Books make great gifts!

It’s Christmas-shopping season and to help out The Living Church magazine asked 44 of its friends to name a book they would recommend to their friends.

My own Backpacking through the Anglican Communion: A Search for Unity made the list.

tlc backpacking 3

It’s an excellent time to note that Backpacking is available at a sub-Amazon sale price on

Another great gift idea for your friends: a subscription to The Living Church itself.

Books make great gifts!

“At turns prayerful, thoughtful, challenging, and moving…”

Backpacking through the Anglican Communion: A Search for UnityThe Church Times this week reviews my book, Backpacking through the Anglican Communion: A Search for Unity.







IN HER book Travelling In, Monica Furlong wrote: “Priests are justified only by their powers of being and seeing.”…

Thank God, then, for a priest such as Jesse Zink, who transparently understands this, and who can communicate William Blake’s “minute particulars” with an eye to their global significance, and with love and intelligence.

Backpacking through the Anglican Communion: A search for unity is a marvellous book, at turns prayerful, thoughtful, challenging, and moving. Above all, it glows with a luminosity that gives its readers space for real engagement with the material before them.

Being and seeing are increasingly rare qualities that Zink possesses in spades. In a way that is convincing, he invites and encourages his readers to embrace them, too. His book is a working out of that powerful injunction from Henri Nouwen: “Don’t just do something – stand there!”…

In truth, his book is much needed…

Zink wants us to embrace the truth that unity is mission. It is an argument that he advances in the best traditions of Anglican apologetic, with beauty, clarity, and insight. His book is a must-read for those who truly believe that belonging to the worldwide body of Christ – where there is difference, and should be charity and love – is what discipleship means.

Read the whole review online.

“Refreshing glimpses” into a growing church

Anglican Journal, the newspaper of the Anglican Church of Canada, has a review of Backpacking through the Anglican Communion:

For Anglicans and non-Anglicans alike who have become inured to the seemingly endless debates and strife—mostly recently focused on sexuality—between various members of the leadership of the Anglican Communion, Zink’s anecdotes offer the reader a series of refreshing glimpses into a church that is vital and growing in some places but faces tremendous social, political and developmental challenges in others.

Read the whole thing here.

Canadian readers have reported difficulties ordering Backpacking through Cokesbury and other American outlets. May I suggest trying Crux Books in Toronto, which ships within Canada?

New review of “Backpacking”

Fulcrum, an evangelical Anglican organization in the Church of England, has reviewed my new book, Backpacking through the Anglican Communion.

You can read the whole review yourself. Here’s a snippet:

He writes beautifully. His descriptions of people and places and the accounts of conversations are crafted with skill and sensitivity. Even if Jesse has not covered the entire Communion, he’s managed to get to places where few white Anglicans have penetrated. I suspect if the project could be financially supported, we could in future be reading about many more backpacker journeys. Anglicans today know next to nothing about fellow Anglicans living beyond their particular provinces and this makes it a valuable project.

To the point about such future backpacking journeys, the answer can only be, “Of course!”

“moving, eloquent and theologically grounded”: first Backpacking review

The book hasn’t even been shipped yet, but the first review of Backpacking through the Anglican Communion: A Search for Unity is hot off the press—or “press,” I should say, since it’s online, though none the less thorough, thoughtful, and complete for that.

You can read it online at the Episcopal Digital Network, but here are a few excerpts:

Zink is a great storyteller. His writing is clear, engaging and accessible, and you are drawn into the lives of the people he met – from huge, wealthy, almost-mega-churches in Nigeria to a tiny church in the Andes of Ecuador and a diocesan cathedral in Sudan made of cinder block with three plastic chairs, total, in the nave….

The book is an excellent means, especially for Anglicans from the wealthy part of the world, to understand the very difficult economic and social contexts of global Anglicanism – especially in Africa. We learn about the challenges posed by Pentecostalism, along with the way poverty and war shapes the issues that a church finds important. This book would be excellent in a study group on global Anglicanism. Indeed, each chapter can stand alone, and the book could be used in a variety of Christian education contexts….

The last chapter is Zink’s moving, eloquent and theologically grounded plea for Anglican unity. He doesn’t have a lot of optimism, and I’d have to agree that our track record of late hasn’t been good. Nonetheless, his case for finding a way to be together and do God’s work in spite of differences of opinion is desperately needed, and I agree with his assessment that Anglicans, of all people, should be able to do this.

I don’t know about optimism, but I definitely have hope for the future of the Anglican Communion—it is hope that is at the core of this book.

Read the whole review and then go order the book for yourself (Cokesbury, Amazon, .ca,, or your local bookstore with this information).

The reviews just keep on coming

The reviews of Grace at the Garbage Dump are coming quickly now.

There’s a new one in Pastoral Staff, the newspaper of the Diocese of Western Massachusetts:

Jesse tells his story beautifully in Grace. As he used his ingenuity with the schoolchildren, he used it as well to learn Xhosa, to reach out to women dying of HIV and serve as their advocate. He learned, even, to talk to teenagers and women about safe sex, about avoiding pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, about keeping their options for education open.

(Pastoral Staff is published online as a pdf document. The full review is on p. 14. For kicks, you can read the interview with me that follows the review.)

Have you bought your copy of Grace at the Garbage Dump yet? You can find all the information on doing so here.

And if you’re not ready to buy, remember you can always read the first chapter for free on Amazon.

If you’re planning to be at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, I’ll be selling and signing books (at a special Convention-only price!) on Sunday, July 8. Details are here.

“Puts real flesh and real blood on what mission looks like”

There’s a new review of my book Grace at the Garbage Dump from Episcopal Digital Network. You can read the whole thing, or read the extracts here:

The struggles [Zink] has as he lives and learns and serves in a situation of desperate poverty and horrible disease make Grace at the Garbage Dump a highly valuable tool for exploring a new sense of mission….

Zink is an engaging writer who tells stories well, and stories are the heart and soul of the book…. Zink excels at both drawing you in compassionately to the individuals and analyzing the social and political structures that contribute to an unjust world that leaves some living short lives on a garbage heap.

The book is a primer on the two-thirds world, the world of the vast majority of the global population…. His description of the ravages of AIDS – which affects directly or indirectly everyone he serves – is particularly instructing to those of us for whom this disease can be (though should not be) regarded as less prevalent…. The book would make an excellent study in a Christian Education program, if only to help people from the one-third world understand the desperate needs of the rest of the world.

Making sense of mission is our important new challenge as disciples of Christ. This book’s greatest strength is that it puts real flesh and real blood on what the missio dei looks like on the ground today.

Read the whole thing.

Have you bought your copy of Grace at the Garbage Dump yet? You can find all the information on doing so here.

And if you’re not ready to buy, remember you can always read the first chapter for free on Amazon.

If you’re planning to be at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, I’ll be selling and signing books (at a special Convention-only price!) on Sunday, July 8. Stay tuned for details.

Brand new review of Grace at the Garbage Dump

Pastor Julia at RevGalBlogPals has a new review of my book Grace at the Garbage Dump:

I highly recommend Grace at the Garbage Dump for your personal reading, if not for your church book club or any Christian education class from high school and up. In particular, if you are in a denomination that talks about the conservatism of the churches in Africa, this book is for you and yours. What does it mean to be the body of Christ with limbs across the world? A body with limbs that are dying from AIDS, TB, and malnutrition? A body that is schizophrenic about social issues and divides against itself? We cannot undo that we have been made one in Christ because it was not our doing. Thus, we are God’s mission- a mission of relationship and reconciliation. The goal of that mission for us, according to Zink, is to learn to spot grace. Everywhere. Even at the dump.

Read the whole thing.

Have you bought your copy yet? If you’re looking for multiple copies for your book discussion group at church or elsewhere, contact the publisher directly for discounts on larger orders. They’re very helpful and friendly!

Don’t forget: if you want to read the first two chapters for free, you can do so on Amazon. Also, if you want a complimentary review copy for your electronic or media publication, contact James Stock at the publisher—james [at] wipfandstock [dot] com. Or, let me know, and I can set you up.

“Seize the passion of young people”

The Springfield Republican has an article about my new book, Grace at the Garbage Dump: Making Sense of Mission in the Twenty-First Century.

Zink worked in a community called Itipini—the means “at the dump”–a shantytown community built on the site of a garbage dump. “It was built there so people could scavenge off the refuse and live in shacks they built themselves out of whatever is available,” he said. “As you can imagine, the socio-economic indicators here at not great—a high incidence of HIV/AIDS, for instance, high unemployment, high rates of poverty. So it is one of the poorest communities in one of the poorest parts of South Africa.”

At first, the experience was overwhelming to him because of the different culture, different language, different people. “I had shown up with such enthusiasm to ‘save the world’ and quickly realized I wasn’t much help at all,” he said. “It was a frustrating, difficult, challenging and completely humbling experience. Here were people in such great need, people I wanted so desperately to be of some use to, and I could barely say hello to them or ask them their name.”

Over time—and this was the advantage of staying two years—he learned their language, Xhosa. He learned how he could fit in and be of use to people, and he learned that the experience wasn’t so much about what he could do for others but about what they could learn from one another and how they could change in light of their meeting.

“I don’t think I’m alone in having my desire to see change in the world,” said Zink, 29. “I think people of my generation are eager to serve others.”

Read the whole article, read the first two chapters of the book for free online, and then tell your friends and order a copy of the book for yourself—from your favourite book retailer or (for the cheapest price) directly from the publisher.