Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Attentive to God: Spirituality in the Church Committee

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Attentive to God: Spirituality in the Church Committee

Article excerpt

Attentive to God: Spirituality in the Church Committee. By Karen-Marie Yust. St. Louis, Mo.: Chalice Press, 2001. xi + 154 pp. $16.99 (paper).

The purpose of this short book is summarized by its author in her brief dedication. There she refers to a friend "who refuses to believe that committee work is just about marking items off an agenda." As I look back on decades of chairing parish and diocesan meetings, the book's purpose hits home.

This is a "how to" book which includes an abundance of suggestions to provide a spiritual dimension to church meetings-meetings that can easily deteriorate into frustrating exercises, or, even when efficiently run, do little to provide a worthwhile experience in furthering the mission of the church. In the introduction, the author clearly states her purpose, and the chapters of her book, beginning with "A Theology of Church Committee Work," have such headings as "Asking God to Serve on the Mission, Outreach, and Social Action Committees."

The author, at the time of publication of the book, was an assistant professor of Christian education at Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis. She fills her book with practical suggestions, while critical of "opening prayers" by clergy at meetings which she finds "often serve more as an attention-getting device for committee members-sort of like flipping the lights off and on to signal the start of an event-than as a genuine request for God's active participation" (p. 5).

The author describes the value of reading and reflecting on Scripture by a committee before tackling the planned agenda. She deals with the sense of inadequacy that many laypeople feel when invited to mull over a passage from Scripture, but gives many helpful suggestions of how a deepening sense of community can develop when such a task is taken seriously by laypersons and clergy. …

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