Transformation in Practice: Sacramental Ministry as a Vehicle of Change

  • Mary Travis

Student thesis: Unknown


ABSTRACTIn response to the current crisis in liberal catholic Anglicanism, this thesis explores and affirms the continuing value and transformational potential of contemporary sacramental ministry exercised by priests in this tradition. Through the lens of vivid, 'electric moment' stories - moments in priestly ministry when the presence of God was understood by one or both of the participants to be palpable - seven priests reflect in research interviews on their practice and in dialogue with the researcher articulate what they think they are doing in ministry. Without the trappings of the organisational church, the ministry of these priests is held up for scrutiny and evaluated as a transformative practice. A thematic analysis of the interview material follows which demonstrates that the ministry of these priests conforms to, and is rooted in, the traditional pattern of sacramental ministry, but in a modern way. I call this 'sacramental improvisation', a form of ministry that can make God's action in the world intelligible to unchurched people today. According to my argument, this would depend upon the willingness of priests to be less reticent about speaking of God and then finding ways to do so that both retain the mystery, and at the same time make religious faith more accessible. The research process introduced priests to a reflexive way of thinking: a way to think outwards from experience, with freedom to think new thoughts. This was a creative process for priests and, in itself, transformational - it modelled a process of giving close attention, interpreting and working through. The thesis concludes that these methods could inspire new forms of support for clergy and theological education in the future and be especially beneficial to liberal catholic Anglican priests.
Date of Award31 Dec 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorPeter Scott (Supervisor)


  • Ministry
  • Sacramental
  • Transformation

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