is the Church’s official recognition of your sense of calling to be a priest or
a deacon. It gives you the authority to do certain things in the name of God and
the Church. It’s also a sacrament—an outward sign of the grace of God, given to
you through the laying-on of hands by the bishop, to enable you to fulfil your
Ordained people point to the life of Christ crucified and risen, encouraging
Christians to live more Christ-like lives. They also proclaim the gospel of
Christ to people who are not Christians. They share in people’s life journeys,
walking with them and sharing their joys and sorrows.
There is no formal career path for priests, but there are lots of
opportunities, including for further education and training throughout your
ministry. Some ordained people work full-time within the Church of England;
others do it as part of their ongoing occupations.
However, it’s important to remember that there are other, non-ordained roles
which are also essential in the life of the Church (such as evangelist,
especially in the Church Army; missionary; Reader; and members of religious
communities, such as monks, nuns, friars and sisters).
There are stages in the process of being ordained, and there are different
jobs available afterwards:
A person who is accepted for ordination as a priest
is first ordained as a deacon. The ministry of a deacon
is that of servanthood, within the Church and the wider
community. Usually after a year, a deacon is ordained as
a priest; however, some people are called to remain
life-long distinctive deacons. Find out how the
ordination service describes the job of a deacon.
The ministry of a priest is one of leadership and
mission, helping all Christians to realise their
potential as they witness to Christ. They help to build
up the Church, through
- the celebration of the sacraments
(including baptism and holy communion)
- pastoral care.
Find out how the ordination service describes the job of a priest and what sort of people become priests.
Some priests are called to be bishops. They oversee the life of a diocese, confirm and ordain, and appoint parish priests. They are
‘consecrated’ in order to serve in this ministry.
Different jobs clergy can do...
A curate is in his or her first years of ordained
life. They work with the incumbent at the
church to which they have been appointed as they
continue with their training ‘on the job’ (this is part
of what is called initial ministerial education, or
IME). A curacy normally lasts for four years.
A parish priest works mostly within the
parish to which they are appointed. They're also likely
to act as chaplain to some local organisations (see
below). A vicar or
called an incumbent, and will have overall
responsibility for the life of the parish church and its
mission to the community. Parish priests are supported
by elected lay officers (such as churchwardens and PCC members), plus any other ordained
colleagues. If you become a parish priest, you don’t
have to stay doing it forever—you can move in and out of
different roles, including chaplaincy, and
administration within the diocese or the
Chaplains are ordained or lay people called to
ministry in primarily secular (non-church) contexts;
full- or part-time, paid or unpaid. They try to meet the
spiritual needs of people living, working, studying,
caring or being cared for. This may be in education
(universities, colleges and schools), hospitals,
hospices, prisons, the armed forces, or the workplace.
Chaplains serve people in a variety of ways, including
pastoral and spiritual support, preaching and teaching,
worship and prayer, leading discussion, and exploratory
groups and courses for Christians and those exploring
prayer and spirituality. Most chaplaincies are
ecumenical (multi-denominational) and/or multi-faith
teams, usually working within the structures of the
organisations in which they serve.
ORDAINED PIONEER MINISTER
Some ordained ministers feel called to ‘fresh
expressions’ of church, working in pioneering
ways which are complementary to traditional parish
structures. The discernment and selection
process for ordained pioneer ministers is the same as for all priests, but you need
to have had experience of a fresh expression of church
and be able to show good evidence of:
- visionary leadership ability
- a heart for mission and evangelism
- a commitment to the life and values of the
Church of England
- a spiritual life that is vibrant enough to
sustain you in your ministry.
Fresh Expressions website to find out more about
Fresh Expressions, and find out more about