The Bishop of Burnley has welcomed the success of the national Church of England Ministry Experience Scheme, after numerous young adults took the opportunity to do a year-long placement in a church.
With the initiative - open to those aged between 18 and 30 - attracting an increasing number of participants according to new figures just released by the Church of England, the Rt Rev. Philip North welcomed the news as national chair of the scheme's steering committee.
“I thank God for the success of the Ministry Experience Scheme and for the young adults across the country who are devoting a year of their lives to the service of others, including the work of parishes in both urban and rural areas, helping to witness to the Good News of the Gospel," said Bishop Philip. “The scheme provides a wonderful formation and a chance to take time to reflect on the future course of their lives.
The initiative is on course to have attracted 150 participants across the country this year compared to 47 in 2015, and more than two thirds of dioceses in the Church of England are now taking part, encouraging young adults to explore their vocation as they live and work in both urban and rural communities.
With an equal number of both men and women taking part, nearly 10% of participants last year were from BAME (black, Asian, and minority ethnic) backgrounds, with the scheme - supported by Allchurches Trust - aiming to increase the proportion of BAME candidates to 15% in the next two years.
Fast becoming a key component of the Church of England’s drive to attract more young people, women, and BAME community members into both lay and ordained roles, 46% of those taking part in 2017 have attended a Bishops’ Advisory Panel (BAP), a residential selection conference for people in the final stages of the process of applying to train for the priesthood in the Church of England. A further 21%, or one in five, went on to work or train for lay ministry (church leadership roles).
“It is a privilege for Allchurches Trust to support the Ministry Experience Scheme," said Allchurches Trust Director of Grants and Relationships, James Laing. "It perfectly reflects our desire to use our grants to meet needs and build relationships with people where they most need it.
“Another priority for Allchurches is helping young people to flourish and play a fuller, richer role in community life," James added. "We’re delighted to see the Ministry Experience Scheme clearly succeeding here too.”