From Neglect to Union

For access to PDFs of Dr. Bill's dissertation, please see the links below.  In addition to the whole document, each chapter is available separately.

The purpose: to understand the factors – negative and positive - that contribute to interchurch relations OPC and PCA churches experience with a neighboring church of the other denomination. The project, for a Doctor of Ministry degree from Covenant Seminary in St. Louis, was completed in December 2011.

Included in the preliminary pages is a 1-page abstract (p. iv). The first chapter lays out the study’s historical context, which shows that interchurch relations (ICR) among conservative Presbyterians have cooled in the past 25 years compared to the previous 25 years. Another part of problem I address is the lack of attention given to the local scene when ICR among conservative Presbyterian or Reformed denominations are discussed.

Contains a review of selected literature on the topic. The review shows a strong commitment among conservative Presbyterian and Reformed authors to the doctrine of the unity of the church, a struggle over the meaning of the existence of a multitude of denominations, and a lack of attention to the role of ICR at the local level.

Explains the design and methodology of my research, which consisted of interviews with the pastors and representative elders of neighboring OPC and PCA congregations. Four of the interviews were with leaders of pairs of congregations involved in some kind of cooperation with each other; 2 interviews were with leaders of neighboring congregations with no cooperation.

Displays the data I collected from the interviews, known as the “findings.” The data is organized around the 2 primary research questions: 1) What are the factors that discourage leaders from engaging in ICR with the neighboring church? and 2) What are the factors that encourage leaders to have ICR with the neighboring church? BONUS: Additional research involving my original interviews with fathers of the church involved in past rounds of national ICR is found on pp. 135-140.

Chapter Five: Discussion and Recommendations
Discusses the 5 factors that emerged from the data, considering how influences, beliefs, attitudes, expectations, and practicalities can sometimes discourage ICR or sometimes encourage ICR. Summary observations and recommendations begin on page 198. NOTE: A number of appendices include relevant material from some NAPARC denomination statements on ICR (Appendix D) and suggestions for ICR activities at multiple levels of church life (App. F).

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