Theses & Project Dissertations

Authors R-Z

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

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“…whereas I am trying to think theologically”: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s
Hidden Dialogue with Carl Schmitt on Representation: A Theological Response to a Jurisprudential Challenge during a Political Crisis

Dietrich Bonhoeffer responded with his theological interpretation known as discipleship in responsible, mature representation of Christ (Stellvertretung) in a hidden dialogue to Carl Schmitt’s jurisprudential, ideological “political theology” of mythical totalitarian leadership (Repräsentanz), developed during the early 20th century in Germany. In an interdisciplinary investigation of mainly primary literature sources is laid open a hitherto overlooked perspective on Bonhoeffer’s theology and the relevance of Bonhoeffer’s and Schmitt’s intellectual encounter for the world of the 21st century. Bonhoeffer, due to his close access to professor of constitutional law Gerhard Leibholz, his brother-in-law, was aware of jurisprudential thought as well as of Schmitt’s theories and pointedly used juristic concepts within his theology. He confronted Schmitt’s system of ‘Identity of Oneness’ with a ‘Triangular Relationship’ which incorporated aspects of Leibholz’s opposition to Schmitt. The structural elements of Domain, Unity, Sovereign, and Grounding revealed that legal individual rights granted by a worldly authority can be manipulated and repealed by using mythical identities but that the personal freedom to responsible decisions and actions given by the ‘original’ authority is irrevocable. Contemporary situations showed that their intellectual dialogue on representation transcends the context of its origin. Bonhoeffer’s theological response of Stellvertretung to Schmitt’s jurisprudential challenge of Repräsentanz receives renewed vigour whenever and wherever a human-made organizational framework of ‘life together’ is in a socio-economically and politically unstable situation of transition in which the balance between jurisprudential and theological interpretations is renegotiated.

Rituals, Consecration, and Healing: An Exploration of Women’s Experience of Self-made Rituals as Transformative

This dissertation is an investigation of the experience of transformation in the lives of ordinary, educated/knowing women involved in self-made rituals in one specific woman’s group. It is an exploration of and a reflection on how creating, engaging in and enacting their own rituals in their own chosen spaces have shaped each participant’s self-becoming in life-affirming ways. It is also about how reflecting on such experiences has brought each woman involved into a deeper level of consciousness about the human’s ability to act and ultimately to decide which actions will create her beliefs. The three themes emerging from this embodied engagement with women’s stories of their experiences in this ritual group are: women doing ritual as creative and valid spiritual expression, women’s ritualizing as a resacralising of the ordinary feminine and as a revaluing of feminine spiritual consciousness, and the ritual process as healing vessel.

What was learned? Transformation seems to occur when one enters into and then consciously emerges from the ritual vessel within a certain flexible structure. Transformafion deepens through further reflection on these experiences and the implications of the impact of these experiences on a woman’s self-becoming. Three themes: “rituals, consecration, and healing” are woven organically into the analysis of the seven constituents of ritualizing as discovered within the data and as revealed by the women’s stories. All point to ritualizing as a valid spiritual practice for our time, available to everyone willing to connect to a deeper order experienced when one consciously embraces the creative matrix.

Territory Underfoot: Theological Reflections on Place

In this reflection on the nature of “place,” I suggest that theological reflection has failed to engage the imagery and imaginative sources that are shaped by local tradition and bounded by place. This is a critical aspect of Christian theological thought. That horizon of significance which Christians call “The Kingdom of God” is found in scripture through the particular lived realities of the people encountered and spoken to. In a very real sense, the religious imagination is not otherworldly, but indigenized and vernacular. It is in the play between the horizons of significance, such as the large language of meaning provided by the Christian tradition, and the particular soils of lived experience that religious life is vitalized.

This work includes a reflection on place as both a figurative and literal meeting between the teaching of Incarnation as a horizon of significance in Christian thought and the specific soils where the lives of the faithful are incarnated. As well, it includes a review and assessment of Mircea Eliade’s understanding of sacred space as related to place and the poetics of space developed by the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard. Through these theoretical approaches, a specific case of the meeting of horizon and particular soil is explored in the writing of the Kentucky poet and essayist Wendell Berry. Berry’s work is assessed as a form of liturgical language in the sense that it is in service to and reflects particular people struggling to maintain a vital local culture.

Membership Renewal in a Mainline Church: An Evaluation of the Membership Renewal Program, Sherwood Park United Church, 1980-1982

The project evaluated a three year program of membership renewal at a mainline Canadian church in which the members had been invited publicly to renew their profession of Christian faith and their intention to serve Christ in and through this particular congregation.  The evaluation came at the end of the first three year cycle.

Questionnaires were sent to a representative number of participants and non-participants.  The members of the Official Board and worshippers at a Sunday service were also surveyed.  A follow-up questionnaire went later to a select group of key congregational members and active program participants.  Opportunities for written comment were provided on all survey sheets.

Interested persons then met to review the accomplishments of the program, assess the results of the questionnaires, and consider the more general matter of renewal in the congregation.  They recommended that the program continue according to the established pattern.  The minister of the congregation, who was instrumental in establishing the program, also reflected on his role in it and the course of his own spiritual development.

Both theological and sociological considerations were applied. The program was reviewed in light of the Biblical emphasis on initiation, belonging, nurture, and renewal.  Also significant were the reasons persons joined religious groups.  A basic thesis of the project was that church programs which recognize and respond to persons’ needs for meaning and belonging are of value to the congregation and accordingly, the members will relate positively to them.

The satisfaction and appreciation expressed by those who had participated in the program and by some who had not, their desire for its continuation, and their expressed intention to be involved in the future strongly endorsed the value of the program.  Respondents also noted its effectiveness both as a means of faith nurturing and witnessing (i.e., providing meaning) and as a way of strengthening the bond between individuals and the congregation (belonging).  As anticipated  members who were already actively involved in and appreciative of the congregation’s life were more positively disposed toward the renewal program and more willing to participate in it.

This program contributes to the current discussion on church membership in mainline denominations.  It supports the emphasis on baptism as the sacrament of initiation and belonging, as the means of admission to full church membership, as well as recognizing the value of frequent renewals of the baptismal covenant for the affirming, confirming, and reaffirming of one’s faith and for the celebrating of one’s identification with the Body of Christ.

Clearly such programs of membership renewal in the congregation are most meaningful and their benefits more lasting in an over-all climate of openness and nurture.  The commitment of the church’s leadership to personal and spiritual growth and the provision of sufficient and suitable opportunities where such growth may happen are essential both for establishing an appropriate context for covenant renewal celebrations and for developing further the faith and desire kindled by the renewing act.

The degree to which persons in this congregation have been changed by their participation in the renewal program, with its implications for commitment and service and the actions resulting from their reaffirmations, would be fruitful subjects for further evaluations.

Venue for Wonder: A Qualitative Research Project About the Functional Theologies of Men in the United Church of Canada

There are many questions today about men’s experiences of church and spirituality.  This Project/Dissertation began with the question Why are Men in the Church? It evolved into a wondering, not about why men are in the church, but what do the men who are in the church believe, and how did they come to those beliefs? This work attempts to delve into this issue by exploring the stories of men and discovering their functional theologies.

Functional theology points to our human struggle for meaning. Whatever we name as supreme in our lives is our God. It may or may not be the God of the Judaeo-Christian tradition.

The research took the form of a qualitative research project with fourteen men who are members of the United Church of Canada, and who live in Peterborough, Ontario. The large group met once, and two smaller groups met twice each. Group gatherings were followed by extensive data analysis of the three hundred pages of verbatim transcripts. This analysis revealed six categories or themes: loss, longing, search, journey, connection and new life. Recognition of these critical themes that touch men’s lives will impact on the way ministry is done in the Church.

It is also a personal work, for the author’s initial question about “men in the church” became a particular question in his own life. The journey involved coming to an understanding, not of why “men” were in the Church, or the functional theologies of “men,” but of the author’s own functional theology.

From Behind the Pulpit, Using Collage in Arts-Informed Research to Share Stories of Clergy Facing Perfectionism

This research utilizes an arts-informed approach to witness the stories of four Pentecostal pastors in Alberta who have experience with perfectionism in their lives. Collage and verbal dialogue help to communicate the spiritual impact that perfectionism can have. The root of this research topic has come from my personal journey with perfectionism, of which I share in some detail. The experiences of pastors with perfectionism are of particular interest to me. I believe the quality and longevity of their work lies in the health of their spiritual relationships with God. The career of pastoral ministry, however, is known to have certain stressors within it that at times cause pastors to quit. Certain forms of perfectionism are also known to cause stress. The hope was to discover whether perfectionism impacted pastors spiritually, and what their experiences were like. The information this research reveals is that maladaptive perfectionism is spiritually negative. In addition, working through maladaptive perfectionism is seen to result in spiritually beneficial changes. The final piece shows adaptive perfectionism can have a positive spiritual impact. These findings offer insight into possible reasons pastors leave ministry, and may help prevent future disintegrations.

Making a Spiritual Connection Through Jewelry

Are people still experiencing the presence of the holy in today’s world? If they are, through what means are they making this connection? Jewelry is a reliquary of personal and spiritual memory. It is through conversations about their jewelry that I enter into my participant’s important beliefs and experiences. My thesis focuses on the results from conversations with five adult participants; from diverse backgrounds, ages, sexes and spiritual paths, centering on the topic of the spiritual connection, which they have with their jewelry. This is a narrative phenomenological study. The narratives cover four themes: jewelry as a vow; jewelry as a touchstone of spiritual story, and an invitation to relationship; the symbolic character of jewelry, which connects the individual experience to a larger tradition of meaning, and jewelry as a connection to the trauma and grace of past experience. The participants are shown making meaning of life in an individual way, while often drawing on their own spiritual heritage. The results inspire hope in the resilience of the human spirit, and humankind’s ability to find the face of God in the world of object. Theologians Rudolf Otto, with his profound ideas of the experience of the holy, and John MacQuarrie, who speaks to the spiritual practices of believers, provide the theological basis for my work. I also draw on the theories of Eithne Wilkins, who in her book The Rose-Garden Game: The Symbolic Background to the European Prayer-Beads describes the “presence” of the rosary, which embodies a “spiritual potency” waiting to be activated by the believer. This “presence” is revealed in unique ways by my participants, both through their thoughts and their interactions with their jewelry.

The Dance of Resurrection: A Multiple Arts Media Exploration of Self in Relationship with God

This study relies heavily on heuristic research methodology and also uses features of narrative inquiry to explore the author’s own spiritual experience. Beginning with an initial vision of a sculpture which evoked a sense of God working through the researcher’s brokenness, the researcher engaged in nine research sessions dancing with the sculpture and with a pattern of light and shadows created by the sculpture. The researcher’s comments audiotaped during the sessions, called “verbal journaling,” provided data. Themes arising from the data were analysed, and a creative synthesis resulted, which was a theological reflection on Holy Saturday and the Christian notion of resurrection. The guided imagery exercise which accompanies the theological reflection invites the reader to dance. In summary, the author identifies learnings about herself, God and her relationship with God, and affirms the value of Moustakas’ heuristic research methodology for spiritual inquiry.

Long Distance Relationships in the Cayman Islands: How do Migrant Workers maintain their Family relationships? Is there a Case for Pastoral Counselling?”

This study addresses major rationales for long distance relationships (referred to as LDRs throughout this study) among the migrant workers in Cayman Islands, and relational maintenance strategies most frequently attributed to their LDRs. It examines and confirms the role of pastoral counselling as a preventative and corrective tools of LDRs maintenance. Forty-five workers from varied nationalities and industries completed the survey. Frequent themes of communication (cellular or mobile telephone preferred mode), commitment, visits, financial obligations, Christian beliefs/faith/moral values as tool for commitment, and the Cayman Islands Immigration Laws and the high cost of living as perpetuators of LDRs. Personal choices of economic gains, job opportunities and direct flight access to countries of origin were also stated. Future study can address changing societal trends and gender difference as they impact LDRs.

Take a Deep Breath and Count to Nine: Using the Enneagrams’s Wisdom of Tranformational Energy in Worship

The thesis Take a Deep Breath and Count to Nine: Using the Enneagram’s Wisdom of Transformational Energy in Worship is an exploration of possible applications of the ancient spiritual symbol of the movement of divine energy (the Enneagram) in the creation of 21st century worship rituals and liturgies. The Enneagram is a system and symbol of how divine energy moves through a person.  Its foundational concept is that there are nine basic manifestations of divine energy, each of which contains a Holy Idea.  Each of us are born predisposed to a particular Holy Idea.  As we are born and move through life we absorb the hurts of living and the gift of the Holy Idea within us becomes warped by our ego defence mechanisms.  In situations which arouse our fear and anxiety, this warped version of the Holy Idea causes us to act in compulsive ways in order to experience, or even embody, the Holy Idea.  The spiritual Work of the Enneagram is to learn to release ourselves from the stranglehold of our compulsive behaviour, and recognize the gift of the Holy Idea within us.  As we do this, divine energy is able to move more fully into us, and through us, into the world, thereby allowing us to live the Holy Idea into the world.  In other words, ‘the Work’ is about opening ourselves to Grace so that we might be of service to others in manifesting that Grace. Using a ‘spiral reflection model’, the thesis examines the principles of the Enneagram can be used to create worship services which encourage us to recognize both our gifted-ness and compulsions. In other words, it explores how this transformational energy can be accessed in corporate worship using ritual and liturgy. The thesis also explores the idea of how the Enneagram might be used as a typology to understand the corporate personality of a congregation.

Men Who Batter

This project is intended to do three things.  First, it challenges the church to be more aware of the nature and extend of family violence.  Secondly, it provides a practical method for local congregations to work with abusive men.  Thirdly, it provides some theological reflection on family violence and pastoral care of abusive men.  There have been several articles and books written about the church’s response to the victims of violence, but this project will offer a new perspective on pastoral care for perpetrators.

The scope of the problem of family violence is described using statistics from Canada, the United States, and the province of Alberta.  The challenge is made that the church cannot ignore an issue that could affect potentially one quarter of the community.  It is advocated that the church has a ministry which can contribute significantly to the stopping of violence in the community.

A manual is provided describing a method for building a necessary support base within the congregation and the surrounding community.  The manual includes the course content for a twelve-week closed group of men who physically, emotionally or sexually abuse their female partners. Process notes for each session of the group are provided, along with more detailed descriptions of the theory and issues relevant to each session.

The approach to the work with men is educational rather than therapeutic.  It provides the participants with understanding about the dynamics of abuse.  Skills are taught for stress management, for assertiveness as an alternative to aggression, and for conflict resolution. The men are required to assume total responsibility for their abuse and the process challenges the defenses of denial, minimization and rationalization.  Efforts are made to increase empathy in the men for their partners, an awareness of the consequences of the men’s behavior and the feelings and needs of their partners.  The men are given a new awareness of the forces in their childhood and socialization that have contributed to the acceptability of violence by men.  The group process encourages the men to support and challenge one another.

The dissertation section describes the process of development of the project over three years, reviewing literature current at the time, and delineating the process of evaluation and change.

Model for Mennonite Theological Reflection in Ministry

The purpose of this Project/Dissertation  is  to develop a new  model  for  theological  reflection  in Mennonite ministry.  Drawing upon research from within the Mennonite church and the knowledge emerging from the broader Christian tradition, a fresh approach is believed possible.

This goal was not self evident from the beginning.  It first became necessary to 1) establish the present Mennonite practice or practices of theological reflection and 2) to make an assessment of the same.  Only then could I establish firmly the goal of building a model.

Mennonites do not have a systematic theology or operative theology but many systematic and operative theologies. The word “theology” is not even very popular among Mennonites. “Biblical interpretation” is a  more common way of referring to Mennonite theologizing.

Funneling intellectual activity through biblical interpretation has some problems. First, it tends to make the Bible the battleground when differences arise. Second, it does not facilitate well the transition from what the Bible meant and means to present action. Third, biblical interpretation demands an answer to the question “What does it mean to be biblical?” and this question requires clarity about one’s philosophical and theological assumptions. Four, the gap between the scholar and the  lay person is not breached well by the process of biblical interpretation.  What is obvious to one party is not always obvious to the other. Five,   biblical interpretation does not adequately appreciate the reciprocal  nature of revelation–the concept that revelation is not only received by the people of God but also generated by them.

The present model is not intended to be as much a critique of present Mennonite practice as a hope for the future. We live, worship and serve  in a challenging time. Mennonite congregations need to do more theological reflection to meet the challenges of the age. This model makes intentional and disciplined theological reflection more available  to the laity–the ordinary churchmember who is not formally trained in theological method. It takes the life experiences of people seriously and  combines these with more formal reflection to arrive at deeper understanding and integration. It also explores in depth a theory of change and suggests processes for facilitating change in persons and groups.

This project was implemented in three distinct phases. The first was a preliminary research phase in which 1) I was a participant observer in a major event on theological reflection in the General Conference Mennonite Church which was called a “Dialogue on Faith”  2) major  study guides produced by the Conference for congregational study and  theological reflection were analyzed for their emphases and 3) five significant leaders in the General Conference Mennonite Church were interviewed. The major result of this preliminary work was that my initial  hunches were confirmed and expanded. The second phase was to discover just what congregational members believed were the informants of their theological reflection and what processes seemed available to them for the same. The Delphi Technique was adapted for  this research. A series of sequential questionnaires was administered to  a group of Saskatoon and area congregational groups and the results   tabulated. Third, the data from the preliminary research and the Delphi process was combined with the knowledge arising out of the broader  Christian tradition and more theoretical discussions in the field to build a comprehensive model. This model was then field tested.

No project can cover everything or answer all the questions.  Neither can it extend with equal relevance to all geographical areas. This project was developed in the General Conference Mennonite Churches of Saskatchewan.  At the same time it does utilize data from Mennonite sources and persons across Canada  and from the United States.  Theoretical  materials were drawn from broad and various sources.

This Project/Dissertation also does not attempt to present a  comprehensive discussion of the discipline of theological reflection and  especially not formal theology. It focuses primarily on the practical –  operational dimensions of theological reflection. Theoretical discussion  is included for clarity and understanding but not for detailed discussion.

From a research perspective, the methodology can best be termed phenomenological. The Delphi Technique makes no attempt to  differentiate between fact and persons perceptions of the fact. Similarly,  the interviews and the assessments of the study guides provide person’s perceptions of the issues at hand. Statistics and correlations do not figure  heavily in the study since the purpose of the data gathering was more general. Comparisons and correlations are left for another researcher.

Counsellor as Pilgrim: Reflections on Embodied Pilgrimage Spirituality and Counsellor Development

A lived experience of long-distance walking pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago de
Compostela in Spain has deeply affected the lives of many who have undertaken it. The
author uses a qualitative self-study informed by heuristic method to examine the impact of
four Camino pilgrimages, done over a period of ten years, upon the development of her
qualities as a counsellor. The ability to develop faith in and live the view of life as a sacred
journey toward one’s spiritual homeland grew out of the author’s pilgrimage performance and
enriched her approach to counselling. It was revealed that passionate commitment, comfort
with cultural ambiguity, and a resonant quality of physical and spiritual human presence are strengths of pilgrims and counsellors recognized by peers as being of positive influence in their vocation.

Power in Physician-Nurse-Patient Relationships: A Nursing Perspective

The process of writing this thesis began eighteen months ago. However, the “research” for the thesis began years before, when as a probationer in nursing school, I was taught to stand when the physician entered the nursing station. I am aware of tremendous changes in the “world of medicine and nursing” since that time and am now painfully aware of the crisis in my profession.

It is my hope that this thesis will stimulate reflection and dialogue on the “heart of the world of nursing and medicine”; that is, the relationships between physicians, nurses and patients.

In Tango’s Embrace: A Phenomenology and Ceremony Celebrating the Lived Experience of Dance

This research is a soulful quest into learning through the experience of a social dance. It offers some antidote to the problem-solving approaches that typify attempts to improve the world. Within an Indigenist framework which celebrates knowledge as growing out of relationships, this thesis is a ceremony of strengthening connections – within us and among all our relations in the cosmos. Within this epistemology, I chose interpretive phenomenology to study how a person can change from experiences that engage joy and passion in ordinary life. The research stems from my experience of the social dance of Argentine tango and my engagement of questions that beckoned community involvement. I interviewed three dancers and asked them to describe how their sense of relationship–with themselves, with others, the world, and the Divine–changed through their dance. As I listened and reflected upon our conversations, five main themes surfaced: becoming known, sexuality, vulnerability, desire and wholeness. I explore these themes by highlighting the words of research participants. I then explore the implications of this study for the practice of psychotherapy through metaphor and the meaning of grounding, intention, letting go, presence and attunement, occurring in both verbal and non-verbal conversation. Literature that touches on connectivity and intersubjectivity from the areas of philosophy, psychotherapy and theology joins the conversation. I conclude with consideration of the body as intimately belonging to the process of an inherently shared universe in celebration of the whole. I attempt to engage those places where the invisible touches the visible, inviting a holy awareness of the something more that offers itself into our embrace.

Moving to Meaning: Some Issues in Planning Based on Parish Vision

This project was done in order to examine the use of metaphor as an effective element in planning for parish ministry.  The program was developed in the context of the ministry of The Diocese of Edmonton, Anglican Church of Canada.  The Diocese has been engaged in a program of parish planning for the past five years.  The author was the Program Director for that Diocese.

This project is based on the proposition that an appropriate plan for future action in the parish should be grounded in the basic identity of a parish.  The basic identity of the past is articulated in the parish story.  Parish story is the myth which contains the symbols which carry the basic identity of the parish.

The metaphor, particularly as explored in a parish planning process, is a means of opening the possibility for a connection between deeply held feeling and thought which form a community identity.  Planning which follows from the core of the communities identity is seen to be effective since it will reflect the values and dreams of the community as the basis for future plans.

This theory also holds that the story of the local parish is an integral part of the story of the catholic church through the ages.  This connection into the saving history has its expression in the concept of root metaphor.  Root metaphor is a metaphor which connects a great number of metaphors around a central theme.

In this project the use of a metaphor, (from the Bible) guided imagery (using a “non-theological” nature scene) and active discussion (talking about a financial issue in the church) were explored in order to determine which was most effective in bringing about change of attitudes as measured on a list of items which reflected issues in church life.

The participants were volunteer members of Anglican Parishes in the Diocese of Edmonton.

The results of the factor analysis of response developed six factors. Four of these factors had themes which were centered around issues of identity and community life.  Two of the factors related to issues around operations of the church as organization and finances.

The results showed that the use of metaphor and guided imagery are related to bringing about change in attitudes about issues of community identity and spiritual issues, while the active discussion clearly was strongly associated with change in attitudes about finances and operations.

The author suggested applications of the results of this study in church planning, Christian education, worship and parish meetings.

Valuing the Feminine in Liturgical Imagery: An Exploration

This research investigated responses of members of the Doctrine and Worship Committee of the Anglican Church of Canada to female and feminine imagery in the Collect of the Day for six propers of the Church Year, Cycle B.   Secondary readings were taken of the Worship Committee of the Alberta Conference of the United Church of Canada and of post-graduate students at Newman Theological College, Edmonton (Roman Catholic).

This Project arose from concerns about the effect of the exclusive use of male and masculine images for God on women and on all persons.   Effects of low value given to the feminine were described. Ways of valuing the feminine are suggested. The roots of misogyny in the transition from matriarchal to patriarchal social structure with consequent loss of women’s tradition calls for valuing women’s experience in both past and present.

Since the liturgy is the center of Church life and belief, valuing the female and feminine in the liturgical context was seen as crucial if these issues are to move from the hypothetical into the experience of the community.   The Anglican liturgical context with its possibility of diversity,  its affective (feminine) character, and its incarnational consciousness provide an appropriate context for integrating female and feminine imagery because of the parallels between these aspects of the Anglican ethos and some aspects of feminist theology.

The imagery for God in the Collect of the Day was selected as the focus of this Project.   Six sets of prayers were composed, employing the view of Collect as a narrative form of Helen Kathleen Hughes.   Prayers were composed intuitively, using concrete images drawn from Judeo-Christian tradition; rather than based on abstract statements of doctrine. This dynamic form was intended to draw worshipers into awareness of God’s unfolding creation facilitating worshippers in opening to deeper levels of community.

Participants in the research read the prayers and responded by means of a questionnaire on the structure, doctrinal content, literary style and aesthetic sense of the prayers.   As well,  they attempted to identify all female and feminine images in the prayers, and select a few from each set for which they briefly described a personal response. At the conclusion of the questionnaire, participants commented on the applicability of the prayers to the Sunday liturgy of their own liturgical tradition.

Using the Descriptive Survey method,  the researcher described the responses by summarizing structural, doc-trinal , and literary categories, and by applicability in the liturgy of the various traditions.  Subjective responses to images were grouped according to concerns expressed about the prayers,  types of accepting responses, and comparisons of responses by denomination and by gender of participant.

Conclusions drawn were that the brief but not expanded form of Collect of Day, and the Prayers over Gifts and after Communion would be acceptable in the Anglican Church of Canada if imagery were either androgynous or within the traditional perception of female and feminine values.   An optional resource of prayers might include female and feminine images that are less stereotypical and more challenging.   The expanded form of Collect would be usable in the context of the United Church of Canada.   Some openness to such imagery exists in the Roman Catholic Church, but data was inconclusive in identifying the extent of this openness.

Learnings gained in this Project are to be used in the development of a written book of resources for worship suitable for all denominations involved in liturgical change.

How am I Able to Love You? A Qualitative Study on the Impact of Early, Female, Childhood Sexual Abuse on Adult Couple Relationships

The focus of this research was to understand the experience of women in relationship who had been sexually abused as children. Childhood sexual abuse was and is a major problem and is a contributing factor to later psychological and somatic difficulties. The three women who took part in the study had been abused before age 6. The study used a phenomenological approach integrating hermeneutics as an integral part of the approach. The women were interviewed individually and then brought together for one group meeting. They were asked a series of pre-determined questions that were formulated to stimulate thought and insight. There were a number of common themes identified at the conclusion of the transcriptions of the tapes. Themes were determined using a method where the words of each woman were paraphrased and then the core of what she was saying was identified. As much as possible, the core or essence stayed close to her words. The women reviewed the data and agreed with the themes as belonging to their experience. The findings included themes with sub-themes as follows:

  • Betrayal – broken trust, need to be in relationship, family of origin.
  • Difficulty receiving love – words of love, strings attached to love, unworthiness, experience of God.
  • Emotional turmoil – intimacy, fear, aloneness /alienation, disconnection from feelings, suicidal ideation
  • Distorted sense of self – self-esteem, external validation / rescue, self in early relationships
  • Safety – comfort with men versus women
  • Healing and hope

Each woman was in a different stage of healing, although all were in therapy and had been for from 5 -7 years. The conclusions reached included the possibility of a loving, fulfilling relationship after years of work towards healing the wounds inflicted upon the survivors.

The Art of Diakonia

This paper explored diakonia, as it has been practiced over the centuries, as an art form with parallel development to the practice of the fine arts. In the early Christian Church, the Middle Ages, and the twentieth century, art forms and diakonia developed in response to the reality of the world and the visions of hope held by the people.

The fine arts seek to represent reality in a different way than that which the naked eye can see. They challenge the imagination to experience another vision of reality. Art invites people into a spiritual pilgrimage. It invites people to see, with eyes of imagination, what is the essence of a scene, an object or an emotion. Diakonia seeks to engage people in the search for spiritual and physical wholeness and health. It invites people into a spiritual pilgrimage on which they may envision the possibilities for a healthy world and then imagine the means to achieve that vision. It invites people to partner their faith with their actions, and to seek God’s justice for all people.

The elements that fine artists work with are physical: paint, musical notes, words, fabric, stone, metal, and others. They create representations of reality that the physical eye may not perceive. The elements diakonia works with are spiritual: gifts and abilities, desires, needs, hopes, fears. It encourages individuals and communities to mold and shape reality to better represent the ideals of justice, beauty, wholeness and health.

Living One’s Purpose: A Phenomenological Study of Awakening to a Call

This phenomenological study examined the lived experience of two men and one woman who are living their lives in response to a personal calling. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were used to collect the data pertaining to the question: What is the experience of awakening to a call to live one’s purpose? A thematic analysis revealed nine themes: 1) impact of early memories, 2) growing sense of self-identity, 3) sense of connection, 4) feeling of commitment, 5) authenticity, 6) personal well-being, 7) sense of knowing, 8) feeling of being helped along the way, and 9) willingness to change. The findings showed that the seeds that would later germinate into the co-researchers’ call to action were sown during their early years. Discovering what was personally relevant and meaningful to each of the co-researchers necessitated that they not only listen to, but respond from, the heart so that their values, beliefs and attitudes might merge into a more authentic way of being. The overwhelming desire to share their passions left each of the co-researchers feeling inspired, energized, and engrossed. Although they doubted themselves at times, they also experienced the positive emotions of joy and gratitude. In sharing their gifts with others, the co-researchers felt a deep sense of commitment and connection with others as well as the Divine. There was a sense of knowing that this was what they should be doing with their lives. They also felt they were being helped along on their journey. This study raised awareness of the transformative power that awakening to a call can have in all areas of a person’s life—physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. Implications for counselling practice and suggestions for future topics of inquiry were addressed.

Pastoral Care as Spiritual Care: A Challenge for Pastoral Care Givers to Provide Spiritual Care to Hospitalized Persons Regardless of their Association with a Faith Community

This paper  examines the concept of pastoral care as spiritual care within the hospital setting and uses the nursing profession’s perspective on spiritual distress, spiritual needs and spiritual care as the starting point.  Comparisons are made between the nursing profession’s perspective on spiritual care, the pastoral care profession’s perspective on pastoral care, and Christian  theologians’  understandings  of  the  theological underpinnings of the spiritual dimension and the ministry of pastoral  care.    The  researcher  includes  some  personal experiential material which illustrates the concept of pastoral care as spiritual care.

The specific hypotheses which are investigated are that all persons, regardless of whether or not they are associated with a faith community, have spiritual needs which may become more intense, more conscious and more acutely in need of attention when they find themselves in a hospital setting; and that persons who are formally engaged in a ministry of pastoral care have a theological mandate to extend spiritual care to all hospitalized persons and their support community who are suffering from spiritual distress.

The  methodology  which  is  used  in  this  research  is phenomenological and descriptive.  This study uses as data the conceptual research, theories and discussions which are found in the current literature of the nursing, pastoral care and theological professions.   Phenomenological information from personal experiences in Clinical Pastoral Education is also considered.

The  information  from  all  of  these  sources  is  then critically examined by using a method similar to the “revised correlational model” which is proposed by Donald Browning (1980) in “Pastoral Theology in a Pluralistic Age”.  In this method, concerns from a Christian faith perspective are correlated with various  secular perspectives with regard to common human experience.

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

Project-Dissertation: Mission Discernment: A Preventative Ethics Strategy for Leaders in Catholic Health Care Organizations

In the demanding world of health care; an environment characterized by life and death decisions, constant change, competing priorities, and limited resources, leaders often have to make very difficult choices. Allocation of a leader’s time and energy that can be devoted to any one issue is also a limiting factor. Having a reflective decision-making tool with a set of clear triggers will ensure proportionate attention is given to the critical issues facing an organization, where values such as compassion and stewardship have to be balanced.

Despite many articles devoted to the issue of moral compromise there has been less in the way of practical steps to mitigate such incidents of moral compromise occurring in the health care context. If leaders can be supported with making carefully discerned choices in the face of competing options, we prevent the likelihood that fundamental moral values of leaders will be compromised. In this way, use of mission discernment serves as a preventative ethics strategy, and a transformative tool to deepen the discerning culture of the organization.

In this Project-Dissertation, readers will be introduced to a mission discernment tool to support leaders in Catholic health care with major decision-making. The Covenant Health Mission Discernment Tool © 2009 was researched, developed and launched during a time of significant financial and organizational change. The consolidation of Covenant Health as the largest faith-based provider in Canada was an ideal occasion to engage leaders as the primary intended users as how to best develop a tool that would be meaningful and relevant to their leadership work. The discernment tool will help leaders make consistently balanced decisions to promote higher level systems learning, as well as collaboration and shared ownership between programs and sites, even in the face of difficult organizational challenges

In her Embrace: A Franciscan Looks at Christian and Jewish Pastoral Counsellors and how They Deal with Their Own Embracing of Sister Death

I have found that as pastoral counsellors go about working with the dying or the bereaved, it is simply an expectation that pastoral counsellors will have no personal unresolved issues around death.  After talking with many pastoral counsellors, I have found this simply is not so.  After having to face my own issues around death quite dramatically in ministering to a dying friend, I was lead to the question, “In working with the dying or the bereaved, how do pastoral counsellors deal with their own issues around death?”  Before I knew it, there was a thesis in the making. Literature from a wide yet pertinent range in the study of thanatology was reviewed.  After the literature review, a phenomenological methodology was used in interviewing ten pastoral counsellors for their input into the question.  As a Franciscan, I began to ponder just how Franciscan tradition and spirituality had influenced my own views on death and dying. With this in mind, after the interviewing process was completed an additional study into the Franciscan approach to facing death was engaged in. A major finding from all of this research is that death is faced on many levels.  Where counsellors are at in their own personal development will influence how they will handle facing death. The basic conclusion is that if there is a call to ministry, death cannot be avoided, it must be embraced, and the challenge is how.

Un/conditional Love is a collection of poetry that explores the concept of an ever-loving God in the face of life experience that suggests love is often conditional.

The thesis is divided into five sections to reflect different dimensions of the concept of un/conditional love. It opens with an introduction that describes how poetry is an expression of spirituality, the author’s personal quest for perfection and an explanation behind the content and order of the poems. A bibliography of readings that have informed or influenced the work is included at the end.

The first section, Love with strings attached, deals with the messages about love received in childhood and adolescence. The second section, Loves Me / loves me not, attempts to capture the vulnerability that results from loving and the impossibility of finding perfect love. The third section, Love under any condition, portrays a father’s illness and the realization that love continues no matter how unreasonable or unlike himself he becomes. The fourth section, Love beyond the grave, explores how memory keeps love alive even after the individual has died. The concluding section Love of self, begins to address the realization that self-love is essential in order to fully experience the love of others and the love of God.

The Impact of a Creative Arts Intervention on the Relief of Bereavement Stress-Related Symptoms among a Group of Widows

As the theme suggests, the research sought to investigate the impact of the creative arts as intervention on the relief of bereavement stress-related symptoms being experienced by a group of five (5) widows in the age group 40 – 60 years. Before moving into the effects of the modalities of the creative arts on bereavement stress-related symptoms, it was important to look at the grieving processes which have culminated into the stresses being experienced. The researcher through conversations and a pre-intervention focus-group established the bereavement stresses that the participants were experiencing. These included isolation/loneliness, sadness, guilt, anger, fear, turmoil, uncertainty, concerns for life, mental and physical fatigue amongst others. Using this information, the researcher embarked on a strategy using the creative arts as intervention. Modalities employed were art, music, dance, drama and poetry. Each modality used was given three hours each week and after a period of six weeks, the group met as a focus-group in a post-intervention session, to state the effects of each modality on the various areas of their stresses. It had been established that art releases feelings that can be healing to the mind, body and spirit. Music was incorporated, since it can bring about an atmosphere of relaxation and comfort, thus allowing for participants to release fear and bring out hidden feelings. Dance and drama uses movements to bring about physical and mental well-being and self-expression and poetry promotes communication and expressions of inner feelings. Results of the interventions were documented, and findings revealed that art, music and drama were more effective than poetry. This, the researcher opines, may be that poetry-writing is not promoted in this culture. The spirituality of participants came into mention as the anchor in times of adversities and one participant spoke at length about the influences of the Revival movement, as that major survival influence in her spiritual walk.

Embodied Sacred Knowing With Relational Consciousness

Much of the suffering today comes because people do not have a place to tell their story. (C.J. Jung)
This research recognizes the value of having a place for a person to tell their awakening stories for themselves, their communities and culture. I am using a narrative inquiry methodology for this research for the purpose of understanding the meaning of the awakening experience. The purpose of this study is to illuminate the meaning of people’s lived awakening experiences of sacred embodied knowing with relational consciousness. As these experiences are not the norm it can be difficult to put them into words. Within the public sphere we generally do not have audiences prepared to witness the experience of divine meaning…transcending human understanding. Such experiences permeate you with valuable knowing for yourself and potentially others. The experience of the mystical, transcends human knowing it is an experience beyond words and ideas. Such an experience may raise one’s consciousness and way of relating in the world. Potentially the value of the experience could be woven into one’s private, personal and public spaces. That way, the respect for the divine and the value of the knowing from the divine in the experience would not be lost. I am writing this thesis in a non-linear way; the movement of this work is spiral. The spiral is open and ongoing. It revisits the methods, stories and themes many times from a slightly different place on the spiral. The intent is that with each spiral our consciousness, opens to new understandings and meaning of the embodied sacred knowing with relational consciousness. This study invited the telling of the awakening experience. The use of story provides a way to enter into the awakening experience. Themes found in the respondents stories were, suffering, awakening, relational consciousness, death, rebirth, and self-identity/transformation. I hope to come to some understanding as to how sacred experience influences human development, consciousness and narratives.

Possible Ways of Empowering Lay Leadership in the Korean Congregations in The United Church of Canada

This narrative research study explored the role of lay leadership in the Korean United Church in terms of the theology and ethos of the United Church in Canada. KUCC’s roosts are in a wave of immigration in the 1960’s and the welcoming of the new immigrants into ethnic churches within the greater UCC. Currently there are 13 Korean congregations located across Canada, with between 900- 1000 members. As a Korean immigrant, a woman, a member of an ethnic minority within my worshiping community and a minister in diaconal ministry of the UCC, I perceived that empowerment of lay people within the KUCC was not happenings in the KUCC. To explore the issues, in- depth data were collected from 10 KUCC lay leaders through written questionnaires, telephone and face to face interviews. This was supported by a document review and a research journal. Content analysis using free flowing text use used to surface the main themes. A major finding was that there was little to no lay leadership or participation within the KUCC. Several factors contributed to this, particularly cultural factors including language, hierarchy, and patriarchy. A second factor was the differences between many KUCC members’ understanding of faith issues and that of the UCC. A third factor was the leadership style of many of the clergy in the KUCC. Based on the findings there are several specific recommendations: strengthening communication with the UCC and within the KUCC, a re-visioning of leadership style, and strengthening the UCC Ethnic resources.

A Woman’s Passage: Negotiating an Extraordinary Transition in Mid-Life

When a major life change occurs, we can find ourselves in uncharted territory or transitions. Old assumptions no longer hold true, but our new reality has yet to be discovered. This study looks at difficult transitions for women in mid-life. This, potentially, is a time in a woman’s life where many predictable changes are already calling into question, “who am I?” This work examines how women have coped with a difficult and unpredicted change. The qualitative research method of narrative inquiry was used. Four women, who had experienced different challenging mid-life transitions, joined me as co-researchers. They took part in three group discussions and one individual interview. These women were chosen because they had successfully negotiated their transition and had the ability to be articulate and thoughtful about their experience. The research drew from literature pertaining to both transition and women in mid-life. As well I drew upon my own experience of a challenging mid-life transition. Within the study it was necessary to define transition, and this was derived from the works of William Bridges. The purpose was to move from a definition to look at ways women have been successful in negotiating the experience of transition, looking at resources drawn upon, external and internal. Weaving its way throughout the work was the theological thread. I have shared my personal theology which is transitional in nature and examined how faith had played a role in the co-researchers’ transitions and how their transitions had affected their faith. The goal of the study is to learn ways in which to encourage others going through difficult life transitions.

Lament for my Son

1991 is a good year to be writing about Family Violence in Edmonton.  Early in the year, the mayor, Jan Reimer, suggested that there should be a house for violent husbands so that wives and children would not be wrenched out of their own homes when a husband goes berserk. Three wives were shot by their estranged spouses. Finally an alderman made the headlines in Edmonton because he had been battering his wife and daughter but would not resign from his position on City Council.

Violence in the home is a serious concern for this city and for Canadian society. The statistics for Dr. Jaffe’s research in London, Ontario regarding violence in intimate situations indicate that many teenagers think such violence is normal. Frightening is a mild adjective  for such attitudes. The effect of this violence on our children must be addressed if we have any hope of doing the will of God for peace on earth.

Thesis: Five Women Mystics and the Five-Fold Transformative Map to Unia Mystica

This thesis is an exploration of unia mystica, the unity of divine and human will, as the final stage in an arduous process of growth in human consciousness, the central purpose of which is to directly apprehend God. Five women mystics, Julian of Norwich, Saint Catherine of Genoa, Saint Teresa of Avila, Edith Stein and Evelyn Underhill, have been selected for investigation both as critical exemplars of this process and for their testimony of self-growth and divine apprehension. Through an analysis of their lives and pertinent writings, this thesis explores the five-stage classical Christian map – purgation, illumination, dark night of the senses, dark night of the soul and unia mystica – as a highly paradoxical schema for developing human consciousness since it involves the forfeiture of selfhood and the transmutation of the pain of humankind, processes which necessarily involve personal suffering. This thesis also investigates the selected mystics’ response to such suffering; according to their testimony, growth in human consciousness is a dialectical process involving both suffering and joy, and to live in the presence of God is never for the benefit of oneself, but to serve humankind.

Three key activities the five mystics’ identify as critically necessary to the success of the classical schema is also discussed: (1) purgation to develop a detached state of mind; (2) mortification to develop a virtuous character, and; (3) prayer for help and guidance. As these five mystics attest, the culmination of these practices is a deeply intimate relationship with God, experiencing first-hand, divine love and wisdom, energies so holy they can never be compared or mistaken for their inferior human facsimile. It was precisely this energy these five women brought to the world through their lives and work, their remarkable accomplishments dispelling any view of the mystic as impractical or unrealistic.

I Have Eagerly Desired to Eat With You: Discovering the Sacred in our Human Stories

Stories have power among us. They are vital ways in which we articulate the things that are important to us and attach meaning to the essential moments of our lives. Theologians, psychologists and educators tell us that our understandings, our actions, and our relationships may be largely determined by the stories we believe and the stories we tell about ourselves. They suggest that our way of being in the world and our very lives are shaped by story.

As people of Christian faith, both our human stories and the stories of God may be claimed as our own. We want biblical stories, as well as our human stories, to speak to our past, our present, and our future. We want both to inform our lives. Yet, we are often uncertain how to bring these stories together, such that we can recognize and respond to the sacred in each. This thesis identifies and addresses this important concern. It acknowledges our human stories as essential places in which the sacred may be found and encourages people of faith to reflect on our own stories in light of the stories of God.

This thesis tells the stories of specific community and interlaces these stories with scriptural stories, seeking to reveal a shared narrative which sustains and gives meaning to that community. Specifically, three interrelated questions are investigated: In what ways are the stories of God reflected in the mundane and sacred stories of a secular community? In what ways are the mundane and sacred stories of a secular community revealed in the stories of God? What evidence suggests that a larger transcendent narrative, a sacred story, can be found when the stories of a secular community are set alongside the stories of God?

This thesis is qualitative and descriptive in nature. Research and writing consist of five phases. The first phase of the thesis is a selected review of the literature which focuses on the theological significance of story and narrative, the nature of community, autobiography as a story and research method, and research methods which use experience, autobiographical stories, and reflection as sources of data and knowledge. The second and third phases involve recalling, writing and reflecting on the stories of a small secular community. Next, the community stories are brought into conversational relation with scriptural stories, seeking significant shared meanings, understandings, experiences, and sacred stories. Finally, the author articulates a sacred and transcendent community narrative, noting that the articulation falls far short of describing the actual sacred story because words can allude to, but not completely capture our sacred stories. Despite this, the author concludes that this thesis can significantly contribute to theological thought and practice by encouraging people of faith to be attuned to the sacred story that resounds in ordinary places, in substantive communities, in human relationships, and in the mundane stories of our lives.

I Am Happy: The Hermeneutics of Happiness Through an Existential Heuristic

At the heart of this thesis was one simple question, “What is the essence of my happiness?” This question was explored, with the guidance of the problem solving steps outlined in Heuristic research. I employed insights from my interests in classical psychology and existential phenomenology to further refine this process. The conclusion I arrived at was surprisingly simple; where the essence of my happiness is a combination of caring intentionality and living out a positive meaning. I discovered that it was a layered process of engaging the world and discovering meaning, while simultaneously being present in the moment, being spurred on by love in the positive meaning discovered. The result of this inquiry led me to describe the essence of my happiness through a formula that states, intentionality plus (a positive) meaning equals happiness (I+M = H). This theorem does not minimize the complex nature of happiness, but rather, provides a simple rubric when dealing with the complex paradoxes inherent with the phenomena of my happiness. In recognizing these paradoxes, I then explored the many ways that the Pauline notions of faith, hope, and love work to solve the classical barriers to experiencing happiness. This thesis concludes with some of my reflections upon ways this theorem may be applied to psychotherapy.

Pamela Bay (a screenplay) and Developing a Methodology for Theological Connoisseurship of Feature Films

My dissertation asks the question “Of what relevance is feature film to the life of the church”? My project/dissertation describes the value of feature film as a bridge-builder between the sacred and the secular. I describe how the arts in general and feature film spedfically are under-used vehides for theological reflection. While considering the work of Margaret Miles, Lloyd Baugh, John May, and Michael Bird, I develop my own method of theological reflection for feature film. In developing my methodology, I incorporate the educational work of Elliot Eisner and the theological structure of W. Paul Jones.

As my project, I have written my first full-length feature film script, Pamela Bay, which is a reflection of my experience of the choking effect of patriarchy in the life of the church. My project/dissertation is my attempt to be a bridge-builder between the worlds of feature film and theology. I test my methodology on Pamela Bay and in an educational setting with two quite different groups of learners. I demonstrate that good theological reflection reflects a quality of life which simply is while simultaneously inviting us to a full, and sometimes complex participation in life.

In our complexity, the paradox of truth is found when we cross the bridge between what is and the depths of reflection we can bring to our experience. This is the gift of connoisseurship; a gift we can bring to film as well as a gift film can offer to us.

Shared Ministries: A Search for Factors Contributing to their Success

The concept of ecumenical cooperation at the local level that has come to be defined as Shared Ministry first came to my attention in the 1960’s when I lived in the small town of Castlegar in the Kootenay region of British Columbia.  Until that time I had had little experience of denominatons other than the United Church.  It was a time when discussions of organic union between the Anglican and United Church promised to lead to the creation of a new denomination in this country.  There were opportunities to meet with Anglicans on both local and regional levels and to discuss honestly and openly the tenets of our faith and the traditions of our respective denominations.  It was a time of rapid change in worship, in Christian education and in church structures.  I quickly recognized that for me bonds with other Christians were forged through willingness to risk and change and that those bonds had little regard for denominational lines.  An abiding commitment to ecumenism was born and has continued to grow.

The Kootenay region was an exciting place to be for anyone deeply interested in the Anglican-United Church plans for union. Edward W. Scott was Bishop of Kootenay and his vision of one church inspired us to move forward at the local level well before any national decision had been reached. Strong leadership among United Church clergy and laity removed any doubt for many of us that our future was as one church. In the region encompassed by Kamloops-Okanagan and Kootenay Presbyteries twelve shared ministries gradually took shape. Isolated communities and financial issues provided some of the motivation but the vision of a united national church provided strong incentive, in my eyes at least.  Recollections of both United Church and Anglican clergy and key lay people, as shown in responses to my survey for this thesis, indicate the anticipation of union was important in the development of shared ministries but perhaps not as important as I had believed it to be.

In 1970 our family left Castlegar and settled in Dawson Creek in the Peace River district of British Columbia. It was discouraging to discover that the enthusiasam for union so pervasive among the people I knew in the Kootenays did not prevail in the Peace.  There were a few meetings and discussions but it seemed not to have a high priority on anyone’s agenda. When the national plan failed there was almost a sigh of relief that now the churches could get back to business.

During the next decade I had limited involvement in the church beyond my own congregation and when I was again able to expand activities into the wider church I discovered a new phenomena had appeared on the scene. In several small communities Anglican and United Church congregations had quietly and almost unnoticed joined together to achieve the kind of union locally that years of high-level negotiations had failed to bring about nationally.  During the 1980’s Anglican-United Church congregations were joined in some communities by Lutherans and Presbyterians. At the present time in three northern communities discussions are underway with a view to expanding existing shared ministries to include Lutherans.

Why were shared ministries in the north flourishing in the eighties and nineties in the face of general retrenchment in ecumenical activity when most of those in the Kootenays failed in a much stronger ecumenical climate? This paper will examine in some detail the Kootenay experience in an attempt to identify factors that allowed new shared congregations to develop with such hope and optimism only to dissolve later with so much pain and bitterness that in some cases the healing is not yet complete.

Theological Reflection with Calvin and Hobbes

This thesis draws on the insights in the cartoon strip Calvin and Hobbes, as expressed by Calvin, a non-literal six year old and his transmogrified stuffed tiger. The thesis explores doctrines of death and beyond, God and human nature, using the strip as a lens to explore fresh insights for both theology and the culture within which it is situated. The strip offers the viewpoint that human nature is just plain crazy, so with that as the basis, the thesis goes exploring.

The Spirituality of Trauma Debriefers

Debriefing from crisis and trauma can be difficult and challenging for those who requiring debriefing and for the Debriefers. At the core of any individual is their spirit or soul. It is from this spiritual place the Debriefers ultimately function in their role as a Debriefer. My thesis examined the meaning of spirituality for experienced and trained trauma Debriefers within the field of emergency services. No previous research combining spirituality, crisis and trauma and debriefing was found upon which to build the thesis. It is believed the research presented is original research and therefore preliminary in this field. The concepts of spirituality, crisis and trauma and trauma debriefing are presented as they establish the foundation for the research data on the spirituality of trauma Debriefers. Through a qualitative hermeneutical phenomenological research methodology, four volunteer Debriefers shared what their meaning of spirituality is as they work as trauma Debriefers.  The research identified five major themes. The primary theme revealed a “spirit to spirit” connection/energy/relationship that is observed solely and uniquely during the debriefing. The content of the debriefing often revolves around questions of a spiritual nature. The importance of the spirituality of the trauma Debriefer, spiritual importance in the debriefing and the spiritual connection during the debrief is identified. Recommendations are made to conduct further research in this area and to include education in the area of spirituality in the training curriculum for Debriefers, Trainers and Mentors.

Engendering Hope in Liminal Time: Experiences of a Women’s Spirituality Group

This Project/Dissertation is a qualitative study based on the experiences of six women, including the writer, who belong to a women’s spirituality group. It is a study of how women support, nurture and sustain each other in a group as they explore their spirituality outside the container of organized religion.

The study was carried out using the principles of feminist research methodology. Therefore the main focus of the study is the experiences of the women involved. The six themes which emerged out of these experiences were: Religion, Spirituality, Liminal Time, Certainty, Hope and Meaning. These themes are discussed using the reflections of the women, feminist writers and quantum theology.

We hope that our stories and discussions will invite you, the reader, to explore your own spirituality and how it affects your life journey.

Emerging Art Therapist Integrating the Psychophysiological Principles of Self Regulation Therapy (SRT): Integration of mind, body and soul

Nearing completion of my studies required for obtaining a Master degree in Psychotherapy and Spirituality with specialization in Art Therapy I enrolled in Self Regulation Therapy (SRT) training. Though personal and professional immersion in both therapeutic processes I developed a curiosity over the possible integration of the theoretical underpinnings of art therapy and SRT. My research methodology included heuristic inquiry (Moustakas, 1990), along with reflexive/narrative autoethnography (Ellis, Adams, and Bochner, 2011). I explored the lived experience of my immersion into the neurobiological approach to healing trauma, as taught in SRT, while also developing my emerging identity as an art therapist. Through self-reflective narrative I sought answers to my questions around how I might integrate overlapping therapeutic principles and practices of SRT with what I have come to value through my aligned identity and commitment to the community of the creative art therapies. Both approach the client therapist relationship through right-brain-to-right-brain intersubjective attunement, which attempts to reintegrate the mind body and soul of individuals dealing with the experience of trauma and its resulting dysregulating effects. Significant evidence of theoretical and therapeutic overlap was discovered, leading to validation for further research into this possible integration. Further client work and research study is needed to explore the feasibility of developing a protocol that might successfully integrate these two processes.

Understanding Growth: The Roles of Evengelism and a Church’s Identity in Determining Whether Newcomers are Invited to Belong

The admission of children to communion on baptism without confirmation introduced a debate about how to define membership in the Anglican Church of Canada. Declining membership raised concerns around attracting new members. Using a Grounded Theory approach the researcher interviewed individuals from three numerically growing Anglican Church of Canada parishes. The purpose of the interviews was to determine their understandings of parish identity, evangelism, membership and belonging. Analysis of the recorded and transcribed responses from the Rector, one long term member and two newcomers included identification of key words, repeated phrases and common themes. Respondents did not identify belonging to the Anglican Church nor the Body of Christ when referring to membership. The only criteria for belonging and membership were attendance and participation. In contrast to the normative method of group endorsement that churches use to define membership respondents understood membership to be through self-definition. The paper concludes that growth was unrelated to evangelism. Identity in general affected the way parishes understood people to belong but it was the negative attitude to evangelism which had the greatest impact on their understanding of belonging and invitation to belong.

Integrative Study: Dancing with Mary Magdalene

This integrative study uses the author’s personal story as a middle class, white, western, Christian woman in relationship with the story of Mary Magdalene to examine the imagery of the feminine in the western world. Imagery of the feminine in the Neolithic Minoan civilization is contrasted with images of the feminine in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Using King’s and Leloup’s translations of the Gospel of Mary, and lessons learned about the French traditional myth surrounding Mary Magdalene gained from a pilgrimage to France in the footsteps of Mary Magdalene, the study looks at a new way of seeing the relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus, of seeing this relationship as an example of the union of masculine and feminine energies, as a union of opposites which honors and includes both. It is the contention of the author that the Hebrew and Christian scriptures have been written in a manner that diminished the feminine energies, which has led to an imbalance between masculine and feminine energies in the western world and a fractured relationship between the spiritual and the physical. The author contends that this imbalance and this fractured relationship have contributed directly to the current environmental devastation of our planet. Just as the Catholic Church apologized in 1969 for calling Mary Magdalene a prostitute for fourteen hundred years, so too must we in the western Christian world apologize to all life on Earth for our ill-informed attempts to dominate all life on Earth and begin to hear the message of the gospel which calls us to learn to live in harmony with all living things.

Through My Looking Glass: A Woman’s Experience of Living Long-Term with Invisible Undiagnosed Chronic Physical Illness and Pain and its Impact Upon her Sense of Self

This heuristic thesis explores the experience of a woman living for decades with invisible, undiagnosed, chronic physical illness and pain. With ethical care and respect for confidentiality, the researcher recalls incidents of trauma in her early life that informed the development of her self. The paper describes the complex effects of living with symptoms of undiagnosed illness for many years. Complicating factors include the lack of a support network, and revisions of services in the local health care system. The author discusses her experience of the prevailing attitudes that disempower women who advocate on their own behalf in the legal system. Concurrent disenfranchised losses, including intimate relationships and role identity, are also described. Circumstances that contribute to marginalization include unemployment, divorce, and poverty. The thesis explores insights that emerged from the period of intense heuristic inquiry. It provides ideas for potential future research as well as possible personal, community and political activism. The thesis work is complemented by a set of five piano compositions.

Revovering My Lost Hands: A Heuristic Self-Inquiry of Art Making and Dissociative Symptoms Related to PTSD

My research investigated the relationship between art therapy and dissociative symptoms related to PTSD based on my own experiences. I am a Nursing Officer in the Canadian Armed Forces. I deployed to Afghanistan in 2010/2011 and was subsequently diagnosed with PTSD related to my military service. I chose to study my own art making experiences to understand how they were influencing my recovery from PTSD. I collected the data for this heuristic arts-based research from my art work and personal journals. My images reflect the sober realities of war; however, they also capture the creative healing journey that I have taken to recover from PTSD. My art making experiences have led me to understand that dissociation is both a pathological and mystical experience. Images of hands or lack thereof are an important theme in my research and I used the story of The Handless Maiden to further elucidate this significance. Hands may be viewed as the seat of a woman’s soul or very Self; therefore, the symbolic loss of them is a great loss indeed. My research explored the reclamation of my lost hands and the discovery of my artist identity.

Trauma, Dissociation, and the Journey to Soul Healing

This research is a narrative inquiry into the immediate and long-term effects of soul loss retrieval as a way of recovering rom long-term trauma and dissociation. Particular interest is placed on the ability of soul retrieval to restore wholeness and power balance to a person’s life. In inquired into the lived experiences of soul healing, as described by four women who participated in a soul loss recovery journey, part of the Trauma Recovery Certification Program developed and taught by Dr. Jane A. Simington. I chose this method because it is a pioneering attempt to blend modern psychoanalytic techniques with ancient shamanic approaches that are still being used in traditional cultures all over the world. This particular therapeutic approach to Trauma Recovery addresses healing at a soul level. It is consistent with a growing interest in the spiritual, and in particular, in the journey of the soul. Shamanism is one form within the spiritual domain that weaves in ancient spiritual healing techniques, thus enriching and gathering together old and modern understandings of how we heal at a soul level. This research is also responsive to the context of our ethnically conscious and diverse society. It raises awareness and invites conversation about different paradigms of healing, and potentially offers more easily accessible choices to traumatized people.

By Any Other Name: Identity, Power, and the Question of Married Women’s Surnames

This study was an exploration of how women experience their senses of power and identity related to their married surnames. I used heuristic methodology which provided a six stage framework for the research process. This methodology involved autobiography as well as the stories of three women. Interviews were conducted with each of the three women and the findings were transcribed. The use of experiential contexts in the method provided a broader understanding of the issues being explored. Also included in the research were historical perspectives on women’s marital surname use as well as contemporary issues of marital surname use. The research primarily had a Canadian and American context with occasional references to other cultures. The findings showed that external influences such as family, friends, and community play significant roles in the decisions of women regarding their marital surnames choices. The patriarchal system of marital naming whereby women adopt their husbands’ surnames remains influential often taking precedence over a woman’s legal right to retain her own surname when she marries. Traditional theology reinforced the patriarchal system, and that socialization remains evident in contemporary times. Motherhood frequently affects women’s marital surname decisions in that they feel a desire to identify by name with the closest family group, that being their husbands and children. Women can feel stripped of power and a diminished sense of identity as a result of the pressure to take on a new surname at the time of their marriages. There is need for continued work towards a system of marital surname use that respects individual identities as well as family identity.

New Wine in Old Wine Skins: Emerging Models of Ministry

Mainline churches today are facing declining memberships in their congregations.  What the church and its ministry offered a half-decade ago has continued to be meaningful to fewer and fewer people today.   The church has been built upon the stories of God in relationship with humanity, ever shaping the people of God.  We have come to a time in history where we are being asked to perceive God in new ways as the church.  Often through necessity, models of ministry today are emerging within mainline protestant congregations, pressing against the seams of existing judicatory acknowledgement and support.  During The United Church of Canada’s formation, an understanding of an educated and set apart role for ministry leadership was accepted through the denominations that united together.  A church structure was then built to maintain this role of professional ministry.  Many within the church today are feeling the detrimental impact of attempting to continue to maintain this as the only model.  My experience of this understanding comes predominantly from within rural and small city congregations, although commonalities can be generalized for the urban centered as well. The countless books written to fix the church today also point to a growing problem.  Adaptations within the traditional model have been tried over the years but overall ask little change or support from the wider church.  There is a model evolving for congregations, lay leaders, professional ministry and seminaries that will birth a new relationship of church in society.  Elder Ministry has the potential to turn the church inside out.  This model builds a ministering community rather than a community gathered around a minister.

Spirituality in Cross-Cultural Counselling is about the experiences of an immigrant to..

Canada who became very curious about what she calls “the double standard” which seems to surround her.  She is a part of a very large faith community because she is a member of the Roman Catholic Church which has over 960 million members world wide.  Yet, she is stereotyped as being a member of a visible minority group and therefore marginalized in a society where 20% of all residents are foreign born and therefore immigrant.

An urge for better relationship among and between the races of people ignited in her a desire to find evidence that there was spirituality in cross-cultural counseling relationships.  She hoped that Cross-Cultural Counseling would reveal one way in which people who were culturally different could relate to each other without a tendency toward viewing other cultures with disfavor and a resulting sense of inherent superiority as she experienced while growing up.  The environment chosen under which the data was acquired was the counseling environment as it was the belief of the researcher that it was in this environment where people were called upon to reveal themselves and to share their innermost feelings.

This thesis explored the spiritual experiences between two persons (one a counselor and the other a counselee) who were of different cultures and were engaged in a counseling relationship.

The research methods used in this study were phenomenological and qualitative.  The former provided a systematic attempt to uncover and describe the internal meaning structures of lived experience and anything that presented itself to consciousness was potentially of interest to this research.  Six participants provided their lived experiences which constitute the sample for this research.  The researcher also added her personal experiences in Spirituality.

The study has six chapters.  Chapter I introduces the reader to the problem, the expectation and personal interest of the researcher in doing this study.  Chapter II reviews the literature of three authors who are Karaban, (1990); Lee and Kane, (1992); and Koverola, (1992). Chapter III explores Spirituality under the sub-headings of (a) definition of terms used in the research; (b) author’s experience in spirituality : liturgical practices; (c) highlight of the author’s spiritual experience; (d) another influence on the formation of the author’s spirituality and (e) explores cultural differences.  Chapter IV provides the methodology.  Chapter V provides the interview data, analysis and discussion.  Chapter VI provides the conclusion and implications.

The findings confirmed that there was a strong indication that while cross-cultural counseling enhanced spiritual experiences it also hindered spiritual experiences.  In cross-cultural counseling spiritual experience was enhanced when the cultural/racial difference was recognized by participants as being wonderful when it taught about the diversity of creation.  When a disparity between the counselee’s race and the counselor’s race was perceived this then became a negative force in cross-cultural counseling.  It did permeate the relationship and destroyed the whole essence of the intent of cross-cultural relationships.

Spiral Dancing

The purpose of this integrative paper is to explore the question, “What does it mean to heal?” It tells the story of one middle-aged woman’s journey towards wholeness.  Using the metaphor of the spiral and the dancer, the author moves through the four levels of consciousness cited in Bernard Lonergan’s Method in Theology by being attentive, intelligent, reasonable and responsible. The author, also, demonstrates how the development of consciousness was part of a maturation process which C. G. Jung called “the path of individuation.”

Role of Shame in Evangelization: A Study of Some Members of the United Church of Canada

This D.Min. dissertation intends to introduce parish workers to the concepts of shame from a philosophical, psychological and theological perspective. Following a brief recounting of the author’s own personal exploration of shame, the difficulties in defining shame, the conditions needed for shame to obtain, and its characteristic features are outlined.  The history of shame analysis, its causes, dynamics, and meaning, are reviewed. Biblical scriptures and Bonhoeffer’s theology are then examined to demonstsate the place of shame within the church.

With this basis in mind, the project dissertation then documents an inductive study of the relative significance of shame in the lives of twenty-four highly-committed lay people within the United Church of Canada.  Transcripts of one hour interviews were examined for the frequency with which referenees to shame, guilt, and existential anxiety were mentioned in relation to turning points of faith. The relationship between shame resolution, shame amplification, and faith development was evaluated.

The study observed that the resolution of shame figured most prominently in the tnning points dessibed by 15 of 24 subjects. Guilt amplification figured strongly in 4 of 24 subjects. While limited in its scope, the results of this study confirm the importance of shame within the pastoral setting. Finally, a variation of Gordon Turner’s Incarnational Evangelism is examined as a model of non-shaming evangelization. Demographic data, directions for further study, and bibliography are offered.

Perichoresis:  The Mysterious Dance of Two Journeys – My Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela & My Pilgrimage with Breast Cancer

On August 28, 1997, Rejeanne Taylor and her family began the historic pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, departing on foot from St. Jean Pied de Port in the foothills of the French Pyrenees, some 750 kilometers distant from their goal.  On November 28, 1999, a short 15 months later, Rejeannebegan a second pilgrimage – the pilgrimage with breast cancer.

In this thesis, Rejeanne explores the characteristics and relational aspects of her two pilgrimages using the six steps of Moustakas’ heuristic research methodology.  This deeply personal narrative uses story, journal entries, poems, select photographs and clarifying quotations from a diverse range of thinkers to bring clarity to the meaning of modern pilgrimage and the blessings that result therefrom.

Climbing the Mountain Together: Describing the Spiritual Experience of Couples who have a Child with Cancer

The purpose of this study is to provide initial evidence to describe how spirituality is involved in the experience of couples who have a child with cancer. This study used an Interpretive Description (I.D.) method which was designed to study health and illness. The outcome is a description of an experience from the viewpoint of the people who have lived it. It is intended that such a description will allow for a greater understanding of how supportive interventions may improve adjustment and healing for the whole family. Three couples were recruited to participate in a 90 minute semi-structured, open-ended interview. Cycles of spiritual dwelling and spiritual seeking were identified as evidence of spiritual transformation in the couples. The strength, trust and reliability in the couple relationship were found to support the process of spiritual transformation.

The Influence of Dancehall Music on a Group of Teenagers at a High School in South St Andrew in Jamaica

This research is an investigation of the influence of dancehall music on a group of teenagers in a High School in South St Andrew in Jamaica. It seeks to determine how the lifestyle, spiritual attitudes and morals of the teenagers are shaped by listening to dancehall music. Phenomenological qualitative methodology is employed in the search in an effort to find, understand and interpret the meaning of the participants’ experiences. The literature and findings of the research both indicate there are positive and negative ways in which dancehall music influences the teenagers and from the data there are 10 ways the teenagers have identified that they have been influenced. However the teenagers are aware and mature in their choice and so the future is not without hope.

From Cocoons to Butterflies: Stories of Perinatal Loss and Faith

This is a personal story of a journey through grief over the perinatal death of my son, Andrew, and the effect this death has had on my spiritual practice and relationship to God.  There are few resources available that consider the deep spiritual ramifications of such a loss with any depth.  Those that are available seem to be sentimental.  In hearing and relating the stories of six other similarly bereaved parents and my spouse, I heard how they experienced God, what their relationship with God is like now and what changes, if any, had happened to their spiritual practices and beliefs.  The importance of ritual is discussed as a way to respond to the spiritual needs of parents and general grief theory is considered.  It is hoped that those who experience the death of a child during pregnancy and those that care for them will find this research helpful on their own journey.

Art Therapy in Addictions Recovery: A Grafting Place for Women’s Healing

Using a phenomenological approach, my thesis question is: What is the lived experience of the women who participate in an addictions recovery group that uses art therapy featuring metaphors related to the vine. Infusing a metaphor about the various attributes of the vine, including narrative and visual art therapy images, had the intention of supporting creative elements in the women’s recovery journey relevant to 12-step programs. My interventions were based on art therapy, applied research, and theological study. I drew deeply from the natural world and Christian-based traditions, weaving art, photography, movement, and writing with ritual and spiritual practice. The vine becomes the intertwining metaphor for this study’s research. I employed phenomenological methodology as the research approach in order to search for themes and the essence of the lived experience(s) of these women, particularly examining whether or not the vine metaphor is relevant and could facilitate the participants’ therapeutic experience. Organic inquiry, which is based on the growth of a plant, inspired aspects of the method. Participants were from a Christian-based residential recovery centre for women. The data was collected from individually recorded interviews and from the mundane data that members contributed through art, non-verbal communication, and verbal comments during the group sessions. The themes support the capacity of artmaking, art reflection, and group dynamics as an efficient, effective addictions treatment modality. I constructed and included a manual called VINES (Visioning Images in Nature Empowering Soul-healing).

Catching Toxic Tears: How is the Sacred Feminine Affected in Therapists Counselling Sexual Abuse Survivors?

A long-term interest in the subject led me to question the effects that dealing daily with the deep wounds of sexual abuse have on the Sacred Feminine and its inner repository, or “feminine soul” in a female therapist. My life journey led me to work with survivors of sexual abuse and assault, and the wounded voices of my clients led to my research question. Their stories made me feel anger towards the men who devalued them to the point that they could sexually abuse them. There is substantial literature highlighting the physical and emotional effect of empathetic caring upon therapists. I questioned how this work imprinted my soul, touching that part of me that connects me to the Divine. I had to be mindful daily of my self-care, knowing that in order to be of help to my clients, my own soul had to be nurtured. My research question, which arises from my own reactions to my clinical work, is as follows: How is the Sacred Feminine affected in therapists who counsel sexual abuse survivors? Organic inquiry and art-based research methodologies guide this research. My personal story will be an integral part of the paper, along with my art. The intention of this study is to gain an understanding of how sexual abuse therapy affects the least acknowledged aspect of female personhood—the Sacred Feminine. Through this study I seek to give meaning and voice to the experience of the stressful and sometimes distressing work of trauma therapy, as well as create the opportunity for the reader to envision more holistic ways of thinking about the Goddess, the Earth, and our place in it.

The Spirituality of the Iconographer: An Encounter with Mary

This dissertation uses a heuristic reflection method, as developed by Clark Moustakas, to explore a relationship with the Divine and with the Virgin Mary.  Iconography, the writing of icons, was the spiritual discipline used to explore these relationships.  The author, an ordained woman in the Protestant tradition, used three icons of the Virgin Mary to help discover if Mary could be a way to access the feminine aspect of God.  Through the use of iconography, journaling and scriptural reflection facets of the “softer” God did appear.  However, the personality of Mary herself became the dominant feature of this research, re-affirming, for the author, Mary’s importance as a member of the community of faith and raising questions about how this importance can be reclaimed by the Protestant Church.

Concerns Especially Related to the Provision of Field Education for Second Career Theological Interns

The purpose of this study was to determine which issues were most significant in adapting field education — especially theological internships — to the needs of persons embarking upon ordered ministry as a second (or third) career.

While this study makes some reference to standard works regarding mid-life adjustment, it focuses upon the findings of a 1986 mail survey by the writer.  Parallel questionnaires were sent to United Church second career interns (SCIs) who were already ordained, SCIs back in theological college, SCIs serving internships and experienced Field education supervisors and directors. Of the 102 questionnaires distributed, 65 responses were returned.  The data I used most came from 49 former and active SCIs (23 women, 26 men).

Combined responses yielded data regarding:  career change ages, family relationships and obligations, age differences between men and women, the nature of first careers, levels of education, individual gifts, significant mentors and the SCIs’ most strongly felt needs.

This study confirmed the finding of numerous others that older learners expect tangible results from what they do.  Many are keenly aware of how quickly their years are passing.  The intern’s learning goals and covenant must give him/her a clear experience of authentic ministry, which must be intentionally evaluated. Theological reflection is an integral part of this review. At the same time it is necessary to remember that the loss of professional identity and self-esteem calls for positive reinforcement and assistance to enable the SCI to grow into her/his new ministerial identity. Other essential ingredients include: trust, respect, honesty and affirmation.  One thing is clear — each intern is unique and needs to have that uniqueness recognized, honoured and respected.  For SCIs, their former careers constitute a profound part of that uniqueness.  More than anything else, that is the finding of this study.

Promoting Diaconal Ministry with Presbytery Education and Students and Pastoral Relations Committees

This is a report on and analysis of a project done with three presbyteries in Maritime Conference of The United Church of Canada to help them better understand and support diaconal ministry.

With the active participation of the Committee on Diaconal Ministry of The United Church of Canada’s General Council’s Division of Ministry Personnel and Education, and Maritime Conference’s Ministry Support and Development Committee, this thesis is grounded in the identified needs and capabilities of the United Church.  The assessments done with Diaconal Ministers, conference personnel ministers, and presbytery Education and Students and Pastoral Relations Committees all indicated that, if they were to better promote diaconal ministry, they would need better resource material, supportive educational programmes and leadership developed for these presbytery committees.

Based upon an action-reflection model of adult education, the project developed several print resources and workshop outlines for interpreting diaconal ministry, for use by these particular committees.  These resources and workshops, which are included in the Appendices, were trialed and evaluated by the three presbyteries’ Education and Students and Pastoral Relations Committees.

Finally, this thesis prepares a set of recommendations for resource development, workshop and the leadership needed to guide the implementation of these recommendations.

Evolving Symbols – Evolving Ministry: An Exploration of Diaconal Symbols in The United Church of Canada

This thesis is an exploration of how uniforms, pins and other symbols of diaconal ministry evolved, and how their evolution continues to impact the understanding of diaconal ministry in The United Church of Canada. Theological lenses of incarnational creativity, identity, and faithful response, shape reflection in a two-part process using a mixed methodology of historic and narrative research and writing. First, a narrative history of Deaconess uniforms and the introduction of badges and pins, from early times, through remission, resurgence in Europe, into Great Britain, the United States, and Canada, reveals the connective heritage for uniforms and pins of the Methodist, Presbyterian, and after 1925, United Church Deaconesses. The evolution of United Church uniforms, pins, and other symbols sets the historic context for the second section, the narration of the development of a new pin and coloured logo for Diakonia of the United Church of Canada in 2011. The new pin process and design reveal vital themes of diaconal identity: connection to the United Church, dynamic life-giving theology, action/reflection analysis, creative ministry on the margins, and, accountability to the diaconal community which embodies justice.

Lectio Divina: A Hermeneutic of Life

The very tenor of the thesis’ title: Lectio Divina: A Hermeneutic of Life, suggests a traditional yet contemporary method of interpreting the Bible that is both accessible and formative for everyone. As an antecedent to contemporary methods, lectio divina is an ‘umbrella’ hermeneutic that intuitively articulates the implicit presuppositions of such modern methods as liberation or canonicity. By employing the exegetical tools of life experience, anyone with a desire for the Word of God can read and interpret the Bible as one’s own story: a story of God with us. Far from being an inferior method, lectio divina is a way of putting the Bible back into the hands of the people by resurrecting the relationship of Scripture with daily life.

Oh, everyone who thirsts, come to the water; and you that have no money, come buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. (Isaiah 55:1)

Integrative Study: Where You Go I Will Go: My Journey with Naomi and Ruth

In this paper I reflect on my personal journey of leaving my spiritual home; travelling roads of loss, sorrow, connection, and rejuvenation; and returning home a changed person.  Using the story of Naomi and Ruth to reflect on my own life, I explore themes of emptiness and fulfilment, integration of mind and heart, companioning and mutuality, and the value of love. The first chapter opens up the biblical story through theological reflection. In the following chapters I tell my story, weaving it with the biblical narrative. Ruth and Naomi’s story gives me new perspectives on my own story, and new words by which to understand it. By using Ruth to reflect on my own journey I am enabled to live with clearer purpose and greater understanding of myself and my relationships.

Peer Ministry in Confirmation Preparation

Principles of peer teaching and learning are integrated into an adolescent confirmation process for ages fifteen to seventeen through the development of “A Curriculum for Peer Ministry in Confirmation Preparation.” An analysis of confirmation practices and resources in the United Church of Canada and other denominations is provided. Recent theory on adolescent development is reviewed. Peer programs are analyzed and a theology of peer ministry developed setting out principles and strategies for the development of a curriculum in 23 sessions.  This peer curriculum is tested through data acquired from confirmands, assessment by ten colleagues and personal diary.   Based on analysis of data, eleven recommendations are presented.  Conclusions: 1) significant increase in training of peer leaders is required prior and during the implementation of peer curriculum, and 2) the testing indicates some correspondence between the hypothesis and the implementation of the peer curriculum project.

Surgery and the Spirit: The Patient Experience of Pastoral Care in the Context of Hospitalization for Surgery

A qualitative study using in depth interviews was made of the experiences of seven patients who received pastoral care during their experience of surgery at a large, urban, acute care hospital. The pastoral care experience was explored within the whole patient experience from the onset of health problems to the discharge from hospital. Insight was gained into the way patients viewed their health problem and prepared for entering the hospital for surgery. The impact of surgery, the effect of anesthetic, and complications in the healing process were explored. Patients revealed ways in which they experience pastoral caregivers, other staff, and the hospital environment.

Patients saw their surgery, not just as an isolated event, but as part of their life experience. They often connected the facts of what they went through with the impact on their spirit. They provided insights into the variety of reasons why information may be important to them. They indicated that there may be an identification between the pastoral caregiver and religion. A variety of ways that pastoral caregivers can be helpful are revealed. Links are uncovered between patient’s life style and the ways they appreciate pastoral care, as well as they ways they cope with the experience of hospitalization. Most interesting is the understanding of ways in which patients compensate for the troubling, frightening, and chaotic aspects of their experience before and after surgery. Finally they remind us that, above all, this is a human experience involving loving, caring, laughing, sensitivity, hope, being there, trust, calming, sharing the suffering, and connecting with what we believe in beyond ourselves.

Generational Theory and Its Applications to the Canadian Church Context

This study examines the theory that there exists a distinct cycle of generations and how the understanding of these generations might influence the future of mainstream Canadian churches.

The definitions and characteristics of four main generational groupings:  Civic/GI/Millenial, Adaptive/Silent, Idealist/Boomers, and Reactive/Generation X/Thirteenth Generation (as defined by the work of William Strauss and Neil Howe) are examined through the lens of the mainstream Canadian church, and  especially the United Church of Canada.  These generational definitions form the basis for two congregational projects including an intergenerational worship and a questionnaire.

The results of the congregational projects are analysed according to the responses of each generation.  The findings are compared to the theory of four generational cycles.

Worship, Christian education, stewardship, and governance are examined and based on the findings from literature and from congregational research, future directions and actions are suggested.

At Home Within the Divinity of Nature:  Transforming Our Relationship with Creation

This essay proposes the transformation of our relationship with Nature. It argues for the necessity and timeliness of transitioning from our predominantly anthropocentric, mechanistic paradigm towards an eco-centric view that values the divinity inherit in Nature.   This essay asserts that at the heart of the contemporary environmental crisis there resides a deeper theological crisis of profound proportions. The insights of eco-psychology, ecological theology, deep ecology and the author’s personal and professional experience are synthesized to suggest a way forward towards an eco-centric theology and worldview.  It argues that the anthropocentric and mechanistic bias of our secular and religious worldview has resulted in and is symptomatic of our alienation and dissociation from out true selves, the world of Nature and from God and that our recovery from this ‘dis-ease’ is contingent upon our transition to an eco-centric theology.

Quiet Magic: Using Metaphor Journeys to Explore Transition in an Arts-based Group Setting

This arts-informed study investigates how a group of eight participants, who self-identified as being in a transition process, experience an arts-based, six session group workshop entitled Quiet Magic, led by the author and organized around metaphor themes. A rite of passage and a hero’s journey provide the thematic context for the workshop sessions. The author examines three aspects of participants’ experience: 1) participating in a group-based experience, 2) undertaking various art-making activities that formed the body of the workshop sessions, and 3) making art and being involved in other workshop experiences related to a mythic and metaphoric journey. The author analyzes research data using a method of constant comparison inquiry and identified four overarching themes. These themes were metaphoric thinking, emergent form, personal process, and metaphoric journey. The author views these themes as qualities of the creative flow that were activated when participants undertook the liminal phase of their journey during the six sessions of the workshop. The research data shows arts-based metaphor journey themes may be helpful to workshop participants in facilitating their intra-psychic exploration. These journey themes can lead participants to gain new insights and perspectives as they move through a period of transition. To be effective, however, the use of metaphor journey themes in a workshop setting need to match the individual requirements of participants’ personal learning process. Overall, this research suggests metaphoric themes and metaphoric thinking, when used in conjunction with art-making experiences, can foster a creative flow of expression and provide a supportive bridge for exploring personal development and transition.

The Relationship between Personality Traits, Traumatic Grief and Coping Style

The ability to cope in times of traumatic grief is believed to be largely due to individual personality traits. The study sought to assess to what extent does personality traits impact traumatic grief and coping style. A quantitative research was done with one hundred persons who have experienced traumatic grief. They were asked to complete a self report on their personality, behaviour and coping response. These responses were all compared. The purpose of this research was to provide information that could be added to the body of knowledge that exist that could help therapist to offer effective pastoral and psychological care to person. The result confirms that there is a statistically significant relationship between personality traits and traumatic grief; personality trait and coping style. The implications of the result and prospective areas of future research are discussed.

Worship and Affirmation

This thesis explores the meaningfulness of worship; in particular, worship based on a theology of affirmation. Worshippers and leaders alike found the worship experiences positive.  However, there was great diversity in individual responses to particular parts of the liturgies.

To Be Redemptorist: The Emerging Vocation of the Lay Missionary of the Most Holy Redeemer Within the Redemptorist Family

Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer (LMMHR) are those lay people engaged in the closest form of partnership in mission with Redemptorists. The category of LMMHR was created by the 1991 General Chapter of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. My dissertation addresses the question, ‘What is the vocation of the Lay Missionary of the Most Holy Redeemer within the Redemptorist family?’ I enter into exploration of this question first through a review of documents of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer and the Roman Catholic Church. Next, I propose a theology of partnership in mission rooted in Scripture and Redemptorist history. The project portion of this work takes the form of a series of ethnographic interviews with LMMHRs. This is followed by the presentation and analysis of the results. One outcome is that unclear expectations of LMMHR and Redemptorist members resulted in a number of problems and difficulties in shared life and mission. More significantly, emerging from the analysis is a clear need for effective formation in and for partnership. Therefore, in the final chapter, I develop a model for a formation process for Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer, and also for professed Redemptorists. This model is based on the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, adapting the catechumenal model for formation in this specific context.

Blockages to Faith Created by Doubt in Pastoral Context

A qualitative approach utilizing case studies was used to explore doubt causation. Initially twenty-eight people were interviewed twice, subsequently six people were studies in depth. The results confirmed a relationship between doubt causation and conditional acceptance; broken trust; guilt, projection of father and/or mother onto God, all of the latter occurring in relationships with principal others.

The project explored the relationship between doubt types (rational, emotional and unconscious) and doubt causation.  It is concluded that failure to express the pain of separation from God will lead to a tendency to transfer responsibility for the separation onto God.

Artful Expression:  The Lived Experience of Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) Syndrome

Mayer–Rokitansky–Küster–Hauser syndrome (MRKH) is a congenital abnormality characterized by the non-formation of uterus, cervix and vagina; with an estimated incidence of one in 5,000 live female births.  An MRKH sub-type, also known as Mullerian Renal Cervicothoracic Somite (MURCS) Association, adds features of renal, skeletal, hearing and cardiac anomalies. Extensive research has speculated the etiology of MRKH, explicated differential diagnosis, and documented treatment options.  This research study combined hermeneutic phenomenology and art-based methods with group process in order to reveal the lived experience of this condition and richly enhance the body of literature pertaining to MRKH. Informed by descriptive phenomenology and seasoned with heuristics, this research was designed and conducted by a social worker who was an art therapist in training and a woman diagnosed with MRKH syndrome.  Purposive sampling brought five co-researchers together to participate in a weekend retreat group process. Artmaking methodology was used to explore and express the impact of MRKH.  Data collection included audio recordings of individual interviews, group sharing, excerpts from co-researchers’ personal journals, reflexive writing and photographic documentation of art works. Interpretative descriptions of art revealed themes of discovery, revelation and healing. Knowledge about psychological themes was enhanced.  Co-researchers described the consequences of their participation in the research as transformational and reported personal therapeutic benefits including increased self-confidence, self-understanding, self-acceptance, and integration of MRKH with current life stages.  Theology infused the discussion with spiritual considerations.

A Pilgrim in France and Spain: A Quest for My Spiritual Home

This thesis records the pilgrimage I made with my husband in the footsteps of St. James to Santiago de Compostela during the fall of 2004. It documents the challenges of walking over 800 kilometres in 38 days; the spiritual insights experienced during that time; the synchronicity of the days that followed in France; and my subsequent reflections in the weeks after returning home. Daily journal entries and photographs taken during the pilgrimage, along with the images of the mandalas I subsequently created, helped express the experience of my sacred journey.

Expanding Horizons: Stories of the Spirituality of Canadian Prairie Women

This dissertation is an exploration of the stories Canadian prairie women tell about the ways in which the prairie nurtures their spirituality.  Spirituality is defined as a journey or a quest for intimacy with self, others, God/ess, and all of creation. This work is in the narrative genre and the stories were gathered through interviews with three prairie women. Three themes emerge from the women’s stories. The themes are the prairie experiences of openness and space, of wonder and awe, and of paradox. This exploration leads to the possibility of further inquiry about the ways in which traditional experiences of church may not have met the needs of Canadian prairie women and ways in which these needs might be met more fully.

Stewardship With A Twist: Changes In Perception, Experience And Response

Many congregations within Alberta and Northwest Conference either are financially challenged or experiencing a stewardship crisis. This project was designed to present stewardship in ways that integrated spiritual and financial aspects of giving, by using innovative but practical concepts that were developed, adapted, and presented in a variety of church situations. This approach demonstrated how, in changing the experience, congregations and leaders could change the perception of, and therefore the financial response to stewardship in ways that were significant. Many of the underlying problems and concerns associated with stewardship attitudes, beliefs, experiences and practices were explored, and insights, suggestions and activities were offered that would begin to deal with the complex issues identified.

The methodology used, relied on experience and wisdom gained from implementing and testing alternative education concepts and program ideas introduced at stewardship workshops and in congregations which were designed to make improvements to stewardship programs, financial campaigns and overall givings. Workshop evaluations indicated that stewardship leaders were seeking out and responding to holistic, spiritual and creative ways of reforming stewardship beliefs, attitudes and behaviours in their congregations. Responses demonstrated that the alternative approaches introduced generated renewed energy, excitement and motivation for stewardship leaders. Overall pledge increases in congregations suggested that members had responded significantly to innovative ways of connecting ministry and mission to the financial needs of the church. It is clear that innovative and alternative stewardship education methods, when utilized in a spiritual, faith-based context which is sensitive to language, images, theology and the needs of the members of the congregation, will achieve meaningful results.

From the Prison of Stereotype to the Freedom of Relationship: Welcoming the Otherwise Despised in a Circle of Support and Accountability

Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) is a community-based program designed to help people who have offended sexually during their process of reintegration after their release from prison. Former offenders with CoSA Circles have achieved significantly lower recidivism rates than those without circles. What is it about the CoSA phenomenon that makes the difference? Statistical studies confirm the favorable outcomes brought about by CoSA; a qualitative approach can help to explain how and why it works. This qualitative, hermeneutical-phenomenological research project explored the lived experience of CoSA volunteers in an effort to understand the nature of the relationship that forms between them and their core member. It began with an investigation of the context in which CoSA operates, including a description of the CoSA structure itself and the two main public approaches to crime—retributive and restorative. The researcher’s context was also summarized for the purpose of epoché. A theoretical background was presented that incorporated mimetic theory, first proposed by René Girard, and existing literature about sexual offenders, the community, and CoSA volunteers. Research was conducted from a social constructivist point of view in the form of in-depth interviews with fifteen CoSA volunteers and one prospective volunteer. The research question was rooted in the notion that the CoSA relationship had previously been likened to a friendship, asking specifically how friendship was experienced. Results revealed that friendship was indeed experienced by some participants but not by all. More decisively, it was revealed that a combination of four elements proved to be both unique and essential to the CoSA relationship as it contributes to the successful reintegration of the core members: the suspension of stereotype, the solidly intentional approach to establishing the nature of the relationship, emotional investment, and ample opportunity for social interaction outside the formal structure of the circle. In conclusion, the research has contributed profoundly to the understanding of the nature of the CoSA journey, and affirmed both the responsibility and the positive role of local community members in enhancing public safety through the practice of restorative justice.

Journeyers: An Experiment in Discipleship

Mainline Protestant churches have neglected or avoided one of their main functions; to make disciples.  The process of discipleship has been shunned for a variety of reasons: the churches confusion about how to relate to the society; personal reasons of pastors who would need to share leadership and change their leadership roles in churches; and because of the context of ministry today that has “new world view” persons avoiding commitments and disciplines which are necessary in discipleship.

This dissertation project attempted to measure the effectiveness of one model of discipleship training in a mainline Protestant congregation.  In order to develop a focus for the project, fourteen pastors were surveyed regarding what they consider to be key components to the discipleship process. The barriers to discipleship included: the impact of affluence upon people, especially the resulting increased numbers of choices and options available; the fear of authority associated in the minds of many with fundamentalism; too few entry points for unchurched people into the churches; and the lack of spiritual discipline, the lack of prayer and Biblical illiteracy in people both inside and outside the churches.  In analyzing the barriers to discipleship, the author also has reflected upon them and placed them in a theological framework of understanding and implications.

A survey of the Biblical basis of discipleship included the examples of Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, to the New Testament examples of Jesus and The Twelve and the examples of the apostolic age discipleship process.  The content and focus of Jesus’ discipleship was reviewed including the key New Testament passages that define Jesus’ style of discipleship.

Based upon the barriers to discipleship, the data provided by the fourteen pastors and the Biblical background material, the author established essential components for a discipleship process in main-line Protestant churches.  The essential components identified were:  a mutual process of selection and commitment from both participants and leader; a building of relationships into a supportive and accountable community; voluntarily chosen disciplines; a body of theoretical content; use of action and reflection as a training method; integra:tion of body, mind and spirit in the process; and use of an appropriate amount of time to make the process effective.

A ten-week project called “Journeyers” was created to implement the essential components identified. Twelve persons participated in “Journeyers” and they were tested as to their perceptions regarding their own discipleship before and after the program. The self-perceptions regarding discipleship of a randomly selected group from the same congregation were also tested at the same time.

The evaluation instruments used were an open-ended statement that was completed regarding discipleship, and a self-assessment questionnaire covering the various dimensions of discipleship using a Likker scale. Because of the small size of the sample of the Control Group, discriminate statistical analysis was not possible, but simple numerical evaluations and use of means indicated that the hypotheses were true.  The results indicated that most of the “Journeyers” moved positively toward deeper discipleship, and that the “Journeyers” change was greater than the change demonstrated by the Control Group.

The conclusion of the dissertation project is that this particular model of discipleship training is effective in a mainline Protestant congregation.  The author is also of the opinion that this model can be utilized in a variety of mainline Protestant contexts.

Could I have the Dance?

This integrative study is based on heuristic self-inquiry. Through storytelling I explore the significance of the journey to know God as one of spiritual awakening and reflect on what is understood about God at various stages in the journey. Chapter One sets the stage for the integrative study. I share experiences that provide background to the story and explore the questions at the heart of my writing. Chapter Two begins with a personal life review. The focus of the chapter is to provide a life span and literature review, recording the understandings about God that surfaced at various stages in my journey. I record mystical experiences, draw upon insights from journal entries throughout the years, from papers written at various phases of my journey, from conversations with Colin, my spiritual teacher, and from books on spirituality in both Western and Eastern traditions. In Chapter Three authors Diarmuid O’Murchu and Gretta Vosper are interviewed. They are invited to share their journeys of faith. Each interview is recorded and open ended in nature. The commonalities and differences within each person’s story are identified. Chapter Four identifies common patterns that emerged from the personal life review, the interviews with the authors and the literature review. Insights gleaned from the integrative study are synthesized within this chapter and a summation is given.

A Reading of “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” as a Spiritual Theology Imperfection

This thesis presents the findings done from investigating the spiritual theology of the fourteenth-century English poem, “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” Firstly, the poem is situated within its medieval context. Specifically, the teachings of medieval mystics on the spiritual journey is examined. Secondly, the poem itself is considered in greater detail. The journey of one Christian, a knight from Arthur’s court, Gawain, is explored. The life-altering challenges and failures faced by the protagonist are studied, as are the relationships Gawain has with those around him. His practice of Christian piety and virtues are also central to who he is, how he relates to others, and what he learns, or fails to learn, on the journey. Lastly, then, the thesis draws conclusions from all this information as to the spiritual teaching contained within this poem. The knight’s stubbornness and apparent inability to come to terms, at least in the immediate aftermath, are regarded as central to the Gawain-poet’s determination of the spiritual life. This determination is that the inner reality of a person is more important than the outer persona, and that the roles that one plays can become quite constricting to the spiritual life, especially when failure—or what is regarded as failure—is not an option. This thesis concludes that the poem presents us with a teaching on the risks of leading a spiritual life wherein the person attempts to act perfectly.

Choosing to Serve

This project/dissertation will examine the phenomenon of “burnout”  among Christian caregivers.  It will  take into consideration findings mainly from authors of pastoral care, addiction recovery programs and codependency research. It will attempt to proceed further from the research of other works to include the spiritual dimension of this problem.

The  initial  concern  for  this  researcher  is  the caregivers themselves. My research findings indicate there are common bonds that attract people to caregiving roles and which could develop into feelings of inadequacy within their personal lives. These feelings contribute to an experience of “burn out” in their role as caregivers.  The question to be researched is: “What were the experiences of “burn out” for  the  caregivers which contributed to developing codependent moments in their caregiving relationships?”

The specific hypothesis for this study is that no matter whether the caregivers function in a formal or informal role, their “burn out” experiences have similarities which lead to codependent moments in their personal lives. The research will investigate whether the tendency  of  the caregivers is to take upon themselves the “helpee’s” problems or are they able to keep a proper perspective which will lead to the enablement of the helpee’s growth.

The  method  of  research  used  in  this  project/dissertation is qualitative in nature. Specific people who have identified themselves as caregivers having experienced “burn out” were invited to participate  The contents of their responses were gathered through an interview process which was taped and then transcribed verbatim. There were visual observations recorded by the author throughout the interview which were considered in the transcriptions. The responses  of each caregiver were examined in order to determine the elements which contributed to their “burn out” experiences.

Musical Reverberation in Contrasting Worship Spaces

Worship spaces have a sound character of their own.  The acoustical makeup of any space is complex.  Among the components that contribute to the acoustical architecture of a worship space are reverberation characteristics.  These characteristics affect both the spoken word and music and thus have an impact on the experience of worship.

The scope of this Project/Dissertation has been limited to the reverberation characteristics of two contrasting worship spaces and shows how they affected the responses of fifteen participants to selected pieces of choral music that were recorded in those spaces.  The theoretical basis for the research centered on the participants’ memory (past, present and future), a theme of aesthetics (as process rather than object-oriented in concept), and the creative imagination as the vehicle for the participants to articulate their experiences.

The methodology for the project was a phenomenological model that utilized individual interviews as the research technique.  Fifteen participants sat for pre- and post- interviews; a listening component was the central focus.  The pre-interview helped to establish what memories of music and sound each participant brought to the listening experiences.  The interview responses were analyzed and coded and a thematic model of the essence of the listening experience emerged.

The results suggested that reverberation characteristics were a dominant player in the listening experience and by extension in the experience of worship.  A sense of awe, wonder and mystery emerged as the prerogative of reverberation characteristics for all of the participants most of the time.  The implications are that reverberation characteristics of worship spaces acts as a theological soundboard that resonates with the worshipers’ faith, and that reverberation characteristics hold potential to function as a language of mystery, aiding the interpretation and articulation of that faith.

The research project concluded the clergy, musicians and others (notably architects and church designers) are challenged to use existing reverberation characteristics more creatively and to factor reverberation characteristics into the design of planned new worship spaces.

Musical Reverberation in Contrasting Worship Spaces

Worship spaces have a sound character of their own.  The acoustical makeup of any space is complex.  Among the components that contribute to the acoustical architecture of a worship space are reverberation characteristics.  These characteristics affect both the spoken word and music and thus have an impact on the experience of worship.

The scope of this Project/Dissertation has been limited to the reverberation characteristics of two contrasting worship spaces and shows how they affected the responses of fifteen participants to selected pieces of choral music that were recorded in those spaces.  The theoretical basis for the research centered on the participants’ memory (past, present and future), a theme of aesthetics (as process rather than object-oriented in concept), and the creative imagination as the vehicle for the participants to articulate their experiences.

The methodology for the project was a phenomenological model that utilized individual interviews as the research technique.  Fifteen participants sat for pre- and post- interviews; a listening component was the central focus.  The pre-interview helped to establish what memories of music and sound each participant brought to the listening experiences.  The interview responses were analyzed and coded and a thematic model of the essence of the listening experience emerged.

The results suggested that reverberation characteristics were a dominant player in the listening experience and by extension in the experience of worship.  A sense of awe, wonder and mystery emerged as the prerogative of reverberation characteristics for all of the participants most of the time.  The implications are that reverberation characteristics of worship spaces acts as a theological soundboard that resonates with the worshipers’ faith, and that reverberation characteristics hold potential to function as a language of mystery, aiding the interpretation and articulation of that faith.

The research project concluded the clergy, musicians and others (notably architects and church designers) are challenged to use existing reverberation characteristics more creatively and to factor reverberation characteristics into the design of planned new worship spaces.

Living the Tension: Deepening an Understanding of the Therapist’s Experience with Social Identities and Power Relations

Research on therapists’ experience of their own social identities and power relations in the therapeutic space is limited. This study provides an opening into the experience of three therapists who described living the tension of their own social identities and power relations so that space is created for the meeting of other. The researcher was also included as a coparticipant in the study. A hermeneutic phenomenological research approach was used to explore the psycho-theological layers in the research question and to deepen understanding of how therapists come to a practice attuned to the depth of meaning in this experience of meeting other. The existential categories of body, space, time, other, and selfhood were applied as a soft structure for shaping the semistructured interviews and for synthesizing and interpreting data. Findings are discussed as they relate to the existential categories and to the multidimensionality and complexity of power relations and social identity. Results also demonstrated that living the tension requires an ability to live in the vulnerability and strain of the tension. As a result of this study, therapists are encouraged to consider the meeting spaces and movements of social identity and power relations intrapsychically and interrelationally; as well as to consider how the meeting spaces and movements are sieved through these five existential categories. Insight into the meeting spaces and movements requires further complicating multicultural and cultural competency models in counselling so that tension in the therapeutic space can be embraced with flow and movement.

“Holding” on a Leash: The Role of Companion Animals in Counselling and Psychology

The purpose of this qualitative research was twofold.  The first goal was to discover the role of companion animals in the therapeutic process of counseling and psychology.  Using a phenomenological research design, in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with three psychologist participants, who use animals in their therapy settings.  The focus of the interviews was to determine their experiences of having a companion animal present during therapy sessions.  Data analysis revealed that pets in therapy 1) Enhanced the therapeutic alliance/relationship; 2) Enhanced the therapeutic environment; 3) Enhanced professional practice; and 4) Created a sense of sacredness.  The second purpose of this research was to apply the four extracted themes to Winnicott’s concepts of the holding environment and transitional phenomena (Phillips, 1988).  The data suggested that the therapy animals supplied qualities of the phenomena of “good-enough-mother,” and in doing so, played a role in the creation and maintenance of what Winnicott referred to as “the holding environment.”  The findings suggested that the therapy animals helped provide the trust and safety needed for clients to work within the transitional space and that the animals may act as transitional objects for some clients. Evidence in this study suggested that the therapy animals were extremely helpful in providing a sense of safety for traumatized clients, and could act as a catalyst, especially with defensive and/or detached clients.  These findings appear to agree with Fine and Mio (2006) who stated, “…with the sensitive use of animals, [therapists] may very well achieve a therapeutic breakthrough” (p. 514).   It would seem skilled therapists may find animal-assisted therapy to be a powerful tool to have at their disposal.

“LIVING A LIE” The Edmonton Residential School 1950 to 1960 – A Story of Sexual Abuse by a United Church Minister and the Response by the Church of the Time.

Using hermeneutic inquiry with a critical theory lens, I sought to document and unconceal the involvement of the United Church of Canada in a case of sexual abuse of children at the Edmonton Residential School during 1950 to 1960. Through analysis of the archival data, I sought to understand how the discourses created by the UCC in documents and policies reveal factors at play which normalize practices, attitudes and beliefs resulting in harm, a legacy which affects the First Nations Peoples of the Tsimshian Nation of Lax Kw’alaams, British Columbia. These factors at play are: patriarchy/sexism; colonialism /settler mentality; racism; and Government/Church relations. I utilized critical analysis of the current literature to examine the structures and systems that supported the abuse at the Edmonton Residential School. I, as a United Church minister, and a lifelong member of the Church, am deeply and emotionally connected to this inquiry through my own personal and professional relationship to the United Church of Canada and to the people of Lax Kw’alaams. I aspire to contribute to a better understanding of the past that informs all of us within the United Church of Canada to develop a polity that contributes to reconciliation with Aboriginal Peoples. I do so with the deeply felt belief that without truth telling there can be no reconciliation.

How Do Christian Beliefs Influence Job Satisfaction in the Workplace: A Reflection of the Researcher’s Experience in the Hotel Industry

This phenomenological study examined the experience of Christian hotel workers and sought to gain a richly detailed and deeper understanding of how their Christian beliefs influenced their job satisfaction.  This study is based on a reflexive exploration of the impact of Christian beliefs on job satisfaction in the hotel industry.  Current literature on this phenomenon is scarce and the intent is to create a personal and useful understanding of job satisfaction for the Christian hotel worker.  It examines the Christian faith and key beliefs in prayer, tithing/giving/stewardship and the fruit of the Spirit.  Job satisfaction was mainly guided by an exploration of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory.  To support the view that Christian beliefs influence job satisfaction, a phenomenological approach, involving interviews with fifteen hotel workers from Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands was utilized.  They answered the central research question “According to your personal experience, how have your Christian beliefs influenced your job satisfaction in the workplace?”  From their experiences, three themes emerged:  prayer, tithing/giving/stewardship and Biblical behavioural traits.  An examination of the significant statements revealed how the Christian hotel workers applied their Christian beliefs in order to obtain job satisfaction at the five levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  Additionally, research results concurred with my experience that these Christian beliefs do influence job satisfaction in the workplace.

Issues Affecting the Elderly in the Church of God of Prophecy, Jamaica: A Proposed Counselling Model

The purpose of this research is to investigate some of the issues affecting the elderly, and to propose a counselling model within the Church of God of Prophecy, with special emphasis on the St. Catherine East Division. It briefly highlights the dynamism of aging and focuses on issues affecting the elderly by distinctly paying attention to their physical and psychological health, and the social and economical realities affecting them- these the researcher believes are pertinent in understanding the plight of this age group.  Coping strategies along with theological perspective were deemed necessary to understand the function and purpose of various support systems and how these may be helpful during any crisis. It became clear from the findings that psychological and financial woes are some of the most frequent challenges encountered by this age group.  The ricocheting effect of the current economic dilemma often lead to psychological concerns as persons try to survive high inflation rates with limited or no financial resources from which to draw.  Other emerging issues include loneliness and abuse, which are very evident but hardly discussed among the elderly.  Evidence also suggests that many of the elderly were unprepared for retirement which could be a spinoff of not having sufficient knowledge on how to structure and contribute to a retirement plan. The researcher concluded that the Church of God of Prophecy needs to pay closer attention to the cause of the elderly by developing programmes and policies that can help to adequately address their needs.  A structured counselling model was developed that could help to alleviate some of the many difficulties that this age group face.  Several recommendations were discussed with a view to address some of these challenges, subsequently improving the quality of life for this age group.

Psoma Yoga: Exploring the Lived Experience

Research related to body-centred psychotherapy remains under-represented in the literature. There are very few studies about the client experience with these therapies. In this research, the results of a hermeneutic-phenomenological inquiry into the experience of Psoma Yoga, a body-centred therapy, are presented. Interactive interviews were conducted with six adults, four women and two men, who had participated in Psoma Yoga. Interpretive thematic analysis based on a reflexive phenomenological epistemology was used. Themes identified in the data were the call, embodiment, and transformation. Psoma Yoga participants report being called to this type of experience. They noticed embodiment which resulted in increased awareness, changes in perception and transformed relationships with self, others and the world. Findings are discussed in relation to current neuroscience knowledge, integration into nursing practice, education and counselling and psychotherapy practice. The uniqueness of this work lies in its rich description of embodiment as a potential guide for creating greater health, well-being and wholeness, for individuals and communities. As a result of this research, individuals and caring professionals such as nurses, counsellors, and educators are encouraged to consider including a more body-centred approach to life and practice. Considerations for further research are recommended.

Spirituality and Exploratory Grounded Theory Research: A Match Made in Heaven

The goal of this thesis has been the conceptualization and contextualization of Grounded Theory (GT) as a methodological framework upon which to base an exploration of Spirituality. The culmination of an exploration of Spirituality using this methodology is the generation of an emergent theory of “living spirituality” not “lived spirituality”.

A new phrase has been coined to represent the methodology that was developed: “Exploratory Grounded Theory Research (eGTr)”. The methodology is based upon Grounded Theory and is described in detail. In the methodology described, there is a strong emphasis on the exploratory nature of this type of research as well as levels of relationship and experiences that may emerge and impact an exploratory study of Spirituality. The methodology of eGTr is reflexive and integrative in nature. Data and theory are intimately connected, through the essence, the spirit, of relationship and praxis.

An overview of “Spirituality” research abstracted in Psychology and Medicine was conducted to determine a trajectory of interest in Spirituality in these two areas. Concrete definitions of Spirituality are provided from the literature as a starting point for the exploration. Connections have been explored between Spirituality, levels of understanding of relationships, sin, Quality of Life and Subjective Well-Being have been explored as aspects of human experience that might emerge as areas to further develop and explore.

Adolescent Boys’ Perspectives on the Relationships they have with their Fathers

This was an exploratory study in response to a lack of data on father-son relationship in the Cayman Islands.  The main purpose was to seek answers to two questions: (1) What were the perspectives of adolescent boys on the relationships they had with their fathers? (2)  What were the factors that contributed to their relationships?  Eighty nine adolescent boys from within the community of the Cayman Islands responded to the survey. The survey was a Likert type rating scale designed by the researcher.  The instrument designed was based on literature about adolescents. Participants responded to statements which were rated on a continuum from strongly agree to strongly disagree. The scale ranged from 1 – 5, where 1 and 2 were considered as positive responses. Ratings which were scored 3, 4, or 5 were considered as negative responses.  To analyze the survey, the responses were first divided into two groups based on responses to question 1 on the survey:”I have a positive relationship with my father.”  The 61% (54 adolescent boys) who indicated that they had positive relationships with their fathers formed Group 1. The other 39% (35 adolescent boys) who indicated that they had negative relationships with their fathers formed Group 2.  Findings indicated that Emotional Support, and Communication, were factors that contributed to the positive perspectives that Group 1 (54 adolescent boys) had of their fathers.  Conversely, Emotional Support, Communication, Time fathers Spent with Sons, and Parenting Styles were factors that contributed to the negative perspectives that Group 2 (35 adolescent boys) had of their fathers.

SHAME…and Shadow: Can Religion Help?

In this study, the experience of shame is explored from an interdisciplinary perspective. A phenomenological method is used, informed by a feminist consciousness, and a thealogy/theology of Christian ministry offered from a diaconal perspective and style. This approach provided the following common values: (a) experience – to use everyday life; (b) tradition – to draw from and add to; (c) objective – to reflect, to interpret, to access meaning; (d) process – to participate mutually, consultatively and collaboratively; (e) goal – to “be”come, to empower through consciousness and through constructing knowledge. From the experiences shared by the participant/co-researchers, plus my own, eleven themes were identified, pointing to basic features of shame: (1) Situations; (2) Manifestation and Impact; (3) Origins; (4) Body Reactions; (5) Body Sensations; (6) Feelings; (7) Judgment; (8) Self-Perception; (9) Frequency and Duration; (10) Coping Strategies; (11) Healing. By shining the light on shame, I discovered the presence of shadow. Exposing the shadow as the disowned aspects of the self revealed a deep gulf/split in human identity: tension exists between an authentic self (Divine Initiative/Wisdom) and a distortion of this life force. Contributing to shame, shadow, and separation is the misuse of power maligned by patriarchy. Can religion help? Yes. Living “the meaning” of the root words re-ligion, and the ethos of the Galilean movement of wo/men bearing Jesus’ name, flows from the bedrock of religous consciousness: All of reality is in dynamic relationship. The implication of this study of shame lies in bringing together thealogy/theology and Christian ministry, respective of socio-political origins, in an integrative praxis: diaconal perspective and style. This is provided in a resource for Christian ministry, aimed at bringing together our whole/holy selves.

God Don’t Make No Junk: A Look at Making Art and the Theology of Desire

This integrative study provides an historical review of humankind’s relationship with desire as regarded by philosophers and theologians of western civilization. It examines desire as reflected in the characteristics of our culture and the societies we have built since early history; then highlights which desires, according to Dr. Steven Reiss’ research into what motivates and makes life meaningful, we chose. This study’s main focus is mystical consciousness and speaks to this in a heuristic account of altered consciousness and the ‘feeling of oneness’ while making art, resulting in a deeper relationship with God and the development of my own theology of desire. Selected pieces of art created during this process are included. The concept of ‘body, mind, spirit connection’ appears as a theme throughout this study, as my source of wisdom and knowledge for making art. In the section devoted to Theological Reflection, an integrated methodology based in Kinast and Underhill’s approach to reflection and mysticism is used and frames my discussion on the desire for a career change. Questions are posed, a thorough discussion ensues, examining the notion of betrayal, the debilitating effects of judgment and inertia on my relationship with desire, how my senses, perception, and consciousness influence my experience and understanding of desire. References from psychology, quantum physics and cosmology help to further develop my theology. This study has been a journey into my heart’s desire.

With All Thy Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength: Identifying the Roots of Spirituality Within Personality Types

This research project identifies the roots of human spirituality within  an alternate, cognitive approach to perception which I have called the auxiliary reserve.  The auxiliary reserve is a behavioural characteristic  which is identified within the unconscious region of personality.  Carl Jung referred to this source of psychic activity as the tertiary function.   The role of the auxiliary reserve is to passively remind the psyche of its incomplete nature while inherently counteracting the level of its activity. The precise nature of this nonresistant influence upon an individual’s  behaviour pattern is commonly referred to as conscience.  In its own capacity, the auxiliary reserve functions as an indirect stimulation to personality by recycling the presuppositions or challenging the eventual outcomes of behavioural activities. However, due to the inferior design of the auxiliary reserve, its influence is overshadowed by the overriding dominance of the preferred means of perception within the conscious.

The Personality Type Inventory (PTI) was developed specifically as an enabling system to identify the auxiliary reserve approach in individuals, within the collective framework of personality types. Its reliability depends heavily on the measure of acceptance which participants deem appropriate for both the initial type assessment and the resulting designation of their auxiliary reserve. The PTI system is a computerized software package which consists of a series of questions which identify an individual’s preferences in the areas of: orientation factor, irrational perception, rational perception, and judgmental style.   The software administers and scores a comprehensive test and  provides participants with the personality profile to which they have  previously appointed themselves, as a result of their responses to the questions. Under no circumstances are the assessments of type considered to be labels or classifications which limit individuals in their capacity to make behavioural choices. Rather, the PTI system offers  an  appropriate means for participants to fully appreciate their unique talents in light of a common ability, which is shared with others who, likewise, demonstrate a measure of conscious control over similar preferences.

In cases where there remains ambiguity surrounding the personality type,  the  PTI  system offers individuals the opportunity to complete a series of four scales which independently determine the overall acceptability of each behavioural preference.  In this manner, participants retain a certain amount of control over the suitability of their type profile, which in turn assures greater accuracy  in determining both the PTI type and the corresponding auxiliary reserve. The process  leading up to the identification of the auxiliary reserve approach is an extremely critical one due to the unconscious nature of the auxiliary reserve which consequently denies its own independent measurement.

The identification of spiritual focal points within the PTI system is  determined by the characteristics that are unique to each auxiliary reserve approach. The relationship between the auxiliary reserve and human spirituality is a result of the association between an individual’s understanding of religious weakness which is characterized by the auxiliary reserve and the conscious perception of spiritual strength to overcome a partictilar area of vulnerability.  The resulting PTI profiles offer a typical assessment of personality type, as well as, a distinctive  portrayal of the roots of spirituality in terms of the characteristic nature of the auxiliary reserve.

The PTI system offers pastors and spiritual advisors the advantage of being able to develop a sharper focus on the issues which shape the spirituality of individuals within their ministry base. This is particularly significant where the focal points between the pastor’s and the individual’s image of spirituality vary as a result of their differing personality types. There is also the possibility of using the PTI with groups who are interested in enriching  their spirituality by discovering  more about the experience of others with similar and differing auxiliary reserve approaches. It has also been demonstrated as an effective  approach in a variety of counselling situations as a means of gaining a better understanding of human relationships. The diagnosis of “burnout” and other stress related problems can be understood more effectively in terms of  the nature of the auxiliary reserve approach.

Learning to develop acceptance for this particular area of perceived  vulnerability not only leads to a discovery of the potential strength which spirituality offers — it also opens up the possibility of extending the awareness of spirituality beyond the fixed limits of re1igious interpretation. On the one hand, there is the potential for individuals to  increase their awareness of both the conscious and unconscious dimensions of their personalities. On the other hand, the possibility  exists to develop the roots of spirituality by recognizing the importance of the alternate, cognitive approach to perception, which is characteristic of the auxiliary reserve.

Christian Discipleship and the “Baby Boom” Generation

The church in North America has been in decline since the mid 1960’s in spite of a significant rise in the birth rate between the years of 1946 and 1964, a period that has become known as the post war “Baby Boom.”  The interest and involvement of the so-called “Baby Boomers” in the institutional church declined even though their interest in “spirituality” did not.  This Project Dissertation examines the spiritual needs of this generation through personal interviews and current literature and describes the creation of a course of study designed for Baby Boomers who want to discover the Christian faith.  The adult course called Five Steps to Christian Discipleship draws upon the theological construct of W. Paul Jones’ Theological Worlds and the Developmental Psychology of Erik Erikson, Robert Kegan and Carol Gilligan.  The course was tested initially with Baby Boomers at St. David’s United Church, Woodstock, Ont.  As a result of the testing, introductions to the themes and an overview of the biblical story were added to the Leader’s guide; a workbook with five supplementary stories for each of the five themes was added for the participants.  The course was then tested in fourteen United Church congregations. As a result the questions were changed to address more accurately the life experience of the participants.  Introductions were added for Participant’s Workbooks for each of the five themes.  The project indicates that some Baby Boomers who are on a spiritual quest, will look to the church to know the story of the faith.  They are concerned about God, self and others; they seek a faith that gives fellowship and guidance.  They want to know what difference the faith might make to their lives and to the world.  The adult course entitled Five Steps to Christian Discipleship, included in the Project Dissertation, is a response to the identified needs and to the mandate of the gospel.

The Messiah’s Gift: Reflections of Jesus on the Nature of a Human Life

This theoretical study of the nature of human life emerged out of my own life experience.  In response to increasing levels of personal distress I began a process of self exploration in the late 1980s.  During this process I became familiar with the research and theories known as Codependency.  This journey also led me to explore the Twelve Step program of recovery from addiction and codependency.  Through these experiences I was re-introduced to Christianity, the faith tradition of my youth and in the stories of Jesus I discovered many of the same principles of recovery.  The purpose of this study was to examine similarities between aspects of codependency and the Gospel accounts of Jesus.

The focus of this heuristic study is the illumination of the basic principles of our authentic human nature (essence) and our adapted or wounded human nature (existence) embedded within the gospel stories.  Using the profiles as described by Pia Mellody in Facing Codependence as a framework, a sampling of stories of Jesus are explored in depth to reveal the human dynamics of the characters and the suggested direction(s) for growth.  The stories of Jesus are not simply descriptions.  They also nudge us toward maturity.  I also explore briefly the nature of early spiritual wounding and its contribution to the development of our adapted human nature.

I have concluded this study with a description of the personal benefit I have received as a result of this exploration of Jesus and his understanding and advocacy of our human nature.  I have also discussed a few ways this study might impact our understanding of Jesus and the contributions of his ministry and the work of the Christian church in the Twenty-first Century.

An Introduction of Art Therapy to a Canadian Military Community

This thesis discusses the introduction of art therapy to a military community in Edmonton, Alberta. The intensification of the Canadian Forces deployment from peacekeeping to peacemaking affects this population. The resulting increased need for support for military members and their families is documented from the literature. Using an art-based heuristic approach, and a grounded theory methodology, the author reports on her exploration of various aspects of the community, and how art therapy was introduced there during her practicum work. As a relatively unfamiliar modality, art therapy is explored through its literature and through an artistic inquiry. The question “Why would you refer someone for art therapy, anyway?” guides the research. An examination of how art therapy works looks at neuroanatomy, and how the brain processes and stores information. An examination of why art therapy works looks at contemporary theological and spirituality literature, and the relationship of the creative process and imagery to spiritual searching and insight. Discussion of the practicum experiences with children in groups (in school and out), individual children, adolescents, adults, and adults in groups (including 12-step addictions groups, staff in-services and other themed groups), shows many ways that art therapy can offer meaningful support. Interviews with staff and responses from client questionnaires provide detailed impressions of art therapy’s strengths. The author proposes a model for explaining the unique levels that art therapy engages, through three portals: materials, process and imagery.