OVERVIEW OF THIS STUDY

For the past twenty-five years the Anglican Church in Australia has undergone dramatic change:-
* Since 1978 we have had two new prayer books.
* We have seen the ordination of women as deacons and priests across most dioceses.
* We have seen a growing participation of lay people in the life of the church.

These are just a few examples, but there are many more. An interesting question in all of this is: have we seen a growth in mutual ministry? In other words have we seen a genuine growth in understanding and practice of the mutuality of ministry that ought to exist between priest and people? While there has been in nearly all Anglican parishes across Australia a growth in the involvement of lay people, have we truly appreciated the way this should change the relationship between priest and people?

James Fenhagen writing in "Mutual Ministry" wrote the following:

"Whenever you talk about the ministry of the Christian community, however, you are talking about a particular view of the church, and views obviously differ. It is my conviction that the church is first and foremost that community of people who gather to celebrate and bear witness to God's redemptive activity in the world. We are here to proclaim in word and behaviour that God's love for the world - acted out in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ - makes a difference in the way human beings live with themselves and with one another. We are here to proclaim a particular view of human community; a view that we see to model, however imperfectly, in those gatherings of Christians often referred to as the local congregation. We gather together in communities of faith to be empowered to penetrate the world around us. This is what we are about. This gathering and scattering is at the heart of the Christian ministry."

The five studies which follow are designed to encourage that growth in mutuality and community. In no way do I want to question the role of an ordained ministry. Indeed I want to affirm and encourage it. At the same time I want to underline the importance of priest and people being the body of Christ in a particular place being together about the mission of the Church.

Each of the five studies takes a different New Testament image of ministry. While there are images of our Lord or of what he asked the disciples to be, they have been foundational to our understanding of ministry.

The five images are:
(i) Labourer - Worker (ii) Fisher - Gatherer
(iii) Good Shepherd - Carer (iv) Sower - Planter
(v) Vinegrower - Nurturer

Each study will be preceded by a teaching statement.

Bishop Andrew Curnow
Melbourne, Victoria
1997.

 

For additional copies of this study guide please contact Saint Augustine's Unley
86 Edmund Ave Unley SA 5061 - 08: 8373.7411