DPM Graduates


Tommy Shapard (2016 Cohort)

Thomas Shapard, DPM ’21, is an ordained Baptist minister serving as Minister of Music and Worship at Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church (Jacksonville, Florida). In addition, he is on the faculties of the University of North Florida and Florida State University where he is a choral music director and teaches church music. 

"I Can't Breathe": Toward a Pneumatology of Singing and Missional Musicking for Racial Justice in Jacksonville, Florida

Advisor: C. Michael Hawn
Second Reader: Marcell Silva Steuernagel
Community Reader: Ulysses Owens Jr.
Doctoral of Pastoral Music Conferred: August 2021
Thesis completed and approved with Honors: May 28, 2021

Thesis Abstract

This thesis develops a philosophy of musicking that intersects with missional ecclesiology and expands the role of music-making beyond the church walls. The central hypothesis assumes that predominantly white congregations in the Free Church tradition located in the southern United States incorporate ways of singing that reinforce, albeit inadvertently, attitudes toward others that buttress white ethnocentricity. Musical practices arising from a Western European heritage can promote cultural exclusivity as well as a perceived—yet false—sense of superiority. Is there an implicit theology of singing in white churches that engenders a culture of complicity and apathy in matters of racial injustice, or are there alternative ways of understanding singing that can encourage white Christians to join the journey for racial justice?

The author employs an interdisciplinary methodology and identifies ways music-making as social activity builds community and reframes relationships across the color line in Jacksonville, Florida. Detailing an ongoing partnership with Ulysses Owens Jr., and Don’t Miss A Beat, Inc., the author offers a first-hand account of exploratory steps in missional musicking and augmenting the music program at Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church. The author prescribes a pneumatology of singing that connects missional musicking to the life-giving breath of the Spirit and the responsibility to form more equitable communities reflective of the earliest Christian community as recorded in Acts 2. After discussing his own missteps, challenges, and increasing awareness, the author shares his thoughts on “white work,” anti-racism, and cross-cultural musicking, particularly how musicians in white churches can join the journey for racial justice.


Kevin Turner (2016 Cohort)

Program Pioneer: First Doctor of Pastoral Music Graduate (Find Perspective article here)

Kevin A. Turner, DPM ’20, is an ordained deacon in the Western North Carolina Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and serves Davidson United Methodist Church, Davidson, North Carolina as Pastor for Worship and Music.

"The World is About to Turn: Imagining a New Ecclesiology for Emerging Adults Through Missional Music Ministry"

Advisor: C. Michael Hawn
Second Reader: O. Wesley Allen
Doctor of Pastoral Music Conferred: May 16, 2020
Thesis completed: April 23, 2020

Thesis Abstract
How can ministry leaders in the twenty-first century provide guidance for those who are at the leading edge of the church’s next generation? How might emerging adults become contributors to congregations where they are given space to offer and plan for themselves rather than passively acquiesce to traditional church structures where a strict, top-down leadership style dominates? In conversation with author Letty Russell, this paper will describe a more democratic vision of ecclesiology for music ministry and ministries of the larger church. The methodology employed in this thesis involves a case study examining the creation of a choral ensemble focusing on Millennials and Generation Z that became a community of service and song dedicated to egalitarian leadership and a focus on social justice. This work will also give insight into a more egalitarian approach to leadership for a new generation of church leaders.

Dirk Damonte (2017 Cohort)

J. Dirk Damonte, DPM ‘22, is an ordained deacon in the Northern California-Nevada Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. He serves Los Altos United Methodist Church in Los Altos, California, as Minister of Music and Worship Arts

Finding Wonder, Love, and Praise: Weaving the Threads of Wesleyan and Methodist Theology and History Into a Twenty-First Century Worship Tapestry

Advisor: C. Michael Hawn
Second Reader: Elaine Heath
Community Advisor: Samuel S. Yun
Oral Defense: May 9, 2022
Doctor of Pastoral Music Conferred with Honors on Thesis: May 14, 2022

Thesis Abstract

The United Methodist Church has seen a decline in membership for many decades. Accompanying this numeric decline has been a decline in the vitality of worship in many churches. This denomination traces its roots to a renewal movement in the Church of England, led by John and Charles Wesley, which spread across the Atlantic and took hold in the American colonies, where it soon became a separate church. This new church was characterized by lively and Spirit-filled worship and exponential growth. This thesis explores and analyzes the theology of the Wesley brothers and the Wesleyan movement, the history of that movement as it developed into a new denomination in colonial America and the United States, the worship practices that emerged with that history, and the music that inspired that worship. That analysis is applied to a modern worship context with new musical expressions of Wesleyan ideas and practical application of the core of Wesleyan theology and practice.

Hillary Doerries (2017 Cohort)

Hillary Doerries, DPM ’22, is the Director of Music Ministries at Christ the King Lutheran Church (ELCA) of South Bend, Indiana, where she is also active in the congregation's mental health ministry. She leads Christ the King's Mental Health Ministries Team and is a facilitator for Fresh Hope for Mental Health, a weekly support group for people living with mental health diagnoses and their loved ones.

We Will Hold Onto You: The Liberating Power of Music and Liturgy to Break Open the Stories of Mental Illness in Communities of Faith

Thesis Advisor: C. Michael Hawn
Second Reader: Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner
Oral Defense: November 15, 2022
Doctor of Pastoral Music Conferred: December 17, 2022

Thesis Abstract

One in five people lives with a diagnosable mental health problem in any given year. Thus, the presence of mental illness already permeates faith communities. The church’s history with mental illness remains complicated, especially as some communities of faith continue to espouse negative lay theologies that are harmful and dismissive to people living with mental health problems. Guided by the tenants of liberation theology, this thesis argues that mental health justice is a part of God’s overarching justice intended for all creation. When we, as God’s people, encounter or observe injustice, it is our theological task to gather the weary, the oppressed, and the marginalized and bring them back to their seat at the table of God’s grace where God calls them by name: beloved. This document proposes that pastoral musicians, clergy, and others charged with planning and facilitating worship are essential to developing a theology of mental health that welcomes and accepts all people into the family of God, regardless of physical or mental, or emotional disability. Within communities of faith, engagement with such a task begins within the context of worship, for the musical and liturgical choices we make as pastoral musicians shapes our community’s understanding of the Body of Christ in all its wonder and diversity. Therefore, when people with mental health challenges see and hear themselves and their lived realities of mental illness represented in the musical and liturgical landscape of their faith community, they are liberated from destructive stigmas and can break the chains of prejudice, stereotypes, and injustice.

Hyun Min Lee (2017 Cohort)

Hyun Min Lee, DPM ’21, is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church of South Korea and is pursuing a Ph.D. at the Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary in Liturgics and Homiletics in Seoul.

Reconcile Your People— 화해의통일을이루게하소서:
An Analysis And Revisioning of the Korean National Music Theory of Lee Geon Yong with Implications fo Church Music and the Reunification of South and North Korea

Advisor: C. Michael Hawn
Second Reader: Christopher S. Anderson 
Oral Defense: February 25, 2021
Thesis completed: March 15, 2021
Doctor of Pastoral Music Conferred: May 14, 2021

Thesis Abstract
The political situation on the Korean Peninsula appears to be more hopeful now than for several decades, calling for a new strategy for reunification. Through music, people in the two Koreas can reclaim one ethnicity and the spirit of a unified nation. This thesis explores the possibility of achieving a unified ethnic identity through church music and poses a role for church music in overcoming the musical, cultural, and ecclesial divisions between South and North Korea. I examine the Korean National Music Theory (KNMT) of composer and church musician Lee Geon Yong as a musical and philosophical construct for analyzing the history, social culture, theology, and the implications of establishing a unified ethnic identity for South and North Korea. After comparing the political identities, artistic cultures, and musical characteristics of the two Koreas, I provide a brief history of the two Korean churches since their division. This research provides directions for a Koreanized church music to overcome musical heterogeneity of two Koreas. Based on this, I suggest the potential musical and theological characteristics of reunification hymnal and offer implications of Lee Geon Yong’s work for the reunification of church music for the North and South Korea.

Stanton Nelson (2017 Cohort)

Stanton Nelson, DPM '22, is a composer, pianist, and organist. Stanton concertizes in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, sharing musica divina experiences with his solo piano pieces. He is currently one of the organists at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, TX, where he also coordinates the Cox Chapel services and accompanies the Youth Choir. Stanton is looking forward to starting his non-profit, Noted with Honor, which springs from his Doctor of Pastoral Music research. 

Noted with Honor: Intersections Between Theology, Music Therapy, Psychotherapy, and Original Music Compositions for Hospice Patients

Advisor: C. Michael Hawn
Second Reader: Marcell Steuernagel
Community Advisor: Joel Watson
Oral Defense: November 29, 2022
Doctor of Pastoral Music Conferred: December 17, 2022

Thesis Abstract

This thesis investigates the intersections between theology, music therapy, and psychotherapy when creating a music composition that honors a hospice patient’s walk of faith. A pioneer organization inspiring this thesis is Swan Songs in Austin, Texas, where musical moments are created for the patient and family. However, its model is primarily based on collating previously composed pieces for recitals without a personalized honoring of the patient’s witness of faith. Noted with Honor is an emerging non-profit organization that creates an original work that reflects upon the testimony of the patient and forms a new narrative towards the end of one’s life, bringing peace and dignity to this final rite of passage. The author employs an interdisciplinary methodological approach. Besides theology and four types of therapy, some pre-compositional strategies are also examined: generating musical cryptograms of the patient’s and family members’ names via the French method of solmization, setting the style of the piece within the patient’s preferred sound aesthetic, and mathematically structuring the piece according to the patient’s duration of life and milestones.

Joshua Taylor (2017 Cohort)

Joshua Taylor, DPM ’21, is Director of Worship and Music at First United Methodist Church of Denton, Texas, after a brief tenure as the co-musician for the Iona Community in Scotland. He previously served as the Director of Worship and Music at First Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas and as the Instructor of Sacred Music Studies in the College of Music at the University of North Texas.

Songs for the Journey:The Music of Pilgrimage

Advisor: C. Michael Hawn
Second Reader: Robert Hunt
Oral Defense: November 18, 2020
Thesis completed: January 31, 2021
Doctor of Pastoral Music Conferred: May 14, 2021

Thesis Abstract

Pilgrimage has been a part of Christian experience since biblical times. Creating new stories, pilgrimage affords sacred travelers experiences that transcend nationalism, denominational identity, and cultural borders melding their individual constructs of meaning with communal experiences to create new insights. On these pilgrimages, music has played a significant role in the development of community. While pilgrimage is an independent act, it is also a shared existence with other pilgrims with music serving as a bridge between these two realities. With an estimated 100 million people undertaking pilgrimages at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the rediscovery of pilgrimage, and the music that accompanies it, has meaningful connections for the post-modern church struggling to find a new identity. The ecumenical communities at Iona and Taizé provide particular case studies for the role of music in forming community among disparate travelers. The individual and communal nature of pilgrimage, the ability of pilgrimage to provide commonality in a diverse society, and the role of singing and traveling music calls for the reexamination of this ancient practice for the post-modern church. 


Lily Wong (2018 Cohort)

Lily Wong Kueng Mee, DPM ‘22, is a full-time ministry staff, in charge of worship and music, at Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church in Singapore.

Nurturing Disciples Of Christ By Singing Wesleyan Hymns In View Of The Cultural Context Of Chinese Methodist Churches In Singapore

Advisor: C. Michael Hawn
Second Reader: Lorna Lock Nah Khoo 
Oral Defense: February 16, 2022
Thesis completed: February 18, 2022
Doctor of Pastoral Music Conferred: May 14, 2022

Thesis Abstract

Hymn singing was an important practice in the early Methodist movement, a heritage still recognized among Methodists today. In addition to their sermons, John and Charles Wesley used hymns as the primary vehicle to convey the theology and doctrine of Methodism. Unfortunately, the culture of hymn singing is slowly disappearing in many local Methodist churches in Singapore. Due to the rising dominance of contemporary Christian music (CCM) and unique linguistic context in Singapore, congregations who retain hymn singing are struggling as they face the possibility of losing this tradition among younger generations. The restrictions imposed on worship gatherings by the current COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated this problem. This thesis examines the Wesleyan hymn heritage, discusses the reasons for the decline in hymn singing in Methodist congregations in Singapore, and proposes a methodology for helping the Chinese Methodist churches in Singapore to regain the heritage and distinctiveness of Methodism. The goal of my research is to recover discipleship formation through hymn singing. While not advocating a form of denominational triumphalism, Methodists do not need to abandon their distinctive identity, unique experience, and vibrant expressions of the Christian faith in hymn singing to have efficacious worship in the twenty-first century.