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Philip Garside Books

Signposts on the Way - Print.

Signposts on the Way - Print.

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Signposts on the Way: Theological Reflections on the Practice of Ministry

By Rev Dr Graeme Ferguson 

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Published: November 2019
Language: English
Words: 112,940
B/W text, 288pp, 6″ x 9″ 
Soft cover
ISBN: 9781988572208

[18 in stock 20 April 2024]

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This book invites clergy and lay people engaged in Christian mission and parish ministry today to take time out to think about what we can learn from our recent past.

You will be encouraged by Ferguson’s uplifting, inspiring and pragmatic insights gained from 50 years of ministry.

He shows how local ministry is informed by sustained theological reflection. He has worked on the frontiers between the church and the secular city in Wellington, Auckland and Sydney.

Ferguson has shared many ecumenical initiatives including the Inner City Ministry, the formation of the Uniting Church in Australia and setting up the Sydney College of Divinity.

He has worked cross-culturally with the Greek and the Korean communities. Each fresh initiative has raised new theological questions.

To help you engage with the text, the book is well indexed, has many footnotes and has a comprehensive table of contents.

There are also many pull quotes sprinkled throughout the book which highlight the author’s insights. (Why not try skimming through the pull quotes to get a sense of the scope and flavour of the book, before delving into the detailed text?)

Sample quotes:
  •  “…its ministers must decide whether they are going to allow themselves to be manipulated by the power elites, to serve them in the furtherance of their policies.”

  • “The task of the Church is to discern the places in the life of the city where Christ is about his saving work and set out to join him there.”

  • “Giving people the freedom to exercise their creativity in practical ways that reach achievable goals is exhilarating.”

  • “The Scriptures are infuriating. They are rarely lucid or clear.”

  • “Our capacity for innovative response is restricted only by the limit of our vision.”

  • “I wanted people going into ministry to love the Church, understand it well and serve it selflessly and wholeheartedly.”

  • “People have a great ability to set limits to their understanding. They are not prepared to go deeper into faith.”

  • “Where the Church insists on a higher authority or a set of truth claims that cannot be questioned or examined, the Church is in trouble.”

  • “One of the tasks in the local congregation is to discern the range of gifts present in its life and to ensure that these are recognized, celebrated and used effectively.”
Praise for Signposts on the Way

“Signposts on the Way is a sincere and deeply thoughtful insight into the place of Christian faith in a half century in which it has been subject to doubts, critical analysis, outright rejection and downright abuse. Ferguson makes a strong case for the consistency, insight and value for humanity of the Christian story.” Rev Prof William Emilsen, Research Professor Charles Sturt University, Sydney

“This is good stuff. I needed to read this at a time when so much around us is dark and troublesome.” Ven Dr John Chryssavgis. Theological consultant to the Patriarch of Constantinople



Introduction: A discussion on method

Chapter 1 — Auckland and Dunedin: Germinating Ideas

  • Beginnings
  • First Creative Moments
  • Theological Education in the Classical Tradition

Chapter 2 — Cambridge: The Classical Tradition

  • Researching the ‘Body of Christ’

Chapter 3 — Kent Terrace Church, Wellington: Gift of the City

  • The Process of Secularization
  • The Gift of the City
  • Forms of Presence
  • The lifestyle of the local congregation
  • The Church for Others
  • Forming the Inner City Ministry: from Tradition to Mission
  • Ministry in the ICM

Chapter 4 — Creative Theological Departures: 1965–1975

  • Handing on the Tradition
  • Interpreting the Faith to its Cultured Despisers: The Resurrection
  • Liberation and the New Exodus
  • Life in the Spirit
  • Festivity and Joy

Chapter 5 — Sydney: United Theological College, A Learning Community

  • Creating a New Institution
    • The Call to Sydney
    • Qualities needed in a Principal
    • Early Days: Building Community
  • Major Developments
    • Inclusive Community
    • An intentional, educational community
    • Maturing in a committed community of faith and worship
    • Ministerial formation
    • Doing Theology in Context
    • The formation of the Uniting Church in Australia
    • Distinctive Markers in the Australian Experience

Chapter 6 — The local congregation in mission

  • Institution and community
    • The Church as agent of mission: The five marks of the missionary congregation
    • The People of God
    • The Fellowship of the Spirit
  • The Body of Christ
  • The Household of Faith
  • The Temple of the Spirit

Chapter 7 — Doing Theology in Australia

  • The Land
  • The Exilic Experience
  • A multi-cultural society
  • A journey into freedom
  • An urban society
  • Root Metaphors

Chapter 8 — The Interpretative Task

Chapter 9 — Forming the Uniting Church in Australia

  • United Theological College as a model of ecumenical cooperation
  • Forming the Uniting Church in Australia
  • Forming the Centre for Ministry

Chapter 10 — Baptism, the Sacrament of Initiation

Chapter 11 — Auckland: St David’s Tradition and Mission

  • What we found when we arrived
  • The socio-political context
    • Individualism
    • Anonymity
    • Autonomy
    • Urbanisation
    • Changing attitudes to the Church
  • Questions for the Church at Mission
  • Sent into the City
  • Proclamation and Witness
  • Celebrating the mysteries of faith
  • The Sacrament of Baptism
  • The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
  • The Rites of the Church
    • Weddings
    • Funerals
    • Civic Occasions
  • The Search for an Inclusive Church
  • The Revolution in Human Relationships and Sexuality
  • Creating a sustainable future

Chapter 12 — Recapitulation: On being an incarnational community

  • The dynamics of servanthood
  • Embodied humanity
  • Costly service
  • Friendship
  • An inclusive community
  • A community of faith, hope and love
    • Faith
    • Hope
    • Love
  • The Church between the ages
  • Christ humbled and exalted




About the Author

After under-graduate work at Auckland and Otago, Dr Ferguson completed his doctorate on Calvin at Cambridge.

In 1965 he was called to be minister of Kent Terrace Presbyterian Church, Wellington, where he shared in forming the Inner City Ministry, a model of ecumenical cooperation in the city.

In 1975, he was invited to become the inaugural Principal of United Theological College, Sydney, an ecumenical college that prepared people for ministry in the soon to be formed Uniting Church in Australia. He helped establish the Sydney College of Divinity.

In 1988 he became senior minister of St David’s Church, Auckland. He served the Assembly as convener of the International Relations and the Doctrine Committees. Dr Ferguson retired in 2000.
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