Priesthood or leadership?
20 November 2017 IN: Ministers
We hear much about ordained ministers being leaders in the Church. Are we are in danger of losing sight of ministers being priests and prophets? A conference called Priesthood of Leadership was held at Manchester Cathedral this month, intended to recover a sense of ministry, priesthood and prophecy. The conference was organised by members of the Society (Forward in Faith) and Women's Clergy Chapters as a contribution to mutual flourishing in the Church.
The Ven Dr John Applegate (Course Principal, All Saints Centre for Mission and Ministry), spoke about leadership in the Old Testament. He said that the Old Testament was suspicious of any kind of leadership which did not depend on God. Even with a great prophet like Moses, it was clear that he spoke the words given to him by God; God himself led his people in the pillar of cloud and fire. Psalm 23 points to the leadership of God: 'The Lord is my Shepherd...'
The Revd Dr Jill Duff (Director of St Mellitus College, North West), said Christian ministry is about both priesthood and leadership, and more – namely, prophecy. The New Testament avoids using the word for a secular leader for Christian leaders; it sees leaders as servants of God. We need ministers who are prophets: St Francis is an example of someone who was a prophet to the Church of his time, and is still today. We need priests from all social classes if we are serious about our mission to the whole of England.
The Revd Fr Thomas Seville, CR (Member of the Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield), said that a Christian leader must be 'one who serves.' (Luke 22.26) The Ordinal refers more to priests being messengers, sentinels and stewards, rather than leaders, though it does speak of priests being guides. Not every priest is a leader, for example priest-members of the Community of the Resurrection are priests, but not leaders. We need different kinds of priests, with a variety of gifts. It is good to see Ordination as a Sacrament, dependent on the grace of God.