The number of female clergy in the Church of England continues to rise with more women than men entering training for ordained ministry for the second year running, according to statistics published today.
More women, 54%, than men began training for ordained ministry in 2018, for the second year running. Just under a third, or 30%, of the estimated 20,000 active clergy in the Church of England were female compared to 27% in 2014, according to Ministry Statistics for 2018.
The report also shows the proportion of senior posts such as dean or bishop occupied by women rose from 23 per cent to 25 per cent over the last year. The figures do not take into account six new appointments of female bishops this year, bringing the total so far to 24.
The proportion of people identifying as from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds starting training for ordained ministry in the Church of England rose to 8% in 2018, compared to 4% in 2016.
Around a third, or 33%, of people beginning their training last year were under 35 years old and more than half, or 53%, were under 45.
Meanwhile the number of men and women ordained as deacon rose from 485 in 2016 to 535 in 2019.
The figures have been released as the Church of England seeks to fulfil a key target of a 50% increase in the number of candidates for ordination as part of its programme of Renewal and Reform.
Mandy Ford, Interim Director of the Ministry Division of the Church of England, said: “I am thankful for the hard work and prayers of the parishes and dioceses in helping us to increase the numbers of people coming forward for ordained ministry, a key aim of the Renewal and Reform programme.”
Ministry statistics 2018 and commentary can be found here.
Ministry data provide summary statistics about the number of clergy serving in the Church of England. Statistics include:
- Numbers of stipendiary and non-stipendiary clergy
- Numbers of ordinations
- Numbers of ordinands entering training
- Age, gender, and ethnicity of clergy
Ministry Statistics 2018 (published September 2019) and Commentary provided by Revd Dr Mandy Ford, interim Director of Ministry, provides summary statistics of the number of clergy serving in the Church of England, including trends in total numbers in stipendiary and self-supporting ministry, age profiles, gender splits and ethnicity.
Detailed Diocesan tables can be found in a separate excel file.
Next publication: Ministry Statistics 2019 (due summer 2020)
Earlier publications can be found on the resources, publications, and data page.
Revd Dr Mandy Ford, interim Director of Ministry
MINISTRY STATISTICS for 2018The 2018 Ministry Statistics provide a snapshot of the varied ministries being undertaken in parishes, chaplaincies and workplaces, and of the diversity of ministers leading worship, growing disciples and engaging in witness and evangelism, mission, community involvement and pastoral care from rural benefices to the inner city.
As clergy retire, the church faces the challenge of continually renewing ministry and responding to the needs of a new generation. While these statistics show that the number being ordained has remained steady over the past few years, the number entering training is rising and it is good to recognise the 587 ordinands who entered training in 2018. Each of those individuals has their own story to tell of vocation and discernment, often accompanied by parish clergy working with Diocesan Vocations Officers and Directors of Ordinands. The Discernment Team in Ministry, with our many colleagues who act as Bishops Advisors, delight in this shared task while recognising the significant commitment of time involved.
As this cohort completes their training in the next few years so we will begin to see an increase in those being ordained. This is a wonderful response to the work of the Spirit in raising up new ministers to serve the church and build the Kingdom for the future.
It is also encouraging to see increasing diversity among our clergy, though we still have a long way to go before those in public ministry truly reflect the whole church. We welcome the increase in BAME clergy and vocations and note the number of younger ordinands in the pipeline. We can see an increase in younger ordinands and recognise the challenge of encouraging younger women in ministry by encouraging family friendly policies. It is notable that a proportion of our NSM clergy are of incumbent status or ministering in parishes without incumbent colleagues. This is just one example of the way in which the shape of ministry is changing and will be a prompt to ensuring that training for ministry equips people for different shapes of ministry in the future.
The statistics remind us once again of the contribution made by the 7,000 clergy who continue to minister after retirement, and nearly 3,000 offering ministry without stipend.
Finally, it is important to recognise the vital contribution made by our lay ministers. At present these statistics recognise the ministry of Readers, some 8,000 in the church. Future research will identify and acknowledge other forms of active lay ministry, including that of pioneers and evangelists. Capturing data on these will give a fuller picture of the vitality and growth of the ministry of the Church of England as a whole. We are seeing change that will address the decline in ministry as older stipendiary clergy retire and bring growth, innovation, and grounds for greater confidence for the future of ministry.
Interim Director Ministry Division