We explore the hugely encouraging growth we have seen in our diocese as the national figures released by the Church of England show a 14% increase in numbers training for the priesthood.
Figures released this week from the national Church of England show a 14% increase in numbers training for the priesthood with an increase of 17% in women and that 25% of the cohort beginning training this year are under 32.
Simon Chesters, Director of Vocations & Diocesan Director of Ordinands and Debbie Ellison Vocations Officer have seen their efforts in growing vocations within our diocese pay off as we have seen a sharp rise in the numbers here.
Between 2005 and 2015 the Diocese of Liverpool sent an average of 10 people a year to national selection panels for ordained ministry but last year we saw that grow to 16 and this year the figure has risen to 26 people to national selection panels.
It’s a hugely encouraging growth, especially alongside the people going into Reader ministry, Local Missional Leadership and other types of ministry in church and in daily life.
As we reported at the start of the year, Simon and Debbie were asked to speak at a national Growing Vocations conference to share how God has been blessing our diocese with the many more people exploring ordained and other ministries.
In sharing the Diocese of Liverpool’s story at the national conference, Simon and Debbie reflected on how this excellent growth in vocations has been achieved:
“We have found real value to having a regular programme of events that are a mix of events focussed on ministries like ordination, Reader, LML and also much more general exploration of vocation in church and in daily life. Directions has been a key area of investment and through that we really have seen the value of getting people together for a very open-ended exploration of calling and gifts.
One specific area we have been engaging with is work with younger people. We have a Young Vocations champion, who has been running regular breakfast meetings for people in the 18-30 age range.
Giving people more of a chance to meet together – through things like Directions, young vocations breakfasts, Starting Theology and other sessions we have been putting on we are seeing the value of getting people together in larger groups to think about their discernment journey and vocation. The discernment process could easily be a very individual one and as well as helping people feel part of a community of encouragement and support. We’ve also been seeking to broaden the number of people who are involved with candidates.
We’ve learned the importance of having a range of regular LifeCall events and making links between any news items and those events. We’ve seen how it’s important to keep in touch with people through their journey, especially seeing how this is a really long game and how people often explore calling one step at a time.
We are looking at some very specific projects in the next few years – alongside general LifeCall events this year we are focusing on drawing women into considering ordained ministry, concentrating on stories of ordained women, producing materials to address some of the myths and barriers that hold women back from pursuing a call to ordained ministry and Mother’s Day focussed on God’s callings to women.
And throughout the main thing we’ve discovered is the power of people telling their stories. I think one of the real pluses of the team we have is that we are different – and I’ve really valued the fact we have a mixed team of lay and ordained people very visible in the process. There’s a real power to people being able to see 'people like them' telling their stories.”
Meet our new Revs
Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing short film clips of this year’s new Deacons telling their stories.