The perichoresis of day-to-day work and priestly ministry: A critical analysis of what self-supporting ministers can learn from the European worker-priest movement
The Rev’d Professor Bryony Dean Franklin
Bryony Dean Franklin is a self supporting minister working in the NHS as a hospital pharmacist, and at UCL School of Pharmacy where she is Professor of Medication Safety and leads research into the safety of medication use by healthcare professionals, patients and carers. Following completion of a theology degree at St Mellitus College, she was ordained as a Deacon in 2019 and will be priested in 2020. She is assistant curate at St Martin’s Church in West Acton, London. She lives in the parish with her husband and their teenage daughter.
This paper conducts a critical analysis of the European worker-priest movement, considering whether it may be a useful model for English self-supporting ministers working in secular employment alongside a parish role. Following an overview of the worker-priest movement, arguments are presented for and against this being a useful model for self-supporting ministers today. It is concluded that while there are some similarities in terms of priests being embedded within the workplace, with opportunities for incarnational mission, the worker-priest movement is not necessarily a helpful model. This because of some of the reasons the worker-priest movement was considered unsuccessful, as well as significant social, political and ecclesiological differences between the two contexts. Further analysis drawing on the Trinitarian concept of perichoresis additionally highlights lack of integration between the priests’ roles in the workplace and the Church. The paper ends with implications for self-supporting ministry, drawing in particular on a perichoretic model. The paper is adapted from a final year dissertation submitted in 2019 as part requirements for a degree in Theology, Ministry and Mission undertaken at St Mellitus College.