Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Mary Hess

Second Advisor

Dr. Christian Scharen

Third Advisor

Dr. Gary Simpson


This dissertation assumes that death and resurrection is the rhythm of life for all disciples of Jesus Christ, and that this baptismal pattern of dying in Christ and being raised to new life in Christ plays itself out in many penultimate iterations across our lives until our ultimate Death and Resurrection. As such, living in a cultural climate in which the white North American Christendom Church is captive to an ecclesiology of death, fixated upon and anxious about its imminent demise, this dissertation seeks to provide a counter-narrative: an ecclesiology of the resurrection occurring in this new missional era, a minority report grounded in the messy lived experience of actual congregations, witnessing to the Holy Spirit’s raising of the church to new life on its margins. Working in an emerging mode of research known as theological ethnography, the author conducted three-to-five year ethnographic apprenticeships among three faith communities in St. Paul, Minnesota (one ELCA Lutheran, one Old Catholic, one Nondenominational Evangelical), each founded in 2008-2009. This dissertation seeks primarily to partner with these three faith communities and their respective participants in attending to, drawing forth, and articulating their collective and individual embodied theological wisdom. The work of Mary McClintock Fulkerson provides the foundational framework of the dissertation, as it explores how these communities are doing theology that matters at the scene of various wounds sustained by their people at the hands of the Christendom Church, and how these communities make space for their participants to appear among the body of Christ. Ann Swidler’s understanding of culture as a toolkit, which operates differently among settled versus unsettled peoples, serves as an additional conversation partner in articulating the deconstructive and reconstructive wisdom of these communities. The work of Kathleen Cahalan informs the structure of the final chapter as it discusses the contours of a resurrection ecclesiology through communal practices of resurrection common across these three congregations who, like Christ, continually dwell in the margins, pour themselves out and give themselves away, and dismantle the hierarchies.