The Last Pastor: Faithfully Steering a Closing Church

Product Details
$32.00  $29.76
Westminster John Knox Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.0 X 0.56 inches | 0.6 pounds

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About the Author

Gail Cafferata received her PhD in sociology from the University of Chicago and then went on to serve for twenty-two years as a medical sociologist in universities; the National Center for Health Services Research; Children's Hospital, Boston; and other nonprofits, writing over twenty-five academic and government publications. In 1997 she received her MDiv from Episcopal Divinity School and served a Northern California congregation for nine years before it closed.


"This insightful, ambitious and compelling book is particularly relevant as we all look at an unknown future, one now complicated by a pandemic and its still unknown effects. Church is changing in ways we never envisioned. Yet we are called to be faithful and to join God's resurrection hope. As this book proclaims, the journey of church will continue." --The Presbyterian Outlook

"If your church is near the end, The Last Pastorwill help you to: initiate the conversation; look at the skill sets needed in leadership; be aware of the negative reactions that will surface; find the silver linings for pastors and church members; and consider the ultimate ways the church might 'live on' through a number of opportunities that come with closing. In other words, this book can help you move on with your heads held high." --Baptist Standard

"This book will particularly be of interest for denominational leaders--bishops, judicatory leaders, and researchers--who will increasingly face the reality of church closings in the years ahead. Cafferata rightfully resists the urge to provide easy answers, but she does provide an orienting set of insights and complexities that will help many in the Mainline Church ask different and better questions. Seminary leaders and faculty may also benefit from Cafferata's insights on a form of pastoral leadership that stands to be more common in the future. There is no doubt that The Last Pastor is a sobering account, but it is also an important one often ignored." --Review of Religious Research

"Cafferata details the diverse experiences of the pastors, noting both their faith and the faith of their congregations. She argues against the notion that closing a church means failure and encourages pastors who close churches to seek help and community." --Faith & Leadership

"There will be more pastors serving as last pastors in the coming years. For those who do, The Last Pastoris a valuable guidebook offering light, hope, and wisdom for those who mind the tiller of a closing church." --The United Church of Christ's Center for Analytics, Research & Development, and Data

"This a much-needed counter-cultural book about closing churches that covers a huge amount of ground.... Cafferata's professional and ministerial background have been well deployed in creating a rich and varied picture of the different experiences of church closure, which occur in practice." --Practical Theology

"This is a useful read for any pastor whose church is teetering on the edge of viability.... Ministers in smaller churches, read this book. More importantly, get it in the hands of those with influence in your judicatory." --Laura Stephens Reed, clergy and congregational coach

"Rarely have I enjoyed such a comprehensive study of ministry--and truly difficult ministry. There is no doubt that Cafferata and many of the pastors she studied were transformed from doubt and despair to resurrection by their faithfulness to following the Spirit where she blew." --Anglican Theological Review