Conversation and Good Books: The Life Bood of Ministers

May 6th, 2014

Clergy often have professional societies or organizations they affiliate with for the purposes of collegiality, scholarly pursuits or opportunities to grow in pastoral skills alongside other interested pastors. Informal opportunities to learn and grow professionally and collegially also take place through clergy groups, ministerial alliances, and ecumenical/interfaith collegial relationships as well.

Personally, I am a Regional and National member of the American Baptist Minister's Council, and I also belong to the ecumenical organization called "The Academy of Parish Clergy" (APC).

With The Academy of Parish Clergy, I find a similar opportunity for collegial learning, though in a much broader ecumenical context. I enjoy receiving the quarterly publication "Sharing the Practice", and I contribute book reviews to the journal on a regular basis. I find the Academy aims to sharpen the practice of ministry while staying also engaged with the new trends of scholarship in biblical studies and theology as well.

One APC event I enjoy is the annual announcement of the "Book of Year" award. The APC has a subcommittee who review dozens of books published each year by religious publishers, and they announce a "Top Titles" list as well as a "Book of the Year" and "Reference Book of the Year". I am particularly pleased to see a book I reviewed earlier ("Practicing Care in Rural Congregations and Communities") was highlighted as a top book. To read my review of this important pastoral work, click on this link:

I was further delighted to see the seminal work of NT Wright recognized for his new (massive two-volume) work on Paul and his writings. It is a hefty doorstop of a book, but I relish reading it soon! Also, the "Feasting on the Word" series for lectionary preachers has a new series focusing on the four Gospels, meaning the quality of this series is now focusing its large team of pastors and scholars to the full text of the four Gospels, which the lectionary itself may not cover each and every passage in its quest to give an overview of three years' worth of biblical readings.

I look forward to the 2015 "Book of the Year" series especially as I have been elected to serve on this committee. I will enjoy reading and sharing my thoughts as books are received. Getting the chance to read great books is always a delight.

And now, the envelope please....

2014 Academy of Parish Clergy Book of the Year Announcement

The Academy of Parish Clergy, Inc. announces the 2014 Book of the Year Award to be Paul and the Faithfulness of God by N. T. Wright (Fortress Press). The Book of the Year Award is given to the best book published for parish ministry in the previous year. In addition, the Reference Book of the Year Award is given to Feasting on the Word: Matthew, Vols. 1 and 2 (A Feasting on the Word Commentary edited by Cynthia A. Jarvis and E. Elizabeth Johnson (Westminster John Knox Publishers). The awards were announced at the Annual Conference of the Academy, April 22-24, 2014 at the Siena Retreat Center, Racine, WI.

In addition to the Book of the Year, the Academy has selected the following additional books as the Top Books for Parish Ministry published in 2013.

Faithful Generations: Effective Ministry Across Generational Lines, by John R. Mabry (Morehouse Publishing) 9780819228208

Learning to Dream Again: Rediscovering the Heart of God, by Samuel Wells (William B. Eerdmans Publishing) 9780802868718

Practicing Care in Rural Congregations and Communities, by Jeanne Hoeft, L. Shannon Jung, and Joretta Marshall (Fortress Press) 9780800699543

Preaching at the Crossroads: How the World−and Our Preaching−Is Changing, by David J. Lose (Fortress Press) 9780800699734

Reading for Preaching: The Preacher in Conversation with Storytellers, Biographers, Poets, and Journalists, by Cornelius Plantinga (William B. Eerdmans Publishing) 9780802870773

The Good Funeral: Death, Grief, and the Community of Care, by Thomas G. Long and Thomas Lynch (Westminster John Knox Press) 9780664238537

The Ox-Herder and the Good Shepherd, by Addison Hodges Hart (William B. Eerdmans Publishers) 9780802867582

The Relational Pastor: Sharing in Christ by Sharing Ourselves, by Andrew Root (InterVarsity Press) 9780830841028

Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense, by Francis Spufford (HarperOne Publishers) 9780062300454

Unfettered Spirit: Spiritual Gifts for the New Great Awakening, by Robert D. Cornwall (Energion Publications) 9781938434594

What Christianity Is Not: An Exercise in “Negative” Theology, by Douglas John Hall (Cascade Books) 9781610976718

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