Marti R. JEWELL and David A. RAMEY. The Changing Face of Church: Emerging Models of Parish Leadership.  Chicago, Illinois: Loyola Press, 2010. pp. 158. $11.95 pb. ISBN-13: 978-0-8294-2647-2.
Reviewed by  Trudy DANTIS, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Pastoral Research Office, Australian Catholic University, Fitzroy, VIC 3065, Australia.

The book is one of a series of books that has emerged from the research done for the ‘Emerging Models of Pastoral Leadership Project’, conducted by the Centre for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University. One of the authors, Marti Jewell, served as director of the project from 2003 to 2009. The other author, Dave Ramey, is an expert in the field of strategic leadership and planning.

Catholic parishes have undergone significant transformations in all aspects of parish life since Vatican II. The Changing Face of Church: Emerging Models of Parish Leadership discusses these changes in US Catholic parishes through the shared experiences of more than five hundred pastoral leaders. Their contributions throughout the book are packed with resourceful and reflective insights and optimism about the future as they share their innovative ideas and practices.

Beginning with a discussion on the changing context of parish ministry, the book examines the emergence of new parish structures, along with the challenges and opportunities that face pastoral leaders. It investigates current parish ministries to reveal ways in which parishes can be spiritually alive and vibrant. The chapter on leadership explores the evolving roles of parish leaders in the variety of leadership models and lists the personal and professional marks of an excellent pastoral leader. A number of ‘best practice’ characteristics for excellent parishes are documented in the book and the concluding sections provide some recommendations for pastoral planning.

As parish communities continue to grow and change over time, the resources provided in this book offer innovative and effective ways for assisting them to remain spiritually alive and viable. They offer concrete ideas and practical suggestions which pastors, pastoral planners, church leaders and lay people in pastoral ministry will find easy to adapt and implement in their own situations.

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