THE annual number of candidates for ministry needs to increase
by 50 per cent within five years, according to a report by a task
group looking at ministerial education in the Church of
The report, Resourcing Ministerial Education, one of a series
published this week as part of the Archbishops' programme for
renewal and reform of the C of E, calls for "a cohort of candidates
for ministry who are younger, more diverse, and with a wider range
of gifts to serve God's mission".
To achieve this, it proposes an eight-fold increase in training
programmes that helps those under 30 to explore vocations, from the
present 30 participants a year to 250. At the other end of the age
scale, it suggests dropping the national selection process for
candidates over the age of 50.
Those aged above 50 would, in future, be selected by their
diocesan bishop without reference to a Bishops' Advisory Panel
(BAP). The cost of their training would be met by their sending
Currently the cost of maintenance grants for families of
ordinands in training is pooled across all dioceses. The report
proposes that this should instead be met by the sending dioceses,
giving them the "freedom to determine how much of their training
budget should be invested directly in ministerial education, and
how much in the support of candidates' families".
It proposes a streamlined vocations process so that, in some
cases, "vocational exploration can be begun and concluded within a
year." It also proposes that ordinations be moved from Petertide at
the end of June to September each year, to "provide more time
available for formation and study" and to increase "the educational
and training value of the final year of training by as much as one
These suggestions are in response to consultations with the
dioceses. "Dioceses have told us that they want to hold the numbers
of stipendiary clergy steady at around 8,000 over the next decade,"
the Bishop of Sheffield, Dr Steven Croft, and chair of the task
group, writes in a blog post published on the C of E website.
"That's vital to sustain ministry in parishes right across the
"But because of the age profile of the clergy and retirements,
the current predictions are that the number of stipendiary clergy
will fall to around 6500. We need to take that gap between
aspiration and reality seriously."
There is also a call for more lay ministers: "There is an
aspiration to see numbers of volunteer lay ministers of different
kinds grow by 48 per cent (to over 17,500)" says the report, "and
of paid lay ministers grow by 69 per cent (to over 2000)."
The report does not say what the new push for an increase in
younger vocations will cost, saying that "further detailed
financial projections are in preparation". In the mean time, it has
worked out what an extra 50 per cent on the training budget - from
£20 million a year to £30 million - might achieve.
There would be a "significant fund" to enable the expansion of
"context-based training accessible to all dioceses"; a new stream
of funding for the training of lay ministers; and a revision of
"Vote One" (the part of the Archbishops' Council budget that covers
the costs of training ordinands), so that each candidate for
training will, in future, attract a standard level of grant for
tuition from a central fund, which dioceses could use as they see
Twelve proposals from the Resourcing Ministerial Education
1. In order to ensure high standard outcomes, the selection
criteria and the selection process will be reviewed in the light of
current and future needs for ministry. Reporting and assessment
processes from selection through IME Phases 1 and 2 need also to be
reviewed to support the development of candidates and to ensure
consistency all through the formation process.
2. All candidates will have a personal learning plan agreed with
the diocese and covering the whole of IME to provide a flexible
programme geared to individual need. Bishops Regulations for
training will be replaced with flexible, indicative norms (Bishops
Guidelines). The plan would be drafted as part of the selection
papers and then reviewed at key points during IME.
3. Special national funds are proposed to continue to resource
gifted individuals in training to prepare for strategic roles, for
example in foundational theological work leading to teaching or
research, as missional leaders, as those committed to serve in
poorer dioceses including those in context based training in poorer
parishes. These would supplement the standard grant (see Proposal 6
below) and be administered nationally.
4. In order to make the most of the investment in IME, it is
proposed that ordinations will be moved to September each year.
This will provide more time available for formation and study and
adds to the educational and training value of the final year of
training by as much as one third.
5. In contrast to the present restriction on the use of Vote 1,
it is proposed that funds may be invested in candidates after as
well as before ordination, opening up the possibility of "Teach
First" type schemes for ordination training and creating the option
of accelerating the vocational process in the case of candidates
suited to this.
6. In place of the current Vote 1 system and Bishops'
Regulations, decisions about training pathways for individuals
should be made in the diocese, in consultation with the candidate.
Each recommended candidate will attract a standard level of grant
for tuition from a central fund to which all dioceses contribute in
a similar way to the present Vote 1. The grant may be used in a
range of ways as the diocese sees fit, provided the training is
from an approved provider. The diocese will decide whether
resources additional to the standard grant need to be invested in
the candidate's future ministry, in each case according to need. No
recommendation has been made at this stage about the level at which
the standard grant should be set, though it is envisaged that it
will be sufficient to enable a candidate to pursue an IME pathway
leading to ordination.
7. The pooling of grants for maintenance of candidates families
during training will be discontinued and each diocese will cover
these costs for its sponsored candidates. We believe this will give
the dioceses freedom to determine how much of their training budget
should be invested directly in ministerial education and how much
in the support of candidates families.
8. Candidates who will be under 50 at ordination will continue
to attend a BAP, to ensure national commonality of standards.
Candidates over the age of 50 at ordination will be selected
locally by the bishop. Candidates over 50 at ordination will not
receive the standard pooled grant: the cost of their training will
fall directly to the diocese.
9. The Task Group proposes also to explore ways to facilitate
through financial and other means the transfer of sponsorship of
candidates at the time of selection to dioceses where ministers are
needed, and in particular to poorer dioceses.
10. To sustain the effectiveness of IME 1 into the first
appointment and beyond, the quality of IME Phase 2 and CMD
provision need significant overall improvement. The Task group
proposes a development fund providing a substantial sum per annum
to which dioceses can apply for matched funding to provide
leadership development in preparation for posts of first
responsibility. Similar provision of a fund for training for
ministers in subsequent posts of responsibility is also proposed in
order to sustain the effectiveness of IME. Grants would be made to
kite marked schemes which can demonstrate high quality
11. We propose to explore benchmarking training posts to three
years as a norm rather than four as at present, though it would be
open to dioceses to choose a longer period or indeed a shorter one
for an individual candidate. The length of curacy should be
determined by the time the candidate needs to meet the Formation
Criteria. On the basis of the RME research we believe this will not
significantly reduce the effectiveness of IME Phase 2.
12. In the Resourcing the Future Report, lay ministry plays a
very significant part in the vision for future ministry articulated
by dioceses. Overall, there is an aspiration to see numbers of
volunteer lay ministers of different kinds grow by 48% (to over
17,500) and of paid lay ministers grow by 69% (to over 2,000).
Further work will be done over the coming months to explore how
dioceses envisage the development of lay ministry in more detail.
We propose the application of additional national funding to
education for lay ministry in three streams:
- Creating the possibility of the recognition of candidates for
particular lay ministries through a national selection process and
the funding of their training in a similar way to ordinands
- Matched funding available to dioceses to enhance their
provision for lay ministry development (in parallel with Proposal
- Funding to ensure that the Church maximises the value of the
Common Awards for lay education and training in dioceses.