The Stories that We Weave: Narratives of Spiritual Migrations and Identity

Martha M Cruz, Fordham University


“The Stories That We Weave: Narratives of Spiritual Migrations and Identity” Human identity formation is an ongoing, fluid, and dynamic process. It is shaped by a wide range of influences—context, lived experience, and the multiplicity of roles and relationships. These same factors impact religious and spiritual identity formation. The spiritual life is constantly in process, unfolding in the now and anticipating the not yet. Religious identity formation is a continuum that integrates all the spiritual experiences that have given shape to one’s narrative arc, and is open to what is yet to be. Religious and spiritual identity and practices are inextricably linked. Identity informs practice, and practice reflects identity. Yet a growing number of persons today are changing their religious affiliation and identity, and many do so more than once. A 2015 study by the Pew Research Center, reports that as many as 42% of Americans today have a different religion than they did in childhood. Converts are not only filling the pews, but also the pulpits. This study explores the influence of pastoral ministers’ conversion experiences on their identities, beliefs, and practices. The research explores religious identity formation among pastoral ministers who are serving in traditions other than the ones in which they were raised. Themes of multiplicity, polydoxy, and polypraxis will be explored. The study will discuss current research on religious identity formation, including the work of Gooren, Grau, Keller, Mabry, and Schneider, and analyze findings from interviews conducted with pastoral leaders serving in a variety of ministry settings. A workshop for church leaders on spiritual identity and pastoral practice is provided.

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Recommended Citation

Cruz, Martha M, "The Stories that We Weave: Narratives of Spiritual Migrations and Identity" (2018). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10841761.