Tomlinson, John William Bruce (2008)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
From 1830 to 1960 the parish ministry of the clergy of the Church of England underwent a transformation, which was expressed in the gradual abandonment of the parson model and the adoption of the professional model. Staffordshire provides a good case-study area because of its wide variety of urban and rural parishes where this development can be assessed. Amongst the many causes of the change, the population size of the parishes and the sources of clerical funding are considered to be crucially important. The evidence suggests that where parishes exceeded 2000 people and where the worshiping community became the main provider of financial support, the parson model was increasingly difficult to operate. Out of necessity, and sometimes subconsciously, the clergy developed a model with significant professional features, even though the parson model continued to be promoted as the ideal. There was a narrowing of the remit of the clergy and within their local communities they were less involved and less influential. If as a consequence the incarnational aspect of local ministry has been eroded then there are far reaching implications. This study shows how practical circumstances, such as those that relate to geography and economics, although not always recognised, have an important effect upon the practice and the theology of ministry.
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