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This Odd and Wondrous Calling: The Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers Paperback

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; 8.12.2009 edition (September 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802864759
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802864758
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #184,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Lillian Daniel is the senior minister of the First Congregational Church of Glen Ellyn and a host of the Chicago-based television program “30 Good Minutes.” She is also the author of numerous articles and Tell It Like It Is: Reclaiming the Practice of Testimony.

Martin B. Copenhaver is senior pastor of Wellesley Congregational Church in Wellesley, Massachusetts. His other books include Living Faith While Holding Doubts and To Begin at the Beginning.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 37 customer reviews
This book was very insightful.
It's a great read for lay leaders, pastors, and people considering ministry.
Erin Bouman
A book like this is long overdue.
Rev. Dale Rosenberger

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By R. C. Stout on November 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
At last there is a book about "what it's like to be a minister" and not a "how to do it right" book about ministry and it's written with candor and integrity. Lillian Daniel and Martin Copenhaver are both excellent writers in their own right and together they are the perfect writing duo to bring to light the realities of "This Odd and Wondrous Calling" that is parish ministry. I am now retired having been ordained 46 years ago and my wife and I both feel this is a book that should become required reading for every seminarian anticipating a career in parish ministry. Nowhere else will a "budding" clergy, female or male, find such a healthy and thoughtful reflection on the profession they are preparing to enter. And every lay person needs to read this book as well to learn something about themselves, they being "the church", as well as something about what their pastors experience. There is self-deprecating humor and honest self examination as these two dedicated professionals walk the reader through their professional experiences revealing both their foibles and the achievements that surprise them, but most of all they are not embarrassed to conclude that what they do is an "odd and wondrous calling" and not "a job." Bob Stout, Retired UCC Miinister
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By S. Woolston Bossert on December 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
A potential occupational hazard of ordained ministry is certainly loneliness (ironic in a setting filled with people), as highlighted by a recent Christian Century article on clergy depression. As such, this little gem of a book by Lillian Daniel and Martin Copenhaver is a bracing tonic, giving expression to what has been heretofore the secret life of pastors. Both authors write movingly of their particular and peculiar experiences, yet the emotions evoked will likely resonate universally with ministers.

The "Shaking Hands" chapter alone captures the hilarious and harrowing experience many pastors have on Sunday mornings, trying to keep track not just of names, but so many diverse personal narratives of the congregation! It's enough to make a pastor's head spin: while one parish member seeks a merry backslap and hearty quip, the very next might be enduring an agonizing wilderness wandering. The delicacy and sensitivity needed to be a pastor is brought to life beautifully throughout this collection.

Indeed, there are many books on pastoral ministry, yet I've found few as honest as this one. The pairing of Lillian and Martin--different ages, different genders--makes the vulnerability arising especially potent and relevant. Aside from sustaining and entertaining those of us "in the biz," I plan on suggesting this book to many laity at my parish. Because in the Facebook age of "collective wisdom" that we now find ourselves in, our understandings of each other (lay + ordained folks) is especially critical to unlock the potential of God's new church being born.

Like parenting, ministry is both the hardest and the most sublime thing I have ever done. For all its oddness, these two authors remind me of the awe I feel in being called to such wondrous work.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Rev. Dale Rosenberger on November 7, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is extremely difficult to write a book delving so deeply into the stuff of parish ministry and living out our faith in ways as insightful and authentic as this book. But to do all of this while appealing equally to pastors and to laity is a singular achievement. I seldom see such a thing. This book is so readable and engaging, it is tough to put down.

As a pastor, I vouch for the struggles and joys here attested to. It's a life of which most laypersons have surprisingly little awareness. This splendid book pulls back the veil around us in an honest, helpful way. Nothing in this glimpse is cheap. This is how things are, friends! As an author, I applaud the wide embrace of the readership, including all of the church of Jesus Christ. A book like this is long overdue. Why wasn't it written before? A thoughtful layperson in my church was touched by it and wrote the following:

"What is more inscrutable--or more delectably interesting--than the pastor's inner life? In "This Odd and Wondrous Calling" Martin Copenhaver and Lillian Daniel open their hearts and minds to candidly give us a look into the personal challenges and triumphs, both large and small, of being called to the ministry. It is a window that humanizes their struggles, joys and faith in a way that is inspiring to us all."
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Caleb Hummel on July 27, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed reading This Odd and Wondrous Calling. The book is written from the perspective of two ministers with distinct vantage points. The variety between the authors' age, gender, and family life made this book richer. Though both come from the UCC background, the book offers something for anyone called to ministry.

Written as a series of reflective essay on various aspects of the ministerial calling, the book isn't held together by an overarching narrative. Daniel and Copenhaver switch off authoring each chapter. I found myself wishing that they would have dialogued a bit about some of the various topics addressed though. Each author has their own style and rhythm. Copenhaver tends to write in a sort of grandfatherly way, looking back over a life of ministry with a sense of accomplishment. In several of the essays his humor shines (e.g. his discussion on shaking hands). Daniel's writing was a real treat. While often poetic, she always maintains a certain emotional authenticity that made me cling on her every word!

I strongly encourage everyone who is discerning a call to ministry to read through this book. It paints a realistic picture for the joys and trials of a ministering life better than any other book I've read on the subject.
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