Magazine article Anglican Journal

Do Clergy Still Have a Role in the Church?

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Do Clergy Still Have a Role in the Church?

Article excerpt

Do we need ordained ministry? That was one of the questions that emerged at a conference on local ministry near Regina a few weeks ago.

Local ministry is a term used to refer to a type of non-traditional parish structures.

Traditional in this sense means full-time paid, university/seminary-trained priests, who have broad skills to be the primary spiritual leaders of a local church community.

The consensus at the conference seemed to be that if the Anglican Church of Canada is to survive into the next millennium, it will have to look at a number of options, some more, some less traditional.

Two principle motivations are forcing people to rethink parish ministry as most us now know it: the first has to do with declining numbers and money in both rural and innercity communities; the second has to do with trying to involve people more in their faith.

The problem with the first is that it tends to be a desperate measure to save a barely savable situation. Too little money to support traditional ministry in parishes forces a diocese to try something else.

Fortunately, many people at the conference were there to get some ideas about doing a better job at parish ministry, whether facing a financial crisis or not.

If the basic principles are right, why not apply them to healthy parishes?

Several different approaches to non-traditional ministry were discussed: local, team, non-stipendiary, etc. Each has strengths and weaknesses and, as the church moves towards the millennium, we are likely to hear more a number of them.

One of the key questions is the role or, indeed, need, for ordained clergy. Much of the change in the church from the 1960s to the '80s centred around developing lay ministry.

The church quite rightly challenged itself about the model prevalent in the 1950s, where the priest did most of the official ministry in a parish. On the one hand, it tended to create omnipotent clergy. On the other, many clergy burnt out because they couldn't possibly meet the demands placed on them. Either way, change was needed and more needs to be done.

For those who would almost do away with ordained ministry, several questions arise. First, it is interesting in any discussion of this sort, one of the first things done is to identify charisms - gifts - present in the local church community. …

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