Salvation by character: social justice as a healing paradigm

Type
Thesis
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Category
DMIN  [ Browse Items ]
Edition
English 
Publication Year
2000 
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Abstract
The south Nassau Unitarian Universalist Congregation, in Freeport, Long Island, has a stated interest in social justice but not the praxis. In addition, they have an over-reliance upon the minister. The challenge is to enable the congregation to create and maintain its own social justice ministry, including special attention to its own self-care. In addressing this challenge, I have analyzed the congregation using tools from various disciplines in order to more fully understand the dynamics of the South Nassau Unitarian Universalist Congregation. Most specifically I sought to discern what it was that blocked the congregation from attaining their vision of ministry. The tools most helpful to understanding this congregational dynamic were that of systems theory, which treats a congregation as an interrelated system, and of clergy sexual ethics, as the congregation continues to heal from the wounds of egregious clergy sexual misconduct. The latter issue has played itself out in the congregation's paradoxical relationships with their ministers; they have both over-relied upon their ministers to "do" the ministry of the congregation and have had a mistrustful and poor relation with a majority of their ministers. This· reactive mode is a common one with victim/survivors of clergy sexual misconduct. While there has been much healing in the congregation, the risk-taking that is involved in a hands-on social justice ministry may have generated invisible wall of anxiety. The question then was, "How do we proceed to build a ministry of social justice while managing the anxiety which is always higher in a Congregational system that has experienced trauma?" The answer as it has played itself out in this demonstration project has seen to offer opportunities for self-care alongside the opportunities for working on Social Justice. The answer was to treat the system as a whole and not just as separate parts divorced: from the system. It was in essence to effect transformation through homeostasis 
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