How does ordination work?
The first step towards ordination is to talk to your vicar, chaplain, or equivalent, or to a member of the vocations team in your diocese. Your diocese will work with you to identify what type of ministry is right for your unique gifts and talents. When they know you are ready, your bishop will send you to a selection residential known as a Bishop’s Advisory Panel. The panel will decide whether to recommend to your bishop that you go forward for ordination training.
Once recommended, you will prepare for ordination at a theological education institution. There are numerous pathways available, the most common falling into residential (where you usually live in the college) and non-residential (where you train in a context based setting).
Upon successful completion of your course, you will be ordained a deacon by your bishop, and will begin a curacy in a parish. Your curacy is an opportunity to serve alongside an experienced vicar, putting into practice the knowledge gained from your course and learning from them as you prepare for your own ministry.
As a deacon you are able to do weddings and baptisms, but you must be ordained priest before you can preside over Holy Communion. You will most likely be ordained a priest by your bishop after a year of curacy, provided this is the type of ministry you have been training for.
Practical guidance for selection, training, and life in ministry
Testimony: Richard Springer
I enjoyed my training. It was in my time there that I reflected at depth on more sacramental forms of worship. On placement I was in an Anglo-Catholic parish, which for me made some important connections between my childhood Afro-Caribbean Pentecostal church, and this Anglo-Catholic worship. I admired that it did not chase culture, but actually felt different to what you do with the rest of your week, there is an other-worldliness that reflected some of the mystery of God. I explored that much more, and by the time I left to become a curate I ended up in a church closer to the Anglo-Catholic tradition than the Open Evangelical church I was sent from.
Testimony: John Naudé
I believe God calls a whole variety of people to serve him in ministry, which is demonstrated so clearly in the 1 Corinthians 12: 12-27. Whether we are called to serve as a priest or any other member of the church, we each have a part to play.
I didn’t respond well to God’s calling on my life, as I felt it was a rather silly idea! As a wheelchair user I was expecting a lot of negative perceptions as to whether I could fulfil the calling that I had. My disability is one part of what makes me who I am, but it isn’t the only thing that defines me. I bring all of me into ministry, not just my disability. We need each and every member to play their role in God’s church.
I was ordained in 1996. My Diocesan Director of Ordinands was brilliant. He said that “If God was calling me to be ordained, then it was the role of the diocese to enable that to happen”. None of the process was negative in regard to the way people responded to my disability, indeed I think if anyone had said anything negative then I would have been happy to call it a day. But God had other ideas!
When I mentioned that I felt I was being called by God into ordination to the church leadership the only response I got was “if God was calling you then it is the best job in the world, but if he wasn’t then it was the worse job in the world”.
The main struggle I had was more to do with finding an accessible Theological College. At the time the choice was very limited. Nonetheless I found the experience of theological college a really exciting and challenging time, and during that time I was able to start looking at a biblical message of disability.
If there is anyone who is considering whether God is calling them towards ordination then I would want to encourage them to pursue it. It may not lead to ordination, but God reveals himself through the process towards whatever he is calling us to. There is nothing better than serving God in whatever form it may be.
Get in touch with your diocese
Contact the vocations team in your diocese using the form below to begin exploring whether you have a calling to ordination. Your diocese will be sent your message and contact details and may get in contact with the ministry team in your church. If you don’t know which diocese your church is in you can find out on A Church Near You. Your data will also be held the National Church Institutions.
"When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. 'Do you understand what I have done for you?' he asked them.John 13: 12-16
'You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.
I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.'"