The Church of England is reaching out to young women and black and ethnic minority Christians and pleading with them to consider becoming ordained priests.
More women are also needed to enter seminaries if the Church is to
achieve its target of a 50 per cent increase in candidates for
ordination by 2020.
The Church is not just looking for an increase in numbers but also a growth in diversity, says a a new report that
highlights a shortage of ethnic minority candidates and young women
coming forwards for ordination to the Anglican ministry.
The report predicts a steady decline in clergy if the current trends
in ordinations and retirements continue.
Increasing ordinations by 50
per cent would mean around 7,600 full-time stipendiary clergy by 2023.
Currently less than a third of full-time clergy are women.
A tiny proportion is from an ethnic minority group compared to 15 per
cent of the total population which is from an ethnic minority
Stipendiary clergy make up about two-fifths of CofE clergy. The rest are retired or non-stipendiary or licensed but part-time.
Currently, around 500 candidates for ordained ministry are
recommended for training each year.
By 2020, it is hoped to increase
this number to around 750.
The report says: "God is calling people to ordained ministry. This
call is worked out through a prayerful relationship to God, through the
opportunities they have to experience ministry, through others who
discern and encourage and through our formal structures of selection.
"Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Church as the body of
Christ discerns what is needed in order to be an effective participant
in the mission of God in the world. Keeping in mind that it is God who
calls and we cannot recruit candidates who are not called, the Church of
England is seeking an increase in the numbers coming into ordained
ministry: for a hopeful future, for a plentiful harvest."