The experience of involuntary childlessness in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland

Bates, Alistair Meredith (2021) The experience of involuntary childlessness in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) has, to some degree, acknowledged pastoral concern regarding infertility, yet its impact on the lives of its congregants has never been sufficiently investigated. Therefore, this study sought to explore the lived experiences of PCI parishioners contending with involuntary childlessness; to examine the level of hurt and disconnectedness that may have occurred, as well as to identify some of the associated contributing factors; and to evaluate the perceptions and practices of both clergy and laity regarding the act of baptism and its impact on the congregational life of those experiencing childlessness. In seeking to achieve these objectives, a qualitative study was undertaken via a series of in-depth semi-structured interviews with 14 parishioners and the administering of a short questionnaire to a select group of clergy. The major findings revealed that, not only had PCI failed to provide the pastoral care expected by the congregants, but also that parishioners experience significant feelings of emotional distress. Many parishioners felt excluded by family-based activities, rituals, and calendar events within the Church and that, overall, their needs were largely unmet by the ecclesiastical authorities. Based on these findings it was proposed that more inclusive covenant communities could be formed by viewing ecclesiology through the lens of eschatology. Among the recommendations were the need for greater pastoral awareness and theological training on the topic, adjustments also being made to the baptismal liturgies which cause discomfort to many infertile congregants, and the provision of relevant resources.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Supervisor's Name: Spurlock, Professor Scott
Date of Award: 2021
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-83101
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2022 12:07
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2022 12:07
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83101

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