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by Michael Ford last modified 06 Oct, 2017 10:20 AM

Ordination, Formation, Appointments and Discipline.


The formation of clergy is both a spiritual and a legal process. Anglican clergy are permitted to officiate by virtue first of their Orders – initially as deacons and in most cases subsequently as priests. The process of receiving Orders is completed in a service of Ordination and Celebration and the laying on of hands, led by the Bishop and supported by the ordained clergy present. The record of that process is found in the “Letters of Orders” given to the ordinand at the end of that service. The Registry is responsible for ensuring that those about to be ordained have the necessary baptismal and confirmation qualifications, and for the preparation of the Letters of Orders.

Strictly, a candidate may only be ordained to serve in a post in the Church, and this is authorised at the same service when the candidate is ordained Deacon. Once “in Orders” the deacon or priest serves and exercises ministry by virtue of permission given by the Bishop of the Diocese, and this is usually by a licence under the Bishop’s seal. All these documents are also prepared by the Registry, on instructions from the Bishop.


Apart from the first position that a newly-ordained person holds, which is selected and chosen before the actual ordination, appointments to posts in the parishes of the Diocese is a legal process leading to a specific licence, separate from the candidate’s Orders, but only applying to ordained persons. Many of the assistant posts are effectively a matter for the decision of the senior clergy in consultation with the parish and with one another.

The position of minister of a parish, or leader of a team ministry, on the other hand, is filled after a specific legal process, aimed at finding the best person to fill the role. This process is run by the senior staff of the Diocese, and the Registry is engaged in ensuring that the legal aspects of that process are correctly observed. Eventually, the Registry produces the necessary documents.

Any queries about the legalities of ordination or of appointment to positions within the Diocese can be addressed to the Registry for guidance and explanation, whether from the point of view of candidates, other clergy affected, parochial officers or members of the parish generally.


All clergy owe obedience to the Bishop of their Diocese, and Bishops to their Archbishops in appropriate matters. Until very recently, there were only some very drastic processes for administration of any complaints about members of the clergy, which made it difficult not only for the people who wanted to complain but also for the clergy themselves, when they wanted to know what was happening and why.

There is now in place a formal process for all such issues, and the Church of England website carries details. Clergy can obtain help by contacting the Diocesan Office: staff will put you in touch with proper advice and support.

Contact the Registry: 
01722 432390
Fax: 01722 411566

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