• Ecumenical Mission Communities in the County of Cumbria: An Interrogation of the Impact of Implementation on Chaplaincy Models

      Glynn, Jones (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2020-01)
      In 2014 Anglican, Methodist, Salvation Army and United Reformed churches in Cumbria came together under a formal covenant to form ‘Mission Communities’. The stated intention for these new groupings was to resolve to seek out every opportunity for joint initiatives: to work together to equip both lay and ordained ministry – and to share buildings and resources wherever possible. Mission Communities were to share a common evangelistic emphasis under the banner of ‘God for All’. This thesis identifies that the ecumenical and evangelistic nature of the new, imposed structure has been the cause of a disconnect between chaplains and Mission Communities. The research question addressed throughout is, ‘What is the impact of Mission Communities on chaplaincy models in Cumbria?’ After tracing the historical development of Mission Communities, due to the needs of the research I identified all the chaplains in the county and offered every one of them the opportunity to participate by expressing their perception of how the introduction of Mission Communities has impacted upon their work and ministry. A thematic analysis of responses extrapolates that five significant issues arise: ecumenism, same-sex relations, sacraments, the role of women in Christian leadership and episcopacy. The weight of the collective view on each of these issues is balanced against an alternative view and then synthesised into a summary of the theological and practical impact as a whole. Whilst the purpose of this research was to identify early impact with a view to informing the wider church of the implications of reorganising in this way, the results are mixed and reflect the issues that were uppermost in church conversation at the time the research was conducted. It may provide the foundation for a longitudinal study at the conclusion (in 2020) of the Cumbrian outreach initiative ‘God for All’, when ecumenical Mission Communities in Cumbria will have been established for four years and a second phase of impact can be assessed. Three outcomes were envisaged: 1) To provide denominational leaders with a basis on which to assess the impact that their decisions have made on ordained and lay ministers across Cumbia. 2) To encourage chaplains to assess how they engage and function with Mission Communities after identifying themselves and/or their colleagues in this study. 3) To be of practical use to those of the wider church who may be in the process of exploring similar changes. To this end, the thesis concludes with a clear set of recommendations to enable chaplains and Mission Communities to reconnect.
    • “The Great Story on Which the Plot Turns”: Cruciformity in C.S. Lewis’ Narrative Spiritual Theology

      Dickieson, Brenton (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2019-05)
      This thesis presses in on C.S. Lewis’ extremely diverse corpus to explore his integrative narrative spirituality of the cross. Chapter one argues that Lewis’ concept of spiritual self-death and resurrection is lacking critical treatment despite the spirituality of the cross that I argue is deeply woven into the fabric of Lewis’ poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and letters. This cross-shaped spirituality, what Michael Gorman calls “cruciformity,” is central to Lewis’ understanding of Christian life. Though neglected because of readings of Lewis that reduce him to the role of an apologist, chapter one surveys occasional notes about this death-and-resurrection motif in Lewis scholarship and provides definitions for methodological approaches to the study. Following definitions of spiritual theology by Eugene Peterson, chapter two turns from systematic theological explorations of Lewis to consider him as a spiritual theologian, a move that is organic to his theological enterprise, his epistemology, and his fiction. Chapter three explores Gorman’s biblical-theological approach to Pauline cruciformity, arguing that there is a six-point Logic of Cruciformity in Lewis’ so-called apologetics writings that moves past and refocuses Thomas à Kempis’ Imitation of Christ. As Lewis’ spirituality is embedded in narrative form within poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, chapter four explores “The Shape of Cruciformity” in Lewis’ œuvre, using Northrop Frye’s narratology and J.R.R. Tolkien’s theory of eucatastrophe to argue that there is a comedic, U-shaped pattern of cruciform imagery in Lewis’ fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Chapter five interrogates Lewis’ integrative, normative narrative cruciformity with feminist theological critique, provoked by Anna Fisk’s concerns about cross-shaped spiritualities in women’s experiences. A response to this problematisation reveals an inversive quality inherent to Lewis’ thought that is itself U-shaped, comedic, and eucatastrophic. Chapter six explores this inversive U-shaped thinking central to Lewis’ theological project, arguing that the shape of cruciformity in Lewis is the shape of his spiritual theology. I conclude the thesis with “sacred paradoxes” in Lewis’ thought that invite further work and deepen our understanding of Lewis’ concept of spiritual life, thus inviting a prophetic self-critique for Christian believers.