Mothering as a Metaphor for Ministry: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Mothering as a Metaphor for Ministry

1st Edition

By Emma Percy


184 pages

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Drawing together original research which weaves together ideas from theology, philosophy, feminism and writing on mothering and child development, Emma Percy affirms and encourages aspects of good practice in ministry that are in danger of being overlooked because they are neither well-articulated nor valued. Offering a fresh look at parish ministry, this book uses a maternal metaphor to provide an integrated image of being and doing. The metaphor of mothering is used to explore the relational aspect of parish ministry which needs to value particularity and concrete contingent responsiveness. Percy suggests virtues that need to be cultivated to guard against the temptations to intrusive or domineering styles of care on the one hand or passive abnegation of responsibility on the other. Parish ministry cannot be understood in terms of tangible productivity; different ways of understanding success and evaluating priorities need to be developed. The book suggests ways of being ’good enough’ clergy who can find the right balance between caring for people and communities whilst encouraging and acknowledging the maturity of others.


’This is a wise, kind, intelligent book which many (men as well as women) will find illuminates their experience of ministry and helps them cope with overload, anxiety and the perennial guilt trap which is often their lot.’ Angela Tilby, Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, UK 'This imaginative, thoughtful and thought-provoking book is a gift to all those who are seeking new language to express what ministry might mean in the twenty-first century. The exploration of motherhood as a metaphor for ministry opens up not only new language but a whole new way of ministering.' Paula Gooder, Freelance Writer, Canon Theologian, and Lecturer in Biblical Studies '… engaging and thought-provoking' Christine Worsley, Church Times ’Emma Percy makes an important and novel contribution to the growing corpus of academic writing exploring the generic practise of ministry in these changing times.’ Regent’s Review '… [Percy’s] work on a contemporary reading of motherhood is extremely valuable for ministers of any church denomination, regardless of their theology of ministry.' Worship

Table of Contents



PART I: Exploring Ministry

1 Ministry: Ontology and Function

2 Ministry: Relationship and Grace

3 Maternal Imagery for Clergy in the Christian Tradition


PART II: Mothering: Gender, Theory and Practice

4 Mothering: Gender and Culture

5 Mothering: Questions of Instinct and Inter-Subjectivity

6 Mothering as a Practice


PART III: Mothering as a Metaphor for Ministry

7 Using Mothering to Think about Ministry

8 The Virtue of Humility and the Issue of Power

9 Using Maternal Language to Articulate Aspects of Parish Ministry: Some Examples


About the Author

Educated at Cambridge and Durham University with degrees in history and theology. Ordained deacon in 1990 and priest in 1994 Emma has worked in parish ministry and university chaplaincy for over twenty years. She recently completed a PhD in theology at University of Nottingham. She has written a number of book chapters and articles on aspects of ministry and has given papers and lectures on parish ministry and theology and mothering.

About the Series

Routledge Contemporary Ecclesiology

The field of ecclesiology has grown remarkably in the last decade, and most especially in relation to the study of the contemporary church. Recently, theological attention has turned once more to the nature of the church, its practices and proclivities, and to interpretative readings and understandings of its role, function and ethos in contemporary society.

This series draws from a range of disciplines and established scholars to further the study of contemporary ecclesiology and publish an important cluster of landmark titles in this field. The series editors represent a range of Christian traditions and disciplines, and this reflects the breadth and depth of books developing in the Series. This series presents a clear focus on the contemporary situation of churches worldwide, offering an invaluable resource for students, researchers, ministers and other interested readers around the world working or interested in the diverse areas of contemporary ecclesiology and the important changing shape of the church worldwide.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Religious
RELIGION / General
RELIGION / Theology