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A key factor in the clergy’s choice of location

28 February 2014


From the Revd Ian Aveyard

Sir, - Your correspondents (14 February) and interviewees (News, 7 February) seem to suggest that the reluctance of clergy to serve in the north may be due to a lack of commitment. Research conducted for the Ministry Council between 2009 and 2011 (The Trajectory of Vocation from Bishops' Advisory Panel to First Incumbency) suggests otherwise. It appears to be the result of a complex interaction of demographics and clergy practice.

As a result of the Church's ordaining people later in life, many incumbents considering a further move, and curates considering an incumbency, relate that distance from ageing parents is a significant factor in making decisions. Many say that they wish to be no more than one hour's travel from them. It is possible that, for some, this may be more a justification than a reason, but I doubt it, since those in the Northern Province related this just as much as their southern colleagues.

This would not matter if our recruitment were evenly spread across the country, but at times nearly half our clergy have been drawn from the area bounded on the north and west by Oxford diocese (inclusive of Oxford).

Furthermore, whatever other arrangements might be advocated, actual clergy practice precludes having two days off together, or even the evening before as well as the day. This leaves travel further than the hour as not wholly recommended for a "rest" day.

19 The Damsells, Tetbury
Gloucestershire GL8 8JA

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