This work in practical theology begins with an exploration of the psychosocial issues at play in Australian Baptist churches as communities. Many of those who attend such churches, and those like them in Britain and North America, often find a warm sense of welcome and belonging. What follows builds on this positive subjective experience through the lens of Christian community framed by the rich scriptural narrative of covenantal priesthood. Such corporate priesthood, as demonstrated by our early Baptist forebears, comes to joint expression in worship and sharing God's blessing with his world, and affirms the mutual priestly service of covenanted church community.
"Talk of 'community' can be too easy. It appeals as a convenient space holder in ecclesiological debate, with sometimes facile results. Anne Klose has produced a welcome and overdue theology of community which avoids such traps. Speaking from within (and, critically, to) the Baptist tradition she considers the issues from many angles: pycho-social, biblical, historical and systematic. The result is a practical theology which both genuinely advances Baptist debate and takes the questions poignantly into wider dialogue. All current ecclesiological conversation will benefit from taking this study seriously."
- Martin Sutherland, Dean/CEO, Australian College of Theology
"Anne Klose's book is an important Australian contribution to the global conversation between Baptist theologians around shared understandings and practices of congregation and community. Far from being a merely academic treatise, Klose outlines a theologically rich account of worship, congregational relationships, and the sharing of God's blessings with the wider community. For Baptist readers who might find these emphases unsurprisingly familiar, Klose disconcertingly describes these practices as 'covenantal priesthood'. For Baptists unfamiliar with such language, Klose's book is a necessary corrective to the overly individualistic and reductionist congregational practices that typify too many contemporary Baptist churches."
- Rev Dr Darrell Jackson is the Associate Professor of Missiology, Morling College, Sydney.
"Baptist historian W. T. Whitley once suggested that "the distinctive feature about Baptists is their doctrine of the Church." Yet this uniqueness is not uniform. It is evident in its diverse manifestations. Anne Klose has written an important book that puts the ecclesiology of Australian Baptists into wider conversations. She argues that one of the contributions that Baptist have to make is their commitment to a church of priests to each other, which resists the degrading influences of modern individualism. It is a word well worth pondering in this age of moral strangers."
- Curtis W. Freeman, Research Professor of Theology and Director of the Baptist House of Studies at Duke University Divinity School, Durham, North Carolina, USA