The Anglican parish is uniquely embedded in English culture and society, by virtue both of its antiquity and close allegiance with secular governance. Yet it remains an elusive and surprisingly overlooked theme, whose 'place', theologically, is far from certain.
Whilst ecclesiastical history has long formed a pillar of academic training for ordained ministry, ecclesiastical geography has not contributing to the often uninformed assumptions about locality in contemporary church debate and mission strategy.
At a time when its relevance and sustainability are being weighed in the balance and with plans progressing for the Church in Wales' abandonment of parochial organisation, there is an urgent need for a clear analysis of the parish's historical, geographical and sociological - as well as theological significance.
"Parish" examines the distinctive form of social and communal life created by the Anglican parish: applying and advancing, the emerging discipline of place theology by filling a conspicuous gap in contemporary scholarship.
This book will help in forming a vision for the future of the English parish system, contribute towards the Church's strategy for parochial ministry and also inform the broader national conversation about 'localism' and cultural identity.
Part One - Christ in Our Place: The Anglican Parish in Theoretical Perspective
1. Steadying Jacob's Ladder: A Place- Formation Cycle
2. The Lord is Here: Towards a Christology of Place
3. Sheer Geography: Spatial Theory and Parochial Practice
Part Two - Common Ground: The Anglican Parish in History and Practice
4. Another Country: Parish and the National Myth
5. Good Fences: Parish as Neighbourhood
6. A Handful of Earth: Parish, Landscape and Nostalgia
Conclusion: A Kind of Belonging
"This wonderful study of the parish is unrivalled as a scholarly study of the parish, charting brilliantly the determinative role that that it has played in English history. As well as being an invaluable work of social and ecclesiological history, it demonstrates masterfully and imaginatively how crucial place is to any adequate understanding of Christian theology." -- Rt Revd Dr John Inge
"This magnificent book weaves a wide range of perspectives together lyrically with ease. Here, theology finds itself at home with geography, philosophy and the study of history on the widest scale, and at the most local. At a time when church strategy is often ill at ease with the apparent lack of novelty in abiding with a community, where it is, for the long run, Rumsey’s book offers what we need, and yet it is low on polemic, and big on pastoral insight." --Andrew Davison, University of Cambridge, UK
"Andrew Rumsey sees with the eyes of a poet, writes with the hand of a scholar, and loves with the heart of a priest. His call to re-examine the myths, meaning, purpose and promise of the parish is as persuasive as it is timely. He is a faithful storeholder who has found in the history and soil of this evocative theme something old and something new. This is a study to be cherished, enjoyed – and lived." -- Rev Dr Sam Wells, Vicar, St Martin-in-the-Fields, London
'This book is a must read for all Anglicans thinking about mission, the significance of place, and the “parish system”. Andrew Rumsey has done something truly astonishing. Each page is packed with worthwhile insights, and more elegant writing than this review could readily quote. He has written the book one wishes one could write, and discussions of the parish and its future must use this wonderful work as their starting place.' -- Zachary Guiliano, ANVIL: Journal of Theology and Mission, VOL 34, ISSUE 2