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New Church of England figures show that the number of people under 32 recommended to train for ordination this year has risen by nearly a third (32%), compared to two years ago. Overall, 169 people in this age group have been recommended after undergoing a selection process, up from 128 in 2016. According to Church forecasts, this means that around nearly three in 10 (29%) of those entering training for the priesthood this year are expected to be aged under 32. The Church’s latest report on vocations also shows that the overall number of people, of any age, recommended to train for ordination, is up 7% in the last 12 months, to 580 from 541 in 2017.

Women make up the majority of this year’s candidates (54%), the highest ever proportion. In total, 316 have been recommended for training, up 11% on last year. Julian Hubbard, director of the Church of England’s ministry division, said: “I am delighted to see a rise in the number training for the priesthood for the second year running. “We are particularly pleased to see the increase in the number of young people entering training. “We are thankful for the prayers and hard work of the churches and dioceses who have been involved in guiding these candidates along their journey and pray that God will continue to guide them in building a growing Church.”

Jo Burden, 25, was first asked if she had considered training while she was studying at the University of York. She has completed her first year of training for the priesthood in Durham. “I was at university at the time, studying for a chemistry degree and I was volunteering at my local church as a server,” she said. “A couple of the priests said independently, in the same week, ‘have you thought that you may have some sort of a calling?’ I took part in the diocese ministry experience scheme after university and I was able to experience the day-to-day life and work of a parish, from working with young children, taking Sunday school and even leading a funeral.”

Source: Premier News Service (19/11/18)