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Publication Date

Spring 2-5-2019


The purpose of this doctoral project is to develop a framework of how St. John’s Presbyterian Church in San Francisco moves from a mono-cultural community to an intercultural and intergenerational community by examining the adaptive changes of leadership and ministry already navigated in an ever-changing culture.

The first section explores how personal and congregational identity interacts within the pastoral and ministry context. A pastor’s identity and leadership style influences the capacity a church has to adapt to the changing needs of congregation and community—causing the community to reflect on its shared identity. Therefore, the second part examines the process of change as managing pain and loss as that relates to pastoral and congregational identity. Koreans call this han and the untangling of pain, han-pu-ri. The first change is how identity is understood. Identity holds many intersections of race, culture, class, gender, and theology. These identities intersect in diverse faith communities—making it both challenging and beneficial as it navigates through adaptive changes. Churches also carry the gravity of pain and loss. Without untangling it, it can be difficult for churches to make necessary adaptive changes. Finally, using the concept of third place/space, a framework of how St. John’s church moves from a mono-cultural to an intercultural and intergenerational community is developed.

Ray Oldenburg defines third places as informal gathering areas where strangers and neighbors intersect. The term third space used in Asian American feminist theology refers to the in-between place where identity is tested, erased, and recreated. In order for a congregation to exist as a third place where people intersect their needs and passions as well as embrace its changing identity from a mono-cultural to an intercultural community, a pastor must also have self-understanding and embrace where one stands in the in-between space of congregational and pastoral identity.

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Tod Bolsinger

Document Type





adaptive change, third place, third space, han, han-pu-ri, leadership


Leadership Studies | Practical Theology


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