Date of Award


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University or Center

Interdenominational Theology Center (ITC)

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When looking at the churchgoing experience of African American youth and ways of ministering to them in a holistic way, it is important to realize that the youth are truly the future of our congregations. In order to address the issues and the needs that have been presented by the teens of Zion Hill Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA and Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, the researcher of this dissertation developed a project (and consequently) a therapeutic tool that would serve to provide a safe (confidential, non-judgmental, therapeutic) space of free self-expression, to foster healthy mental and social development, as well as, a healthy and effective way for youth to express their feelings, thoughts, desires, and aspirations. This project was meant to set a precedence of palatable therapy in church settings, and had a two-fold purpose of not only providing a safe space for free-expression, but also, it served to close the cross-generational chasm of misunderstanding and miscommunication, and opening up opportunities for an intergenerational connection between the teens and the middle-aged adults of the churches.

To carry out her project, the researcher used as her foundation the principles of in-depth pastoral care and psychodrama. She then combined them into a palatable therapeutic tool coined as pastoraldrama. The premise of both the researchers project and of this dissertation is the understanding that in-depth pastoral care and psychodrama (and consequently pastoraldrama) can be used effectively to foster better intergenerational relationships, attend to the holistic needs of today’s Black youth, enhance the churchgoing experience of today’s Black youth, and to help today’s Black youth feel they have a place, a purpose, and a voice in their families, their community, their churches, and ultimately in the future of society as a whole.

In developing her model the researcher used various authors, theories, and sciences to argue for the importance and usefulness of this project. She used various resources and defended her point theologically, theoretically, biblically, historically, and empirically. The researcher discovered the presented ministry needs through observation, communication with members of each church, research panels, and intergenerational workshops conducted while working as a youth worker in the congregations. Her target age groups for this project were the teens of the congregations in conjunction with the middle-aged adults of the congregations. At Zion Hill, the teen participants were of the ages 16-18, and at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church her teen participants were of the ages 13-15.

In the following dissertation, the researcher will describe in detail the general makeup of both of her research congregations and their history in order to give her readers a clear and accurate description of the ministry settings in which she worked. She will also present empirical, theoretical, biblical, theological, psychological, cultural, and historical evidence supporting the use of pastoraldrama with Black youth in order to enhance their churchgoing experiences, minister to them holistically, and to serve as a tool to bridge generational gaps within the Black Church. She has set up a clear model for her new therapeutic approach and provided a clear outline of her project and a guide for leading pastoraldrama sessions. She will further present an example of a skit that was used in a session to address familial stress and discuss the outcomes of this skit, and she will end with a hopeful note describing her desires for the future of pastoraldrama and her continued work in this area.

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