Church of England seeking more black and ethnic minority clergy
Church leaders are trying to recruit more black and ethnic minority people to become clergy in the Church of England in the run-up to Vocations Sunday next Sunday.
Men and women from all cultures and backgrounds are being urged to consider whether they might be called to service in the Church, either lay or ordained.
In a collection of new resources at Church Support Hub, the Church calls for new role models, more minority ethnic vocations, young vocations and more women to take up more leadership roles.
There are new products such as vocations "Prayer Postcards" to share with anyone who might be interest. There are also new ideas for lay people to reach out with, such as promoting "Grave Talk" - complete with tea and cake - when people gather to talk about the often-taboo subject of death.
The campaign comes after the Church's governing body, the General Synod, backed moves to increase the number candidates for ordination by 50 per cent over the next five years. The synod also called for an increase in the youthfulness and ethnic diversity of candidates.
Currently just three per cent of clergy are from ethnic minority backgrounds. A lack of role models and traditional Church structures are thought to be among the reasons so few end up as vicars or bishops in the Church.
The Bishop of Guildford, Andrew Watson, said: "Every Christian has a unique part to play in God's great plan of salvation, both through their church involvement and in their mission to the wider world.
"Vocations Sunday 2016 is a great day to reflect on what our part in that plan might be, at a time when our Church is urgently praying for an increase in the number and range of vocations, both lay and ordained.''
Nigeria-born Martha Weatherill, a first year ordinand at St Stephen's House in Oxford, spoke of how her calling to be ordained was inspired after attending a Minority Ethnic Vocations Conference supported by the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns and the Ministry Division of the Church of England.
"I've always served, doing one thing or another in the Church, but I saw myself as someone who was going to graduate and get a job in the City as an accountant," she said.
"Four years ago when I was serving in a care home, a woman who was a resident said to me 'thank you so much for the Holy Communion service, without this we wouldn't get access to the Church or have communion.' At that point, I felt like a switch had been turned on, as if the Lord was saying to me that this was my destiny, this was what I was born to do."
In a proposed sermon outline for vocations Sunday, Father Charles Lawrence says: "Who does Jesus call? He not only calls those who are males and western Asians like him, but women and men, children and adults, black and white. He has given over the establishment of his kingdom on earth into our hands."