The Power And Dignity Of The Priesthood

This was published in an edition of the Sewanee Theological Review devoted to ministry. It touches on the discussion on this site about the priesthood.

The Power and Dignity of the Priesthood

A Talk given at the Annual Meeting of The Society for the Increase of the Ministry
At Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, November I, 1995, By the Rev. Leander S. Harding, Ph.D.

Copyright © 1994

Much has been written about the perception of a crisis in the priesthood. The Cornerstone Project was developed by the Episcopal Church Foundation in order to help strengthen ordained leadership at a time when clergy are reporting themselves to be discouraged, confused and highly stressed. One of the most recent findings of the Cornerstone Project is that the parish priests in the project had difficulty articulating a theology of priesthood. The staff found that the priests in the project could discuss theological readings with competence but that when they spoke about their parish ministries they did not tend to speak in theological categories. I was one of a group of clergy, theologians and Cornerstone staff who attended a conference at the College of Preachers in June of 1995 to attempt to understand the meaning of this finding and to suggest a course of action. The thoughts that I am going to share with you tonight represent my contribution to that discussion.

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Being A Priest In A Difficult Time: A Response

This essay was originally published as part of a SEAD series which included Christ Seitz and Phillip Turner on “Being A Priest In A Difficult Time” Some of the essays are published on the ACI site here. [Editor’s note: this link is broken. We apologize for the inconvience.]

A Response By Leander Harding, To Reflections On Being A Priest In A Difficult Time by Philip Turner and Christopher Seitz

In my neck of the ecclesiastical woods there is a standard format for sermons at ordinations, celebrations of new ministry and Holy Week meditations on the renewal of priestly vows. The speaker is obliged to give a passing nod to the event at hand and then devote the rest of the agenda to a discussion of the preeminence of baptismal ministry. The hoary bogie man of clericalism is trotted out and denounced to the satisfaction of all present. Patriarchalism, hierarchalism are said to be bad and collaboration and mutuality are said to be good. Something is often said about the ministry belonging to the people and not the priest and about looking to the members of the congregation who are the “real” ministers.

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Been There

Mediation Or Adjudication– Notes On Parish Conflict
A Report For The Bishops Of Connecticut
by The Rev. Leander S. Harding, Ph.D.
November 28, 2000

1. My experience with parish conflict. I have been ordained for 20 years and have led 4 parishes of which three have had a history of conflict. I was a diocesan consultant in Maine and Massachusetts and spent over a year working in one highly conflicted parish in which fist fights had been a feature of previous parish meetings. I was an early advocate of applying Family Systems Theory to parish life before this perspective was made famous by Edwin Friedman’s great book. As an adjunct professor I taught Family Theory and Therapy at Andover Newton Theological School and was a supervisor of field education supervisors at Episcopal Divinity School. My most profound experience of parish conflict was the first three years of my tenure at St. John’s in Stamford which culminated in the vestry asking for my resignation and my request for a Godly judgment under the canons from the Bishop. I participated in an ongoing group for survivors of extreme parish conflict held at E.D.S. in 1992-1993. Of the dozen or so members at the time I attended, including a bishop who was forced to resign his see, I was the only person who ultimately stayed in place and continued in office. During my eleven year tenure at St. John’s I have had three of the most difficult years in the priesthood and eight of the best.

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Telling The Story Of Salvation

One of the very important consequences of insisting on identifying Jesus as the climax of the covenant is that a church that breaks apart along racial and cultural lines is a countersign to the Gospel and an impossibly inadequate medium for the message it carries.

From a paper where I argue that the most popular versions of the story of salvation in both liberal and conservative circles are parts of a larger and more comprehensive biblical story which N.T. Wright’s new reading of Romans helps us recover. The whole paper is on the Northeast SEAD site. [Editor’s note: this link is broken. We apologize for the inconvience.]