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Mothering as a Metaphor for Ministry

Author: Emma Percy
Published By: Ashgate (Farnham)
Pages: 174
Price: £45
ISBN: 978 1 4094 6691 8

Reviewed by Paul Beasley-Murray.

The author argues that, at a time when many Anglicans are uncertain about the nature of the ministry to which God has called them, mothering is a helpful analogy for parish ministry. The book is divided into three sections (1); Exploring Ministry; 2) Mothering: Gender, Theory and Practice; and (3) Mothering as a Metaphor for Ministry.

It is in the final section, and in particular in the final chapter, where ‘the rubber hits the road’. Here the author reflects on the arts of cherishing and of comforting; of multi-tasking and multi-attending; of homemaking and housekeeping; of weaning and managing change. She concludes: “My concern is that we fail to articulate the achievements of good parish ministry, which involves all the seemingly unproductive aspects of being seen around the parish, being interruptible, knowing how to offer a comforting word or attend properly to friend and stranger. The process of keeping the show going, noticing if the church is clean and the aspect welcoming, putting on the services with love and attention, being authentic, trustworthy, humble, cheerful and faithful. If we undervalue all these things and appear to privilege formulaic action plans and blueprints for growth then I would suggest we undermine the proper practice of parish ministry and its vital importance for building up the church in a particular place”.

Although I would not wish to deny the pastoral nature of ministry, I fear that if the ‘mothering’ metaphor becomes the dominant analogy for a minister’s calling, we are in danger of encouraging yet further church decline. Surely in today’s context  pastors (and I use the term advisedly, to highlight the caring nature of ministry) need first and foremost to be missionary leaders!

Paul Beasley-Murray

Senior Minister of Central Baptist Church, Chelmsford<br>and Chair of Ministry Today

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You are reading Issue 60 of Ministry Today, published in April 2014.

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