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New book surveys the heartbreak and hilarity of ministry in a mainline church

Westminster John Knox Press title explores the struggles of congregational change

WJK Press Release

LOUISVILLE — Westminster John Knox Press is pleased to announce the release of Loving and Leaving a Church: A Pastor’s Journey. Barbara Melosh’s story was a common one. A second-career seminarian, she arrived at her first pastorate brimming with enthusiasm and high hopes. In Loving and Leaving a Church: A Pastor’s Journey, Melosh is called to a blue-collar congregation with a glorious past, but an uncertain future. Melosh’s attempts at church growth and outreach programs had little effect.

In the end, Melosh had to conclude that the members of the congregation liked their church the way it was and that she could not drag them into a future they did not want. Yet while the congregation failed to change itself, Melosh notes, it succeeded in changing her. Simply put, it made her a pastor.

Praise for Loving and Leaving a Church: A Pastor’s Journey

“For anyone who loves the church–or is confounded by it–Barbara Melosh offers an unflinchingly honest account of how one little group of Saints and Sinners transformed a novice into a pastor. Melosh has the heart of a pastor and writes straight from that heart with great beauty and insight. Pastoral writing at its best!” –Richard Lischer, Duke Divinity School, Author of Open Secrets: A Memoir of Faith and Discovery

“I heartily commend Loving and Leaving a Church to anyone who cares about, and worries over, a community of faith that struggles to live as Christ’s body in this time of challenge and change. Pastors who read this book will ponder anew the meaning of success and the contours of faithfulness–and parishioners will see with fresh eyes their own strong role in embodying God’s presence in the particular places where God’s people gather and serve.” –Dorothy Bass, Valparaiso University

Loving and Leaving a Church: A Pastor’s Journey will interest people of faith looking to strengthen their congregation and embody God’s presence. It is now available for purchase through Westminster John Knox Press and other major retailers.


Barbara Melosh is an ordained Lutheran pastor and former college professor at George Mason University. She has written for Christian Century and other clergy journals.

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