The Church of England is reaching out to young women and black and ethnic minority Christians and pleading with them to consider becoming ordained priests.
More women are also needed to enter seminaries if the Church is to achieve its target of a 50 per cent increase in candidates for ordination by 2020.
The Church is not just looking for an increase in numbers but also a growth in diversity, says a a new report that highlights a shortage of ethnic minority candidates and young women coming forwards for ordination to the Anglican ministry.
The report predicts a steady decline in clergy if the current trends in ordinations and retirements continue. Increasing ordinations by 50 per cent would mean around 7,600 full-time stipendiary clergy by 2023. Currently less than a third of full-time clergy are women.
A tiny proportion is from an ethnic minority group compared to 15 per cent of the total population which is from an ethnic minority background.
Stipendiary clergy make up about two-fifths of CofE clergy. The rest are retired or non-stipendiary or licensed but part-time.
Currently, around 500 candidates for ordained ministry are recommended for training each year. By 2020, it is hoped to increase this number to around 750.
The report says: "God is calling people to ordained ministry. This call is worked out through a prayerful relationship to God, through the opportunities they have to experience ministry, through others who discern and encourage and through our formal structures of selection.
"Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Church as the body of Christ discerns what is needed in order to be an effective participant in the mission of God in the world. Keeping in mind that it is God who calls and we cannot recruit candidates who are not called, the Church of England is seeking an increase in the numbers coming into ordained ministry: for a hopeful future, for a plentiful harvest."