Women accounted for majority of CofE deacons for the first time in 2019

(Photo: Keith Blundy)

Women accounted for just over half of the new deacons ordained in the Church of England last year. 

It's the first time that women have made up the majority of newly ordained deacons in the CofE. 

According to the latest figures, published today, women accounted for 51% of the new intake of 570 deacons. 

The new statistics also show that women made up around a third (32%) of the CofE's active clergy in 2019, and are holding an increasing number of senior posts, like bishops, archdeacons and cathedral deans, rising from a quarter in 2018 to 27% last year. 

While the number of paid clergy remained stable at 7,700, there was a fall in readers or licensed lay ministers, from just under 10,000 in 2010 to 7,830 last year. 

The proportion of stipendiary clergy from black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds stood at 3.8%, while those entering training for ordained ministry from BAME backgrounds was 7.8%.

Around a quarter (24%) of those starting training for ordination last year were under the age of 32. 

The Rt Rev Chris Goldsmith, Director of Ministry for the Church of England, said: "In recent years there has been an increasing diversity among our clergy, but we will not be content until those in public ministry truly reflect the whole church and the communities which they serve."

He added: "The contribution of lay ministers to the mission and ministry of the church is hugely valued both in terms of sustaining the ongoing life of parishes and chaplaincies but also in the innovation and spiritual entrepreneurship increasingly characterising frontline expressions of the church as a Christian presence in every community."

Libby Lane, the Bishop of Derby - the first female bishop in the CofE - said: "Women are now a widely visible presence among clergy in the Church of England – praise God. However there are still other under-represented groups whose vocations to ordination are being missed.

"I pray that the lessons learnt in encouraging women can make a difference for those who are not yet recognised, so Church of England clergy, at every level, better reflect the glorious diversity of our country."

She added: "Last year marked 25 years since I was ordained priest. For over a quarter of a century women and men together have been selected, trained, ordained and appointed to serve in the Church of England.

"I thank God for the privilege of my ministry, and for the thousands of women and men who have shared this calling in that time."