For the Good of the Church
Unity, Theology and Women
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What do we need to learn and receive from the other to help us address challenges or wounds in our own tradition? That is the key question asked in what has come to be known as 'receptive ecumenism'. And nowhere is this question more pressing and pertinent than in women's experiences within the church.
Based on qualitative research from five focus groups, For The Good of the Church exposes the difficulties women face when they work in a church - sexism, unfulfilled vocation, and abuse of power and privilege, as well as the wide range of gifts and skills which women bring in light of these.
The second part of the book continues to draw on the particular wounds and gifts, which arise in the focus groups. Specific case studies are used to identify gifts of theology, practice, experience, vocation and power.
Against negative prognoses of an 'ecumenical winter', the book reveals how radically different theological and ecclesiological perspectives can be a space for learning and receiving gifts for the well-being of the whole Church.
1 What is Receptive Ecumenism? 11
2 Designing the Research 39
3 Gifts, Wounds and Emerging Themes 58
4 The Gift of Hospitality 89
5 The Gift of Vocation 114
6 The Gift of Leadership 139
7 The Gift of Power 164
Appendix 1 197
Appendix 2 211
"This important book draws together how we learn both from other churches and from the voices of women. As it does so it challenges us to reflect on how we listen properly to the experiences of those who are different from us or whose voices are sometimes not heard. It is a rich resource and well worth reading carefully and thoughtfully for all the wisdom it contains." -- Paula Gooder, Canon Chancellor, St Paul's Cathedral
"It would have been enough to tell the fascinating story of a fruitful project with women deeply committed to a wide range of churches, but Gabrielle Thomas does even more. She gives prophetic insights, together with wise, accessible theology, on key issues (including painful ones) relevant to all churches, and in the process she adds an important dimension to one of the most promising Christian movements of our time, Receptive Ecumenism." -- David Ford, Regius Professor of Divinity Emeritus, University of Cambridge