Doctor of Ministry Project Information

The information below is for Pastor Eric’s project for the completion of his Doctor of Ministry degree thesis. At various stages of the project the congregation of UPC will be asked to submit narratives which will include stories of experiences and responses to various experiences within the congregation. This page will be updated periodically as the project moves forward. If you have questions, please feel free to contact Pastor Eric directly through the church office.

Informed Consent Form

Below is a link to the Informed Consent Form which is required by McCormick Theological Seminary to be attached to any and all narratives or responses, and signed by anyone who is interviewed for this project. Please click on the link, download the form, print it, complete the bottom portion, and submit it with your narrative. Thank you!

Click here for the Informed Consent Form
Form is also available through the church office.

Phase 4: Evaluation

Zé Neves - A protected table.

Zé Neves, 2013, in Cláudio Carvalhaes, Eucharist and Globalization: Redrawing the Borders of Eucharistic Hospitality (Eugene: Pickwick Publications, 2013), 6.

The image to the right is from Eucharist and Globalization: Redrawing the Borders of Eucharistic Hospitality by Cláudio Carvalhaes (2013), which is one of the central texts of my Doctor of Ministry thesis, and invites us to consider how we engage in our Eucharistic practice.

Since April 2015 I have attempted to invite our community at UPC to consider the potentially broader implications of our Eucharistic practice (commonly referred to as Communion or Lord’s Supper). I’ve tried to invite us as a community of faith to consider how our practice around the table pertains to our social ethics (broadly defined as how we engage the world around us):

  • In April and May I invited people to write stories about positive experiences they have had at tables. I received about 25 such stories, diverse and rich with traditions and insights.
  • In early September I invited you to participate in a survey about your understanding and beliefs around Eucharist, and I received over 120 responses. The vast majority of the responses indicated a belief that communion is a very personal and almost private matter between each individual and God.
  • In September I taught a 5-week class on Eucharist and Social Ethics, during which we explored some of the history of meal practices within the Christian tradition, especially in the first century or two (if you were there, remember the Roman banquet and symposium?).
  • In September and October I preached a 5-part series of sermons entitled: “Do This In Remembrance of Me.” I challenged all of us to consider the Eucharistic meal as a practice of inclusion, and the dangers inherent in the practice that may cause exclusion. (You can follow these links to read or listen to those sermons: first, second, third, fourth, and fifth).
  • On World Communion Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015, we engaged in an alternative experience of communion during which the congregation was invited to go to one of six tables around the sanctuary, each representing a different continent, meet whoever is there, and share communion together (a practice we did also on Maundy Thursday in the spring of 2015). One person described it as “controlled chaos, both exciting and frustrating at the same time.”
  • In March 2016 I led a small group of ASU students to the U.S.-Mexico border to consider some of the broader implications for Eucharistic practice, which included sharing an agape meal (a love-feast from the early years of Christian community) through the fence.
Zé Neves - A divided table.

Zé Neves, 2013, in Cláudio Carvalhaes, Eucharist and Globalization: Redrawing the Borders of Eucharistic Hospitality (Eugene: Pickwick Publications, 2013), 30.

Since September, through liturgy, sermons, as well as communion practices, I have attempted to draw us toward a more generous, communal, and even global understanding of our Eucharistic practice as a visible sign of the kingdom of God among us, one that pushes us out into the world to then live Eucharistic lives that seeks to build relationships among disparate people.

When I arrived at UPC I was delighted to hear that our congregation already practiced an “open table,” which means we do not follow the typical Presbyterian or Protestant practice of inviting “all baptized” people to come share in the meal. Rather, we invite “all people” to come and share in the meal during which we experience the real presence of God through Christ, the bread and cup, as well as each other.

Now, as we close out our 2015-2016 ministry year at UPC, I am inviting you to reflect on all that we have experienced together and share your reflections with me.

As the final step in preparation for writing my thesis paper, I am asking you to write out your reflections in 1000-1500 words (about 3 pages or so). You may want to sketch your ideas out first in an outline, and then give it some flesh in a final narrative.

The purpose of this exercise is to invite reflection and to glean from your insights for possible future engagement. Below are a series of questions that might help or guide your reflection. But I realize there may be other questions that you have already reflected upon.

  • What are your “take aways” from all this?
  • Has your understanding or expression of Christian Faith out in the world changed in any way? If so, how? If not, why not?
  • How has your understanding of Eucharist been affirmed and/or challenged or expanded over the past year?
  • Have you discerned any broader social implications for our practice of the Eucharistic table? If so, what exactly?
  • What might it look like, or what might you do, to embody a Eucharistic way of life, following in the Way of Jesus, out in your day-to-day life?
  • How might some of the questions and challenges raised around our Eucharistic practice inform or shape our mission and social justice work at UPC? (Consider our involvement with immigration, the U.S.-Mexico Border, our neighbors, especially the poor or those who do not look, speak, or act like most of us).

Please submit your narratives to me by March 29th.
That gives you about four weeks to work on it. These narratives are very important for my project, and for this project to have any impact on UPC and the wider church. Please be sure to include:

  1. your name on your narrative,
  2. contact information (address, phone, and email),
  3. and attach an Informed Consent Form.

Submissions cannot be considered for the project without the information above and the Informed Consent Form.Then email them to me by clicking here  (eoldermannatgmaildotcom?subject=Narrative%20Reflection)   or drop them off at the UPC church office.

Alternative Option: Personal Interviews

I am also inviting people to sign up for a limited number of group interviews in lieu of writing a reflection. The interviews will be in dialogue form with up to four people at a time, with me moderating. They will be recorded and transcribed. To sign up for a group, click on the “Table Interviews” link below. Or you can contact Pastor Eric Ledermann directly via email  (eoldermannatgmaildotcom?subject=Narrative%20Reflection)   or through the church office at (480) 966-6267 ext. 1.

Eucharist Interviews Sign Up

Phase 3: Inquiry

I previously posted a video here that included clips from the Agape Feast that was shared through the U.S.-Mexico border fence on March 12th. Unfortunately, I was informed the video was not for public viewing as it was still in production. So, I have taken it down. I apologize for the inconvenience and misunderstanding.

Pastor Eric

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