Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry
Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
Doctor of Ministry DMin
S. Joseph Kidder
Although the Adventist Church upholds the importance of a Christlike and stable marriage, the Italian Union historically never developed a systematic and comprehensive approach to both premarital counseling and enrichment programs for married couples, whose preparation is aleatory and depends on both/either the pastor’s approach and/or the couple’s request. The results could be a weakening of both marital stability and marital satisfaction. We assume that the root problem is a naïve understanding of marriage which causes couples to put more effort into preparing for the wedding day rather than for the marital journey.
An action research intervention was designed and applied in the Italian Union between the summer and autumn of 2022, according to the model suggested by Stringer and Aragón (2021). Several groups of stakeholders—church administrators, pastors, and psychologists certified in Prepare/Enrich, and couples who took the Prepare/Enrich assessment—totaling 30 participants, were involved in a participative construction of new knowledge and practice. Data was evaluated using qualitative methods. Data came from reflective journals written by ten pastors, as co-researchers in the intervention; interview transcriptions from all stakeholders participants; and focus groups with the abovementioned co-researchers pastors. Based on close readings and analysis of the journals and interview transcripts, the data were arranged and examined using the NVivo 1.0 software program. For the first coding cycle (Saldaña 2021), I used values, emotion, and process coding (Saldaña 2014).
Data analysis and data reflection identified some key issues, as reported in the Participated Written Report, which is the conjoint elaboration for planning future actions (see Appendix G). The co-researchers pastors—as primary stakeholders—became aware of several vulnerabilities in the premarital education approach in the Italian Union and suggested some specific strategic actions. The co-researchers expressed appreciation for the Prepare/Enrich assessment tool but considered it paramount to create a pastoral culture of premarital education where all the involved stakeholders should be more effective: the Seminary should take to heart the urgency of training the new generations of pastors in the premarital education field; the Italian Union is invited to develop more effective protocols for continuous education in premarital education and certification as Prepare/Enrich facilitators of new pastors; pastors are invited to create a network with other professionals to share challenges encountered in premarital education, and learn from each other; couples who took the Prepare/Enrich assessment are welcomed to provide testimonials to other young couples, according to the practice of peer-education intervention.
The action research methodology allowed us to train pastors while they were also co-researching with the lead researcher. For the lead researcher, this approach had the advantage of being seen as one member among others, and all together in agreement towards a collective journey to produce transformative knowledge. Consequently, the results of this project—as defined in the Statement of the Task—and its relative plans were disseminated as a collective project—because of its local-centered approach—rather than as a top-down institutional program.
Marriage counseling; General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Inter-European Division. Italian Union of Churches Conference; Italian Union of Churches Conference
Ianno, Roberto, "Premarital Education : a Comprehensive Approach for Seventh-day Adventist Pastors in the Italian Union" (2023). Professional Dissertations DMin. 781.
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