Saturday 4 February 2017

Holiness 3, 1 (2017) on Holiness and Pastoral Relationships

The latest issue of Holiness, the journal of Wesley House Cambridge is now available online, this one devoted to ‘Holiness and Pastoral Relationships’.

The editor, Andrew Stobart, leads into the theme with a reflection on the Wesleyan Methodist Conference, meeting in Liverpool in 1820, and being faced with a sharp decline in membership. Among the range of measures adopted, ‘increased pastoral intercourse’ with Methodist people ‘at their own homes’ was recognised as an ‘absolute obligation’. The Conference encouraged its ministers to show ‘unremitting diligence’ in conducting pastoral visitation, which included ‘giving seasonable counsel’, ‘exhorting them to a faithful and loving observance of all the duties of personal and family religion’, and ‘kindly inquiry into their Christian experience’.

The entire journal, containing the below collection of peer-reviewed essays, lecture, and short articles, is available as a pdf here.

Bill Mullally
The Effect of Presence and Power in the Pastoral Supervisory Relationship
This article addresses the important elements of presence and power in the pastoral supervisory relationship. It is based on qualitative research, which used a questionnaire methodology with six Methodist ministers, all of whom had taken part in group pastoral supervision for a period of two years. The aim of this research was to gain insight into their experience of the supervisory process. The article explores how an open, authentic and trusting environment can be created within the pastoral supervisory relationship that has regenerative and healing potential, whereby ministers will be better able to face the challenges of ministry. It contends there is a need for well-qualified, skilled and spiritually sensitive supervisory support for ministers. Such pastoral supervisors will understand the dynamics of power and presence to create a sacred space for ministers to ‘come apart and reflect a while’. This covenant relationship creates transformational possibilities for those who commit to the journey.

James Dunn
Why Four Gospels? Why Only Four?
This is a transcript of the 2016 Fernley-Hartley Lecture, which was delivered during the 2016 British Methodist Conference at the Lambeth Mission, London, and is published here with acknowledgement to the Fernley-Hartley Trust. It stands largely unchanged from its first delivery in the hope that the texture and tone of the lecture might also be retained. The article argues that answering the questions ‘Why four Gospels?’ and ‘Why only four?’ provides a clear picture of the character of the gospel of Jesus as ‘the same yet different’, as well as a challenge to today’s Christians to retell the good news in their own contexts with equal or equivalent effect. The article discusses the context in which the four canonical Gospels were recognised, pointing out that the term ‘gospel’ was coined in the process. The distinctive emphases of the Synoptics and John show how the same story can be told differently, an essential restatement of the same message for new and changing audiences.

Christopher Collins
Reimagining Dementia: Seeing Ourselves More Fully in the Dementia-Diagnosed
How does the Church respond to the increasing number of dementia-diagnosed within our communities? This paper argues that the Church inhabits Kitwood’s ‘standard paradigm’ of dementia, which focuses on the loss and decay of the person. This diverts our attention away from a more theologically nuanced understanding of the person and personhood. Using Lartey’s Theological Form model of action and reflection, I will reflect on the pastoral experience of caring for the dementia-diagnosed and seek to promote an alternative theology of personhood as relationship based on Moltmann’s ‘social trinity’ explored through the creation narrative of Genesis 2. This will allow us to develop an alternative model of pastoral care which enables us to see the ‘angelic mission’ of the dementia-diagnosed.

Paul Gismondi
Fear and Faith: Reflections on Ministry and Death
An experience of observing a cremation instigates theological reflection on the fear of death. Using Laurie Green’s model of action to reflection, and then reflection to action, the article moves through three cycles of theological reflection, exploring first the author’s response to the crematorium, then a subsequent encounter with a family during a funeral visit, and finally a conversation with colleagues. Each cycle produces further insights: the universality of death; the particularity of death; and a final glimpse of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Through this, the author explores the interaction between his fear of death and his faith.

Catherine Minor
Beyond Horror: Mapping the Contours of Holiness in an Acute Hospital
Reflecting on the experience of hospital chaplaincy in an acute hospital in the north-east of England, this article explores the conviction that God is with us both in and beyond horror. Echoes of Scripture are identified in a number of pastoral encounters, which help to illustrate the presence of God in the midst of horror. The work of chaplaincy also points to God’s presence beyond the horror of present pain and death, turning the hospital into ‘holy ground’.

Elizabeth Dunning
A Good Death? Pastoral Reflections on Closing a Chapel
This article reflects on an experience of the closure of a chapel, exploring ways to challenge the assumption that closure is a failure. Noting the lack of intentional resources to aid churches considering closure, the author identifies the Passion and resurrection narratives as a biblical model for the stages of church awareness of change. Reflecting on these narratives enables the closure of a chapel to be considered as a fitting conclusion to work accomplished, as ‘a good death’.

Jane Leach
‘On Visiting the Sick’: The Art of Pastoral Conversation
This article is a transcript of a lecture delivered as part of the first series of Wesley Memorial Lectures given at Wesley Memorial Church in Oxford in July 2016. Originally entitled ‘Speaking of God in Private’, this lecture was followed by a second, ‘Speaking of God in Public’. It is included here as part of the ongoing journal series exploring what the sermons of John Wesley have done for us, and it stands largely unchanged from its first delivery in order to retain its texture and tone. This article addresses the questions of why in Western culture it is a problem to speak of God in personal conversation; why this is true even within some churches; and whether there are any pointers towards how intentional conversation about God might be recovered in the contemporary Western context in the sermon of John Wesley’s of 1786, ‘On Visiting the Sick’.

Janet Morley
‘I believe; help my unbelief!’ A Reflection and Intercession Based on Mark 9:14–29, and on John Reilly’s Painting, Healing of the Lunatic Boy

Gillian Houghton
Reflections on Self Portrait by Eddy Aigbe


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