Thursday, February 29, 2024

New Bishop of Peterborough 'excited' by 'surge' in vicar recruits

A newly-appointed Church of England bishop has said a "surge" in the number of people wanting to become vicars was "exciting".

The Right Reverend Debbie Sellin will be installed as Bishop of Peterborough in a service at Peterborough Cathedral on 3 March.

Her diocese includes Northamptonshire and Rutland as well as parts of Cambridgeshire.

She said she would spend her first few months meeting people across the area.

The figures of people being recommended for ordination training - the first step in becoming a vicar in the Church of England - have shown a downward trend in recent years across the country.

Figures from the Church of England showed there were 591 recommendations in 2020, 510 in 2021 and just 378 in 2022.

Yet Bishop Sellin said she believed the Diocese of Peterborough was going against that trend.

She said: "There's a real surge and in the Diocese of Peterborough, there's been an increase in the number of people coming forward to become a vicar in the past few years, which is amazingly exciting."

She said she thought would-be clergy were attracted by the efforts churches had made to engage with more people.

She said: "I think what we're trying to do as a church is see the bigger picture and the contact we have is not just on a Sunday morning - that's only part of what we do.

"Many churches will be reaching out to their local communities in the way that's right for them.

"We're realising that those levels of contact are equally important to the numbers of people that are coming into our services on a Sunday morning."

The Bishop said she would not be spending all of her time at Peterborough Cathedral, but would be travelling across the whole of the diocese.

She said: "One of the main jobs a bishop does is to care for the clergy in a diocese and support them to do the jobs they do well.

"So having that wider view helps me understand where support can come [from], where people can work together.

"I'll be spending a lot of my first few months just getting around and meeting people."