What is Ordination?
The Church of England recognises three orders of ordained ministry; bishops, priests and deacons. Together with the whole people of God, they share in the ministry which Christ entrusted to those who follow him as disciples. Deacons are ordained to a ministry of service, to be ambassadors bearing the message of God’s love in Christ and attending to the needs of others. They often focus on the margins of church life, expressing care and compassion for the poor and marginalised – and they help people cross the threshold into church. Priests are ordained by the church to lead God’s people into an ever deeper relationship of love for God and his world. They are ministers of the sacraments, presiding at the Eucharist, blessing people in God’s name and pronouncing God’s forgiveness. Through word and sacrament, a priest shares in Christ’s ministry of reconciliation, providing pastoral care and building up the whole people of God to realise their own priestly ministry. All priests are ordained as deacons first, and continue to be deacons even after their ordination as priests.
What do priests and deacons do?
Many priests and deacons work in parishes and a priest may be given a particular responsibility by the bishop as a Vicar or Rector. Others work as chaplains in schools, hospitals, prisons or in the armed services. Others are called to Pioneer ministries establishing new expressions of Christian faith in a variety of different environments.
Could it be you?
Ordained ministry is varied and demanding yet few other occupations can be so rewarding. A person considering a call to ordination will have leadership gifts but also the pastoral sensitivity to care for people in all the situations of life. They will have the potential to preach, teach and enable others in worship. They are also leaders in our mission to the wider world, making Christ known in word and action. After a period of preparation, candidates for ordained ministry attend a Bishop’s Advisory Panel. Those recommended for training may either go to a residential college or train part time. Discovering your vocation is a journey and it is important to be open to God every step along the way.
What can I do next?
Ask God in prayer - how you may become all that God intends you to be and how best you may serve him.
Reflect on your gifts - are you able to engage with people and share your faith? Are you someone with caring skills and a willingness to support others?
Talk to your parish priest or chaplain - who will be able to advise you and put you in touch with the Vocations Team.
More details are available from your parish priest or from the Vocations Team.