The formation of a missional cross-cultural urban community: Communal singing off the menu -- a "meal to music" approach

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Doctor of Intercultural Studies

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King, Roberta R.


This dissertation investigates how diverse groups entered into Eucharistic communitas in the Wesley Uniting Church (Newcastle, Australia), with particular focus on nourishing unity in diversity and enabling cross-cultural responses to God’s call to mission. The key tools for this investigation were music-making and story-sharing.

The study traces a two-year journey of music-making in three phases. The initial phase used music-making and song and story sharing in social hospitality gatherings to gain a contextual understanding of the Wesley community and four subgroups. This was supported by a literature review, collected artifacts and documents, interviews, focus groups and participant observations. The second phase used event-centered analysis, participant observations and interviews to follow what was happening in thirteen Eucharistic services. The third research phase used blended song and story sharing gatherings – Ceilidhs – to address the adaptive challenge of building cross-cultural skills in order to remove obstacles to entering communitas.

Results from the research project included an increased missional awareness and orientation at Wesley and the development of music-making strategies to support mission work. This study demonstrates the importance of valuing and reframing cultural identities into covenanted identity, in order to fulfill the Church’s missionary calling. It shows how ethnomusicological methods can be used to read context, reframe identity and engage in mission.

Mentor: Roberta R. King


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