Tuesday, December 03, 2013

New CofE Internship Scheme

The Church of England is going national with an internship progamme already running in pilot form in some dioceses. Here's one example, in Stepney.

The framework looks like a good one: "The scheme.....is a one year programme of theological teaching, practical experience and personal development  for young people aged 18-30 who are considering future ministry in the church. The scheme was set up to encourage more young people to consider being involved in ministry and focus on the nine criteria used in the selection of clergy."

So there's a clear focus - testing a calling to ordained ministry - based on actual selection criteria. The details of the Stepney project sound like a standard gap year: accomodation and subsistence provided, with the bonus that all the theological and practical training is provided for free.

15 more dioceses are interested in the the scheme, and the intention is for it to run nationally. Looks good - at the moment there's a gap in the market. Young people with a sense of calling may not be the finished article, but can get frustrated with a long vocations process that keeps them hanging on in uncertainty. Having something to get stuck into will be helpful.

One other thought is whether dots can be joined with things like the Arrow Leadership Programme, run by CPAS for younger leaders in Christian settings, including clergy. It would be good to see a consistent track of personal, spiritual and leadership development worked into the vocations and training process.

update: for people who looked at the CofE link before Tues lunchtime, they've now added a couple of case studies.


  1. I think this is an excellent idea which should be really helpful for young potential ordinands. Whether dots can be joined up with other similar but different schemes remains to be seen. Not all taking part will necessarily be recommended for training at the end of the one year. It will be really important for good support to be in place whatever the outcome of the year's placement.

  2. We're running a two year Mission Apprentice scheme here in Birmingham. The Apprentices are based in a a parish, work a 20 hour week for which they get paid and also have a fortnightly gathering as a learning community. It also allows them to demonstrate that they can grow some aspect of church life. However, for those of the Apprentices looking to join the long Church of England ordination selection process, it still seems difficult to test their call before the end of the scheme.

  3. This is a good step to see the CofE taking, however I think that this idea needs to be taken further and turned into a potential alternative to academia-oriented training for clergy. The idea of getting alongside a priest and learning the ropes is something that I would readily look to do, but the idea of going for training at a theological college where I have to write essays before I can "get my hands dirty" strikes me as so unappealing as to make me question whether God really wants me to become an ordained minister in the CofE (and I believe that He does).
    I do hope that this is a potential avenue they will explore, at the very least so that they can seek to find ways to train those of us who might be academically capable but not academically oriented.

  4. Ministry in the church does not equal ordination! The 'clear focus' of this scheme is on testing vocation to all ministry - wherever that calling may lead, including but not only ordination. Unfortunately the Church article highlighted this aspect of the scheme and it isn't meant to be this narrow in its focus.
    We are part of the pilot in Peterborough diocese and we recognize the importance of training younger clergy but also value and support those called to serve in other ways.
    And yes I think we are joining the dots in training for leadership and formation (an important point!) and as we do, we may be able to step back and enable young people to see the bigger picture of God's work in the world and their lives.