Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




David Leslie


For many years, the role of the pastor's wife has been an emerging role in American religious history (Sweet, 1983). While on their journey in building and nurturing their relationship with God, supporting their husbands, families, congregations, and communities, pastors' wives have experienced joys and blessings as well as challenges and issues. A tremendous joy for some pastors' wives has been the privilege, the opportunity, and the honor to serve, minister to, assist and care for others. However, one major challenge for many pastors' wives has been preparedness, or the lack of preparedness, knowledge, and instruction (Obleton, 1996). Wives of pastors are a large population of adult learners in need of educational programming opportunities. Providing adult and continuing education courses is one viable option and a resource that could assist with the needed knowledge, skills, and abilities for their role in ministry.;The primary purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the educational needs of African-American pastors' wives from the perspective and voice of the participants. to explore these educational needs, Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs was used as a framework. The participants for this study included three educational planning partner groups or a triangular component that encompassed adult learners, specialists, and educators. For the purposes of this study, the adult learners included a sample of five African-American pastors' wives. The specialists included persons who had been in a leadership role in a ministers' wives organization. The convenience sample for this group included four participants. Finally, the educators, were the administrators or the implementors from selected higher education institutions or religiously affiliated organizations who offered adult and continuing education, and had interacted with African-American pastors' wives. The educators included a sample of four participants. In total, the 13 participants used in this study were African-American, affiliated with the Baptist denomination in the United States, and affiliated with, representative of, or had exposure to selected African-American church congregations in Virginia.;Based on the design and parameters of this study, phenomenology was employed as the methodological perspective "to enter the field of perception of several individuals, while looking for and making meaning of their experiences" (Creswell, 1998, pp. 31, 51). as a result, data collection was accomplished by using semi-structured interviews.;The results from the interviews in this exploratory process were presented in two components. The first component provided narrative descriptions on each participant. The second component utilized the constant comparative method to analyze the transcriptions from all 13 interviews. From the coded transcriptions, both within-case analysis to draw out prominent themes, and cross-case analysis to examine the data in terms of similarities and differences between the three participant groups was performed. The data, descriptions, and results provided in this study could be used to inform practice relative to: educational programming for pastors' wives, clergy families, religious higher education, adult and continuing education, counseling, pastoral care, and WomanistCare.



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