Church of England launches program for would-be vicars

Posted Dec 4, 2013

[Church of England] Young people are being given a taste of life behind the dog collar with the launch of the Church of England Ministry Experience Scheme (CEMES), run by the Ministry Division.

The scheme, which began with a pilot phase (see case studies below) this September in four dioceses, is a one-year program 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.

The scheme is currently being run in the dioceses of Sodor and Man, Newcastle, Peterborough and the Stepney area of London. Ministry Division are working with 15 more dioceses interested in the scheme, with a view to provide a CEMES programme in every diocese.

The Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt. Rev. Steven Croft, who is chair of Ministry Division said: “The Church of England has a fresh vision and commitment to see people in their teens and twenties exploring God’s call to ministry. The Ministry Experience scheme will help many young people explore that call in the years to come”

The Rev. Canon Steve Benoy, diocesan director of ordinands in Peterborough, said: “The scheme is not rocket science. Similar schemes have existed in many organizations and churches. The gap in the market, however, has been for a program which intentionally connects with the processes and criteria for ordination in the Church of England. We are not trying to squeeze people into a dog collar if that is not their vocation. The CEMES genuinely offers a broad space for young people to explore their sense of calling in ministry.”

The Rev. Fiona Green, director of the intern program in Stepney, who is overseeing four young people involved in the program in London said: “It’s both about supporting mission and ministry but also testing the vocations of people who are thinking about ministry.

Applications for the 2014-15 academic year, which begins on Sept. 1, will be available in the spring.

The Church of England Ministry Experience Scheme (CEMES) is a scheme that has been centrally developed by Ministry Division and can be run by Dioceses to promote ministry among young people.

The Church of England follows guidelines set out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development regarding voluntary schemes, the “Internship Charter”, and provides a quality assured program that is delivered in conjunction with local parishes, Dioceses and Ministry Division. CEMES adheres to the six principles of the CIPD ‘internship charter’ and seeks to provide young people with the relevant experience of ministry in order to provide the opportunity for proper discernment of an ordained calling. More details can be found under “Interns” here.

The scheme is free for participants and a subsistence allowance is provided, and training costs and cost of travel is met. Members of the scheme are additionally eligible for a centrally distributed grant from Ministry Division to support with the costs of participating in the program.