CofE launches new scheme for potential young vicars

The Bishop of Sheffield with participants in the new scheme

Young people who are considering future ministry in the Church of England are being offered the opportunity to learn more in a new initiative run by the Ministry Division.

The Church of England Ministry Experience Scheme (CEMES) began its pilot phase this September across four dioceses.

The one-year programme involves theological teaching, practical experience, and personal development for young people aged 18 to 30.

"It's both about supporting mission and ministry, but also testing the vocations of people who are thinking about ministry," say the Reverend Fiona Green, Director of the Intern Programme in Stepney.

Chair of Ministry Division the Bishop of Sheffield, the Right Reverend Steven Croft, says the scheme has been developed as a result of the Church of England's "fresh vision and commitment to see people in their teens and twenties exploring God's call to ministry".

He hopes that it will help many young people in the future as the initiative grows and develops.

The Reverend Canon Steve Benoy, Diocesan Director of Ordinands in Peterborough, has praised the originality of the initiative for the way in which it "intentionally connects with the processes and criteria for ordination in the Church of England".

He stresses that they don't want to pressure anyone into a ministry that isn't right for them, but that the CEMES "genuinely offers a broad space for young people to explore their sense of calling in ministry".

Jacob Harrison, 24, is currently taking part in the CEMES in Stepney, after feeling called to ministry but "wanting to test the calling exhaustively under the guidance of others".

"I decided I would endeavour to give myself as many opportunities as possible to explore and refine, through practical experience and discernment, what I believe God is calling me to," he says.

Jacob says he has been "challenged and inspired" during his time so far, and has welcomed the opportunity given for mission and ministry in an urban context.

He has described his experience as part of the CEMES initiative as "invaluable" in the way that it offers the opportunity to learn about ordained ministry in a variety of circumstances and to interact with a wide range of different people.

While the scheme is currently being run in the Dioceses of Sodor and Man, Newcastle, Peterborough and the Stepney area of London, Ministry Division are also working with 15 more dioceses interested in the initiative, with the ultimate aim of providing CEMES in every area across the country.

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