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Title: Keeping close to home : the faith and retention of Presbyterian emerging adults in Northern Ireland
Author: Thompson, Graeme Campbell
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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Like most western Christian churches, many young people in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland do not retain their active church connection into adulthood. No study has previously examined this issue within Irish Presbyterianism and this research sought to identify the important factors in encouraging faith and sustained church attendance in emerging adults. An examination of the denomination’s theology and history demonstrates the foundational importance of covenant theology, but also a decline in the practical outworking of that, and a decrease in the numbers of young people active in the denomination. To examine this situation, 98 online questionnaires were completed by 18-25 year olds from a 10% representative sample of Presbyterian congregations in Northern Ireland and 9 structured interviews were conducted to provide richer data. The concepts of faith capital, spiritual individualisation, agency and structure were confirmed as being important in emerging adults reaching spiritual maturity. No one factor was identified as responsible for their disconnection from church and some evidence was found that suggests that those who leave may not be lost permanently, as non-attendance may not mean loss of faith. The research indicates that each individual’s chance of retaining church attendance and faith depends on their unique experience of family faith nurture and opportunity to participate in intergenerational faith community in a way which recognises their individuality in a developmentally appropriate way. The covenant theological context of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland has the potential to retain the active involvement of young people by rediscovering its theological origins and practising them in a 21st Century way. This can be achieved through encouraging faith nurture at home and developing intergenerational faith communities where adolescents and emerging adults can engage meaningfully with the significance of the sacraments and fully participate in church life.
Supervisor: Barnes, Laurence Philip ; Ward, Peter Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available