Jean Halligan Vandergrift

Ph.D. in Practical Theology, Concentration: Congregation and Community

  • Title Ph.D. in Practical Theology, Concentration: Congregation and Community

Jean’s doctoral research interests are in the ministry of congregational transformation (sometimes referred to as church renewal or revitalization). During her over 25 years of pastoral ministry, Jean has led congregations challenged by declining membership, diminished spiritual vitality, and questions of institutional viability, particularly so in my last pastorate. In each of these contexts, it was always a struggle to lead them out of denial and into significant practical theological reflection and change, opting for new life. Jean felt called by God to try to understand this widespread contemporary phenomenon to the end of assisting the church, particularly her denomination – The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)- into more intentional and faithful praxis. One of her hypotheses thus far is that a congregation’s ecclesial identity, nurtured by theological reflection and practices such as preaching, is key to their success in transformation, though such identity has rarely been an explicit aspect of the variety of church renewal programs.

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