This post about the future of the CofE has attracted several fascinating comments, and getting on for 2000 readers so far. Most are worth highlighting in a post by themselves, but here's just one:
One further observation from someone who has been a priest in chaplaincies/cathedrals/outside the parochial system nearly all his ministry- Many clergy seem to be disregarded when they leave those bits the hierarchy can manage (the parochial system). This can be to the detriment of both them and the church- especially as many minister (e.g. in armed forces or education) disproportionately to those outside the church.
Also, I suspect the numbers of clergy that are simply not accounted for is greater than many might imagine. Has anyone ever studied what I think in other professions is called "wastage"? Have we statistics? I was shocked to discover how many I was at theological college had quietly drifted out of ministry altogether.
Might many of the clergy at the edges have something special to contribute to the shrinking core, if ever they chose to, or were asked to?
There are some stats in the official figures about clergy leaving and rejoining parochial ministry, but (as with many of the stats) there's no analysis or asking of questions. It's very easily to quietly drop out of the CofE, as many former members and former clergy could tell you. And clergy in chaplaincy roles are mostly invisible to parishes unless there's concerted effort on both sides to integrate.
Who is looking out for the invisible clergy, or (as I suspect), do we all just have to look out for ourselves? And before I get too accusatory, I need to remember that there are former members of my church here in Yeovil who are still waiting to hear from the vicar....