THE annual number of candidates for ministry needs to increase
by a half within five years, a report by a task group looking at
ministerial education in the Church of England says.
The report, Resourcing Ministerial Education, one of a
series published last 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 help 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 third".
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 8000 over the next decade,"
the Bishop of Sheffield, Dr Steven Croft, who chairs the task
group, wrote 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)," the report says, "and
of paid lay ministers to 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 Task Group
1 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
3 Special national funds are proposed to
continue to resource gifted individuals in training to prepare for
strategic positions: for example, in foundational theological work
leading to teaching or research; as missional leaders; and 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
4 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 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 the maintenance of
candidates' families during training will be discontinued, and each
diocese will cover these costs for its sponsored candidates. We
believe that 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
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
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,
although 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 that this will not significantly reduce the effectiveness
of IME Phase 2.
12 In the report Resourcing the
Future, lay ministry plays a 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 per cent (to more than 17,500); and of paid lay
ministers to grow by 69 per cent (to more than 2000). 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.
THE Green report, Talent Management for Future Leaders and
Leadership Development for Bishops and Deans: A new approach
(News, 12 December), has been published with a new preface by the
Bishop of Ely, the Rt Revd Stephen Conway.
In it he reports that the work has progressed: two partners have
been selected to run the new leadership programmes: Judge Business
School, Cambridge, and two professors from INSEAD Business School.
The first programme, a mini-MBA for deans, will take place 23-27
In addition, a new report by the Faith and Order Commission,
Senior Church Leadership: A resource for reflection,
recognises two approaches to leadership: "the enthusiastic and the
The report says: "It can only be right to make 'leadership' a
central idea in the life of the Church if our ideas and practices
of leadership . . . are subjected to ongoing critical questioning
in the light of the Church's relation to its Lord."