How many American priests end up in their own reality show on British television? James McCaskill did just that when he moved last year from Pittsburgh to the town of Lundwood in England's South Yorkshire district. He was brought in to revitalize a church whose congregation had dropped below ten, and his turnaround efforts were filmed for one year by a camera crew. The results will air—under the name Priest Idol—in a three-part series in November on the UK's Channel 4. Nate Anderson sat down with McCaskill on a recent visit to the U.S. to talk about ministry and media.

Why did you take the job?

Stardom on TV [laughs]. No, I spent two years of seminary at College of the Resurrection in West Yorkshire, and the college there knew at some point I would enjoy coming back and serving the Church of England. I received an email in the summer of 2004 from the college, saying, "We know you want to come back, so quit your job, come over here, and we'll give you a flat so you'll have a base to work from and find a job." So I did. I was at a point where I was looking for something new.

The bishop of Wakefield had this parish of Lundwood, which had not had a full-time vicar for four years. It's a small parish by England's standards, around 6,000 people, and the church there was about to close. It was the last Christian presence in the community. My primary interest was in going someplace where I felt like the church could make a big impact.

What made you think Lundwood was that place?

It's an ex-mining village now suffering social deprivation, and the church is physically at the center of the community, and I thought it could be a beacon of hope in a place that's experiencing some darkness. So I agreed with it on paper; I was a bit ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

July/August
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Current IssueWilson's Bookmarks
Wilson's Bookmarks Subscriber Access Only
From John Wilson, editor of Education & Culture at thebestschools.org.
RecommendedBernie Sanders Attacks Wheaton Grad’s Stance on Salvation
In Christ Alone: Bernie Sanders Attacks Wheaton Grad’s Stance on Salvation
Trump appointee hearing turns into a religious test for office.
TrendingFinding My 'True Self' As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
Finding My 'True Self' As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
In my young-adult struggle with sexual identity, both legalistic condemnation and progressive license left me floundering.
Editor's PickThe Refugee Ban Is Back, But Church Connections Might Trump It
The Refugee Ban Is Back, But Church Connections Might Trump It
World Relief wants clarification over today’s big Supreme Court decision.
Christianity Today
Priest Idol
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

November 2005

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.