Thursday, December 07, 2006

Reflecting on the future of the parish system

Reflecting on the future of the parish system
7 December 2006

The parish system of the Church of England is examined in a new book published today featuring 12 leading thinkers. Including contributions from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishops of Peterborough and Maidstone, The Future of the Parish System discusses the challenges facing the parish system, and suggests principles for future development and growth.
Presented in three sections – Understanding our Context, Theological Resources, and Ways Forward – the collection of essays forms the latest in the Explorations series, a growing library of books that aim to stimulate debate within the church.
In the first section, Martyn Percy takes an historical perspective on the changing identity of the English parish church, while Sara Savage analyses the parish system from a psychological perspective, and sociologist Grace Davie charts the changing patterns of religious affiliation and activity in Northern Europe.
Theological reflections are led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who highlights some resources for re-examining church; the Rt Revd Graham Cray, Bishop of Maidstone, who reflects on how to focus church life on a theology of mission; and Steven Croft, who looks at changing patterns of mission in a “mixed-economy Church”.
Much of the book identifies principles for future development and growth. Robin Gamble outlines how to “do traditional church really well”, while the Rt Revd Ian Cundy, Bishop of Peterborough, gives an overview of the experience of dioceses which have reconfigured themselves for mission. Ann Morisy, Michael Moynagh and George Lings each explore how the Church can capture the experience of emerging forms of church, support the growth of these churches into maturity, and integrate them with more traditional churches. Finally, John Rees explores the potential of the proposed Dioceses, Mission and Ministry Measure in a chapter on the legal aspects of developing new forms of church.
The Future of the Parish System – Shaping the Church of England for the 21st Century is published by Church House Publishing, priced £12.99, and is available from Christian bookshops including Church House Bookshop, 31 Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BN, tel. 020 7799 4064, email, or on the web (mail order available).

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