The Nearness of God

Parish Ministry as Spiritual Practice

Julia Gatta

Feb/2010, 141 Pages, Paperback, 5.5 x 8.5

ISBN-13: 9780819223180



What distinguishes Christian ministry from other helping professions? While many books tell clergy how to run a capital campaign, handle conflict, and lead a vestry, this book helps pastors, chaplains, and lay professionals appreciate the spiritual depth of their calling and reminds them that Christian ministry is Christs ministry working through them.

Julia Gatta is Bishop Frank A. Juhan Professor of Pastoral Theology at the School of Theology at Sewanee. Her previous books include The Nearness of God: Parish Ministry as Spiritual Practice and, with Martin L. Smith, Go in Peace: The Art of Hearing Confessions. She is a spiritual director, retreat conductor, and Episcopal priest who served for 25 years in the Diocese of Connecticut. She holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Episcopal Divinity School and doctoral degree in medieval studies from Cornell.

“In this wise and loving book, Julia Gatta pays tribute to the parish ministry by mining the riches of her beloved Anglican tradition, applying them astutely to the challenges of ministry in our time and place.”—William H. Willimon, Bishop of the North Alabama Conference, United Methodist Church, and former Dean of the Chapel, Duke University

“This is a book for every professor, minister, seminary student, and lay person committed to good ministry. It is about growth in the love of God through God's grace by means of a faithful understanding and practice of ministry. It is traditional, useful, prayerful, creative, and mystical. I have never read anything like it.”—Roberta Bondi, author of To Love as God Loves: Conversations with the Early Church and Memories of God

“Julia Gatta offers much more than the family systems and leadership theory we have come to expect. She leads us to find God’s active grace in the joys and struggles of parish ministry and offers skilled insights into how to hear the rustlings of the Spirit in the busyness of our days. Every parish priest and pastor should read this book.”—Henry Nutt Parsley, Jr., Episcopal Bishop of Alabama

“With deep compassion for the disjointed lives of parish clergy, Julia Gatta describes steps toward wholeness that are as practical as they are profound. Combining personal narrative, sacramental reflection, and psychological insight, this book offers a grace-filled vision of ministerial life.” —Alice Mann, Senior Consultant, Alban Institute, and author of Raising the Roof: The Pastoral-to-Program Size Transition

"Gatta approaches her task in five insightful chapters: first, on the importance of shared community; then in turn, Eucharistic ministry; preaching ministry; pastoral ministry in the congregation; and finally, temptations in ministry. Each chapter has several sub-sections, each appropriately titled and relevant to the chapter topic, somewhat eclectically chosen, yet well tied to the whole. Every chapter, every subsection, is packed with poignant, substantive, important considerations in relation to ordained ministry. Does the book succeed in its stated goal? I say 'yes!' It definitely shows 'what living into the ministry of Christ might look and feel like in the sort of day-to-day situations in which clergy typically find themselves.' I highly recommend the book for clergy."—John LaVoe, APC, The Episcopal Church, Oriskany, NY

"Parish ministry is a demanding vocation, but in this book, Julia Gatta reminds us that it is also a great gift."—Christopher L. Webber, The Living Church

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