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Women's Leadership Development Group

Book Reviews

Book Reviews

This is an invitational space for women in leadership in our province, to share what they have been reading and build a bibliography of helpful resources.  If you would like to send in a book review please contact us.  We look forward to hearing from you!


Steel Angels by Magdalen Smith

Reviewed by Ripeka Bijl

In 2020 on the precipice of deciding whether to be discerned for Priesthood or not I was handed a copy of Steel Angels by my Vicar Jenny Wilkens.


I began to read and became more and more determined to follow what seemed like a mammoth calling, as Smith wrote about the resilience, humanity, grit and tenderness needed for ministry.


Smith explores vocation, spirituality, specific qualities like attentive listening, and many wonderful first-hand accounts of ministering to people in all sorts of unexpected places, including at the supermarket checkout!


This is a fascinating and heartwarming book about vocation, a quick read and one that will stay etched in your memory. After reading, I embarked on my path to Priesthood, and haven’t looked back.


Do find yourself a copy, and delve into what God is calling you to do and be. Perhaps YOU might be a Steel Angel?

Learn more about Ripeka here.

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Moving On: Grief in Ministry Transitions Edited by Silvia Purdie

Reviewed by Rev'd Dr Karen Kemp

What a taonga Silvia Purdie’s book is! Her artful weaving of stories, poems, prayers, and research crafts a kete fit to hold the emotions, spiritual, psychological and physical challenges, personal and communal impacts, and practicalities inherent in ministry transitions.

This book is presented in five sections designed to be dipped into without needing to read it in sequence. Section One looks at endings and changes in ministry through a grief lens and offers much needed perspective on how the grief process plays out. Section Two looks at Complicated Grief in Ministry Transitions – including those times when the change is externally imposed and traumatic. Section Three offers stories of Recovery – of how to journey through to a new place – physically, emotionally and spiritually. Section Four focuses on Praying our Goodbyes and includes Liturgies for Grieving. Section Five is a very useful toolkit that attends to the practicalities of transitions in individual, organizational, and communal dimensions of ministry. Every section draws on the wisdom and research of seasoned ministers and scholars and brings theory and experience together in ways that deepen understanding and open paths to walk on even in apparently dead-end situations.

Throughout, personal stories express the breadth of culture, ethnicity, and ecclesiology in Aotearoa New Zealand and candidly tap into themes of identity and vocation, home and belonging, community and relational entanglements so common in ministry. Scripture finds voice in poems and liturgies that name the realities of transition, grief, and loss, yet engender hope and the possibility of new beginnings. Here is deep, hard won, hope-filled wisdom that is accessible, realistic, and practical. It is reassurance for those who are in the midst of transition - others have navigated this terrain and emerged richer for it. Moving On is above all a timely contribution to the training and sustaining of all who minister in these changing times.

Rev Dr Karen Kemp is a Senior Coach/Lecturer in the Laidlaw Centre for Church Leadership and School of Theology. Karen is an Anglican scholar-priest whose experience includes nursing, community development, ministry, missions, and theological education in Australasia, Chile, Mongolia, and the UK. She holds an MA in Peace Studies/Applied Theology from Victoria University Wellington, and a DMin in Leadership and Spiritual Formation from George Fox University in Portland, Oregon. Research interests include practices that support healing the wounds of history, formation of emerging leaders, and the role of “third culture” persons in building intercultural bridges. Karen shares life with her husband, missiologist and historian Dr Hugh Kemp, and their three adult daughters, and can be found kayaking or walking the family labrador on a remote Kaipara beach in her spare time.

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The Crucifixion Of Jesus: Torture, Sexual Abuse, And The Scandal Of The Cross by David Tombs

Reviewed by Dr Miryam Clough

Dr Miryam Clough's review of David Tombs' book can be found on the Shiloh Project website.

Click here to read the review.

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