Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)


Divinity College


Richard Vosburgh




The Robe With No Seams: Boundaries and Ministry.

With more and more couples entering ministry, and at a later stage in life, there are increasing numbers of Dual Career Clergy in the churches. How do these couples manage to work together, live together, and socialize together? What are the stresses and strains that affect their relationships, and how do they build and maintain personal and professional boundaries to keep themselves healthy? This study was developed to explore the processes and dynamics involved in negotiating boundaries in the lives of Dual Career Clergy. Dual Career Clergy (DCC) are defined within this study as those clergy couples of which one member of the couple is an ordained, full--time leader in Christian ministry, and the other partner is either in ministry or another profession outside the home. The focus of the research was to identify the boundary creation and maintenance processes of clergy couples. There was little in the literature on the dynamics of boundary development, and so this foundational research on boundary issues was initiated. The project used a qualitative research process to review the input from interviews with eleven (11) DCC and to identify the factors that were instrumental in their boundary negotiation. This process identified five factors as being the primary elements of boundary definition: perceived values, roles, loci of activity, ii personality, and life stage. These sub-factors were operant in a negotiation process under the influence of "external expectations and pressures" and "internal expectations and pressures." The external demandsĀ·- coming at the Dee from their church or community -- and the internal demands were those coming either out of their interpersonal relationship or from each of them individually. It was in this "sphere of interaction" or "negotiation" that boundaries appear to be developed, The findings will be helpful to those involved in boundary research, the training and equipping of clergy, clergy support programs and those working with couples in dual, husband-wife, career programs in other fields.

McMaster University Library

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