounds, were interviewed using qualitative phenomenological methods to identify their experience of issues of human origin and meaning.
The respondents believe that consciousness arises entirely from natural causes, from matter and its interactions. On this basis they reject the idea of God as an existent being. Yet they retain hope and meaning and find their world view consistent and satisfying.
The theological proposal suggests that the emergence of secularism is consistent with religious experience, and the concept of God can consistently be interpreted as a symbol of humanity’s relation with the cosmos.
In this thesis, I claim that the public generally and mistakenly, supports twelve-stepism in the face of its failures. Insurers, lacking supporting evidence of efficacy, imprudently pay over and over again for treatment in professional institutions such as jails, hospitals and medical offices.
Thousands initially join Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), but most stop attending within three months, feeling like failures. Unfortunately, until recently, there is no alternative group to which they can turn. As long as our culture accepts the AA traditions as sacrosanct, there will be understandable resistance to any thought of an alternative. It is commonly believed that if one fails to achieve abstinence using twelve-steps, it is the individual who has the problem not the philosophy of the group. Based on that denial of the value of individual experience by AA, there will be little support for new thinking about abstinence.
The good news is declared in Romans 12:2, where we are told that lives can be renewed and filled with meaning simply by the renewing of our minds. People will alter behaviour by first changing belief systems, because our world-views from the matrix through which we view the world. In appropriate behaviour such as addictions begin with thoughts, and will change by renewed thinking. Addictions are but attachments which addicts have chosen in their search for the good life, revealing that they can opt for new thoughts should they so desire.
The primary problem is the understanding of the nature of God as taught by AA. They speak of a Higher Power (HP) in terms of impossible attributes, such as God’s ability to magically change events in an addict’s life, to know our every need, to love us and yet arbitrarily to hold back His hand. AA followers worship a literal God (HP) of absolutes, who will remove one’s drinking habit when humbly requested. Many people who, when they become better educated, reject literal understandings of God as inadequate for helping us live meaningfully in today’s world.
There are several alternative (to AA) routes to abstinence such as Rational Recovery (RR) and Self Management And Recovery Training (SMART). Those who represent these groups teach the cognitive skills necessary for quitting the habit. They use scientifically sound practices based on the elegant philosophy of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) of Albert Ellis, Ph.D. None of these recovery modes include the need for a HP, powerlessness, or the theory of addictions as disease. They believe one’s choice of a HP is too important to be coerced by treatment groups.
My theory is that in order to stop an addiction the habituated should weaken attachments to cheap grace, while simultaneously coveting the quiet spaces within, where they encounter the Holy.
Weakening attachments can be achieved by following SMART techniques. If the addiction is to the effect that “I need a drink,” or “I need a fix” in order to avoid the pain of the give and take of living, addicts condition themselves to use this attachment each time they experience or anticipate psychic pain. Drinkers learn that by moderation their demand that they need a drink to a more moderate belief such as a preference, the level of anxiety experience is lowered. With lowered anxiety there is a concomitant reduction in the pressure to use.
We renew our desire to love the Holy by holding it intentionally within our consciousness. That which we think about the most becomes the center of our being. Tillich observes “that to which we think ultimately is our God, and we can ultimately attend only to our God.”
The Influence of the Family of Origin on Marital Quality is an exploratory research describing the participants’ experiences, perspectives and recommendations. Driven by personal interest and insights from existing literature, in-depth interviews and focus group discussions were used to collect data from a purposively selected sample. The participants were married persons and marriage counsellors based in St. Elizabeth and Manchester, Jamaica. The data was collected and analyzed according to guidelines for qualitative research. Analysis was ongoing, inductive and recursive. This report identifies and describes variables related to the phenomenon of family of origin and its influence on marital quality. The study sought to determine the family-of-origin issues that have the greatest influence on marital quality. Two prominent themes that emerged were relationships in the family of origin and the experience of family togetherness. The research findings were discussed in terms of their implications for preparation for marriage, premarital counselling and marital therapy. The recommendations are intended to address psychoeducational activities designed to provide guidance and promote the development and maintenance of marital harmony.
KATHLEEN REMPEL NEUFELD
Project Dissertation: Caught By the Fence: Challenges Facing Women in Ministry Leadership in the Mennonite Brethren Church
The purpose of this project was to examine the challenges women face in ministry leadership in the Mennonite Brethren Church in Canada. A historical study of the role of women in the church was conducted. The Mennonite Brethren Church attempted to attract women into leadership positions by examining the biblical texts used to restrict women, by holding study conferences, and by passing resolutions. In the larger context of society leadership models moved from a patriarchal to a visionary approach that included women. In addition, the concept of the leader as servant was developed and third wave feminism drew attention to an inclusive approach without hierarchal structures based on inherited privilege. A study of Jesus’ instructions to his disciples confirmed a servant leadership model for his followers. The servant leadership model created a dilemma for women who historically were asked to serve while men provided official leadership. This narrative inquiry explored the lived experiences of three women in ministry leadership.
They told stories of attitudes, language, and structures that did not recognize their leadership in equal partnership with men. The voices of the women in this study are a crucial piece in understanding the shifts that must occur in the church debate if women are to be attracted to ministry leadership.
This D.Min. project/dissertation outlines the development of a story told to children, about a boy taken from his mother and brought to a Mission Orphanage. This ‘oral tradition’ is developed into a novel attempting to describe the conditions under which the boy lived, prior to being taken. The novel is intended to describe the missionaries, their work and their struggles, in early Labrador. This project/dissertation attempts to trace the search for data about the characters in order to build the tale and raise questions of God and authority as the story unfolds. The author has met but one of the characters in the story. Prior to the development of this project none of the information was known to exist and has never been assembled. What follows is an attempt to describe in part, how the story has come together.
This research, through a theology of appreciative voice, Presence and Service, used an Indigenous expressive arts-based approach in partnership with the Canadian Opera Company, to explore how a group of 15 vulnerable, immigrant and/or first generation immigrant youth live with their struggles while finding compassion and imagination. My goal was to engage the youth aged 18-29 years, labeled “at risk”, in writing, designing, staging and performing an opera. Through this experience they found their individual and collective voices and were able to realize their leadership and emotional intelligence capabilities.
This study seeks to understand the perceptions of those involved in the current practices of collective bargaining within Holy Spirit Catholic Schools, namely the Board of Trustees and Holy Spirit Catholic ATA Local #5. The study also offers a new paradigm for collective bargaining that is rooted in the Catholic tradition and reflects the mission statements of the negotiating parties. Preliminary research demonstrated the need for a new paradigm. This research is supported by an in-depth look at the two parties at the bargaining table and an overview of all the organizations involved in this complex process. To bridge the apparent gap between a process of collective bargaining driven by economics and one driven by the parties’ mission statements, Lonergan’s Transcendental Precepts and Functional Specialties were employed throughout the entire dissertation, from the research stage to the creation of a new paradigm. Every bridge requires a sound foundation, thus it was deemed necessary, in the construction of this new paradigm, to envision “a community of truth” (Parker Palmer) before reflecting on collective bargaining within the framework of a mission statement. Since this reflection requires fleshing out a mission statement throughout the collective bargaining process of a Catholic school division, it seemed fundamental to view collective bargaining in the light of a theology of Incarnation which provided a way of coming to the table of Mission Statement Based Collective Bargaining. Six volunteers from the Holy Spirit Catholic School Board who had collective bargaining experience were interviewed, and they responded to nine questions regarding current bargaining practices. Also used was information gathered from a previous study where five volunteers from Holy Spirit Catholic ATA Local #5’s Negotiating Subcommittee were interviewed.
This paper was written to celebrate the human propensity for creating art in its broadest sense, of living life in artistic ways. The definition of ‘art’ for this paper did not refer to that which is produced on a full-time basis or to provide a living. Instead it meant that everyday people approach daily life with creative ideas for enriching their physical surroundings, and the people around them. Since prehistoric times it is evident that humans have felt moved to represent daily life in two- and three-dimensional forms. The artistic inclination appears early in a child’s development and deserves recognition and encouragement. Becoming alert and sensitive to the people in one’s surroundings yielded overwhelming evidence of creativity and artistic endeavour. Living ‘artfully’ is not limited by age, gender, or circumstances. A large portion of the paper specifically highlighted the innate musical sense people have. Many examples are cited which indicate that most people possess musicality, whether tonal, rhythmic or harmonic. Several original compositions formed the last section of the paper. It was fascinating that simply becoming more aware unlocked the writer’s appreciation of the rich abundance of creativity in everyday life.
An Exploration of the Lived Experience of Marital Separation was a phenomenological study that examined the experiences of individuals recovering from marital separation. This inquiry was guided by a singular research question: What is the lived experience of marital separation? The illumination of the lived experience of marital separation was conducted from an affirmative postmodern, human potentializing perspective. Marital separation was examined through a spiritual growth model of human transition. Semi-structured interviews were recorded with four persons, all of who had been legally separated (for more than six months and less than 36 months). The results were analyzed, revealing three major themes: a crash ending, wandering in the wilderness, and arriving at a new beginning. This study enlarged upon a phenomenological methodology by providing a comparative examination of the research participant’s lived experiences of marital separation through the use of psychosocial and psycho-spiritual lenses. A transition model of marital separation was then developed, reflecting the three major themes (ending, neutral zone, and new beginning), along with reflections upon three specific healing forces during this major life transition: resiliency, forgiveness, and hope. Recommendations for future applications by marital therapists and pastoral counsellors were made, with a cautionary note about the negative effect of premature introduction of hope during therapy for maritally separated persons.
The Awakening Heart: from eating disorder to recovery is a heuristic, art-based study of the author’s felt experience of recovery from an eating disorder. The study incorporates the use of various art modalities, specifically visual arts. Art images illustrate the author’s journey of recovery and her engagement with intimate relationships in her life. The study weaves together the researcher’s personal writing with third party observations to make visible the tone and quality of relationship between the author and significant others in her life. The study also includes reflections on personal imagery work and journal excerpts that detail the author’s recovery process over a six-year period. This data was examined in order to derive the meaning of her own felt experience of recovery. The study utilized the art-based research approach of aesthetic analysis and response as the primary means of working with the collected data. The primary purpose of this research was for the author to name and claim her own embodied understanding of the recovery process. A literature review uncovered a variety of, and sometimes-conflicting definitions of, eating disorders and the recovery process. The dissertation provides the unique perspective of a middle-aged woman with such a disorder and the impact on her marriage relationship. The research reinforces the importance of pastoral counsellors tending to their own wounds before engaging others in the healing process. It suggests the need for further research in order to create a broad framework of understanding of the general process of recovery from an eating disorder, particularly among individuals in their middle years.
LINDA JOAN ORMSON
Deepening a Sense of Spirit: A Study of Spiritual Care Volunteers in the Rural Clinical Setting
This study has explored the concept of how one’s sense of spirit has deepened by providing spiritual care to patients and residents in a rural hospital, hospice and long term care facilities. Using an organic inquiry method of research, the researcher’s story begins this study from her passion of wanting to explore “how by helping others,” one’s spiritual life can be transformed. The researcher is a Chaplain for a 100 bed hospital in rural southern Alberta. Eight spiritual care volunteers took a spiritual care training program and then worked in spiritual care for a minimum of 12 weeks visiting patients and residents. These spiritual care providers volunteered to be interviewed for this study. From the interviews five themes emerged from the data to reveal how these participants of the study have had their sense of spirit deepen. These themes are: increased prayer life, closer connection to God, increased self-confidence, improved relationships with others, more gratitude and less-judging behaviours. The sub-theme of time was also a pattern which emerged from the data. Direct quotes from the participants are used throughout the interviews to substantiate the claim of transformation by the research participants. This study will add to the body of knowledge on spiritual formation and help fill the gap in understanding how people of faith can deepen their sense of spirit by caring for other people in need.
This phenomenological investigation asked “What are teachers’ lived experiences of congruence and aliveness in the workplace?” Congruence is about living in a way that is respectful and open to self and to others while acknowledging the current context and one’s own history. This study sought to understand four teachers’ experience of feeling alive in their jobs and what impeded or facilitated this experience. In-depth interviews were analysed using Manen (2006) and Langdridge’s (2007) method of discovering the thematic aspects of a phenomenon. Four themes were identified to contribute to teachers’ positive experience of congruence and aliveness: struggling and striving, acknowledgment, engagement and viewing teaching as a calling. The study revealed that congruence is not a state one achieves but rather a dynamic process of constant striving toward alignment. When teachers find their own congruence, they actually feel more enlivened and stay in the profession. Implications for the teaching profession, administrators and the educational settings are discussed.
Over a three-year period, September 1989 through October 1992, the United Church in Edmonton hosted a multicultural project funded by Ventures in Mission, with substantial contributions from Edmonton Presbytery. I acted as the coordinator of this project. The final report of the project, as submitted to Edmonton Presbytery in November of 1993, forms the main body of this thesis project. Added to this are appendices, a bibliography, and an introductory chapter which walks the reader through the report and offers a theological commentary to it.
Central among the issues dealt with in this thesis project is the significance of the presence in our society of people from other faiths–“theological strangers” so to speak–for the life of the United Church and its understanding of itself. And following this is the question of how the United Church connects with, and remains connected with, these “theological strangers” who are our neighbours.
This thesis project is a contribution to the discussion of the life and work of the United Church in a multicultural, multifaith world. It offers the learnings of the Multicultural Project for action and reflection by the United Church and hopefully also by other
communities of faith.
I have conducted a single-case heuristic study of my engagement with breast cancer and how the collective pressure to think positively affected me. I explore the shadow, or the unrecognized significance, that positive thinking placed upon my healing process. I argue that the tacit implication behind the belief in positive thinking can become a form of scapegoating. I have included my artwork, photographs, poetry, and my personal dreams to convey what my psyche has shown and communicated to me throughout the process of my research journey. My goal is to illustrate that “anything derived merely from rationality risks being profoundly inauthentic unless it also bears witness to the destabilizing presence of the unconscious” (Rowland, 2005, p. 23).
Learning from a loving community; the spiritual in resiliency is a bridging of the psychological and spiritual paradigms. The research explored the life and culture of a spiritual community to identify themes of resiliency. The findings are based on the premise that healing has its own conditions apart from cause and that this is available through the exploration of the spiritual phenomena in a liberal Christian community. This qualitative research approach utilized both phenomenological and hermeneutic methods given the nature of the questions to be explored. The research identified five general and two narrative themes as well as several factors that are part of this particular community’s and its member’s resiliency. These are discussed in terms of their implications for the Southminster-Steinhauer congregation and for counselling practice. In brief, the research noted general and narrative resiliency themes that emerge from this particular liberal Christian congregation as part of a broader fulfillment theme of being and becoming. The general themes are: altruistic vision, family like relationship, disposition of thanksgiving and joy, equitable power sharing and a dynamic learning process that balances idealism with realism. The narrative themes are from the Christian naming and are separation and reunion as well as emptiness and fulfillment motifs. Story narrative itself is considered key to the community and its growing and maturing narrative. Three healing categories or themes that contribute directly to the community’s resiliency and encompass the general and narrative themes are noted. They are expansive, restorative and generative. Spiritual factors or ideals also identified are a more precise part of the dynamic learning and growing theme that contributes to resiliency. These are wonder, gratitude, respect, hospitality, integrity and empathy. These values and the narrative that nurture them are an explicit part of the liberal Christian spiritual dimension. Wisdom the final result of spiritual development is linked as an essential aspect of resiliency process.
This thesis is an exploration of how the music and stories of our time (ie. Folk/rock music and file) could be named as our Bible. For many, popular culture is a source of inspiration and can even speak authoritatively about life and meaning. This is a role the Bible has played for the millennia. How is it possible that popular culture can do the same thing?
Using a largely literary approach, this thesis zeroes in on what makes Scripture unique amongst the world’s literature. A theory is explored that Scripture contains four major core elements or components. These elements, in tandem, are unique to Scripture; their presence makes a text to be Scripture. Then a search is undergone for those Scriptural elements with some representative samples of popular culture.
The result confirms the experiences many have of the transcendent within popular culture: elements unique to Scripture appear to be present in the popular music and stories of our time. This may explain why and how popular culture can speak in meaningful and inspiring ways, in ways which imitate the way the Bible has spoken.
What we have here is an attempt to develop a theological approach to culture. It is an exploration of an idea: what is it about the nature of Scripture and popular culture that allows them to be carriers of the scared?
In this paper I examine personality growth in art-based therapy through the lens of Kazimierz Dabrowski’s theory of positive disintegration. I argue that the theory of positive disintegration is basically compatible with the implicit values embedded in art-based principles of practice. An art-based conceptualization of mental health can be formulated from these principles as prefatory to an art-based theory of personality growth. I introduce the theory of positive disintegration through an art-based exploration using poetry and images generated from a personal experience of “positive disintegration” followed by an explication of the theory’s key concepts. The theory of positive disintegration challenges art-based therapists to clarify their implicit assumptions about healing, the process of therapeutic change, and creativity; most particularly, in regards to Dabrowski’s notion of “multilevelness”. I suggest that through the lens of the theory of positive disintegration, art-based therapy can be understood as a two-part process of “loosening” and “rebuilding” psychic structures; as a therapy that activates developmental potential through a cultivation of “overexcitabilities” and “dynamisms”; and as a process that facilitates the “crystallization” of the personality ideal through expressive arts media.
The Evaluation of the Views of Respondents Relative to the Impact of Early Childhood Intervention Programs (ECIP) in Two Selected Communities of the Cayman Islands
The principal objective and scope of this research sought to evaluate the views of respondents on the impact of Early Childhood Intervention Programs (ECIP) in two selected communities of the Cayman Islands. The researcher used a survey design methodology, with a descriptive and exploratory purpose, to conduct the administration of a structured questionnaire. The sampling method was conducted through a non-probability sampling exercise, which targeted 16 respondents in the district of George Town and 19 in the district of West Bay, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. The researcher used several procedures to summarize and complete the analysis of raw data, including the editing, collation and coding/classification of the results of the questionnaires. The results were further summarized by using a computer program – Statistical Package for the Social Services (SPSS). The results found that ECIP are not reaching and thus not benefiting the majority of the disadvantaged families in the Cayman Islands. The researcher strongly recommends, inter-alia, that an evaluation program be put in place by Government, as a matter of priority, to determine the current status of ECIP, and to expand ECIP in order to benefit the disadvantaged children in the Cayman Islands. The principal conclusion of this research, stated that the Government of the Cayman Islands should view the funding of ECIP as an investment in the lives of the disadvantaged children in the Cayman Islands and not just a mere budgetary expenditure. The literature also supports the view that investing in disadvantaged young children has a high economic return.
This study illuminated the meaning of the lived experience of reconciliation in relationships for someone who has terminal cancer. Three women who had experienced a reconciliation in relationship after they received a terminal cancer diagnosis spoke with the author about the meaning the experience held for them. The method of inquiry used, was phenomenological hermeneutics as inspired by the philosophy of Paul Ricoeur. Themes were extrapolated from the data. Themes related to ‘living with terminal cancer’ included the deepening of current and reconciled relationships and the acknowledgement that time is short. Themes related to ‘reconciliation in relationship‘ included the process of reciprocated intentionality, the acknowledgment that barriers in self influence the experience of the relationship, the experience of gratitude, and the experience of a sense of calm. It also emerged that these women experienced reconciliation ‘with’ the terminal cancer, not ‘in spite of’ the terminal cancer, and without regret. They had the perspective that acknowledging depth and the connections reestablished in relationships was a priority. Integration of theology was provided through a discussion of Paul Jones’ Theological Worlds. The study results were also discussed in terms of the implications for Pastoral Counselling and further research.
May McLachlan (1895-1991), a missionary of the Woman’s Missionary Society (W.M.S.) of the United Church of Canada, served in Japan from 1924 to 1963. She was much loved and honoured in Japan and in Canada, where she received the Distinguished Service Award of the University of Brandon. She was posthumously awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasure of Japan, with Gold and Silver Rays, presented at a ceremony in Chilliwack, B.C. where she lived in retirement. A fund has been set up in her name at the Vancouver School of Theology.
This paper sets May’s work in the context of the history of Christianity in Japan, while seeing it as a special example of the work of women missionaries.
May taught in the Shizuoka Eiwa (Japanese English) school, and worked with churches. She had particular success with Bible classes for university students. She is noted for having spent ten years living at a village level, while establishing churches and institutions in Haibara for the mentally challenged are credited to her influence. The depth of her faith, her concern for each individual, and the extent of her caring for those in need impressed all who knew her, and led many to Christianity.
This dissertation is a heuristic self-search inquiry. It is a reflective look at my own inner healing journey. My research question is, “What is the experience of healing as revealed through Story?” Ultimately the goal of this dissertation is to find meaning through story in the experience of inner healing. The introduction highlights the unique feature of how this journey unfolded and became a personal quest for self-understanding and personal healing. Chapter two is the research process which combines the heuristic research methodology of Clark Moustakas, the self-search inquiry of Sandy Sela-Smith and a touch of my own design that adds my signature to the mix. Chapter three takes a look at the ethical questions that arose for me and came under scrutiny through the guidance and assistance of Dr. Rebecca Davis Mathias, professor and ethicist, throughout the entire process. Chapter four invites the reader into the life of the writer with the presentation of four very personal stories in which I revisit various segments of my life representing areas of pain, suffering, grief, and ultimately opportunities for healing. Chapter five is a heuristic reflection on what it was like to revisit the difficult times in my life. I explore what it was like to go back in time, to revisit the experience and then to write the experience. I do this story by story as I seek to discover what fosters the healing. Is it reliving the story? Is it telling the story, is it writing the story, or is it a combination of all of these things? Chapter six is the theological reflection of those theologies which are operational in my life and relate not only to the journey undertaken during this dissertation process but the expansion of that to how those lived theologies play out in my ministry as a chaplain. Chapter seven is the epilogue, a brief overview and look at the desires of the writer for personal future direction and growth and utilization of this particular research.
The Language of Grace as seen through the Kaleidoscope of My Personal Experience [Integrative Study]
This integrative paper looks to give credence to the idea that our soul and spirit are incredibly enmeshed in our being and are at the very core of our yearnings to understand and respond to moments of God’s grace in our lives. It is my belief that these precious moments of grace are gifts from our Creator that are given to us unconditionally to draw us into a sacred sense of divine communion. These distinctly transcendent grace experiences help us connect with a sovereign and sacred presence that is able to speak deeply into our innermost being and assure us that we do not walk alone during our earthly journey. This sacred “grace” language moves us to seek answers to questions about life that are outside the realm of the material and, if we allow it, will give us the strength and comfort to “face into” life’s emotional, cognitive, behavioral and spiritual tribulations and transitions.
This paper is a reflection on how this Language of Grace has helped me to find my sense of place, meaning and purpose, and vocation as a spiritual caregiver. It is my hope that as I share my beginnings, my journey, my character, and my nature that the reader will catch a glimpse of my life as I have tried to understand and integrate this mystical language into every aspect of my life. This personal narrative reflects my kaleidoscope of personal experience and my journey of learning to hear and respond to this language as I have matured in my faith.
RHEA THERESE PLOUFFE
Terminal Illness and the Experience of God: A Qualitative Study of the Transitional Space
This Project/Dissertation began with the question: How does the minister facilitate the experience of God in the transitional space of a terminally ill and dying person? The question evolved from wondering how the transitional space could be accessed to help the dying person experience growth and spiritual wholeness. It is a study of how the terminally ill journey to God and how the minister can share in this journey. Christian theology points to the person’s creation in the image of God and person’s call to journey toward Godlikeness.
The focus of the study was the minister’s role in the patient’ journey to God. The research took the form of a qualitative research project with eleven terminally ill persons, nine family members who commented on their experience of the interaction between the minister and their loved ones, and seven staff members who had observed the pastoral relationship at some time during the illness. The analysis revealed that the patient’s journey to God encompassed three phases and within these phases the following themes emerged: 1) the acute phase: the patient’s need for holding and mirroring; b) the living-dying phase: paradoxes and dialectics of the journey, the minister as a facilitator, power and authority of the minister; and 3) the dying phase: the encounter with Mystery. Recognition of these themes in a terminal person’s transition will impact on the way ministry is delivered in palliative care.
It is also a personal work, for the author’s question about the experience of God in terminal illness, had particular meaning in her own life. The journey involved coming to an understanding, not only of the terminal person’s journey, but of the author’s own journey with God and her own functioning in ministry to terminally ill and dying.
The purpose of this thesis is to clarify the role of the psyche’s spontaneous production of images in contributing to one’s identity and “experience of Self.” As such, these images are not merely representations but rather emanations that are sacred. Carl Jung saw “Self” as the archetype of wholeness and the regulating centre of the psyche that might equally be called the “God within us.” (CW 7, par. 399.) According to Jung, our internal images or symbols are spontaneous productions of the psyche as expressions of Self. Like any archetype, the essential nature of Self is unknowable but its manifestations can be viewed through our images as aspects of our self “selving” when we engage with them in a process Jung described as a natural urge toward individuation. This visual theological self-reflection will help address the question of how we can create a relationship with our images to consciously recognize our individual process of identity maturation or conscious individuation of Self. I explore the role that our natural images play asking, how do these internal images nourish our soul and inform our sense of identity? How can we heal the relationship we have between inner (intra-psychic) and outer (interpersonal) reality by exploring our inner images? And, how can they lead us in visual theological self-reflection as a reliable inner guide to our true identity of Self as Jung suggests? Employing Transcendental Phenomenology I explore the intra-psychic workings between image and Self-identity. I study how our beginning primal relationship between mother and child is the most influential template of all subsequent relationships throughout life and determines the images a person is reaching for forever. I weave the material being studied in a triangulated visual theological self-reflection using three sources: my personal experiences and imagery, relevant psychological literature, and images of identity and Self as they appear in the works of Georgia O’Keefe and writings of classic poets. Regular practice of image collection, expression and reflection demonstrated by the works of these interdisciplinary luminaries allow psychological and creative inquiry to inform and help us better to go with the convergence of the mystery at the start of life that brings us to the Eternal Self as a Natural Theology.
KATHERINE (KATE) PORTER
Conceptualizing the Process of Identity Development in People with Insecure Attachment
The purpose of this research was to generate a theory regarding the development of identity in people with insecure attachment. In semistructured interviews, the researcher asked five co-researchers, three women and two men, about areas of identity. The questions covered career development, emotional experience, grief and loss, religious or spiritual beliefs, and the co-researcher’s name. The methodological framework for this study was constructivist grounded theory. The process of data analysis involved coding, developing categories, and memo-writing. Theory emerged from the data by the constant comparative method. Awareness of researcher reflexivity was sustained during the design, interviewing, data analysis, and writing stages of the study. Fundamental to attachment theory was John Bowlby’s (as cited in Rothbard & Shaver, 1994) assertion that the child develops “internal working models” (p. 33) of the attachment figure and of the self in interaction with the attachment figure. These templates are based on the repeated interactions between infants and their primary caregivers during the first year of life and become the model for the child’s conceptions of self and self in relationships (West & Sheldon-Keller, 1994, p. 36). The present study proposes a Working Model of Self in People with Insecure Attachment. The co-researchers’, or participants’, working model was composed of mistrust, isolation, independent thought, and hiding self. As a consequence of failure in the attachment system, the Working Model of Self in People with Insecure Attachment, and the resulting emotional and social delays, the participants experienced a lost self. All of the participants experienced mental health crises in early to middle adulthood. The three female participants “found themselves” by a journey of reconnection with their emotional and spiritual self.
New Way of Seeing: Innovative Ministry through Friendship with Adults who have a Developmental Disability
This thesis is a vehicle for sharing the story of how we have come to see ourselves, each other, the church and the world differently.
By examining some of the issues that friendship with adults who have a developmental disability raised for us, we came to recognize that we had moved beyond the status quo that separates people of diverse abilities.
Our small group became a crucible for God’s transformative love through the regular practice of radical Christian friendship. A NEW WAY OF SEEING points to the potential for congregations to become agents of social transformation through direct contact, friendship and public solidarity with the disenfranchised people in our neighbourhoods.
Bridging Innocence and Experience with Soul (Based on William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience)
Since the time I was first introduced to William Blake, I have been impressed by the spiritual and mystic element in his works which probe into the depths of the human psyche. A crucial part of Blake’s works is his construction of a meaning system evolving from pain or what might be called “The Dark Night of the Soul.” Blake’s meaning system takes into account the optimism and hope which are reflected in his Songs of Innocence; as well, it takes into account pain and pessimism which are reflected in his Songs of Experience. Living in the Age of Reason, Blake was affected by rationalism, materialism and the beginnings of Industrialization. These he believed contributed to the pains of Experience.
As an artist, poet and visionary, Blake developed a new cosmology in which Innocence could be integrated with Experience to bring one into a mental state of Higher Innocence. To work out a new vision, Blake uses the child as a symbol of hope and death as a metaphor representing pain. The imagination is central in this process, as imagination does the work of the soul. It seems that Blake aims to restore a positive, dynamic relationship with the soul in an age where the soul was given little importance next to rational and scientific beliefs. An exploration of some of Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience reveals the human particulars of Innocence and Experience in their complexity, as well as their integration. At the heart of his works is an idealism proclaiming the dignity of humanity and the natural world.
As I have unfolded Blake’s meaning system into Innocence, Experience, and Higher Innocence throughout the writing of this thesis, I recognize how the journey through these mental states also parallels my own spiritual journey, having begun as the idealist of Innocence and consequently being thrust into the despair of Experience. In recent years, I also feel privileged to have experienced glimpses of what Blake scholars call Higher Innocence, as I continue to journey into an integration of Innocence and Experience. The ideology that is derived from Blake’s works is perhaps, only one way to derive meaning out of the difficult and complex experiences of life. I am continually impressed by how well Blake’s cosmology also fits or parallels different meaning systems, such as the body. soul, spirit model of mainstream Christianity. This is an analogue that I feel brings us into the modern world, into the perpetual search for a spirituality that the traditional church has not been able to provide.
This practical theology dissertation is grounded in palliative care practice, comprising an introduction, six articles, and implications. The main research question is: What is the spiritual experience of dying? Each article integrates the contemplative theology/spirituality of the Dark Night of the Soul with clinical palliative care questions: What is spiritual suffering? How does it differ from depression? How can it be assessed? How may it be best managed? “Nancy’s Story” researched the contemplative journey of dying using the hermeneutical phenomenological method of Max van Manen. Four themes emerged: Lamenting the Impassable Why? ; Faith, Hope and Love: Moving Toward Transcendence; Experiencing Transcendence: An Unexpected Presence; and Experiencing the Gift of Insight Given within Transcendence. A spirituality study group yielded a contemplative spirituality definition grounding translation of Dark Night theology into accessible clinical constructs for spiritual assessment; resulting in a palliative spiritual assessment model. The study engaged two formal evaluations within medical education: the experience of residents’ spiritual care education; and a focus group evaluation of palliative residents and fellows engagement with a palliative spiritual history. Article one commends the Dark Night as a single theoretical construct for suffering, identifying the signs of the Dark Night. Article two, examining differential diagnosis between the spiritual suffering of the Dark Night and depression, includes: a Dark Night Lexicon, a Clinician [Spiritual] Self-Assessment, similarities and differences between the Dark Night and primary depression, and a palliative patient narrative. Articles three, four, and five use a palliative case study to illustrate spiritual assessment. Products reflect Dark Night theology translated into clinical constructs: a language for spirituality and spiritual suffering, a palliative spiritual assessment model, and tool. Article six on managing spiritual suffering, builds upon the CanMEDS framework, contributes contemplative spiritual care competencies for the medical profession, and demonstrates their application in a case study. Spiritual suffering may be understood as the process of the Dark Night, differing from depression as a transformative form of suffering and non-pathological. This research introduced a language for spirituality at end of life, and can advance clinical practice – through tools that aid clinician’s understanding, assessment, and intervention.
This descriptive study explores the attitudes of Community Mental Health Nurses toward doing spiritual assessment with clients over 65 years of age. A broad spectrum of attitudes was revealed through the awareness of the impact on their own and their clients’ health and stage of life spirituality. The nurses were positive and comfortable about their perceived content of spiritual assessment as it was defined and practiced.
Findings were that the mental health assessment included most of the perceived content of spiritual assessment and closely paralleled a current holistic guideline model used in pastoral care. Such assessment was being done using non-religious language with spiritual issues arising in the conversational language of a life review process or in clients’ personal stories. The nurses were naming and integrating spiritual needs from the assessments and dealing with them with clients as a matter of daily practice.
Community Mental Health Nurses identified daily with theological areas such as journeying, relationship, connections, transcendence, alienation and hope, and were doing it integrally using non-theological language. They did this in the stance of therapeutic use of self which is akin to presence in the pastoral context. The nurses were not fully aware of how much their work included spiritual assessment.
This qualitative study uses empirical phenomenology as its methodology. The research question being explored is, “What is the therapist’s experience of intuition in a professional therapeutic setting?” The purpose of this study is to explore the intuitive experiences of the counselling therapist, and discover how intuition impacts the client and the therapist. Further, to determine the source of intuition. This research topic was chosen because intuition in a professional therapeutic setting is not validated or taught as part of a clinical counselling curriculum. The science of empirical phenomenology emphasizes replicable steps in the research process and use of the co-researchers own words. Using a common sampling, four co-researchers, who use intuition therapeutically and were actively counselling individuals, were interviewed twice. My prior knowledge of intuition and pre-conceptions about the subject in general were bracketed in an empirical phenomenological process called the epoche. This step, unique to empirical phenomenology, is used to ensure the rigor of the study. Five themes with fourteen sub-themes were reduced from the data. The five themes were: Intuition experienced as sensing, Intuition as trust, Intuition as multidimensional listening, Intuition sourced from God, and Intuition enhanced by confidence. The theme, intuition sourced from God or a Higher Power, supports the research finding that intuition comes from a Power greater than and beyond human life. This was confirmed by the spiritual descriptions of the co-researchers experience. Intuition is not dependent on religious or spiritual beliefs, because it is an innate human capability. The use of intuition by a counselling therapist reinforces and enriches pre-existing spiritual beliefs.
This integrative study paper explores three documents from the Second Vatican Council (Lumen Gentium Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Gaudium et Spes Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World and Dei Verbum Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation) from the perspective of a practicing Roman Catholic woman and professional spiritual care provider. A brief history of the Council is presented followed by a literature review of the documents and personal reflection on the integration of relevant theological themes from these documents in the author’s personal and professional life. The guiding principles of Aggiornamento, Ressourcement and Development are examined for how they influenced the spirit of the council. Some of the theological themes addressed are the church as a mystery and the universality of the church, social justice, the common good, revelation of God, the dignity and uniqueness of each person, the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist and one’s moral conscience. It was concluded that the documents have had a positive and profound effect on the person and professional practice of this spiritual care provider.
A World Without Wheat: The Journey Toward Acceptance of a Diagnosis of Celiac Disease
A medical diagnosis can change the life of a person forever. The purpose of this narrative inquiry was to explore how women in their twenties had been given a celiac disease diagnosis and their journey toward acceptance of the diagnosis. Three women were individually interviewed over a 40-65 minute period. The interviews were audio recorded. Following a close analysis of the interview transcripts, the related experiences of the women were placed in a story-map to better visualize their past and present experiences as well as their concerns about possible future complications and questions they had about the future. Six common themes were easily identified in all of the women’s stories: 1) experiencing symptoms of undiagnosed celiac disease; 2) importance of communication in the diagnosis process; 3) concerns related to following a gluten-free diet; 4) emotional aspects of acceptance; 5) the role of supports in the journey to acceptance; and 6) changes in self-identity. The role of spirituality was considered as an aspect of the women’s experience. This study helped to identify what made it possible for these women to journey toward acceptance of their celiac diagnosis.