Thinking Anglicans

Ministry Statistics 2020

The Church of England has released its Ministry Statistics 2020. Detailed Diocesan tables can be found in a separate excel file. Statistics for earlier years can be found here.

There is an accompanying press release, copied below.

Recommendations for stipendiary ordained ministry training highest for a generation
08/07/2021

Nearly 600 people were recommended for training for ordained ministry in the Church of England last year, including the highest number for a generation of candidates expected to take up paid clergy posts.

In spite of the impact of the pandemic, 591 people were recommended for training for ordained ministry in 2020, the highest figure for 13 years. Of these, 431 plan to exercise stipendiary, or paid ministry – the highest number for 34 years.

The Church of England’s Ministry Statistics show that women made up the majority of the 580 ordinands who started training for ordained ministry in September last year – at 54% – for the third year running.

Nearly a quarter of the men and women starting training, or 23%, were aged under 32 years old. Nearly two fifths, or 39%, were aged under 40.

Ordinands from UK Minority Ethnic (UKME) backgrounds made up 10.9% of the intake, while 8.9% of stipendiary clergy ordained last year were from a UKME background. This compares to 4.1% of the current pool of stipendiary clergy.

The figures show the number of people starting training last year had grown by 22% compared to 2016, from 480 to 580.

Overall, there were nearly 20,000 active clergy in the Church of England at the end of last year with the majority working in a particular church or churches. Just over 2,000 were working in other areas such as chaplaincy, theological colleges and diocesan roles.

The figures show also that 230 people began training for Reader and or Licensed Lay Ministry.

The Ministry Statistics have been released after a temporary online discernment process was introduced during the first lockdown last year, with the large majority of in-person residential discernment events (known as Bishops Advisory Panels), cancelled because of the pandemic.

The Rt Revd Chris Goldsmith, Director of Ministry, highlighted the work of parishes during the lockdown last year and thanked all who had expressed a ministerial vocation.

“It is a privilege to share with you the task of declaring the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and of enabling others to do the same,” he said.

He added: “Last year we saw the very best of the parish system come to the fore when our worshipping communities found a range of creative ways to broadcast the unchanging love of God in very uncertain times. I am so grateful for each one.

“People both lay and ordained have gone beyond themselves to serve others in extraordinary ways as our communities have worshipped, suffered, grieved and, on occasion, celebrated in the shadow of a global pandemic.”

The Church of England’s Head of Vocations, Revd Helen Fraser, paid tribute to the dedication and perseverance of all those who had kept the discernment process on course during the pandemic.

“We thank God for his generosity and express our gratitude to our colleagues in the dioceses, parishes and national church, who have shown such dedication and perseverance,” she said.

Read the full report

Read a commentary from the Rt Revd Chris Goldsmith

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Sam Jones
Sam Jones
3 months ago

Another press release boasting how many priests are being ordained. Is there any research on how many stipendiary priests the C of E actually needs? Given the decline in church attendance I suspect it will be a lot less than the 7,670 it currently has.

The report says the average age of stipendiary priests at ordination is 40. How many will have jobs for the next 25 years?

Alison Menage
Alison Menage
Reply to  Sam Jones
3 months ago

How many are leaving? Or being sidelined?

Anon
Anon
3 months ago

Hmm. It’s an ‘interesting’ press release. It talks about the numbers of those who ‘plan’ to exercise stipendiary ministry. That is essentially meaningless. Candidates are recommended as Incumbent or assistant status. There is no guarantee of a stipend. Indeed, we are in a landscape where stipendiary posts (including title posts and first incumbency) are limited. These are bottleneck points where people find what they’d hoped and planned doesn’t match what actually happens. I wonder how candidates will navigate this? What will be the impact of this on (future) recruitment and retention.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Anon
3 months ago

“There is no guarantee of a stipend. Indeed, we are in a landscape where stipendiary posts (including title posts and first incumbency) are limited.” If that is indeed the case, then it suggests that the Church does not really know what it is doing in terms of its own planning. How can it, in good conscience, invite people to take orders in the expectation that they will have a secure position, and then tell them – three years on – that it’s no dice? That’s expensive for straitened dioceses. Above all, it is most expensive for the individuals concerned, who… Read more »

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  Anon
3 months ago

Clergy may be encouraged to retire early to free posts for younger colleagues. The hope would be that the retired clergy would continue to minister on house for duty/PTO basis.

Fr. Dean
Fr. Dean
Reply to  Simon Bravery
3 months ago

I think that the labourer is worthy of his or her hire and early retirement shouldn’t be viewed as a good source of cheap or free ministry. Retired clergy may not be as pliable as perhaps envisaged. Some of course will not want to break step but I think most will want weekends away, time with grandchildren, bucket list holidays, new hobbies etc.. They may inconveniently retire to places where there are already lots of retired clergy and not to the difficult to staff parts of the country. Some may retire from ministry but take on secular paid work to… Read more »

Michael H.
Michael H.
Reply to  Fr. Dean
3 months ago

Fr Dean – far too many hurdles in renewing PTO for clergy in their 60s who have been in the same diocese for decades. I know one who couldn’t renew PTO because rural dean told him he had to produce a birth certificate AND marriage certificate AND passport AND driving licence. So an unmarried man who never went abroad and didn’t own a car was excluded from PTO. In reality probably a cynical way of getting rid of an old f..t. I hope the moderators will allow a personal note to you – I really feel for you as you… Read more »

Fr. Dean
Fr. Dean
Reply to  Michael H.
3 months ago

Thank you for your kind words Michael. Being a carer is challenging but it can also be hugely rewarding. However imperfectly I’m trying to follow the fifth commandment. Priesthood takes many forms and at this point in my life this feels no less priestly or diaconal to me. Sobering to think if they had been in a care home they would almost certainly have succumbed to Covid a year ago.

Dr Michael Blyth
Dr Michael Blyth
Reply to  Simon Bravery
3 months ago

Once retired, clergy are under no obligation whatsoever to continue to offer ministry. Moreover, if the circumstances under which their retirement had been managed had resulted in demoralisation or resentment, then any ‘hope’ that they might step up to HOD/PTO is likely to be slim. Others may have found that the damage to their mental and spiritual wellbeing has been so profound over the years that they prefer other avenues of personal restoration in retirement. A Church of England which operates on the assumption of never-ending goodwill whilst being so manifestly poor at its relationship with its workforce – ordained… Read more »

Charles K
Charles K
3 months ago

The issue here is about the pipeline – input and output to put it crudely! It is common knowledge in the church that there is a huge glut of clergy retiring in the next 5-10 years. So whilst its encouraging that there are more coming forward – my hunch is that they in no way replace those who will soon no longer be in full time stipendiary ministry. It is encouraging that there is a significant increase in young people and also in a greater ethnic diversity. That has to be good news.

Bernard Silverman
Reply to  Charles K
3 months ago

The increase is only in male young people, I think. See my other remark and look carefully at Table 11a.

Fr. Dean
Fr. Dean
3 months ago

The 20,000 in active ministry includes anyone with a PtO. Some of those will be working effectively working full time, but most will have a PtO so that they can help out if the Vicar is off sick or on holiday. As to these poor souls who are being sponsored for ordination; with even home county dioceses slashing stipendiary posts heaven knows where they’re going to find work.

Bernard Silverman
3 months ago

As usual, the age/gender interaction as easiest seen in Figure 10 is instructive. Among those starting training under the age of 35, there are more than twice as many males as females. This is the “career” cohort and there has been very little change in this bias over the years covered by the report. Stating average ages as the report does elsewhere to some extent sweeps this under the carpet. It would be preferable if more attention to this issue were paid in the summary, because then something might be done about it. Each year we discuss this but nothing… Read more »

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
3 months ago

In my experience as a training incumbent, stipendiary curacies are very carefully budgeted for and only offered if the house and funding are in place. Ordinands know early in the discernment process whether they will be ‘released’ to look outside of the sponsoring diocese and can decide whether to proceed on that basis. If it transpires that dioceses are overwhelmed with vocations to stipendiary ministry I would see that as a key moment for DBFs to collectively put pressure on the Church Commissioners to release money, not just to cover curate stipends but the posts that they will move on… Read more »

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