What does it really mean to be a parish priest in todays pressurised and changing church? Priests have traditionally understood themselves as maintaining centres of prayer and spiritual care for people in a particular place, but urgent pressures on parish ministry are changing this.
Driven by the scarcity of resources, changed cultural expectations, and the changing face of clergy vocations, models of the local and personal are being superseded by clergy who are deployed over multiple parishes. At the same time, unrooted Fresh Expressions exist alongside local churches, and there is a growing disconnection between ministry on the ground and senior leadership in the Church.
A range of contributors explore first-hand the contradictions and paradoxes of a priests daily life, focusing especially on presence and prayer. Urgent yet optimistic, they seek a renewed understanding of ministry and mission in our current cultural landscape and conclude with a definition of mission as the contagiously visible life of prayer in a place.
Sarah Coakley is Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge and Honorary Canon of Ely Cathedral.
Jessica Martin was formerly a Fellow in English literature at Trinity College, Cambridge, and is now in full-time parish ministry in the Diocese of Ely.