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Interdenominational Theology Center (ITC)

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The dissertation addresses, through a biblical narrative model, the disharmony at Freedman Chapel Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America. It exposes and addresses the relationship between themes, issues and problems of four lay persons and the themes, issues and problems of the congregation. The dissertation presupposes that the factions of the congregation are manifestations of factions in families that make up the membership. The problems that are unresolved in families show up in interpersonal relationships in the church family.

The biblical narrative model used the favorite stories of a test group of caregivers, such as favorite Bible stories, favorite fairy tales and stories heard from visitations to discover disruptive themes in their personal narratives.

The themes of the caregivers were themes, for the most part, that surfaced in the narrative of the congregation. From the favorite stories of the caregivers it was also possible to frame the 'world view' of the congregation. A common world view appears to be the bonding agent that keeps this congregation, with its frequent disruptions, together.

The results of this dissertation answer, in part, the search of a pastor for ways to address the pastoral needs of four lay persons as these persons are being trained to give care to other members of the congregation. The results show that by addressing the pastoral needs of members of the congregation through the group process, the narrative of the test group can be 'reauthored' and the story of the congregation can be 'restoried.'

Through the process of training the laity, an important aspect of self-sufficiency can be realized as the church community is drawn to be a healing community.

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