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Department of Theology-DMin (St. Stephen's College)

The Doctor of Ministry program strives to be a diverse spiritual and interdisciplinary community that serves as a catalyst for transformational learning and integrative development. The program understands ministry with a broad and inclusive perspective.
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  1. "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 [Download]

    Title: "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
    Creator: Donna Irene Wilson
    Description: 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.
    Subjects: settler mentality, United Church, sexism, critical theory, ecological theology, Edmonton Residential School, patriarchy, First Nations, Aboriginal, colonialism, racism, feminist theology, Tsimshian Nation of Lax Kw’alaams, BC, hermeneutic, reconciliation
  2. Deepening a Sense of Spirit: A Study of Spiritual Care Volunteers in the Rural Clinical Setting [Download]

    Title: Deepening a Sense of Spirit: A Study of Spiritual Care Volunteers in the Rural Clinical Setting
    Creator: Linda Joan Ormson
    Description: This study has explored the concept of how one’s sense of spirit has deepened by providing spiritual care to patients and residents in a rural hospital, hospice and long term care facilities. Using an organic inquiry method of research, the researcher’s story begins this study from her passion of wanting to explore “how by helping others,” one’s spiritual life can be transformed. The researcher is a Chaplain for a 100 bed hospital in rural southern Alberta. Eight spiritual care volunteers took a spiritual care training program and then worked in spiritual care for a minimum of 12 weeks visiting patients and residents. These spiritual care providers volunteered to be interviewed for this study. From the interviews five themes emerged from the data to reveal how these participants of the study have had their sense of spirit deepen. These themes are: increased prayer life, closer connection to God, increased self-confidence, improved relationships with others, more gratitude and less-judging behaviours. The sub-theme of time was also a pattern which emerged from the data. Direct quotes from the participants are used throughout the interviews to substantiate the claim of transformation by the research participants. This study will add to the body of knowledge on spiritual formation and help fill the gap in understanding how people of faith can deepen their sense of spirit by caring for other people in need.
    Subjects: transformation, Spiritual care, connection to God, gratitude, spiritual formation, prayer, rural hospital, hospice, long-term care
  3. Caught by the Fence: Challenges Facing Women in Ministry Leadership in the Mennonite Brethren Church [Download]

    Title: Caught by the Fence: Challenges Facing Women in Ministry Leadership in the Mennonite Brethren Church
    Creator: Kathleen Neufeld
    Description: The purpose of this project was to examine the challenges women face in ministry leadership in the Mennonite Brethren Church in Canada. A historical study of the role of women in the church was conducted. The Mennonite Brethren Church attempted to attract women into leadership positions by examining the biblical texts used to restrict women, by holding study conferences, and by passing resolutions. In the larger context of society leadership models moved from a patriarchal to a visionary approach that included women. In addition, the concept of the leader as servant was developed and third wave feminism drew attention to an inclusive approach without hierarchal structures based on inherited privilege. A study of Jesus’ instructions to his disciples confirmed a servant leadership model for his followers. The servant leadership model created a dilemma for women who historically were asked to serve while men provided official leadership. This narrative inquiry explored the lived experiences of three women in ministry leadership. They told stories of attitudes, language, and structures that did not recognize their leadership in equal partnership with men. The voices of the women in this study are a crucial piece in understanding the shifts that must occur in the church debate if women are to be attracted to ministry leadership.
    Subjects: servant leadership, Mennonite Church, visionary approach, women in ministry leadership
  4. From the Prison of Stereotype to the Freedom of Relationship: Welcoming the Otherwise Despised in a Circle of Support and Accountability [Download]

    Title: From the Prison of Stereotype to the Freedom of Relationship: Welcoming the Otherwise Despised in a Circle of Support and Accountability
    Creator: Melanie Jeanne Weaver
    Description: 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.
    Subjects: Recidivist, sex offenders, Circles of Support and Accountability, prisoner reintegration
  5. The Dark Night of the Soul: A Sacred Anatomy of Dying [Download]

    Title: The Dark Night of the Soul: A Sacred Anatomy of Dying
    Creator: Zinia Mary Pritchard
    Description: This practical theology dissertation is grounded in palliative care practice, comprising an introduction, six articles, and implications. The main research question is: What is the spiritual experience of dying? Each article integrates the contemplative theology/spirituality of the Dark Night of the Soul with clinical palliative care questions: What is spiritual suffering? How does it differ from depression? How can it be assessed? How may it be best managed? “Nancy’s Story” researched the contemplative journey of dying using the hermeneutical phenomenological method of Max van Manen. Four themes emerged: Lamenting the Impassable Why? ; Faith, Hope and Love: Moving Toward Transcendence; Experiencing Transcendence: An Unexpected Presence; and Experiencing the Gift of Insight Given within Transcendence. A spirituality study group yielded a contemplative spirituality definition grounding translation of Dark Night theology into accessible clinical constructs for spiritual assessment; resulting in a palliative spiritual assessment model. The study engaged two formal evaluations within medical education: the experience of residents’ spiritual care education; and a focus group evaluation of palliative residents and fellows engagement with a palliative spiritual history. Article one commends the Dark Night as a single theoretical construct for suffering, identifying the signs of the Dark Night. Article two, examining differential diagnosis between the spiritual suffering of the Dark Night and depression, includes: a Dark Night Lexicon, a Clinician [Spiritual] Self-Assessment, similarities and differences between the Dark Night and primary depression, and a palliative patient narrative. Articles three, four, and five use a palliative case study to illustrate spiritual assessment. Products reflect Dark Night theology translated into clinical constructs: a language for spirituality and spiritual suffering, a palliative spiritual assessment model, and tool. Article six on managing spiritual suffering, builds upon the CanMEDS framework, contributes contemplative spiritual care competencies for the medical profession, and demonstrates their application in a case study. Spiritual suffering may be understood as the process of the Dark Night, differing from depression as a transformative form of suffering and non-pathological. This research introduced a language for spirituality at end of life, and can advance clinical practice – through tools that aid clinician’s understanding, assessment, and intervention.
    Subjects: Spiritual experience of dying, Transcendence, palliative care, spiritual suffering
  6. To Be Redemptorist: The Emerging Vocation of the Lay Missionary of the Most Holy Redeemer Within the Redemptorist Family [Download]

    Title: To Be Redemptorist: The Emerging Vocation of the Lay Missionary of the Most Holy Redeemer Within the Redemptorist Family
    Creator: Anne Marie Walsh
    Description: “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.
    Subjects: Redemptorists, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer
  7. Leading into Being: Enhancing Compassionate Imagination through Opera [Download]

    Title: Leading into Being: Enhancing Compassionate Imagination through Opera
    Creator: Rose-Marie Nigli
    Description: This research, through a theology of appreciative voice, Presence and Service, used an Indigenous expressive arts-based approach in partnership with the Canadian Opera Company, to explore how a group of 15 vulnerable, immigrant and/or first generation immigrant youth live with their struggles while finding compassion and imagination. My goal was to engage the youth aged 18-29 years, labeled “at risk”, in writing, designing, staging and performing an opera. Through this experience they found their individual and collective voices and were able to realize their leadership and emotional intelligence capabilities.
    Subjects: Canadian Opera Company, Indigenous expressive arts and opera
  8. Improving the Quality of Spiritual Care to End-of-Life in Canada: Alleviation of Suffering [Download]

    Title: Improving the Quality of Spiritual Care to End-of-Life in Canada: Alleviation of Suffering
    Creator: Elaine Greta MacInnis
    Description: This project/dissertation began with the question: Is it possible to alleviate or diminish a person’s pain and suffering in the transitional space from the time of the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness throughout the illness trajectory until death, and his or her family’s subsequent period of bereavement? The question evolved from my work as a Hospital Chaplain on the oncology and palliative care units witnessing various ways illness and suffering lead one into the spiritual domain where questions about God and life’s meaning or purpose emerge. The focus of the study took the form of a two-year qualitative research project with staff, patients, family members, and friends who commented on their perceptions and/or experiences within the health care system identified on the “Continuum of Palliative Care” [© The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association]. The analysis revealed that when serious illness arises in the life of an individual, it is usually accompanied by suffering. Suffering does not affect just the person experiencing illness; illness is a family affair and suffering is pervasively present, yet not always recognized. Spirituality has been found to play a key role in health and illness; however, the spiritual domain is often neglected, overlooked, or forgotten. Health care teams need to be prepared to respond with sensitivity to dying patients and their families; identify spiritual needs /concerns; incorporate compassionate interventions to alleviate or diminish suffering, foster hope and healing to improve the quality of care to end of life, and offer bereavement care after the death. This research project also developed into personal work. The journey involved coming to an understanding, not only of her husband’s terminal diagnosis but her own journey with God and functioning in health care ministry as a Christian exemplifying respect, love, and compassion for patients, their families, and staff of all faith traditions.
    Subjects: Spiritual care, end-of-life, bereavement care, suffering
  9. Understanding Growth: The Roles of Evangelism and a Church's Identity in Determining whether Newcomers are Invited to Belong [Download]

    Title: Understanding Growth: The Roles of Evangelism and a Church's Identity in Determining whether Newcomers are Invited to Belong
    Creator: John Alfred Steele
    Description: 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.
    Subjects: inclusivist, exclusivist, faith identity, faith conversion, Evangelism, christian, centered set theory, Anglican Church of Canada
  10. Mission Discernment: A Preventative Ethics Strategy for Leaders in Catholic Health Care Organizations [Download]

    Title: Mission Discernment: A Preventative Ethics Strategy for Leaders in Catholic Health Care Organizations
    Creator: Gordon Edward Self
    Description: 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.
    Subjects: mission discernment, Catholic health care, faith-based provider, preventative ethics