Effectiveness and recruitment of the clergy: age and expectations

by
02 November 2006

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From the Archdeacon of Walsall and the Revd Ruth Jackson
Sir, — Thank you for giving prominence to our work on the need for younger ordinands (News, 10 June, and the feature article by Bishop John Gladwin in the same issue outlining our statistical findings and their implications).

The Revd Simon Richardson (Letters, 17 June) asks for the data to be published. He will find it in The Road to Growth (Church House Publishing, due to be published in November). The implication for older clergy is neither that they are washed up, nor that they can put their feet up. Rather, they should receive greater support in fighting off long-term fatigue and staying culturally relevant.
BOB JACKSON, RUTH JACKSON
c/o 55B Highgate Road 
Walsall WS1 3JE

From the Revd Dr Terry Biddington and the Revd Derek Palmer
Sir, — We were impressed by the verbal swordplay of the Bishop of Chelmsford in slaying the myths that supposedly deter young people from considering a vocation (Features, 10 June). But, as those who spend their working week with such young people and those who teach them, we fear that the actual deterrents are far less mythological.

These young people are growing up in a world, and are learning in an environment, which are more accepting and far more concerned with matters of equality and diversity than is the Church that seeks to recruit them.

By our practice and by our polity, we tell young women that, at present, they may not expect to reach the highest office, and that there are some people who wish that they were not there, and most certainly will not offer them a position — including, of course, a number of bishops.

We affront and bewilder them by enquiring into their sexuality, and, should they declare themselves not to be heterosexual, we require them to submit to a lonely life, or to a dishonest one.

We offer them a job with little security (even less with the passing of the freehold), and without the protection of the employment legislation they would enjoy if they were in “secular” employment.

Higher-education chaplaincies were once a rich source of vocations. We work with wonderful young people with so much to give to the life and future of the Church. We aren’t putting them in touch with DDOs, because they’re not asking; and they’re not asking be-
cause they don’t like what they see.
TERRY BIDDINGTON
Chaplain, Manchester University
DEREK PALMER
Anglican Chaplain
University of Salford
M5 4WT

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