Friday, 14 October 2016

Theology and Ministry 4 (2016)

The latest issue of Theology and Ministry: An Online Journal, from St. John’s College Durham, is available here. It contains the below essays.

Jocelyn Bryan

John W.B. Tomlinson
Ministry and History: A Survey of Over 300 Religious Practitioners
Recognising that the nature and the activity of the Church are in part defined by its history, this study investigates the degree and type of engagement in history by those who lead ministry in the local church. How is their interest in history, if they have any, expressed? Do they feel adequately trained to use history in their work? Does history have a particular relevance to different areas of their ministry? Is the historical religious building a valuable resource or a burden? From the responses certain patterns emerge, influenced by – among other factors – age, experience and gender. Denomination also plays a significant part both in what areas of church history seem relevant and in how such history can be used in ministry. This study raises again the question of how the church brings together its theology and its history.

Peter T.H. Hatton
Wisdom’s Feast: Proverbs as a Resource for Theological Education
This article argues that the biblical book of Proverbs offers a humane, generous pedagogy that has the power to helpfully address those currently engaged in Theological Education. This is a pedagogy grounded in a relationship that seeks to draw both teachers and learners into an engagement modelled on the familial and commensal – ‘host:guest’, rather than ‘instructor:passive recipient’ – while prompting a participatory, questioning learning style. It reaffirms the importance of the acquisition of wisdom and the formation of character at the heart of enterprise. It cautions against pedagogical methods that reduce residential and commensal elements in theological education.

Michael Hirst
Poverty, Place and Presence: Positioning Methodism in England, 2001 to 2011
The Methodist Church in Britain has a long-standing commitment to mission alongside the poor. That priority, informed by an understanding of how churches commit to social action through encounter and engagement, might be expected to align its presence with disadvantaged areas: to enter into solidarity with the poorest in society. This paper investigates how far the Methodist priority for the poor intersects with the everyday geographies of its local presence. Cross-sectional and longitudinal data on the distribution of Methodist personnel and agencies are evaluated against neighbourhood variations in social and economic deprivation. There was no evidence of a Methodist presence skewed towards the most deprived communities in England. Findings raise questions about how church structures and roles can be arranged to fulfil beliefs, values and expectations, and have implications for the deployment of ministers and the location of activities in response to unmet needs in the population due to lack of resources and opportunities.

Trudie Morris
Let the little children come to me; do not stop them’ – Inhabiting the Sacred Space: Exploring the Curatorial with Children
In this paper the practice of co-curating the Eucharist with children is explored. The context is an ongoing research enquiry seeking to address the theological question of what it means for children to be at the centre of Eucharistic worship as an expression of the Kingdom of God. The focus on curating liturgical worship draws upon developments in the field of museum curation. Key concepts are presented: that as an insider researcher I am the subject of my research and that my primary values are questions of justice, discovery and experience. Dialogue partners from the fields of education research and children’s spirituality support the key concepts. The argument presented is that the practice of co-curating the Eucharist with children is important in developing worshipping communities with a pilgrim model for discipleship.

Tom Stuckey
Repairing Altars of Sacrifice Tom Stuckey
Is Elijah a suitable role model for an ordained minister in today’s declining Church? This paper suggests that the ordained should adopt the kenotic ministerial pattern of Paul as found in his letter to the Philippians rather than the power model of Elijah. In a secular context such as ours, it is also important that the ordained minister listens to the faith stories of the elderly in the local congregations. Their memories, when redeemed, can stimulate and open up imaginative options for the future.

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