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Is God calling you to work within his church?
In one sense the answer to this question should be ‘yes’ for all Christian people. But more specifically, some have a vocation (the word means ‘calling’) to the ordained ministry of the Church of England as a deacon, priest or bishop, and others to a formally recognised licensed lay ministry of the Church of England.
Exploring a vocation to ordained ministry
What do ordained ministers do?
After ordination, clergy undertake a wide range of roles, usually beginning as a curate assigned to a parish. Find out more about the roles of ordained ministers on these pages.
There is a fairly long selection procedure to help you in making such an important decision. It is usually at least 18 months between first enquiring and starting your training which will generally last two or three years depending on age and experience.
The first stage in the selection process is simply to talk to your parish priest or chaplain. From this point, each Area has its own Director of Ordinands who can help you. The Revd Prebendary Nick Mercer is the Director of Ordinands for the Diocese and may be able to help with any particular question you might have.
Nationally, Ministry Division looks after the 1400 Church of England ordinands. Their website contains a lot of helpful information. You're never too young to be thinking about vocation and these pages are specially designed for younger enquirers.
This year in London we have over 140 ordinands (people preparing for ordination) of all ages and another 60 or 70 hoping to start their training in the coming academic year. Some are studying full-time at residential colleges, others are continuing in their regular employment while studying on a local course. Others are doing mixed-mode training, a mixture of residential and non-residential training, often whilst being deployed as a lay worker in a local church.
We have a number of training agencies within the Diocese of London:
- Oak Hill is a full-time training college
- St Mellitus College offers for ordained and lay training in a variety of configurations
Exploring a vocation to Lay Ministry
What do Lay Ministers do?
Lay ministers undertake a wide range of roles, usually within their parish. Find out more about the roles of lay ministers on these pages.
Licensed Lay Ministry
Training for LLM ministry will not normally start before the age of 18 or after the age of 58 years. LLMs, therefore, will normally be between the ages of 21 and 60 years when they are licensed.
To explore a calling to Licensed Lay Ministry there is a formal discernment process which begins with informal conversations between you and your incumbent. Following this there may be further discussions with you, your incumbent and representatives from the Episcopal Area including the Area Warden, the Area LLM Training Officer and others including the vocations officer where appropriate.
To go forward with the formal selection process candidates must be nominated by their incumbent and formally supported by the PCC. At the end of process approved candidates attend a selection panel following which they may be recommended for training. The selection panel is normally arranged annually across two or more Episcopal Areas.
If you are selected for Licensed Lay Ministry you will normally undertake three years of academic and formational education and training which will lead to a university diploma level qualification and a properly defined role in your parish leadership team. In London this is usually with St Mellitus college – their prospectus is available to download from this page.
If you are selected for another form of lay ministry there will be an identified training and licensing process which will be discussed and agreed with you.
If you would like to find out more speak to your parish priest or see the relevant pages here or the Church of England’s Readers Web site.
The Church Army
Sometimes described as the evangelistic arm of the Church of England, the Church Army continues to play a leading role in bringing the Good News of the Gospel to people where they are. Its pioneering, missionary orientation is particularly attractive to those who have a passion for telling others about their Christian faith. It is a full-time, paid lay ministry.
Some people feel drawn to the religious life. But becoming a monk, a nun or a friar is not just about spending hours in contemplative prayer, although for some it is. It is also about community living, a rule of life and a particular way of serving in God’s world – sometimes through ministries of teaching, hospitality, nursing and community work – to name a few.
Some people live together in a resident community and others follow the community rule but live in their own homes.
The first step if you feel called to any of these lay or ordained ministries is to speak to your parish priest or chaplain.