Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Religious Education, PhD

First Advisor

David Sedlacek

Second Advisor

Jasmine Fraser

Third Advisor

Jerome Thayer



Unfortunately, Childhood Trauma is a fact of life. For instance, children lose parents/guardians through death or divorce. Children grow up in impoverished situations. Children have parents who suffer from mental illness and/or commit suicide. In addition, more unfortunately, some children are mistreated, neglected, and/or abused. The long-lasting impact of Childhood Trauma includes increased morbidity and mortality, and decreased opportunities for prosperity. This research sought to establish a statistical relationship between Childhood Trauma and Faith Maturity. Childhood Trauma has been demonstrated to affect attachment processes in children and, since religion is an attachment process and God is an attachment figure, it follows that Childhood Trauma has the potential to affect an individual’s relationship with God.


This research measured the prevalence of Childhood Trauma among those preparing for ministry, as well as those already serving in pastoral ministry. Next, a quantitative nonexperimental correlation research design examined whether Childhood Trauma was correlated with Faith Maturity. The independent variable Childhood Trauma was grouped in multiple ways and the means of the dependent variable Faith Maturity were compared with one-way ANOVAs. In addition, the respondents were grouped by demographic information (gender, age, race, marital status, and educational background), and their means were compared to see if there was any interaction.


This research found a negative correlation between Childhood Trauma and Faith Maturity. While the results followed what was theorized in the literature review, as the study was conducted with pastors and seminarians, it is significant that despite their theological training, higher Faith Maturity scores and practice of spiritual disciplines (prayer, Bible study, etc.), there was still a negative relationship between Childhood Trauma and their Faith Maturity. This research found no interaction on the basis of demographics.


The results of this research suggest the need to create trauma-informed pastors, church administrators, and churches. This research needs to be repeated with a larger sample and with a more diverse population to determine whether the negative correlation would be greater with a sample that includes those less trained, with lower average Faith Maturity scores and a less frequent practice of spiritual disciplines (prayer, Bible study, etc.), and with a larger, more diverse sample, would demographics show any interaction.

Subject Area

Psychic trauma in children; Distress in children; Seventh-day Adventists--Clergy--Spiritual life; Seminarians--Spiritual life