The latest statistics from the Church of England show that under-30s make up 23 per cent of those entering ministry – a 20 year high, reports The Independent newspaper (Feb. 20).
The numbers of new vocations are not high — 113 out of the 501 that began training in 2013 were 20-somethings and late teens — there are proportionally more younger trainee vicars. The church is attributing the growth of seminarians and new clergy to the rise of online and offline promotion as well as a shift in thinking away from the view that ordinands should not be fresh out of school or university. Each of the 43 dioceses has its own chaplains focusing on young vocations, and a pilot Ministry Experience Scheme that allows potential ordinands to experience life as a vicar for a year, reports Sally Newall.
There is also the Call Waiting website, launched in 2008, targeting 13- to 30-year-olds considering ordained ministry, and Step Forward, an annual day conference for those aged 18-30, in Durham. From the interviews in the article, it seems that the Fresh Expressions movement, which pioneers in planting alternative churches and services, has generated religious vocations.
At St. Mellitus College in west London, which prides itself on embracing the digital age, the number of ordinands under the age of 35 has risen from nine in 2011 to 29 in 2013. “All of my lecturers are on Twitter,” says Liz Clutterbuck, 32, who is in her third year at St. Mellitus. “There’s a lot of good theological debate going on.”