While all Christians, in their baptism, are called to ministry, some women and men are called to the ordained ministry. Their role is public, representative and enabling of the work of other Christians. Within the ordained ministry, there are three orders of deacon, priest and bishop.
Deacons especially remind the Church of the serving role of all Christians. They assist the priest in the ministry of Word and Sacrament: they lead worship, preach, teach, visit the sick, conduct baptisms and funerals. Deacons are generally ordained priests at the end of one year, although some may choose to remain deacons for the remainder of their ministry.
Priests are called to be shepherds and servants among the people to whom they are sent, the pattern of their calling being the ministry of Jesus. As collaboration in ministry grows, the priest’s role is changing. Priests are ministers of Word and Sacrament and are encouragers of others’ gifts, people of vision and team leaders. They fulfil the same duties as the deacon and, in addition, are given the authority at ordination to declare God’s forgiveness of sins and to preside at the celebration of Holy Communion.
Bishops have oversight of the Church in geographical areas called Dioceses. They have the responsibility of maintaining the unity of the church and guarding its faith. They ordain new deacons and priests and support and guide them in their ministry.
The different ministries of the Church
Ordained ministers serve God in a variety of ways. On sponsoring a candidate for selection for training, the Bishop will agree their anticipated focus of ministry. This is taken into account in the selection process and in determining their pathway for training. As a candidate’s ministry develops, so their focus of ministry can change. This will require the agreement of the Bishop who may consult the Ministry Division. Their advice may include the need for additional training.
Candidates can be sponsored for ministry as:-
These will be priests who anticipate that, on completion of their training, will have responsibility for a parish as vicar or priest in charge. They will combine evangelism with pastoral care, preaching, teaching and leading worship. Their ministry will aim to develop the life of the whole people of God in their service of the Church and the world.
They will normally be paid by the Church and work full time in this ministry, although some will offer to serve as financially self-supporting and will not receive payment. At selection, they will need to provide evidence of their potential for leadership. They will train either full time at a college, full time on a mixed mode course or part time on a non-residential course.
These will be priests who do not anticipate ministry at incumbent level but will work as an assistant minister in a parish, either full or part time. They will be financially self-supporting and will normally train on a non-residential course.
Locally Deployed Minister
These are assistant ministers, financially self supporting, who, on ordination, will serve as ordained ministers in their home parish. They will already be well established in their home parish with a proven lay ministry and have the full support of the Church through the formal endorsement of the PCC. They will normally train on a non-residential course and a core group from the parish will be required to work alongside them to help prepare the parish for their new role as an ordained minister.
These are ordained ministers who sense that their vocation is to be a deacon, modelling a ministry of service within the Church and wider community. They will normally serve as an assistant minister in a parish and would not minister at incumbent level. They will normally train on a non-residential course.
Ordained Pioneer Minister
These will be priests or deacons who have a particular vocation to serve and guide the Church in developing fresh expressions of church life. Pioneer ministry is exercised in a wide variety of ways focussing on initiating new projects. Ordained pioneer ministers can be sponsored for ministry at either incumbent or assistant minister level. Candidates for pioneer ministry will be expected to demonstrate a track record of innovation and initiative with well developed abilities to initiate change.
OPM candidates are selected for training in the same way as other candidates but with an additional process to test their vocation as a pioneer. They will train on a course, full time or part time, where there will be a particular focus on pioneer ministry.
While nearly all ordained ministers will begin their ministry in a parish, on completion of their initial training (title post) some may move into a specialist ministry as chaplains to hospitals, prisons, industry, schools, universities, colleges of higher and further education and the armed forces. These would normally be paid appointments.
I think God may be calling me to be ordained. What do I do?
The first step is to speak to your parish priest, who will be most happy to talk this through with you. Initially, you may feel that it is very presumptuous of you to offer yourself, but you may be surprised to find that they may have been waiting for you to come and see them about vocation for some time! It may also be good to share your feelings with some close Christian friends, who will talk and pray this through with you.
If your parish priest feels that you do have a potential vocation to ordained ministry to be explored, he/she will obtain the appropriate form from the DDO in order to refer you into the system. Initially you will then be asked to see a local Area Ordination Adviser who will be a priest in your or a neighbouring Deanery. You will meet with them several times when they will outline the discernment and selection process to you and check if there are any matters that you need to address before entering the formal Diocesan process. Once they are satisfied that you are a potential ordinand, they will send you back to the Diocesan Director of Ordinands.
You will then meet with the Diocesan Director of Ordinands or Assistant Director of Ordinands for a series of meetings, helping you to clarify your vocation to ordained ministry and to prepare you to attend a Bishops' Advisory Panel. These sessions will be based on the Bishops’ Criteria for Selection for Ministry.
During this time, you will be required to do some reading and some written work. If your experience of the Church of England is limited, you may be asked to do a placement in another parish. He will also arrange for you to be interviewed by a person from the Diocese, who is skilled in discernment, and who will write him a report.
The DDO or ADDO will then arrange for you to meet with the Bishop who, if he is satisfied with the report from the DDO, will make the decision as to whether you should attend a Bishops' Advisory Panel, organised by the Ministry Division. This is a three-day residential conference, held in a retreat house. At the end of the conference, the Selectors will write a report to the Bishop, advising him whether they recommend that you should enter training for ordained ministry.
Once the Bishop has confirmed the Panel’s recommendation, he will sponsor you for training. The type of training will depend on you and the ministry you are to exercise within the Church. The DDO will discuss the different options and generally training will be for either two or three years.
The decision as to whether you will be ordained will be made by the Bishop, having taken advice from the Principal of your training College or Course during your final year of training.
It normally takes between twelve and eighteen months between a candidate seeing an Area Ordination Adviser and entering training.
Diocesan Director of Ordinands (DDO)
The Diocesan Director of Ordinands (DDO) is Revd Tim Goodbody. He works with men and women who sense that God may be calling them to ordained ministry and who have been commended to him by an Area Ordination Adviser.
He works with them in clarifying their vocation, if appropriate preparing them to attend a Bishops' Advisory Panel, providing Diocesan support during their training and then assisting the Bishops in appointment to a Title (first) post. His address is:
53 New Street
Chelmsford CM1 1AT
Tel: 01245 294422
Assistant Diocesan Director of Ordinands - Revd Hilary Le Seve
Tel: 01621 892867
Their Secretary is Mrs Jessica Bostock and she can be contacted on:
Tel: 01245 294422