Protestant Educators

Picture of Taylor and June McConnell

Taylor McConnell (1921- ) and his wife June McConnell (1921- ) were early leaders in multi-cultural educational ministries and congregational studies. They were partners in the research they called “The Culture-Bridging Project.” which explored ministry in the cross-cultural context of New Mexico. Generations of seminary students and faculty, mostly European-American, participated in seminars that involved learning about the Hispanic, Anglo, and Pueblo cultures of northern New Mexico. In the process, the seminarians learned about themselves. The commitments and wisdom of the McConnells lives in those students whose consciousness of the multi-cultural and justice dimensions of ministry was permanently heightened McConnell is a United Methodist clergy member of the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference and was Professor of Christian Education at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary 1967-1987.

Biography

Growing up, Education and Marriage

Taylor McConnell was born October 5, 1921 near Center, Colorado, the son of Roy and Leota McConnell. Most of Taylor’s childhood was lived on a farm where he attended an open country church with a consolidated Sunday School. The congregation included persons from twenty-three protestant denominations. Taylor notes that he grew up “puzzled about denominationalism” and the differences and commonalities in the Christian family (T. McConnell, personal interview, March 25, 2003). Perhaps this experience prepared him for a lifework of appreciation of diversity.

Taylor served four years in the United States Navy and then came to Denver University where he received the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1948. He earned the Th.M. degree from The Iliff School of Theology in 1951 and the Th.D. degree from Iliff in 1957. His dissertation, “Directing a Family Life Program for a Church in a New Community,” was directed by Professor Howard Ham. He was honored with a Doctor of Divinity degree from Westminster College, Salt Lake City in 1967.

After beginning seminary, Taylor was ordained a deacon and became a probationary member of the Colorado Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1949. He began his ministry of Christian education serving as Minister of Education at Emmanuel Methodist Church in Denver, Colorado in the year 1949-1950. He was then appointed Minister of Education at Park Hill Methodist Church in Denver, Colorado where he remained from 1950-1953. During that appointment he was ordained elder in full connection in the Colorado Conference (1951) and was awarded the Master of Theology degree from Iliff School of Theology, also in 1951.

Taylor McConnell was appointed pastor of a new congregation, the Brentwood Methodist Church in Denver, in 1953. During the next five years many young families moved into that area of the city. When the McConnells began their ministry at Brentwood in 1953, it recorded 112 members. When they left in 1958, the Sunday School averaged 760, with 1038 full members and more than 500 preparatory members. Their ministry focused on ministry to the young families who were attracted to this new congregation.

In 1958, Taylor McConnell began nine years in the administration of the conference [The Colorado Conference of the Methodist Church became the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference in 1957]. He was Executive Secretary of the Inter-Board Council of the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference of the Methodist Church from 1958 to 1962 and Program Director of the Coordinating Council of the same conference from 1962 to 1967. June led workshops and trained to be a lay leader for the church in Christian education and in family life ministries during those years.

These were busy years. Following the completion of his doctorate, Taylor was asked to serve as a trustee of the Iliff School of Theology, 1958-1968. He was named “Alumnus of the Year” in 1964. He was elected by the Rocky Mountain Conference as delegate to Methodist General Conferences of 1964 and 1966, the period leading to unification with the Evangelical United Brethren denomination. He was elected as delegate to the Western Jurisdictional Conferences of 1964 and 1968. He was also a member of the World Methodist Conferences in London, 1966 and in Denver in 1971. From 1967 to 1972, he was a member of the General Program Council’s Division of Interpretation for the United Methodist Church. He was a member of the General Committee on Family Life of the United Methodist Church 1975-84 and a member of the World Methodist Family Life Committee from 1981 to 1986. These were the years when the church was struggling to integrate and eliminate the segregated Central Jurisdiction. Taylor actively encouraged the interaction of the black and white congregations in the Denver area through his position as Program Director (T. McConnell, personal interview, March 25, 2003).

Looking back on the course of his career, Dr. McConnell comments that he was deeply rooted in Christian education from the beginning of his ministry, but focused primarily on adult education. While in seminary, he met Ed Staples who was a staff member of the Methodist national Board of Education. Staples modeled the connection of family ministries, social concerns, and evangelism and drew the young seminarian to the same combination of interests (T. McConnell, personal interview, February 13, 2003).

In 1967 he left educational administration at the conference level of the United Methodist Church to begin twenty years of seminary teaching. Here the connection of family ministries, social concerns and evangelism continued to shape McConnell’s work. The unstated interest that drew these areas together was leadership and his first publications were focused on leadership issues. In 1967 he came to Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois (which became Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in 1974) as Professor of Christian Education.

This was a time of intense ferment at the seminary in Evanston. The faculty had been working to revise the M.Div. curriculum for some time, seeking “to make a complete break from past forms and to redirect theological education to the needs of people – and minister – in the world of the later twentieth century, a world of radical and rapid change” (Norwood, 1978, p. 192). The faculty struggled to put this vision into their new curriculum, amidst disagreement and confusion.

Norwood states: Eventually many faculty members came to believe that effective teaching could continue to go on no matter what the shape of the curriculum... Clearly the new curriculum was student-centered rather than content-centered. Clearly the insistence on “relevance” was preeminent. It remained to be seen how effective the new tools would be. (190)

Into this crucible of curriculum shift, denominational and institutional mergers, and national political tensions came Taylor McConnell, fresh from the world of the church and ministry. The appointment of McConnell added a person with eighteen years of congregational and connectional ministry experience to the faculty. He was part of the faculty discussions for the final year of the new curriculum design. Perhaps because of Taylor’s pastoral persona, he was soon appointed Dean of Students.

The first year of the new curriculum was 1968-69. Frederick Norwood writes: All this unrest, dissatisfaction, protest, demand for change, and sheer frustration and impatience rested on at least three broad causes: social tensions in the nation and the world at large, a crisis in higher education exemplified by the free speech movement, …and theological disintegration. . . (199) Fall, 1969, was the period that came to be known as the “Days of Rage.” As Dean of Students, McConnell was deeply embroiled in the crisis. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) had requested that Garrett provide housing for student members of SDS who were coming to Chicago for an anti-war rally on October 15. Many at the seminary were sympathetic to this cause and “the way was left open to house as many as 30 students, who would be guests of individual seminary students who volunteered to share their rooms” (Norwood, 207). Although McConnell tried to head off trouble by reminding the SDS of their original agreement, what actually happened was that a large number of students, many of them of the radical Weathermen group, began to arrive in Evanston. Loder Hall was crowded with them, and for a night they practically took over the dorm, perhaps 50 on the eighth and at times 200 on the ninth... What had been hoped might become a valuable form of interchange and social ministry became a confrontation (Norwood, p. 207).

The seminary was denounced by some for its seeming collaboration with the violent Weathermen group and admired by others for its attempts to be in ministry. Looking back on his role in these difficult days, McConnell says, “It sent us to find out why [other cultures] handled intergenerational conflict so much more easily” (T. McConnell, personal interview, March 25, 2003). The McConnells spent the rest of their lives helping peoples and cultures to appreciate their differences. Perhaps the clash of generations in 1969 was the crucible that molded their commitments in that direction.

June McConnell

June McConnell was born June Buchtel, November 8, 1921 in Lamar, Colorado. Her parents were Elmer and Anna Buchtel. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Denver, majoring in Psychology, English Literature and Elementary Education. She was a public school teacher in Denver, Colorado. She held a number of administrative and programmatic positions before beginning the research project that would become the focus of her life with Taylor. They included Director of Adult Education in the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference; Director of Phipps Conference Center, University of Denver; Executive Secretary, Evanston Council of Churches, Evanston, Illinois; and Director of Fundraising with and for Women in the Development Department of Kendall College, Evanston, Illinois. The latter position included encouraging women in the northshore suburbs of Chicago to come to Kendall College and take courses. These women who were mostly at home in those days found their eyes opened by the experiences at Kendall and they became supporters of the college’s outreach. June also developed a program to bring in people who had not finished their education, especially Black students who lived in the Chicago area. This social witness was important for the college that is located in an affluent suburb of Chicago.

She became very active in the program of marriage enrichment of the United Methodist Church, leading Marriage Communication Laboratories, training and certifying couples who could lead marriage enrichment seminars in their own conferences of the United Methodist Church.

June says that she “loved being a minister’s wife” (J. McConnell, personal interview, February 13, 2003). She continues, “The denomination has asked me to do things. Encouraged me. Funded me.” “There was a freedom within the church for women,” remembers June. She took advantage of the rich opportunities it provided for education and leadership (J. McConnell, personal interview, February 13, 2003). However, June became a scholar and advocate in her own right, not confined by the stereotypical role of “minister’s wife” at all.

June came from a strong church family that put a great deal of emphasis on education. In college she became interested in children’s literature and the moral values it espoused. She used these skills as she became very active in the connectional church in the area of Christian education for children. She participated in and then led training workshops for children’s ministries. She helped to make a film about new ways to do Christian education that was widely shown in The United Methodist Church. Although June was busy with their two children, Judith and Lawrence Taylor, she was also instrumental in the Christian education of children and family ministry in the Brentwood congregation where Taylor was pastor from 1953 to 1958.

After they moved to Evanston, she was often involved in the life of the seminary. For instance, she was an interviewer for the “Fitness for Ministry” project of Association of Theological Schools in the 1970s. She interviewed many students. “The students were frightened to death,” she recalls, “but they trusted me to be fair” (J. McConnell, personal interview, February 13, 2003). She began to teach the family life course with her husband as a visiting professor (Reporter, 1979, p. 1). By that time they were full partners in their ministry.

The Partnership of June McConnell and Taylor McConnell

About a year after the “Days of Rage,” Taylor McConnell took a sabbatical to learn how the folks in England and Scandinavia had come through the same sort of protests with less inflamed conflict. Taylor and June traveled around, talking to people everywhere they went. Their conclusion was that “in America we were still finding out who we were and therefore older folks were more threatened [by the protests of students].” The McConnells observed how women with babies in strollers and old people would mingle with crowds of students in Sweden and listen to the protests. No police were needed there. The sabbatical was an important time for the McConnells to put the “Days of Rage” into perspective after the tumultuous times at the seminary (T. McConnell, personal interview, February 13, 2003).

Life at the seminary settled down in the 1970s. Taylor taught primarily in the areas of group process and adult education. He published The Pastor as educator in 1972 with the Board of Education of The United Methodist Church. It is a workbook intended to lead a pastor through analysis of a congregation and its ministries of Christian education. McConnell notes, “Christian education is caught in the same maelstrom of history that is spinning theology into dizzying confusion. Most efforts to point the way out seem only to compound the confusion” (McConnell, 1972, p. 28). The book offers different models and styles to aid in planning for change. In 1974 Group leadership for Self-realization was published by Mason & Lipscomb Publishers. It is a survey of the best thinking of the time in group process.

In 1968 the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren combined to form The United Methodist Church. In 1973-74, the former Evangelical Theological and Garrett Theological Seminaries combined to reflect the new denomination. In the fall of that academic year, Taylor McConnell was released from his teaching duties to “research the potential for greater institutional flexibility” in order to aid in the merging of two faculties and two traditions. Both faculties were seeking ways to respond to the student demands for relevance in their education. Taylor’s project sought to learn from other schools how they were responding to the new challenges to higher education. He included seminaries without walls, which were very new experiments in theological education at that time. The result was an unpublished report [available through the United Library at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary]. Reading this report thirty years after its writing is remarkable for many of the issues it addresses are still present in the seminary today.

McConnell attempted to bring the best thinking in educational administration to the situation at the merger of 1973-74 in the research he did during fall term 1973-74. He judges that it had considerable impact for the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary faculty. Nearly half of its proposals were accepted (T. McConnell, personal interview, March 25, 2003). The faculty resisted some of the changes it proposed, struggling particularly with the notion that they should develop relationships with students beyond the classroom that would contribute to the formation of the students as leaders for the church. For faculty who were trained under a different model of presenting lectures and leaving students on their own to integrate the information with their understandings and ministry, these were difficult changes to accept (T. McConnell, personal interview, March 25, 2003).

In January of 1979 Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary launched the research project that would occupy the energies and creativity of both Taylor and June McConnell for the rest of their lives. They called it, “Family Ministry Through Cross-Cultural Education.” Richard Tholin, then Director of the Leiffer Bureau of Social and Religious Research, wrote in the preliminary report that the project would be long term (McConnell, 1980, preface). The McConnells were teaching about family ministry and active in leading Marriage Communication Labs for The United Methodist Church. They described the project for a denominational newspaper:

The American family, Anglo-Saxon style at least, appears to be in terrible trouble. Spanish and Pueblo families have different kinds of troubles but they aren’t experiencing the same troubles that we’re having to the same degree. We want to find out whether cross-cultural interaction helps families and individuals within a family or community to learn better their own values and to minister more effectively to each other. (Reporter, March 2, 1979)

They spent several summers in this area of New Mexico and shaped the research and ministry project out of those experiences. During the years as pastor and as conference level leader, Taylor had begun to realize what leadership could do. His first publications were focused on leadership: The pastor as educator was published in 1972 and in 1974 Group leadership for self-realization was published by Mason & Lipscomb Publishers. When he began to learn about the Pueblo culture, he realized that their culture did not have a pyramid power structure. This led him to question how European American seminary students could learn to use their power in less destructive ways and structures other than hierarchical ones. The conviction that this was important for future leaders of the church motivated the McConnells as they began to offer immersion seminars for students in the multicultural setting of northern New Mexico.

“It gradually grew into one profession for the two of us,” June remembers (J. McConnell, personal interview, February 13, 2002). The research project continued for more than ten years, culminating in a final report in the form of a monograph, a Presidential Address for the Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education, and a final report through both the Leiffer Bureau of Social and Religious Research and an article published in Religious Education in Fall 1991.

The professional organization, Association of Professors and Researchers played an important role in affirming the McConnell’s groundbreaking work. Each stage of the reporting was published by the journal, Religious Education. June was invited to become a member of APRRE as a result of her partnership in the research. Taylor was president of the organization during the year 1984-85. They were active as well in the United Methodist Association of Professors in Christian Education or UMAPCE [now known as United Methodist Association of Scholars in Christian Education or UMASCE].

Associations with others in the field of religious education were rich for the McConnells. Through APRRE and UMAPCE they taught others in the field how to encounter a culture other than one’s own with care and appreciation. They encouraged their colleagues to listen to the “other” and to build trust carefully. To this day, the eyes of Charles R. Foster, Robert T. O’Gorman, Jack L. Seymour, and Linda Vogel light up when they speak of the work of June and Taylor McConnell. All of these colleagues spent time at the New Mexico project and learned from them. These scholars have espoused the values that they learned in their own work. Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary now includes a Ph.D. in Congregational Studies and Christian Education in its offerings, continuing the legacy of Taylor McConnell and many students choose ethnographic and cross-cultural research projects.

In 1987 Dr. McConnell retired from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and became Professor Emeritus. June and Taylor moved permanently to Santa Fe, New Mexico where they remain to the present.


Contributions to Christian Education

In looking back over their years of ministry in New Mexico, the McConnells continue to be excited and passionate about the work. “I never made any bones about the fact that I was a Methodist minister,” says Taylor. “The people thought I was some kind of missionary” (T. McConnell, personal interview, February 13, 2003). The McConnells worked hard to establish trust with the Pueblo and Hispanic families. “We had to hear over and over the hurts they had suffered at the hands of our [Anglo] culture” (T. McConnell, personal interview, February 13, 2003). Holding it all together was their attempt to see all people as children of God, to help persons from different cultures see one another as neighbor, and to teach others how to do ministry in cross-cultural contexts in ways that incarnate the love of neighbor.

Dwight Vogel and Linda J. Vogel experienced these seminars first hand. They write: Their patience and steadfastness and their ability to "be" and to engage deep listening has fostered long-term friendships with many Pueblo, Spanish- American, and Anglo persons. Their seminars on cross-cultural listening and learning have enriched our lives and the lives of many students. They understand and teach that truth is embedded in narrative and that propositional statements are only the skeleton of truth and not its full embodiment (e-mail, February 17, 2003).

The Vogles testify to the power of these experiences to help professors as well as students learn important skills and sensitivities for ministry in cross-cultural settings. The work of the Vogels has continued to rely on some of the skills they learned in New Mexico.

The understandings that the McConnells received from their interaction with persons of other cultures became useful for understanding their own culture. June remembers that she learned from the Pueblo and Hispanic families that Anglo couples could not deal with touch. They associated it with sexual activity only, so, June learned how to do massage. In the marriage communication labs for Anglo couples, the McConnells began to teach massage as a tool for couples to learn how to touch one another in healing and nurturing ways in addition to sexual touch (J. McConnell, personal interview, February 13, 2003). They observed “dramatic results in the labs with couples” as the nurturing touch opened up communication between the spouses (J. McConnell, personal interview, March 25, 2003).

The need to teach Anglo couples the value of non-sexual touching was one of the strong learnings that the McConnells attributed to their cross-cultural work. They observed different understanding in different cultural groups and learned something about their own culture in the process. They expanded this practice of including the body to the cross-cultural seminars that they provided for faculty and students from seminaries. Each morning they would take time to “get our bodies ready to go” (J. McConnell, personal interview, March 25, 2003). The observation about different cultural practices regarding touch led to a commitment to education that was holistic, not just cerebral. The phrase that Taylor used was “confluent education” to refer to learning that includes body, mind and spirit (personal interview, March 25, 2003).

Taylor defines multicultural ministry as “not a conflict of values” but “a collision of values accidentally and impossibly trying to occupy the same space at the same time.” (1986, 3, 343) This shift in understanding allowed the McConnells to learn rather than exerting power over difference. Rather than imposing their culture on the Pueblo and Hispanic people, the McConnells sought to learn about themselves from the other cultures. This was a radical shift from the colonial missionaries who had been there before and who had betrayed the trust of those they studied. Building trust thus became the McConnells’ first priority.

Through their writing, their participation in APRRE and UMAPCE, and their seminars for seminary students and faculty, Taylor and June McConnell “helped many to think through the knowledge and skills to work in a cross-cultural context of ministry. Attitude is key, as they try to get past their prejudices. Each one had to work beyond their romantic view of the people to realism and learn to engage as adult to adult” (T. McConnell, personal interview, February 13, 2003).

They also modeled mutuality and partnership in teaching, research, and ministry. Charles R. Foster wrote: Before I can talk about their contribution to Christian education, I have to write about them. Separately and together they had an unusual spirit. There was a gentleness about them that is hard to describe. It was not a passive gentleness; each in their own way had the ability to "take the floor" and to present whatever they had to say. It tended to be succinct, clear and firmly to the point-especially in Taylor's case. Even when he was angry, I cannot remember Taylor ever raising his voice (C. Foster, e-mail, February 19, 2003).

Jack Seymour also stresses that their character and spirit were important contributions for the field of religious education. He writes, “Working with them was always inviting and hospitable. In fact, the ways they trusted others and deeply listened are inspiring. They helped us all encounter God and the community of faith within the real lives of persons seeking faithfulness” (e-mail, February 20, 2003). Taylor and June McConnell taught other religious educators by example.

They came to teaching and research in religious education with many years of experience in the church, both at the local and global level. They began to focus on the challenges of multicultural ministry before many others had considered it. They taught through the use of experience, theological reflection and trust. Charles R. Foster describes their work as “a deep commitment to teach--not so much through lectures of distilled wisdom, although they both did some of that--but through the way they could both gather people into reflections on their experience and tradition and step out of the way of their learning” (e-mail, February 19, 2003).

They did their research using naturalistic and ethnographic methodologies long before those were common in most fields. They had to discover and develop this approach to research which honored the cultures into which they ventured and involved deep listening that honored difference. They met resistance from both Pueblo and Hispanic people who had been hurt by anthropologists who betrayed their trust and ridiculed cultural practices that were different from the Western and Anglo practices. The McConnells have the deepest respect for the people who participated in their research project:

[The] people have demonstrated one characteristic of participatory research: They are not just “subjects of the research,” and they certainly are not “informants.” Our participants are “respondents,” and they at times may be seen as “co-researchers.” (McConnell, 1991, 583)

It was pioneering methodological work. Their article in Religious Education entitled “Oral Cultures and Literate Research” (1986) is an insightful and passionate argument for learning from cultures that are different from one’s own. Its tone is humble and hopeful about the possibilities for religious education in cross-cultural settings.

For some, the primary impact of the work of the McConnells was theological. Their lives witnessed to the love of God. “All I see around me I relate to God. When we look elsewhere for God we miss the primary clues which are in people” (T. McConnell, personal interview, February 13, 2003). Foster says that they “celebrated the everydayness of the religious” (e-mail, February 19, 2003). Foster attributed to them some of his own commitment to issues of diversity. “Even as I was drawn more extensively into issues of cultural and racial diversity, Taylor and June represented for me most clearly what it meant to embrace that diversity as a way of living faithfully. They lived at the edge of the possible” (e-mail, February 19, 2003).

Their legacy to the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary provided a strong foundation for congregational studies and Christian education that continues into the present. And, as Charles Foster notes, One other thing needs to be said. They have a wonderful sense of humor. Their enjoyment of life in the midst of its complexity and ambiguity simply wells up and transforms their conversations in good humor (e-mail, February 19, 2003).

Taylor and June McConnell taught us wisely, humbly, powerfully, and faithfully to be religious educators who love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.

References Cited

  • Norwood, Frederick A. (1978). From dawn to midday at Garrett. Evanston: Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.
  • New Mexico United Methodist Reporter (March 2, 1979). “McConnells begin cross-cultural family ministry,” p. 1.

Bibliography

Books

  • McConnell, T. (1972). The pastor as educator. Nashville: Board of Education, United Methodist Church.
  • McConnell, T. (1974). Group leadership for self-realization. New York: Mason & Lipscomb Publishers.
  • McConnell, T. & McConnell, J. (1975). A family life style in a changing world. Nashville: Graded Press.

Monographs

  • McConnell, T. Report of the coordinator of educational planning: Covering the research conducted for Garrett Theological Seminary. Garrett Theological Seminary, May 17, 1974.
  • McConnell, T. & McConnell, J. (1980). Family ministry through cross-cultural education. Evanston IL: Murray and Dorothy Leiffer Bureau of Social and Religious Research, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary monograph number 003.
  • McConnell, T. & McConnell, J. (1986). Family ministry through cross-cultural education: A midcourse report. Evanston IL: Murray and Dorothy Leiffer Bureau of Social and Religious Research, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary monograph number 005.
  • McConnell, T. & McConnell, J. (1990). Family ministry through cross-cultural education: A final report. Evanston IL: Murray and Dorothy Leiffer Bureau of Social and Religious Research, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary monograph number 006.

Study Units

  • McConnell, T. and McConnell, J. (1966, June, July, August). Jesus interprets the old testament commandments. Adult Leader, International Lesson Series.
  • McConnell, T. (1969, January-August). The now prophet as an agent for change. The now prophets: The program resource book. Women’s Division of the Board of Missions, United Methodist Church.
  • McConnell, T. & McConnell, J. (1970, summer). The variety of love. Explore. Reprinted in Explore (1973, summer).

Articles

  • McConnell, T. (1956, August). The Brentwood family school. The Pastor.
  • McConnell, T. (1957, fall). The Brentwood family school. The Iliff Review.
  • McConnell, T. (1961, August). A page for pastors. The Church School.
  • McConnell, T. (1963, August). Why laboratory school? The Church School.
  • McConnell, T. (1963, October). Fellowship through space. The Church School.
  • McConnell, T. (1965, May). Resistances to planning ahead. The Church School.
  • McConnell, T. (1966, July). Using the kit. The Church School.
  • McConnell, T. (1967, November). Those other people in the class. International journal of religious education.
  • McConnell, T. & McConnell, J. (1969, September/November). Ways of teaching/learning. Adult leader. Reprinted in Techniques and resources for guiding adult groups, Harold D. Minor, editor.
  • McConnell, T. (1970, June). Creative failure. The Church School.
  • McConnell, T. & McConnell, J. (1975, March). Families and the generation gap. The Interpreter.
  • McConnell, T. (1975, spring). Christian nurture in post-industrial patterns. Explor: A Journal of Theology.
  • McConnell, T. (1977, December). Church school: Factory or caring community. The Church School.
  • McConnell, T. & McConnell, J. (1978, June). What marriage enrichment has meant to us. The Christian Home.
  • McConnell, T. & Williams, M. E. (1978, fall). The limits of qualitative evaluation of student academic performance in the seminary setting. Explor: A Journal of Theology.
  • McConnell, T. & McConnell, J. (1979, February). In the image of God: Human sexuality. Response Magazine.
  • McConnell, T. & McConnell, J. (1980, July-August). Family ministry through cross-cultural education. Religious Education.
  • McConnell, T. (1986). Oral cultures and literate research. Religious Education, 81 (3), 341-355.
  • McConnell, T. & McConnell, J. (1991). Cross-cultural ministry with church and family: The final report of a research project, Religious Education, 86 (4), 581-595.
  • McConnell, T. & McConnell, J. (1992, fall). Strategies of Christian education in multi-cultural situations. Quarterly Review, 39-50.

Bibliography of Books Reviewed by Taylor McConnell

  • Graff, H. J. (1987). The legacies of literacy: Continuities and contradictions in western culture and society. [Reviewed in Religious education, 83 (1), pp. 147-8].
  • Ramm, B. (1983). After fundamentalism: The future of evangelical theology. [Reviewed in Religious education, 83 (3), pp. 503-504.
  • Rood, W. R (1970). Understanding Christian education. Nashville: Abingdon Press. [Reviewed in The Garrett Tower, 1970, fall].
  • Sparks, J. A. (1977). Potshots at the preacher. Nashville: Abingdon Press. [Reviewed in The Circuit Rider, 1977, May].
  • Taylor, M. J. ed. (1976). Foundations for Christian education in an era of change. Nashville: Abingdon Press. [Reviewed in Explor 1977, fall].

Excerpts from Publications

McConnell, T. (1972). The pastor as educator. Nashville: Board of Education, United Methodist Church.

Christian education is caught in the same maelstrom of history that is spinning theology into dizzying confusion. Most efforts to point the way seem only to compound the confusion. (1972, p. 28)

Christian education must transform all life... The need to be gripped in some vital and abiding way by the central truths of the Christian faith can never diminish. (1972, p. 41)

McConnell, T. (1974). Group leadership for self-realization. New York: Mason & Lipscomb Publishers.

Destructive escalation of conflict can be reduced to the extent that interdependence is a reality in the group. When members know that they are needed, when they know who can be depended upon for certain functions, when they feel security in their own place, when they know it is all right to be dependent upon others for some things, then they can relax their guard, lower their defenses, and become supportive. A condition devoutly to be desired! (1974, p. 138)

… [G]roups are ways of enhancing the productive efforts of individuals. Despite those occasional situations in which group goals and individual values are in genuine conflict, in most conditions it is found that individuals cannot work as effectively without a team, without a support group, without a task force that in some way reinforces and backs up their efforts. Stated bluntly: The group frees the individual to make his contribution. (1974, p. 187)

McConnell, T. (1986). Oral cultures and literate research. Religious Education, 81 (3), 341-355.

[Taylor spent much of his presidential address to the Annual Meeting of APRRE in 1985 helping the members to appreciate the Pueblo culture. Because of cultural differences he noted:] We have four problems: That of the place of emotional distance, that relating intuitive with linear thought, that of the mindset of wilderness vs. garden, and that of stealing stories. Each of these increases the difficulty of conducting literate research in oral cultures. (1986, 3, 351)

I believe that the moribund quality of much of our religious schooling could be made vital again if we would turn to real experience to inform our values, our goals and our procedures. (1986, 3, 354)

I think there is even hope for the research that June and I are conducting, even though the values of literate research collide with those of the oral cultures I have been describing. We have been letting the people of these cultures design the research for us. And this has set us in new directions in search of meanings. For the meanings come not in scientific terms, but in their terms. And we are learning to wait... Wait for them to offer information and offer insights that we would have passed by. Wait for them to observe that we are ready for these insights, these truths. (1986, 3, 354)

From McConnell, T. & McConnell, J. (1991). Cross-cultural ministry with church and family: The final report of a research project, Religious Education, 86 (4), 581-595.

It is members of this [the dominant] culture that must make the greatest shifts and achieve the greatest learning, if justice and appreciation are to arise within a pattern of equality among the cultures. Too many efforts of the dominant culture to reach out to the others have centered in relief or charity, rather than in justice. And since the “death” of the melting pot theory as the social glue that holds this society together, we can no longer think in terms of “dominant and submissive.” For the less powerful cultures in our society are no longer willing to be submissive. Perhaps “powerful and powerless” are better terms. (McConnell, 1991, p. 591) [Research Objectives] to demonstrate that interaction among families of various cultures can add to the strength and viability of each of these families to create an ecumenical network of people across the United States and Canada who have the will to work through cultural barriers for the sake of family life (1991, 582) [Procedures for the research] to move ahead with “preparatory ministries” of building trust, responding to the needs of people and families of three cultures to permit the ministry to be defined by others—others experiencing the reality of being ministered to to use all people, from each culture, as our teachers ask no questions use narratives, not concepts bring people together through their trust of the researchers be family respond primarily to positive elements of the other culture (1991,. 582) [The procedure #1 of asking no questions raised the greatest anxiety and concern among the academic community. The McConnells countered that] “A Pueblo man thought that asking questions would produce more misinformation than information.” (1991, 587) [The conclusions in the final report include] Attitudes of respect, humility, and love are essential in any form of ministry that reaches across cultural lines. People of the dominant culture often fail to notice the extreme disrespect shown for the sensibilities of people of less powerful cultures. Ministry can be designed that is appropriate for the culture being approached and at the same time is true to the essence of the Christian gospel. [The final report emphasized that relationships among people of diverse cultures and among clergy and lay must be developed for this ministry to flourish. And that long-term commitment will be required.] (1991, 594-595)


Recommended Readings

Articles

McConnell, T. & McConnell, J. (1980, July-August). Family ministry through cross-cultural education. Religious Education.

This article describes the purposes of the research in New Mexico.

McConnell, T. (1986). Oral cultures and literate research. Religious Education, 81 (3), 341-355.

This article is perhaps the most important contribution of the McConnells as it explores the encounter with a culture very different from that of the researchers. Anyone beginning ethnographic research or a cross-cultural ministry will benefit from their analysis of the challenges of bridging cultural differences and building trust.

McConnell, T. & McConnell, J. (1991). Cross-cultural ministry with church and family: The final report of a research project, Religious Education, 86 (4), 581-595.
McConnell, T. & McConnell, J. (1992, fall). Strategies of Christian education in multi-cultural situations. Quarterly Review, 39-50.

Here is a summary of the practical learning from their research.


Author Information

Margaret Ann Crain

Margaret Ann Crain is Associate Professor of Christian Education and Director of Deacon Studies and Master of Arts Degrees at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston IL where she teaches courses in Christian education, congregational studies, and United Methodist 20th century doctrine, polity and history. Her preferred research methodology is ethnographic and naturalistic. She is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church.

Biola University
13800 Biola Ave. La Mirada, CA 90639
1-562-903-6000