“Ministry without Portfolio was published in 1962 and is long-since out-of-print. However, as of 2009 a stock of copies remained for sale at the back of the church of All Hallows by the Tower in central London, awaiting purchasers who wish to explore an interesting bit of religious and...”see full review » see other reviews »
“Ministry without Portfolio was published in 1962 and is long-since out-of-print. However, as of 2009 a stock of copies remained for sale at the back of the church of All Hallows by the Tower in central London, awaiting purchasers who wish to explore an interesting bit of religious and social history that unfolded in an industrial south London – and a religious landscape – that no longer exists.
The book tells the story of the establishment and development of the South London Industrial Mission, and was written by the mission's "Leader and Senior Chaplain". The mission was connected to the Christian fellowship group known as "Toc H", which began as a soldiers' club during World War One and was afterwards associated with All Hallows. The aim of the mission was build links with the businesses in the vicinity of Southwark Cathedral, and the idea emerged from the pastoral work of Cuthbert Bardsley, who as a rector in Woolwich had built up a relationship with Siemens Brothers during the World War Two (one result was a “quiet room” established within Siemens Brothers).
The book consists mainly of Cuttell's reflections and anecdotes on the various strategies adopted by the mission: pastoral work, lunch-time talks and services; a magazine; links with "key men" in trade unions and management. The environment may have been largely secular and in some ways difficult for a religious believer, but it was also a world in which church social institutions had widespread social capital and an event such as Billy Graham's visit to Harringey could spark some serious discussion about religion. Cuttell also gives a sense of a wider movement to re-think how Christianity should relate to society, with references to figures such as Alec Vidler, George MacCleod, Hendrik Kraemer, and Horst Symanowski, and to the French worker-priest movement.
A religious movement seeking links with industrial managers may raise suspicions – one thinks, for instance, of the US “Family”, which operates as a behind-the-scenes conservative network in American politics and business. However, Cuttell appears to have had a much broader outlook; one recent scholarly study of the movement by Malcolm Torry makes a comparison with Moral Re-Armament and judges that:
"SLIM and Moral Rearmament had many features in common: 'key men', conferences, anti-communism and a call for personal and corporate morality were features of both movements; they were both over-optimistic about human nature; industrialists supported them both; and they both tried to 'influence the influencers'… They and Moral Rearmament were part of a culture fearful of communism and looking for an ideology with which to hold democracy together; they were involved in industry, and wanted to change it; and post-war optimism was hardly a rare commodity. SLIM was a Christian movement, firmly rooted in an incarnational theology, which Moral Rearmament was not."”