Church of England reports increase in ordinations and giving

 New Church of England statistics published yesterday show increases in the number of clergy being trained and ordained. They also show increases in the amount parishioners are donating each week. The figures confirm the changing patterns of church attendance, published earlier this year.

Official Church Statistics, published on the Church of England website, show increases in the number of clergy being trained and numbers being ordained. The Church recommended 595 future clergy for ordination training in 2007, the greatest number for more than a decade and maintaining the upward trend since the mid-'90s. In 1994, 408 candidates were recommended for training.

Part of the increase is made up of younger candidates, with 243 of those recommended for training in 2007 being under 40; compared with 239 in 2006, 209 in 2005 and 188 under 40 in 2004. To further encourage young vocations to the priesthood, the Ministry Division of the Archbishops' Council has developed the Call Waiting campaign including the website, a glossy magazine with essential information for prospective clergy, and a series of eye-catching posters. Audio interviews with young trainee priests, curates and vicars on the Call Waiting website chronicle the journey from initial sense of calling through discernment to training and ministry.

The Church of England ordained 552 new clergy in 2007, an increase on the 481 ordained in 2006 and the highest number since the year 2000. Overall, 262 women and 290 men were ordained in 2007, though just over half (52%) of these were ordained to non-stipendiary ministry. Of those ordained to full-time, stipendiary ministry, 162 were men and 102 were women.

At the end of 2007, there were 20,355 ministers licensed by Church of England dioceses, including clergy, readers and Church Army officers: one minister for every 2,500 people in England. "The nation continues to enjoy the spiritual ministry of an increasing variety of Church of England ministers, many of whom also contribute to the health of their local community in a wide range of voluntary capacities," observed the Revd Lynda Barley, Head of Research and Statistics for the Archbishops'Council. The total does not include almost 1,600 chaplains to prisons, hospitals, the armed forces and in education, nor around 7,000 retired ministers with permission to officiate.

Average weekly giving by Church of England parishioners increased to £5.38 in 2006. Statistics released today show that direct giving to parish churches averaged £5.38 per electoral roll member per week and tax-efficient giving increased to an average of £8.64 per subscriber per week (up from £5.08 and £8.26 respectively in 2005). The number of parishioners subscribing to tax-efficient regular giving through Gift Aid rose to a further record of 527,000.

"Direct giving to parishes continues to increase year on year, with a five per cent increase in weekly giving and a similar increase in the tax-efficient giving of more than half a million people regularly Gift-Aiding to the Church," said Dr John Preston, the Church's National Stewardship and Resources Officer. "Church members give generously to charitable causes compared with the population at large and it is far too early to tell if the current economic turbulence is affecting giving, but the Church is grateful for the committed support given by so many to their local church.. While our givers on average donate just over three per cent of their incomes to the Church, that is still somewhere short of the five per cent of disposable income recommended by the General Synod since 1978.

"The five per cent aim was based on the Christian tradition of tithing or giving away 10 per cent of income and the recommendation was to give half of that to the Church in thanks for God's gifts and half to other charitable works."

The total income of Parochial Church Councils in 2006, the figures show, rose to £826million. Total expenditure rose to £792million, of which more than £46million was devoted to charitable giving by the PCCs to other charities and mission organisations, 7.5 per cent of their recurring expenditure of £618million.

Church Statistics 2006/7 confirms the provisional 2006 attendance statistics first published in January 2008, showing congregations at Christmas and Easter increased by seven and five per cent, but weekly congregations down one per cent.

Source: CoE Comms

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