The Power and Dignity of the Priesthood

Okay, here is another piece by Father Harding from his weblog. I have to say, he has a way with words and identifying issues. I wonder if anything has really changed in ten years? I do think so, except that younger people seem to have a higher view of the priesthood.
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. 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 ゥ 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.

Continue reading


There are those in the Episcopal Church who have strong predisposition towards the clergy being only functionaries. It is an extream anti-clericalism that denies, in my humble opinion, what Holy Orders are meant to be within the universal, apostolic, and catholic Church.
The Rev. Dr. Leander S. Harding, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Stamford, CT, recently commented on this in his weblog.
Here is an excerpt:

“The beauty of the ordination rites is about the only thing we have to save Holy Orders from becoming a mundane job. It might seem to some that the cleric as employee would be a relief from a church in which too much is made of clergy and too little of the ministry of the people. Making ordinations and services of installation more mundane, more matter-of-fact will have the consequence of also making the ministry of laity more mundane and less awesome. The trend of the last 25 years of secularizing our understanding of the clergy role has done little to make the people of God more holy or more empowered in their baptismal ministry and it has done much to reinforce the very clericalism( the priest does the ministry, the people receive and evaluate it) that is so deplored.”

Read it all on his weblog, or click below.
This piece puts into words my very thoughts on this whole subject. Click below to read the entire article, which first appeared in the National Episcopal Clergy Association newletter, by Father Harding.

Continue reading