I must admit that I am drawn to books with the word children in the title. Actually I approach these titles with both interest and suspicion. Two questions guide my evaluation. First, which genre does this book represent? Is it a how-to book for children’s ministry or a reflective work that will generate new thinking about the foundation and practice of ministry with children? The second question helps me to determine how my own thinking will be disturbed by the book: What sources have contributed to the shape and form of the author’s argument?
Welcoming Children is the latest in a growing body of literature on children, faith, families and congregations. Writing from her perspective as a practical feminist theologian, Joyce Ann Mercer aimed to start small in this volume, but the task she set before herself is enormous:
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).