In Bowl Ecclesiology, D. Larry Gregg applies his years of studying the nature and significance of the Christian community—ecclesiology—to his experience as a woodworker, seeing the potential in flawed, broken pieces of wood to become beautiful, useful works of art. Though humans are not discarded wood and have a choice regarding their participation in God’s loving and redemptive purpose through Jesus Christ, Gregg mines both the craft of turning bowls and his decades of work in ministry and education to explore how God gathers up the “ugly fragments of sin, suffering, and social alienation so they might be transformed into a ‘new creation,’ redeemed and restored to its original place and purpose. . . .”
Larry Gregg has performed a profound service to all of us that care about the church. In Bowl Ecclesiology, Larry presents a theology of the church that enables us to face the future with faith and strength. In a time when people talk about the church as if it is dying, or already did, Larry lifts up a vision that can help us to face the future with fortitude and faith.
Former Dean and Professor
Gardner Webb School of Divinity
Larry Gregg never ceases to amaze me with his words of inspiration. I’ve never been around him when I didn’t learn something new. In Bowl Ecclesiology, you too get to stand in Larry’s workshop and share his wisdom. Larry has a wonderful way of sharing deep theological thoughts so that any of us can learn and remember.
—Dr. Nelson Granade
Pastor, First Baptist Church
Statesville, North Carolina
Another pastor-theologian from the Carolina mountains, Carlyle Marney, once famously quipped that “being in the church is like being in Noah’s ark— sometimes the stench is unbearable, but the alternative is unthinkable.” Holding in view both human frailties and failings, along with an unshakeable sense that the church still has relevance, Larry Gregg writes with the homespun wisdom of the proverbs. Here in abundance is the insight of a disciple who loves the church, its people, and who loves God with all his “mind.” For anyone with the same commitments this work will come as welcome companionship along The Way.
—Rev. Dr. Bart Hildreth
Senior Pastor, First St. Charles United Methodist Church
St. Charles, Missouri
Larry Gregg is a captivating storyteller who uses the analogies of the ordinary to describe the meanings of our theologies as humans. His chapter on the varieties of Southern BBQ becomes a profound assessment of the reality of diversity in human life and experience. Every church member would profit from a reading of the chapter “Give Your Minister a Break, and You Won’t Break Your Minister.” Buy the book. Read it!
—Larry L. McSwain, S.T.D.
Retired Baptist educator
Author of Open and Closed Doors:
Memoir of a Survivor of the SBC Unholy War
This wonderful collection of essays by Dr. Larry Gregg takes the author’s delightful personal stories and uses them as a springboard to critical thinking about biblical and ecclesiological issues. Dr. Gregg does an excellent job of wrestling with important theological questions in a manner that draws from his practical experience in the church and his years in academia.
—Rev. Dr. Donald G. Scofield Jr.
Rutherfordton Presbyterian Church
Bowl Ecclesiology is a clear-yet-nuanced confession about the challenges and benefits of commitments to the church. Gregg brings his varied experiences as a woodworker, a pastor, and a counselor to a collection of essays. With his experience as a lathe master, he exposes and highlights the grain of the life of a minister and his parishioners.
Emeritus Professor of Religion, Mercer University