The statistics, published on Wednesday, show signs that the drive to nurture vocations to the ordained ministry — a central plank of the Renewal and Reform programme — is having an effect. Overall, the number of those entering training is 14 per cent higher than last year (476 candidates).
None the less, the C of E must reach its target of 50 per cent more ordinands by 2020 if it is to reverse the overall decline in clergy numbers. At the present rate, people are not entering the ministry at the same rate as others are retiring.
Another Renewal and Reform target is to recruit younger and more diverse candidates. Ordinands are younger than last year: 28 per cent of this year’s intake are under the age of 32, compared with 23 per cent last year. At the other end of the age range, 16 per cent are aged 55 or above, compared with 20 per cent of last year’s intake. The overall number of new ordinands under the age of 39 rose by 39 per cent, from 109 to 151….