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Church in Wales Governing Body: St Pardan’s Institute

26 April 2024

Church in Wales

The Principal of St Padarn’s Institute, the Revd Professor Jeremy Duff

The Principal of St Padarn’s Institute, the Revd Professor Jeremy Duff

WOMEN continue to outnumber men in ministerial training, the Principal of St Padarn’s Institute, the Revd Professor Jeremy Duff, told the Governing Body on Thursday of last week in ICC Wales, in Newport. The college currently has 24 candidates training for stipendiary ministry, 16 of whom are women. The ratio of women to men is even higher in those training for non-stipendiary ministry: 21 candidates out of 28 are female.

One third of those training for stipendiary ministry are under 30 — something the college particularly attributes, in its annual report, to the Church in Wales’s investment in Resource Churches. Professor Duff acknowledged that, while the number of stipendiary ordinands was slightly increasing, “It doesn’t match the number we need, especially as mission funding may increase the number of posts available. The number of retirements over the next ten years also creates a gap.”

The report gave a glimpse of the outstanding work St Padarn’s continued to do, and how committed it was to high-quality ministerial formation and training, the Bishop of Monmouth, the Rt Revd Cherry Vann, said.

The Theology for Life course continued to be a huge success, and last year had produced 154 leavers from around the Province, including “a cohort of people deepening their faith for its own sake, and also providing a potential pipeline for vocations into lay ministries. We are going to need a steady stream of NSM and LLM candidates to join us in the future,” she said.

She expressed pleasure at the increasing numbers taking up the Master’s programme, and praised the continuing emphasis on the Welsh language for “a Church that proudly describes itself as bilingual”.

Professor Duff acknowledged “a lack of racial diversity and the preponderance of middle class ordinands. . . We’re trying to address that.”

The Revd Kate O’Sullivan (Monmouth) described herself as “a working-class girl from a council estate, with no academic background. The Church educated me, and I thank the province for finding a way to accept me on the Master’s programme. I have spent my life believing myself not to be clever enough, and I praise St Padarn’s for finding me a way to study with them. They do wonderful work.”

The Revd Dr Kevin Ellis (Bangor) described St Padarn’s as “one of the crown jewels as a training institute that more than rivals others in the Anglican Communion”.

Hannah Rowan (Co-opted) would like to have seen demographic data shared in the report. Canon Jan Gould (Llandaff) found much that was positive in it, but suggested that the statistics didn’t tell the whole story. An NSM ordinand of her acquaintance had felt that stipendiary trainees had opportunities that NSMs were not given, and that they were not as valued and affirmed as those going for full-time ministry. “I believe it’s imperative that they have the same spiritual, pastoral, and theological understanding,” she said.

Professor Duff acknowledged that the data on ethnic diversity was available, but the difficulty was that numbers were so small that people would be personally identified.

He reflected on the suggestion of a distinction between opportunities for stipendiary and NSMs — that there was a question of how each was trained and supported, given the difference between the cohort doing 50 hours a week training, and those who were training alongside full-time jobs. “One of the real worries about NSM and LLM training is what can be achieved, and how much can be expected in training.”

The meeting noted the report.

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