Title

A trinity of love : the formation of a Christian community in worship.

Date of Award

5-1-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

School

Drew Theological School

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

Abstract

It is the purpose of A Trinity of Love to employ narrative research methodology to explore Trinity Community Presbyterian Church's understanding of growing in love together as the Body of Christ in worship. The project assessed community formation in worship and used Love Song for a Savior by the band Jars of Clay as its organizing principle. As the project paper discusses, when researchers encountered congregational resistance to project elements, they revised their methodology to settle on two explorations between February and May 2014. The first ministry action asked about the impact dancing (Holy Motion) has on community. The second facilitated interaction with the cross as a symbol during the seasons of Lent and Easter. The paper evaluates the project and explores its implications for the practice of ministry. The gathered stories present the conclusion that both change and transformation occurred. We observed these differences in three distinct ways: worship as play; worship as participation; and worship as community. We discerned transformation related to the following symbols: dancing, the communion table, the cross and death. Each of these symbols, often through challenge, invited a new way forward and the emergence of a new future. The stories highlight the need for further study regarding the impact that the role of dancing and interaction with symbols might have on the formation of Christian community in worship. In the midst of change and transformation we discerned a preferred future related to sustaining a healthy community of love that is led by the Holy Spirit. At Trinity, it is in and through embracing grief and proclaiming hope that our preferred future of love might arrive. We are called to claim a new story if we are to seek a new future as the Body of Christ.