Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Richard Walsh

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


The development of a psychological sense of community within various settings has been the focus of recent interest for many community psychologists. One setting, however, tint has received minimal attention is religious organizations. In Canada, churches and synagogues are prominent institutions standing between the individual and the larger structures of society. Consequently, religious organizations can be art important cost-effective resource for prevention and health promotion programs. Through collaborative and consultative work with congregations, the community psychologist can reach important, underserved segments of the population who are reluctant to use traditional mental health services. Using the community development process congregational members can experience a significantly increased sense of belongingness, purpose, and empowerment in their lives both individually and collectively as a community of believers. This thesis describes the process of how community development originated and evolved within a particular church congregation: the Westheights Brethren in Christ Community Church. Specifically, an assessment of the felt-needs and indigenous resources of the Westheights church was collaboratively implemented by 56 congregational members and myself. Participants were between the ages of 18-75, married or single, with children under 18 years of age or without. The assessment was carried out using three methods applied in a systematic, sequential manner. These were: (a) a nominal group technique meeting, (b) a specially designed questionnaire that I administered in personal interviews to various church members, and (c) a community forum. The process and content results of the assessment demonstrated that the spiritual, social, personal, and material needs and the resources were successfully identified. The three methods provided multiple means for participation by divergent sources, cross-validated the needs and resources, and offered participants the opportunity to develop skills in assessment, problem-solving, and decision-making. The use of process notes and qualitative data collection strategies yielded information rich with descriptors about the subjective experiences of the participants. The research findings provide valuable data which should be bout useful and relevant for the Westheights congregations continued pursuit of a psychological sense of community. Furthermore, the process/content data of the assessment have important implications for other congregations as well as for community psychologists interested in community development and empowerment.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season