Date of Award

1996

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Educational Leadership PhD

First Advisor

James A. Tucker

Second Advisor

Elsie P. Jackson

Third Advisor

William H. Green

Abstract

Problem. This study explored discontinuance from the ministry by Seventh-day Adventist clergy. The inquiry first investigated the general factors that led to discontinuance from the ministry, and then focused specifically on the cessation from the ministry for doctrinal reasons.

Method. In this qualitative study the initial data were obtained by means of a survey instrument and written responses. From these responses. three individuals were chosen for in-depth interviews. Seventy-one former Seventh-day Adventist ministers completed a questionnaire exploring factors that may have influenced discontinuance from the Seventh-day Adventist ministry. The areas the survey addressed were family life, the work environment, and the personal belief system of the minister. The survey also invited the former Seventh-day Adventist ministers to write about their experience working for the denomination. Fifty-four chose to do so. In addition, the ministers were asked to indicate their interest in being interviewed. Sixty volunteered as interview candidates from which three individuals were chosen. In-depth interviews were then conducted to understand their experience of leaving the ministry. The theoretical approach was symbolic interactionism. Attribution theory was taken to be an aspect of symbolic interactionism and used in the data analysis.

Results. The survey did not find any one reason for discontinuance common to all ministers. Each pastor who discontinued the ministry was part of a small group with a similar experience. Survey findings indicated more satisfaction with the local congregation than with the denomination at large. In the written responses, ex-ministers expressed a wide range of perceptions germane to non-persistence in the ministry. Eight reasons for leaving ministry were identified from the written materials. They were: pull factors, inability to cope, marital difficulty, doctrinal dissonance, restrictions on freedom of the mind, discovery of a new hermeneutic, problems with administrators, and the stability of the status quo. The in-depth interviews revealed a metamorphosis of hermeneutics and doctrinal beliefs that altered the thinking and the ministry of the respondents. Stages were traced in the process of discontinuance from the ministry. In conclusion, the causal attributions motivating non-persistence in the Seventh-day Adventist ministry were described.

Subject Area

Ex-clergy.

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