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Episkope book front coverEpiskope: The Theory and Practice of Translocal Oversight - A review 

In Episkope, CTE General Secretary, Paul Goodliff, and Roger Standing together with experienced church leaders drawn from across the churches, establish the common foundations that inform conversations about translocal ministry and map present models and experience of ecclesial oversight. Building on these shared insights a variety of themes are explored that might help the selection, training and deployment of translocal ministry be fit for purpose in the changing cultural context that faces twenty-first century Christian communities.

Here The Right Reverend Christopher Foster, the Anglican Bishop of Portsmouth and a former Convenor/Chair of CTE, reviews Episkope... 

Episkope explores the theology, theory and practice of oversight ministry by bishops, moderators, apostles, regional ministers and others across Britain’s Christian denominations. Subtitled as considering the theory and practice of those translocal ministries the joint editors, Roger Standing and Paul Goodliff (General Secretary of Churches Together in England) helpfully and accurately write in their Introduction of their vision for a book addressing the theological and practical issues. 

Standing and Goodliff bring together a rich and varied group of over twenty contributors, particularly numerically strong from the Baptist and Anglican traditions. While the intention includes making theology and experience available to those newly called into oversight ministry, this is far from simply a handbook to support such a transition. Though there are elements here of such material, not least in the illuminating stories from Stephen Cottrell and Anne Hollinghurst, there are also strong biblical, theological and historical contributions by Sean Winter and Paul Avis. Winter’s chapter is well referenced, and Avis offers a list of further reading to assist those who wish to explore further. This is an excellent resource for those in, as well as those preparing for oversight ministries and it will enhance and enlarge understanding of history and practice in traditions other than our own. For some, like me, it may also improve self-understanding of translocal ministry in our own denomination.

This makes the middle Part the strongest of the book’s three parts. Foundations, Experience and Practice may at times be overlapping sections, but the consideration of a dozen traditions’ Experience of oversight ministry will be illuminating to a wide range of readers and not simply those engaged in those responsibilities. It’s a disappointment that Roman Catholic episcopacy isn’t explored by a bishop, though Jacob Phillips’ chapter on theological dynamics is a helpful part of indicating both the similarities and differences in denominational development of translocal ministries. The scope of these chapters includes, it’s good to see, two prominent leaders writing from their own first-hand experience of leading New Monastic communities.

This welcome book combines theology, experience, mapping and practice with a final brief forward looking conclusion with some tentative thinking about the future trajectory of translocal ministry. There might perhaps have been some more of that, but the chapters here provoke readers to think themselves how these ministries may develop – and develop ecumenically.

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