IN THIS week’s leader, we welcome Lent as an opportunity to readjust the focus from material things to God.
As well as the theory, we are happy to help our readers with the practical aspects of this, providing a worthy depository for all that unwanted cash that gets in the way of spiritual progress.
Yes, this is the launch of the 2019 Church Times Train-A-Priest (TAP) Fund, a way in which our readers can give directly to people training for the priesthood who, through no fault of their own, run into financial difficulties.
Church Times readers have been supporting ordinands and their families through the TAP Fund every year since 1952. The means of giving might have changed in that time, but the need remains the same. Although dioceses provide grants to those in residential training, these are not able to cover unexpected emergencies. And, of course, many ordinands must fund their own way through training.
Every penny you can give goes into a fund held by the Ministry Division. Nothing is retained to cover administrative expenses. Ordinands who encounter difficulties can apply directly to the Ministry Division, in the knowledge that their plight will be listened to sympathetically, and addressed immediately.
In 2018, grants totalling £28,670 were made. Your generosity last year means that the average size of each grant was £683, up from £432 in 2017.
We want ordinands to train well for the priesthood, concentrating on their studies, untroubled by financial worries. Will you help us?
The Chair of the Ministry Council writes:
Sir, — As ever, we are delighted that the Church Times is again launching its annual Lent Train-A-Priest appeal. Last year, readers pledged £52,403, with more than four million pounds donated since the fund began.
We are always overwhelmed by readers’ generosity. Every penny donated goes directly to ordinands, to alleviate unforeseen financial hardship and enable them to continue with their studies.
It’s an exciting time for ministerial education in the Church of England: 587 new ordinands began training this academic year, bringing the total in training to its highest level since 2008. Over the past two years, we’ve seen a 23-per-cent increase in people starting training, with a 38-per-cent increase in women and a 46-per-cent increase in young people since 2016. For both this year and last, the majority of ordinands starting training have been women.
These are encouraging numbers. We can see God at work, and we are delighted by these early signs that the renewal we have hoped, prayed, and worked towards is bearing fruit. Of course, we cannot expect to repeat this growth every year, but these initial increases are a welcome indication of a hopeful future ahead.
Training for ordination is not an easy calling. We provide a broad package of financial support, but there will always be times when life throws unexpected challenges your way.
This is where Church Times readers come in. Your unceasing generosity funds a pot of money which allows us to support ordinands experiencing hardship, enabling them to continue to flourish as they set out along the path laid out for them. On behalf of every ordinand who has benefited, or will benefit, from this fund, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks.
May you and your readers have a blessed Lent and Easter.
As Bishop Seeley points out, the growing number of applicants for training, for which we give much thanks, places an additional burden on the TAP Fund. Please consider giving generously.
How to give:
GIVING online continues to be the easiest means of donating to TAP, and saves us time in processing payments: simply visit www.churchtimes.co.uk/train-a-priest-fund. As well as an explanation of the fund, with a bit of history, there is a link to a secure page for donations. There is also a downloadable leaflet about TAP, to print and distribute in your church.
Otherwise, we accept cheques, postal orders, cash, and charity cheques, which should be sent to: TAP Fund, Church Times, 13a Hellesdon Park Road, Norwich NR6 5DR.
If you would like an acknowledgement, please enclose a stamped addressed envelope. UK taxpayers can boost their donation by making a Gift Aid declaration.