Welcomed all who came: An examination of hospitality at Forest Hills Baptist Church, Saint John, NB
LE3 .A278 2016
Doctor of Ministry
Acadia Divinity College
This is a narrative of hospitality to newcomers at the Forest Hills Baptist Church in Saint John, New Brunswick, and the transformation of the people and the church culture. A collection of personal accounts provides a plot that harmonizes with a Biblical, theological, and historical examination of hospitality and reveals a practice that encounters the triune God and forms the spiritual lives of the people, the church, and the community. The thesis explores Biblical hospitality as it unfolds through key Old and New Testament passages to assess the nature, consistency, and purpose of this way of behaving. The discussion then moves to a theological and historical narrative of Christian hospitality. The divine drama displays a continuous unfolding of the hospitality of God and welcoming of the “stranger.” The overview includes hospitality in the creation account, the fall, the ancient world and Israel, the person and time of Jesus, the church, and the story yet to come. Interviews and records of the fifty-year life of Forest Hills Baptist Church tell the story of growing hospitality toward newcomers. Many of these “strangers” were refugees. Some were immigrants such as our Korean church that shares our facilities and ministry. There was an obvious spiritual transformation of the people of Forest Hills Baptist Church and its outreach into the community through the opening of our doors to newcomers. Based upon the results of the study, an invitation is offered for churches to make hospitality to strangers an integral part of their ministry.
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