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The purpose of this project is to create congregational care teams to serve the emotional and spiritual needs of the parishioners at St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church (SSUMC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Congregational care should be done by clergy and laity primarily to address and assuage those who suffer from emotional and spiritual distress. This paper will focus on three key areas.

In Part One, the historical contours of SSUMC’s past and its overall congregational care ministry will be explored. The importance of holistic care—body, mind, and spirit—will be examined within the church context. Currently, all congregational care is clergy-centered and focuses inwardly, stifling growth on all levels. However, one of the strengths of the congregation is its willingness to offer care, albeit on a limited basis.

In Part Two, theological literature and teachings relevant to this specific ministry challenge will be explored. The literature reviews will reflect the central and important role of clergy and laity in the long tradition of Christian soul care. A theology of congregational care from a biblical perspective will be introduced. This theology will be examined through a lens of cross-cultural compassion, applying tradition and experience through a narrative approach. Clear and concise communication is essential to ensure that all those who need spiritual care are not neglected.

Finally, in Part Three of this study, a ministry strategy that incorporates a pilot care team will be discussed. At SSUMC, the best practices of other pastoral care ministries will help form the foundation of the congregational care teams. The objective is for care teams to be transformed on a personal level, so that the tasks that they must perform become opportunities to release the power of prayer, healing, nurture, listening, and compassion. This ministry strategy will be assessed to determine its effectiveness.

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Lee, Cindy S.

Document Type





St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church (SSUMC), Congregational care, Pastoral care, Spiritual care, Emotional crisis, Spiritual distress, Spirituality, Pastoral theology, Methodist Church, New Mexico


Practical Theology


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