Church Visit Paper and Presentation
Background to Assignment:
Unlike many Universities, SPU provides academic opportunities for students to expand their own knowledge of and engagement with the Christian faith. This assignment provides such an opportunity for groups (teams of 4-5 students) to experience, learn about, and reflect upon the diversity of the Christian tradition by focusing on one particular denomination and related key figure. This project is designed with a variety of components which culminate in a class presentation where each team teaches their peers about their own learning. The group nature of this assignment is intentional and if approached and implemented correctly will enhance one’s own interpersonal skills, build upon organizational abilities, and enrich the learning of the entire class.
Components of Team/Individual Group Work:
As a result of this project, students will accomplish the following:
1. Work together to create a team covenant which provides the framework for a successful project. Guidance will be provided in class.
2. As a group visit a local church (assigned from list) at least one time during the term. You are to gather information about the church’s background, denomination, and theological emphases. Make observations about the worship service, rituals, community life, etc. Be sure and attach a copy of the bulletin from the service you attended your final paper.
3. Research the background of the denomination and historical figure focusing on who/what enabled his/her own spiritual formation (e.g., key figures, events, controversies, convictions, and primary contribution). Include an overview of the historical figure’s life and contribution to Christianity
4. Learning will be assessed through both a paper and class presentation.
a. Each group should submit a 5-6 page paper presenting their collective work including all of the above criteria. If you divide the work up, each student’s contributed needs to be clearly identified. It is highly recommended that the group work collectively on the writing (e.g, through a googledocs) and that one student is responsible for the final editing of the paper.
b. Research must be demonstrated using the sources from the library research presentation by Mr. Perisho.
c. Both the paper and presentation should include a reflection about the church visit including observations on worship and life of the congregation and questions which emerged from this experience. This does not need to be a collective reflection. Each student may provide a half page reflection attached to the group paper.
5. Grades will be given based on the group paper and presentation and on self and group assessments (see below). Rubrics that outline how the components will be assessed will be provided.
Research Guidelines: All resources are to be accessed through the examples suggested by librarian, Steve Perisho. The only other resources may be the “official” website of each denomination and the church visited. The following is a minimum research guideline.
a. 2 Dictionary or Encyclopedia articles (at least one for the church denomination and one for the person)
b. At least 3-4 articles (drawn from the ATLA database). Once you identify an article you can print them out from the database.
c. At least one book. This does not need to be read from cover to cover, but can be used as a resource – some chapters might be valuable, etc.
Denominational Paper/Person Guidelines: In this section, your paper should answer questions such as the following. This does not mean you need to include each one of them in your presentation, but should consider what is most distinct about your tradition.
What is the origin of this tradition and what caused it to form at the time and
place that it did? In this section of the paper, you are researching
the tradition as a whole (e.g., Methodist/Wesleyan, not Free Methodist vs. United Methodist).
What are some of the unique theological emphases of this tradition (e.g., for
the Methodist tradition, one striking theological emphasis is “entire sanctification.”)? In other words, what distinguishes this denomination from another?
Concerning the Lord’s Supper and baptism: what do they believe about them? How do they practice them?
How often do they celebrate the Lord’s Supper, if they say so? What do they think are the relevance of these celebrations? Why are they (not) important?
What roles are women permitted or encouraged to play in the church? Why?
Who are some famous (well-known) persons in the tradition today?
What are some of the peace and justice issues and/or ecological concerns of this tradition?
You are encourage to consider other features of the church that you wish to emphasize
Presentation Guidelines: Your primary goal is to understand and present clearly to your peers the basic information for your denomination and person. The presentation should be approximately 20 minute with additional time allotted for questions.
a. Include an overview of the historical figure’s life and contribution to Christianity. Have they written books, started service organizations, were they the founder of the denomination and so forth.
b. A summary of the denomination/church tradition (e.g., origin, distinct beliefs, practices, greatest legacy, current issues, size, and geographical spread of the denomination?)
c. Include in your presentation information about the congregation that you visited. Your impressions, experience, what you learned about the congregation, what questions you had and so forth. Also include a church bulletin from your visit and any other brochures that you picked up while attending worship.
d. Included a bibliography based on the MLA format.
e. You are to provide a one page handout for your peers which include the key information from your presentation. Include the names of your group. This is important since there will be questions on the final exam about these traditions and this will be a helpful tool for assisting the class to know the basic information on each tradition. You may send it to Prof. Leese the day before and I will make copies for everyone.
Assessment for the presentation will be distributed based on the following components. Specific assessment guidelines will be provided to the class prior to the presentations.
a. Self-Evaluation: Each student will get an opportunity for a self-evaluation where you clearly outline what your responsibilities were for the group and you are to give yourself a “grade” which you believe to be fair.
b. Group Evaluation: Each student will get an opportunity to evaluate group members participation and engagement.
c. Peer Evaluation: After each presentation, the class will get a chance to evaluate the presentation.
d. Instructor Feedback based on a number of factors (rubrics will outline this)
Denomination Options & Congregations to Attend - specific congregations are suggested on BB. Also, the “historical figures” are suggestions. If you identify another historical/modern figure that you would rather include, then consult with Prof. Leese and modifications can be made.
Church Historical Figure
Orthodox Vladimir the Great
Roman Catholic Dorothy Day
Lutheran Martin Luther
Presbyterian John Calvin
Episcopal Katharine Jefferts Schori
Baptist Martin Luther King, Jr.
Methodist Charles & John Wesley
Mennonite Menno Simons
Pentecostal Aimee Semple McPherson
In addition, individuals in the following groups should address these particular questions:
Roman Catholic: (1) Is Mary a goddess, or worshipped? (2) Why are non-Catholics discouraged from taking communion?
Orthodox: What do the Orthodox believe about icons?
Episcopalian: How does the Episcopal Church differ from the Church of England or the Anglican Church?
Lutheran: What does “sola gratia, sola fide, sola scriptura” mean? (In other words, translate the words into English and then describe their meaning) What is the importance of this phrase in the Lutheran tradition?
Presbyterian: What do they believe about predestination? Would the congregation whose worship you attend consider themselves 5-point Calvinists (what does it mean to be a 5-point Calvinist? Why does that matter?)?
Baptist: What does this tradition believe about baptism? What is the rationale? What is the rationale for churches who practice baptism differently? Can both be supported from scripture?
Mennonite: What are the central tenets of this Anabaptist tradition?
Pentecostal: Where is the tradition as a whole growing the most? Why do you think that is the case?