Anglican priests on priesthood : from representative person to integrative symbol.
The thesis is divided into three sections which are a review of literature concerned
with the Anglican priesthood, a description of the research methodology, and an
analysis of the data collected by interviewing 35 Anglican clergy.
The literature review traces the stages of becoming a priest, from vocation through to
selection, formation and ordination. At each stage it asks what a priest is expected to
do, and what a priest is expected to be. As the review proceeds it will be seen that
there are different opinions about these questions. The review concludes by showing
how the literature divides into those who tend towards seeing the priest as functional,
and those who tend towards a symbolic understanding of the ministry.
The research methodology is grounded theory. In summary this involved interviewing
priests, asking them about what they believe, what they do, and ways in which they
understand both themselves and their priesthood. The data from these interviews
provided a grounded base of personal experiences upon which to rest the analysis of
The data analysis begins with priests' descriptions of themselves as being
representatives of God and the people. These descriptions lead to the construction of a
triangular shaped "map" of the terrain upon which priesthood happens. The map, or
"arena of operations", follows through the analysis and it is bounded by three aspects
- namely, the Individual person, the Community of people, and God. In the data
priests' claims to be representative people are thoroughly explored but, out of the
exploration, evidence emerges that their representative activities and their daily
routines may lead to an additional understanding of priests being integrative of the
Individual, the Community, and God. Evidence is presented to suggest that the priest
who is fully operational in the three cornered arena may have moved beyond being a
representative person and towards being the facilitator and symbol of the integrative.