mgyU0scThis week’s question is about something we all know too well, but can never get enough of: Books! What’s on our bookshelves? you may wonder. Well, so did this RevGal:

Dear Matriarchs,

I have just returned from the RevGalBlogPals Big Event (B.E.11) in Dallas. In the course of her presentation, Enneagram master teacher Suzanne Stabile recommended about a dozen books related to Enneagram wisdom. Suzanne has also authored the soon-to-be published The Path Between Us. New books are so inspiring, whether newly published or new to me.

I would love to take a peek at your bookshelves, dear Matriarchs. As you think about the books you would never give up from your own library:

* * What are your favorite/essential ministry-related books? 

* * And what are your favorite/essential non-(directly)ministry-related books? 

* * * * * * *
Before we hear from the Matriarchs, a couple of shameless RGBP book-related plugs:

Now, more of our Matriarchs’ book favorites:

Dee Eisenhauer

On the practical side:

  • Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus by C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison
  • The New Parish: How Neighborhood Churches are Transforming Discipleship and Community by Paul Sparks, Tim Sorens and Dwight J. Friesen
  • Leadership Without Easy Answers by Ronald A. Heifetz
  • The Practicing Congregation: Imagining a New Old Church by Diana Butler Bass
  • Governance and Ministry: Rethinking Board Leadership by Dan Hotchkiss

Less practical but favorite theological books:

  • On the Mystery: Discerning God in Process by Catherine Keller
  • What Would Jesus Deconstuct?: The Good News of Post-Modernism for the Church by John D. Caputo
  • Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography by John Dominic Crossan
  • Why Religion Matters by Huston Smith
  • A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. edited by James M. Washington

Sue Ivany

I always find it tricky to name favourite books, as it feels like choosing a favourite child.  Among ministry-related books, a few recent favourites for me are:

  • On Living by Kerry Egan, who is a hospice chaplain…
  • We Make the Road by Walking by Brian McLaren…
  • Preaching the Big Questions” by Catherine Faith McLean and John H. Young

In books not directly related to ministry, recent favourites include:

  • The Great Halifax Explosion by John U. Bacon – a wonderful work of narrative non-fiction that speaks to the way disaster brings out the best (and occasionally the worst) in people.
  • Also, Quiet Girl in a Noisy World by Debbie Tung is a graphic memoir that struck all the right notes for me.
  • Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air is heartbreaking and beautiful.
  • I recently re-read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle and loved it as much as I did years ago. So many good books…

Sharon Temple

Ministry/church/theology favorites:

  • Generation to Generation (Edwin Friedman)
  • Embracing the Spirit (Emilie M. Townes, editor)
  • Saving Paradise (Rita Nakashima Brock & Rebecca Ann Parker)
  • Sexism and God Talk (Rosemary Radford Reuther)
  • Making the Connections: Essays in Feminist Social Ethics (Beverly Wildung Harrison)

Other favorite books:

  • The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
  • Party of One: The Loner’s Manifesto (Anneli Rufus)
  • Teresa of Avila: The Book of My LIfe (Mirabai Starr)
  • The Artist’s Way (Julia Cameron)
  • The World Peace Diet (Will Tuttle)

Martha Spong

I highly recommend Parker Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak as a periodic re-read for pastors, and I commend Karoline Lewis’s She even for those of us who think we know it all about being women in ministry, and for those times when we’re in the ditch, faith-wise, I appreciate both Pema Chödrön’s When Things Fall Apart and Renita Weems’ Listening for God: A Minister’s Journey Through Silence and Doubt.

* * * * * * *

Thank you, book-loving Matriarchs. What an inspiring list!

Now it’s  your turn, dear reader.

  • What are your go-to books?
  • What book(s) could you never give away?
  • What book is captivating you these days?

Share your favorites in the comments below.

Would you like some input on a question, dilemma, conundrum or challenge? We are here to help. Send your scenario to askthematriarch (at) gmail (dot) com


Rev. Sharon M. Temple is a United Church of Christ pastor living in Austin, TX. She is a contributor to the RevGals book There’s a Woman in the Pulpit and blogs erratically at Tidings of Comfort and Joy.


RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

2 thoughts on “Ask The Matriarch: Some of our Beloved Books

  1. My list will be short and sweet! My favorite ministry related book is “Calmly Plotting the Resurrection” by Donna Schaper. It truly is a treasure! And my favorite non-ministry related book is (forever) “A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving.

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