Vocations: Frequently Asked Questions

Is there an age limit?

A candidate cannot attend a Bishops’ Advisory Panel before they are 18, although a Bishop would not normally sponsor someone until they were at least 21. There is an upper age limit of 55 at ordination for those entering stipendiary ministry – for part-time (non-stipendiary ministry) the bishop is unlikely to accept for training anyone over 60 at ordination. Therefore candidates need to take into account the length of the discernment/selection and training process.

How long will the process take?

The discernment and selection process is thorough and cannot be rushed. It will normally take between 12-18 months from a candidate first meeting with a Director of Vocations to entering training.

Can priests get married?

In the Church of England, yes—either before or after ordination.

I’ve been baptised, but not confirmed—does it matter?

Baptism and confirmation together make up the Church of England’s process of Christian initiation, so it will be normal for any candidate to be confirmed, or welcomed into the Church of England from another Church, before she or he is ordained.

I am divorced and remarried, can I be considered?

Divorce in itself does not preclude a candidate from being ordained. However, in the case of remarriage, there is an additional process which involves obtaining permission from the Archbishop of Canterbury who will ensure that the circumstances surrounding both the divorce and remarriage are carefully examined.

Do I have to have certain educational qualifications?

For candidates over 25, there are no prescribed educational qualifications. At the Bishops’ Advisory Panel, the Educational Adviser will be concerned that a candidate is able to cope with training, which will be to at least Diploma level in Higher Education terms. All colleges and courses offer help to candidates who have not undertaken any formal education for many years with advice on a variety of study skills, including research and essay writing.

It is recommended that candidates with no academic qualifications undertake a basic theology course, such as the Exploring Christianity Course, before attending a Bishops’ Advisory Panel.

Will I be required to have a medical?

All candidates are required to fill in a medical questionnaire before their Bishops’ Advisory Panel. If there is an area of concern for the Ministry Division Medical Adviser, you might be required to have a medical examination.

What training will I receive to be a priest?

If you are sponsored by your bishop for training, the Church of England will pay for your training. You can train residentially or non-residentially in a college or on a course. After ordination, your training will continue as a curate, working with a more experienced priest.

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