WITH eight out of 12 posts in the Framland Deanery vacant, the diocese of Leicester has decided to take a “creative” approach to recruitment, advertising them in one bulk advertisement and hoping to appoint all “at one fell swoop”.
Applicants are invited to attend one of two open days, and to apply for as many of the posts — seven full-time, and one House-for-Duty — as they wish.
The Area Dean, the Revd Peter Hooper, described the vacancies as a “really fantastic, God-given opportunity”, enabling the deanery to “do something completely different”. Mr Hooper described the open days as operating “on that biblical model of ‘Come and see.’” The deanery includes St John the Baptist, South Croxton, and St John the Baptist, Slipton.
One of the aims of the recruitment plan is to create a “high degree of collaboration” across the deanery, and to appoint priests to cross-deanery roles, such as overseeing schools work or adult education. Candidates can apply for as many of the posts as they wish, in one application, and will undergo a single interview. This provided a “huge amount of flexibility”, Mr Hooper said.
Married ordained couples might consider applying together, he said, and it might also be possible to offer flexible hours. “We can really imagine differently what ministry in a rural context can honestly look like.”
Data from Crockford’s suggests that some of the posts have been vacant since 2014, although recruitment efforts have been suspended in the past six months. Mr Hooper said that there were difficulties in recruiting “not just for us, but generally in the country”, and suggested that, perhaps, the traditional methods were “getting a little bit outdated”, given that the internet enabled priests to do their own research. They were becoming “a lot more savvy”.
Most of the Framland posts entail looking after five or six churches. A note produced by the deanery mentions the need to respond to the “perceived difficulties of multi-parish work”, including isolation and a heavy workload. Among the attractions of rural ministry was the fact that “churches in our villages are still frequently seen as being a key part of the community,” Mr Hooper said. “It is a landmark that people navigate by. . . It is really embedded in the community, and that is a wonderful thing that we can develop.”
A report released last year by the Archbishops Council suggested that multi-church groups in rural areas could be “vanguards in rethinking mission and ministry for the rural communities of England today”, if training for ministry was rethought accordingly, and lay ministry was equipped and enabled.
Applicants for the Framland posts are warned that, if they apply for all eight posts, the interview panel “could be fairly large”.