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The Heart of the Matter
Pastoral Ministry in Anabaptist Perspective

Edited by Erick Sawatzky


Summary: Throughout some 500 years of life as a people, Anabaptist-Mennonites have pioneered their own understandings and practices of pastoral ministry, rooted in their understandings of the teachings of Jesus and the Bible. Now 17 writers who have dedicated themselves to studying and teaching pastoral ministry reflect on what can be learned from viewing ministry in Anabaptist perspective.

Pondering Anabaptist understandings of such images of the pastor as shepherd, teacher, healer, prophet as well as such issues as leadership, authority, ecclesiology, improvisation, and much more in 17 chapters plus appendices, notes, and indexes, the authors both affirm the resources for pastoral ministry found in the Anabaptist tradition and suggest areas for growth. They value, for example, the concern for servanthood often found in Anabaptist views of pastoring even as they seek to regain for pastors an authority sometimes lost when servant leadership is overemphasized.

This volume will be useful to those with Anabaptist roots interested in rigorous reflection on ministry as understood within their tradition—and also to those rooted in other traditions intrigued by what can be learned from the unique vantage point offered by Anabaptism.

Commment: "The Heart of the Matter . . . models its own message by prophetically challenging, caring about, and promoting mutual service in the body of Christ as the true path of pastoral ministry. It speaks with the authority of a community of Anabaptist scholarship that cares about the soul of what is truly pastoral."
—David W. Augsburger, Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling, Fuller Theological Seminary

"I learned much from these reflections on ministry. The peculiar vibrancy of the Anabaptist vision of the church provides a wonderfully invigorating perspective on the pastoral tasks. Contemporary pastoral ministry can be critiqued and renewed through such astute reflection."
—William H. Willimon, Professor of Christian Ministry, Duke University Divinity School

"At the heart of the matter is our understanding of the pastor. Erick Sawatzky has invited his colleagues on the faculty of Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary to speak to this central issue. What they offer is a treasure of Anabaptist theological education. Read the debates, embrace the theological reflection, and learn from the vision. It’s all here."
— John A. Esau, columnist in Mennonite Weekly Review, retired minister, and past director Ministerial Leadership Services for the General Conference Mennonite Church

Market: Pastors, college and seminary students training for ministry; professors; any church leaders or members interested in the shape of ministry in Anabaptist perspective.

Shelving: Pastoral ministry—Anabaptist-Mennonite; Christian leadership; BISAC: Religion. RTM: 690 Religion/Ethics.

The Author: Erick Sawatzky, Goshen, Indiana, joined Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary as director of Field Education in 1986 and is Associate Professor Emeritus of Pastoral Ministry. He has been pastor of congregations in Canada and the U.S. He served in prison ministry, as a Bible Institute board member; and on the board of the Canadian Association for Pastoral Education. He was executive director of the Saskatoon Pastoral Institute, a member of the Commission on Education of the General Conference Mennonite Church. He remains on the General Conference Committee on the Ministry. Sawatzky is a friend and companion to people. This becomes clear both in the subjects he teaches and the way he mentors students.

Quote: "It is with a sense of awe and excitement that I sit with the gifted scholars and teachers of the church represented in this volume. In this book one finds some of the most important conversations and issues facing the church today. Here we find the story of debates and discussions among scholars and teachers regarding the nature and authority of pastoral ministry. Here we find insight into why we are the way we are. Here we find constructive practical theology—attempts to articulate for this time and place what God calls us to as pastors. Here we find bold proposals for rethinking some of the church’s answers in the past, even as we are encouraged to take that past seriously. Here we find critical reflection on how we participate in God’s mis-sion in the world—not only as disciples, but also as ministers, as representatives of God to others. Here we come to the heart of the matter." —Loren L. Johns, in the Introduction

Publisher: Cascadia Publishing House (the new name of Pandora Press U.S.)
Potential Copublishers: Herald Press, Scottdale, PA (not yet confirmed);
Tentative Publication date: April 15, 2004
Approximate Pages: 260
Format: 6 x 9 trade paper
Prices: $22.95 US, $35.95 Can.
ISBN: 1-931038-22-8


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Copyright 2004 by Cascadia Publishing House
05/15/08