Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Conflict Analysis & Resolution


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Judith McKay

Second Advisor

Dustin Berna

Third Advisor

Michelle Cromwell


The church is often seen as a place where people go to seek love, peace, and acceptance. Increasingly, there are occasions where these needs are not being met. Mansfield (2012) used the term “Ecclesia exitus ...the decision to permanently question one’s faith, trust in the church leadership and/or withdraw from a congregation you had considered to be your ‘church home,” to describe the experience of Church Hurt. This study seeks to describe the experience of those who have undergone church hurt. Abraham Maslow in his seminal 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation and his subsequent book, Motivation and Personality, posited a hierarchy of human needs that motivated human behavior, in conjunction with Social Constructionism, shall provide a theoretical framework(s) for the study. Phenomenological analysis as outlined by Moustakas (1994) was the methodology utilized, given its focus on capturing the subjective meanings and perspective of the research, participants lived experience(s). The study interviewed fourteen (14) respondents, eight (8) females, and six (6) males, derived by purposive and snowball sampling methods. To attain in-depth, “thick descriptions,” semi-structured interviews, ranging in duration from forty minutes to an hour, were conducted, over a month long period. Four (4) themes were unearthed, Sanctity of the Church, Sense of Loss, Transformative and the Ineptitude/Ignorance in the Resolution of Conflict. The study shall provide survivors of church hurt experience a voice, and church administrator more sensitive and effective conflict management strategies to handle the church hurt experience, ultimately resulting in a more fulfilling ecclesiastical experience.