Date of Award

5-1-2000

Degree Type

Dissertation

University or Center

Interdenominational Theology Center (ITC)

Degree Name

D.Min.

Abstract

This dissertation asks, how the intentional practice of being a Koinonia fellowship, primarily in the context of worship, promotes transformation in the attitudes and behaviors of white, Southern, rural United Methodist church members specifically measuring the transformation of attitudes and behaviors of church members’ racial prejudice. Through this work members grow in adapting new ways of including all God’s people through worship that shares God’s power. A well resourced, creative worship team consisting of members will help the congregation gain investment and acceptance to use worship as a means of reconciliation and rebuilding the ways we relate as people of God. The key terms in this study are koinonia, people of God, community, fellowship, racism, and worship. The model for ‘worship design’ focuses on prayer, engaging Scripture, brainstorming, time to process, reviews and feedback to make worship a fertile place of reconciliation.

After implementing a six month season of developing and implementing worship that teaches and models a koinonia fellowship this work concludes that practicing “becoming koinonia” can motivate a congregation through meaningful opportunities and weekly worship to experience participation with God and all the people of God. Consistent participation in weekly interactive models, developed by an inclusively driven worship team, builds a greater experience of koinonia comfort in the context of worship transforming the attitudes of persons in the congregation in general and specifically toward attitudes of racism. Members increased their willingness to invite and include others in worship. One of the most promising indications ofthe effect of koinonia fellowship and transformation is seen in those who reported they were less like to change their views on race relations who did indicate an increased willingness to change their views. Finally, the congregation’s awareness of the diversity of their larger community increased toward the actual make up of the community.

For these reasons I believe that both the Winterville United Methodist Church and I have learn a great deal about the practical application ofbecome more fully a koinonia fellowship and there by more fully the people God calls and creates us to be. Finally, it is my assumption that as embedded beliefs and core attitudes are learned over a life time, the longer a congregation intentionally models koinonia fellowship the more impact the worship has to transform the members.

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