Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Dorothy E. Finnegan


The purpose of this interview based qualitative study was to explore the influence that a plurality of social contexts, represented through United Methodist congregations in the Virginia Conference, have on the formation of ministers' occupational activities.;The study used a typology developed by Larry Blazer (1987) to identify the occupational activities practiced by parish ministers. The investigation weighted clergy's professional practice using Judith Hackman's (1985) concepts of power and centrality in her study institutions of higher education's budgeting process. Congregational representatives identified occupational activities that were central and peripheral to their congregation's mission. Clergy identified the occupational activities that received more and less time (i.e., "power" in their time resource budgeting process) in their current appointment compared to their previous appointment.;Using an ethnographic analysis, the study found that ministers generally organize their occupational activities according to the mission of their present congregational appointment. Second, the diverse plurality of congregations are remarkably consistent in their missions: to provide for a nurturing fellowship. Third, ministers' activities are grouped in functionally (versus conceptually) in response to this coherent mission of United Methodist congregations. Fourth, these functional groupings form a hierarchy of overall importance for minister's occupational activities, with implications for the timing of skill acquisition during clergy's careers.;The study concludes with implication for ministers' professional education. Included is a comprehensive professional education proposal to equip ministers with the knowledge and ability to be context sensitive in the performance of their occupational activities.



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