Ordained ministry

God calls a huge variety of people, men and women of all ages, from all kinds of backgrounds and walks of life, to work and witness as ordained ministers in many different contexts within and outside of the Church. 

Ordained ministries are therefore very varied. There can be full-time, part-time, paid and unpaid ordained ministers. 

If you feel called to ordained ministry, read this page and talk to your local clergy.

Paid and unpaid ordained ministers

A stipendiary minister is someone who exercises their ministry full time from which they receive an income (called a stipend) and usually a house.  

Whilst most will minister primarily in a parish setting throughout their lives, some will function in a specialist ministry, such as chaplains to hospitals, the armed forces, prisons, industry, schools, universities and colleges.  

Increasingly, many people exercise their ministry as they continue in their ongoing occupations. Such ministers are referred to as non-stipendiary (NSM), or self-supporting ministers. The title reflects not on their ministry, but on the fact that they receive no income from it.

A threefold ministry

The Church of England follows the ancient threefold order of ordained ministries; you are first ordained a deacon, then if called, you will be ordained a priest and similarly if called, the most senior ordination in the Church of England is that of a bishop. The majority of ordained ministers are deacons and priests.


The ministry of a deacon is that of the servant, both within the Church and in the wider community. Every bishop and priest is first ordained as a deacon, reminding us that priestly ministry is rooted in service. Some people feel called to a lifelong ministry as a deacon, called ‘distinctive deacons’. Deacons serve wherever they are needed, but they may also have a particular focus in their ministry depending upon the needs of their local community and their own particular gifts.

The role of a Priest is to build up the Body of Christ in the Church drawing people and communities together through the celebration of the sacraments, teaching, preaching and pastoral care. Priesthood is not only about what a person does, it is also about what a person is. Through the lives they lead, priests point to the transforming love of God in Christ, encouraging all God’s people to become agents of God’s love, justice and peace in the world.

A bishop is called to lead in serving and caring for the people of God and to work with them in the oversight of the Church. As a chief pastor he or she shares with their fellow bishops a special responsibility to maintain and further the unity of the Church, to uphold its discipline, and to guard its faith. They promote mission throughout the world, ordain new ministers, and continue to guide them in fulfilling their ministry.

Different roles in ordained ministry

Associate ministers
Associate Ministers serve part or full-time as deacons or priests without payment from the Church (although they are entitled to claim certain expenses they incur in the exercise of their ministry). Some Associate Ministers feel called by God to witness to the truth of the Christian faith in the workplace - sometimes called Ministers in Secular Employment (MSE).

In the diocese of Salisbury there are Associate Clergy working as doctors and nurses, teachers, engineers, IT consultants, managers and in other sorts of paid employment. Their ministry is to help their colleagues and others to perceive and know the presence of God in the world. This is a relatively new and demanding form of ministry, which is attracting steadily growing numbers of Associate Clergy. In addition to their commitment to their workplaces they are normally attached to a local Church as unpaid members of ministry teams.

In addition to their ministry at work, most offer themselves to lead worship and preach on one or more Sundays a month, according to the demands of their family and working lives.

Chaplains can be lay or ordained and work in a huge variety of contexts. Read more about their extremely varied work.
Ordained pioneer ministers

Pioneer ministry can be either ordained or lay. Read more about how creative pioneering ministry can be.
Rural Deans

Rural Deans are nominated by the Bishop after consultation with Deanery clergy and normally serve as “first among equals” for a period of five to seven years. The Rural Deans in the Diocese of Salisbury share with the bishops in a ministry of oversight and are consulted regularly as part of an extended senior staff team.

A key role for the Rural Dean is to be alongside deanery colleagues and we consider it a priority to maintain the Deanery Chapter – the meeting of ministers – as a place of fellowship, mutual love and respect.

The Deanery Synod is the strategic heart of the deanery and the Rural Dean, working alongside a lay colleague and the Deanery Pastoral and Standing Committee, sets the agenda and offers focus and direction for these forums.

Contact the Ministry Team

The Revd Nigel Done

Diocesan Director of Ordinands

Get in touch



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