Date of Award

January 2003

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

DMin

Abstract

In today's times, research and common knowledge have substantiated that pastors and clergy persons experience an alarming rate of divorce, substance abuse, and other related issues resulting in mental and emotional burn-outs. This rate can be attributed among clergy to many factors, and these factors may continue to rise unless effective corrective actions are taken to include pastoral care and counseling as an instructional component to the teaching and assessment process for new persons entering the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Ministry in Southwest Georgia. As a whole, empirical research has proven that clergy stress and burnout are multiphasic because of the spiritual and secular demands and expectations from others.

The primary purpose of this project is to enhance the present Board of Examiner's process in southwest Georgia to include a pastoral care and counseling component in its teaching and assessment process for new persons entering the A.M.E. ministry because the current Board of Examiner's process does not include the benefits and use of Pastoral Care and Counseling in its seventeen week training program in the preparation of ministry to men and women for ministry.

This project has created a Demographic, Pre and Post Test Survey of new persons entering the A.M.E. ministry in Southwest Georgia, developed a Teacher's Instructional and Lesson Plan which includes the history of Pastoral Care and Counseling, various Vignette Case Studies, and most importantly this project developed a method of approaching a parishioner/client in an attitude and modality of acceptance. The emphasis will be on the need to take care of oneself in the ministry and to recognize when there is a need to solicit professional help from a specialist. Plans, after this project, will also include a 'new persons' psychological assessment test for incoming ministers with a continued efforts to reduce or avert the ever-increasing rate of divorce, substance abuse, and mental and emotional burnout among clergy. The methods used in this project will be qualitative and quantitative in a case study format. This project did impact and produce the following results: (1) It did permit a pastoral care and counseling component in the teaching and assessment process for new persons entering the A.M.E. ministry. (2) The Bishop, the Dean, and the Board of Examiners realized the benefits of Pastoral Care and Counseling as an 'equipping tool' for persons entering the ministry and included it in their lesson plans for 2004. (3) New persons in ministry learned about Pastoral Care and Counseling and were more appreciative of a time for renewal, reflections. Lastly, they were instructed to be better prepared to identify the needs for more specialized professional help during their ministerial career in order to maintain a well-balanced mental healthiness.

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