How to become a vicar

I wrote this as an e-mail for the people at work when I was first going through the discernment process, and some of them found it a really helpful explanation of the steps to becoming the Rev. That was a couple of years ago, but it still basically holds true and relates to the Church of England.

There are three stages to pursuing your dream of wearing a cassock and dog collar.

Discernment
Training and
Curacy (although technically you get your dog collar and cassock after the training stage)

Discernment
Unfortunately, it is not possible simply to speak to your vicar and say “I really think the Lord might be saying I should be a vicar” and that’s that, although that would be the place to start. If your vicar agrees that the Lord might be saying you should join the ranks s/he will start you on the discernment process. What happens next varies from diocese to diocese, but essentially is a process of trying to hear from God and making sure that this is what he wants!

Typically, you have to meet with the Diocesan Director of Ordinands (no wonder everyone calls them the ‘DDO’) who is paid to listen to you and God and work out whether it’s right that you are called to ordained ministry. Usually you will be sent to see someone else too, usually not a vicar. In St Albans, for example, they like to make this person someone who is trained in psychotherapy, in Peterborough Dioecese a lay person who has experience of testing vocation. This is to get the perspective of someone who isn’t ordained on the process of listening to God.

Once the DDO is satisfied, they will send you to see the Bishop. The Bishop will chat to you for a while (usually not more than an hour, bishops are busy people!) and have read a report about you by the DDO. It is up to the Bishop to make the final decision as to whether you should be allowed to train for Revdom. If they think you are a likely candidate, they will send you to a Bishop’s Advisory Panel which is a 3 day event where you have 3 interviews, a group exercise and a pastoral letter to write amongst other things. The Bishop’s Advisory Panel then advise the bishop (strangely enough) as to whether you should be trained for a life of vicarage.

The Bishop then decides. He or she can accept the panel’s advice, or  ignore it, it’s their choice. If they say yes, you will then start training. From the first conversation with your vicar to this point can (exceptionally) be a few months, is most often at least a year and some cases longer.

Training
Training takes either 2 or 3 years, depending on your age and whether you have done any formal academic theology in the past. As a rough guide, if you are 32 or older, or you have a degree in theology already you will do 2 years, otherwise it’s 3 [although this is all up in the air again at the moment].  Usually, training takes place at a Theological College (the Church of England does not call them bible colleges!), and is full time. It is possible to do the training part time, but if you’re training to be a full time vicar, it has always seemed sensible to me to do the training full time.  With the latest review of training, it seems like more and more people will train part time.

Curacy
Once you have graduated Theological College or Course you will spend three to four years doing ‘on the job training’ as a ‘Curate’. Your dream of vicardom is close at hand. At the start of the first year you will be ordained by a Bishop in a Cathedral as a ‘deacon’, which allows you to take services, funerals and baptise people.  Technically at this point you can marry people (conduct the service, not get married to them) although this is not generally encouraged.  After you’ve completed your first year you’ll be ordained a second time, but as a ‘priest’ which means you can absolve people of their sins, take a service of holy communion and bless people and things.  Then after the training period is over you can apply for a job running a church of your own!

So, from first thoughts to full on ‘Hi, My name’s Dave and I’m the Vicar’ takes around 6 or more years (it took me 8), it’s not an easy process, but as someone who is now serving as a Vicar, it’s totally worth it!

Edit: This was updated in 2016.  I am now a Vicar, so if you leave a comment it may take a very long time before I reply, sorry about that.  Secondly it’s been updated to reflect that women can now be Bishop’s too (hurrah!).

[Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/korephotos/3397867553/]

96 thoughts on “How to become a vicar”

  1. Deacons can indeed marry people legally as all Clerks in Holy Orders of the Anglican variety are functionally registrars – but only in the locations where they are licensed to carry out any other service. The knotty bit comes in that one has to be ordained Elder to be able to bless any group of people that does not include yourself (Really? What planet are we on?) so it’s the blessing of the marriage that’s problematic for your average jobbing deacon.

    1. I’m only 13 nearly fortine but all my life i wanted to be an officer in the army untill a week ago when I was reading the bible I new i would not be able to justify killing another human being and disided strait away like clicking your fingers I wanted to serve god and become a vicer i’m very good at R.E, Math and english but i’m afraid i’m not good enough at english or math to go to univesity and to be honest my family can’t afford to send me . Would I have to go to univesity to become a vicar?

      1. Hi Luke,
        If you want to become a vicar, the first thing you need to do is talk to the one at your local church. It’s very rare that you can be ordained before you are 23, so there’s some time for you yet!
        Essentially, you will go to University for your training, but the Church of England will pay if they can see that God is calling you to do it.

        D

      2. Wow Luke I hope that you are still thinking that maybe God might be calling you. I will pray for you. I too am a curate and when I was about your age I also wondered whether God was calling me. It took years I if d out and I did do other jones, but I really am the most happy and contented I have ever been now I ‘finally answered the call to become a vicar’.

  2. Thanks so much for this info. I have been kinda wondering. Its weird as I honestly think this may be a route I go down but I am really getting on a bit and maybe a bit too late in my life….. and too many responsibilities (kids and bills!!) So… however if I studied theology seperately it could shorten my training? ( I am WAY past 32). every day I feel a GREATER pull towards the church…. dont know what to do.

  3. Thanks for this, it’s something I’m seriously considering but want to make sure that it is my calling, at least this is a clear outline as to the process should this be the way God guides me.

    1. Hi Keith,

      The Church has to abide by equality legislation (on the whole – we won’t start a debate about women bishops here) which means you can train at 50. The important thing is discerning the call of God. If you think God is calling you to do it, get going!

      D

  4. Hi
    I am 60 and a palliative care nurse(Hospice)-I would like to be a pastor/chaplain and would certainly want to be able to bless people in my ministry-
    where do I train for that ?
    any suggestions?
    thanks for a helpful site
    Bless you
    Gilly

    1. Hi Gilly,

      You can be a chaplain without being ordained, although within the Church of England you aren’t supposed to ‘bless’ people in a formal sense unless you are a priest.

      As always, the first step is to talk it over with your parish priest. If there is a sense that this is something that God is working through, s/he will refer you to a DDO who will be able to give the best advice…

  5. I am 58, have published a spiritual book and feel I may have a calling. My supposed problem is that I am gay and in a single partnership for 4 years. I know I have something to offer. Am I a lost cause?

    1. Hi Raymond,

      There is certainly some controversy around the issue of sexual ethics in the Church of England. At the moment, the position is that all who are ordained must agree to abide by the provisions of the book “Issues in Human Sexuality”. Before you think about what to do next, it would be helpful to get a copy and think about whether you can live within what it says. (Which is essentially that gay relationships should be celibate).

      When you are ordained you pledge obedience to the bishop and that includes abiding by Issues in Human Sexuality whether you agree completely with it or not. My own view is that if you can’t do that with good conscience it’s better not to be ordained.

      D

  6. Your stories are all very interesting. I’m convinced I have the calling and the message is becoming clearer,louder and stronger week by week. My issue is that I would not be take n seriously because I’ve only recently become involved with the Church and it would only be said that it’s just a ‘novelty’ or ‘honeymoon’ phase for me! Also, as some of you have said, ‘I’m getting on a bit’!!

    1. Hi Lavinia,

      You need to speak to your parish priest! If you’re a regular attender at your church, they should listen to you. They may suggest that you do some study or wait a few months before they are happy to consider the next stage, but they should take you seriously and help you to discern exactly what it is God is saying.

      Not everyone who feels called is necessarily called to ordained ministry, but if you don’t start that journey of discernment, you will never know!

      D

  7. I have only recently discovered your web site and just wanted to tell you how truly inspiring your views and comments are and would like to thank you for taking the time for sharing them with all of us.
    I have for some time wished to join the church,but have been put off following it up believing my age at a few weeks off turning forty would be an obstacle, but thanks to your site I am going to seek advice from my local vicar and see where it takes me.

    Many thanks.

  8. Hi .. I want to be a ordained minister but i am very worried about the selection process
    I am not academically gifted but i thrive in Religous Studies and i have a calling which is
    made clear .. what should i do ?..

    1. Hi Ben,

      The Church of England is sadly still quite academically focussed, but the sense of call is the most important thing. At a selection conference, they are looking at your quality of mind – can you think well and make good arguments – rather than are you academically gifted. If God is calling you, speak to your vicar and start the process.

      You say the calling is clear, which is good, but remember that the church will test that calling and they may not always agree with you!

      D

  9. Hi There.
    I was very interested to read your posting and other people’s comments and questions. I am in a high pressure job in the TV industry which I enjoy, but which doesnt fulfil me as much as it used to.
    However I am heavily involved with my local cathedral member of an active congregation and help run the Sunday Club, provide Technical backup, filming and to volunteer when time allows. I have a great relationship with all the clergy and our families regularly socialise. I have been on a trip to india with the cathedral to record our charitable causes there, and to try to encourage more fundraising.
    What I am trying to ask is : Is it possible to study to become a member of the clergy, whilst continuing my current career? I feel a calling, but know that what I do I am good at, and that I can use the skills that I have in the life of the church. But I have this voice telling me to look further into priesthood, I love spending time in the life of the church and really feel my next step is to consider how I can change my life and use it for the benefit of others in Gods Name….Thanks for any Thoughts….

    1. Hi Darren,

      In the Church of England there are a huge number of NSM (Non-Stipendary Ministers) also known as SSM (Self Supporting Ministers) or in some places MSE (Ministers in Secular Employment). Whatever they’re called, there are increasing numbers of clergy who are ordained but not paid by the church. If you feel the call, you need to talk to one of the ministers at the Cathedral as the first step! There is no harm at all in exploring!

      D

  10. hi, i recently left the army,i’m 43 and served in several campaigns and gained much life experience over the years, i am a regular church goer and my faith has helped me through some fairly horrific times. i think i could offer a great deal if i was to become a vicar,i could train full time but would i get any kind of financial aid during my training?
    ben

    1. Hi Ben,

      In short the answer is yes, you would get some financial support. If you’re single it’s pretty minimal, if you’re married it’s more generous, but not a huge amount. You can also train part time if that suits you better. If you feel the call, get in touch with your local vicar and take the next step!

      D

  11. Hello I dont really know where to begin I have read the questions and answers on the site and would like some advice. I have for a number of years had a desire to become a vicar but never known where to turn as I dont have Degrees or any relevent skills. I am now 51 but can honestly say the feeling I get when I enter a church or abbey etc ia a little hard to describe but its like a feeling of great peace which over whelms me, a real burning desire. I hope this does not sound rediculous to you but thats how I feel. I will be honest and say that I am not a regular church goer and this may make anyone feel I may not be worthy. I would love any advice you could give me. Thank you and God Bless.

    1. Hi John,

      Thanks for commenting. The point about not being a regular churchgoer is an important one. As a clergy-person, I get 6 Sunday’s off a year which means I’m in church 46/52!. If you’re not a regular churchgoer, would you be able to commit to a vocation which requires such a level of commitment?

      D

  12. My nephew is in USA, has always been very active in his church, run youth groups and been on missions. He had a horrific car accident in his teens and died several times, which has left him with a very basic level of schooling etc. He’s done a degree in USA, but to become a priest over there he has to go to uni again for several years with a lot of latin to learn and a lot of money to find. Would he be able to come and train over here? And would it be cheaper for him? He is a truly religious person, who has really found himself through his struggles.

    1. I really should check these comments more often, so sorry!

      It’s unlikely that your nephew could just move to the UK to train. There are a number of factors (not least the current immigration controls here). Even if those could be overcome, he would need to be a member of a local congregation for a period before starting on the whole process. So, sadly, this is probably not the option for him. I have to profess my ignorance of the workings of the Episcopal Church USA.

  13. Hi there, i’m 19 years old and am very confused with what road to go down. After leaving school at 16, i’ve worked full time from then (and i love my job). I’ve always found religion extremely interesting, i’d love to learn more. I wasn’t brought up a Christian as my mum & dad arn’t “religious”, and have never been to Church, as no-one i know is a Christian i think i’m too shy to attend on my own. As a child i had quite a lot of close family deaths & the vicar that helped me through it all was inspirational. I’d basically like to know where someone like me would stand with wanting to go down this road, acedemically i only have my GSCE’s, which was straight B’s throughout – including Religious Studies. I feel like there could be alot more to my life & im leaning towards this so much.
    Hope you can help!
    ~ Tom.

    1. Hi Tom,

      The first step is definitely to walk through the doors of a church! A good way to find some friendly people who will be nice to you and help you work out if Church is for you is to do an Alpha Course, they run in loads of churches all over the country and many have recently started or will start very soon. uk.alpha.org/find-a-course should help.

      Once you’ve made that move, who knows where it might take you!

      D

    2. Tom i have very recently attended an alpha course and can honestly tell u it has changed my life! It was the best thing i have ever done. It gives u the opportunity to learn about God and practical things on how to pray and read the bible.
      I wish u the best of luck and hope as ur comments were posted some time ago that u have been able to find a course and have taken the first steps on a very exciting journey which will equip u on the road to having a more personal relationship with God

  14. Having read you web page i was so glad to read that being old eg 47 ha ha is still ok to train for a profession but didnt realise it took so long i was heavely
    involed in my local church for ten years speaking in church ,prayers, sunday
    school one of my little flock is going in to ministry, house groups prayer groups, alpha course which i helped to run i have very strong views which has
    always stopped me being on the chuch committee as i didnt want to rock the
    boat. i also hugely with Gods blessing became a prayer minister and was blessed to watch Gods work at close quarters as the power of the holy spirit
    came over people, i have a strong desire to help people and a strong desired
    to lead and be centre stage and a huge caring empathy for all ages, but am i just wanting it for me can i put myself second yes but can i be diiplomatic im
    not so sure i tell it how it is. I dont go to church at the moment but talk to God
    every day is this proffession for me. help!

    1. Hi Tina,

      There are lots and lots of people who aren’t keen on church but are friends with Jesus. If you want to be a minister though, the only way in is through regularly attending church first. Obviously, I can only talk about the Church of England, but I would be surprised if that wasn’t the case in other denominations too!

      D

  15. I have been working in non- demonational sitting for over 10 years now. My wife is member of CofE before we got married. I am incresingly feeling God calling me to train and become vicar. How can I go about it?

    1. Hi Marius,

      If you want to be a Church of England vicar, you need to become a member of a Church of England church first. The way the church works is that your calling/vocation is tested. The first test is to see whether your own vicar can see that this might be something God is calling you to. They can only do that if they know you and they will only know you if you regularly attend.

      D

      1. Thanks again for your advise last october. I have joined Cof E and at the same time seeing the DDO and the whole experience is going very well.
        Blessings,
        Chris

  16. Hello, thanks for sharing your story.

    I have had a calling for a couple years now, but I still haven’t pursued it. My concern is, I’m a member of a non-denominational church which I’m involved in serving, and don’t want to leave. Would you suggest I still go through the discernment period before making a definite decision to leave my current church and to attend my local Church of England or is it possible to do both?

    Tanya

    1. Hi Tanya,

      I guess the first thing I would do is explore whether you can exercise that calling within the church you are in. Some non-denominational churches are very small (in terms of scope for doing that), so that’s not always possible.

      The whole process of discernment and living out your calling involves numerous moments of taking up your cross and making sacrifices to do what God has called you to do. Perhaps, if this is real, the first step is one of faith to leave where you are now and go to a Church of England church. That might end well, it might not, but it’s hard to prove a sense of calling to the Church of England if you aren’t a worshipper there.

      Just having to make that choice might help you to decide whether this is the right path to be exploring…

      D

  17. Thank you for your openness and advice through all the comments. I started exploring my call 4 years ago and starte don the discernment process 18 months ago, I am due to go before the local panel in November. My faith has definately deepened whilst being on this journey and my prayer life has become more disciplined.
    The process does take some time but I know that it will be worth while, however I am a single parent and have a worry in the back of my mind about how I can go away to residential college (I am currently working on a very low wage) and leave my 8 year old son with my daughter (she has a child of her own) I am not worried about leaving him as feel he will be in excellant hands and the option of him coming with me would not be suitable for him. My concern is about the financial side (I currently recieve tax credits to subsidise my low income). I still have to support my son and pay for what he needs, how can i find out what financial assiatnce I can get. I don’t want to feel that money issues will be a problem and prevent things. I know God will provide and have full trust in him but my maternal instinct is strong and this nagging fear is still there. I have prayed about it and continue to do so.
    Any help and advice you can give would be greatfully recieved.
    God bless you for teh time you take in answering people’s questions on the journey of discernment and vocation.

    1. Hi Caroline,

      Financial help is available to ordinands with families. It’s not loads but it should be enough. Alternatively, there may be options for studying part-time locally. Your DDO should be able to work through that with you, and it won’t reflect at all badly on you if you ask about it.

      There is information available on the Church of England website, if you google “support for candidates in training church of england” you’ll find it. You need to look at “Support for married candidates” which includes stuff about lone parents.

      I hope it works out and that your panel goes well in November!

      D

  18. Thank you for your guide to becoming a Vicar. I’ve been interested in being a Vicar for several years and have tried talking to a couple of people I know that are Vicars or a Canon but none of these have been able to give me such a clear and concise insight as your comprehensive account. If I go ahead I would be interested in becoming an Army Chaplain. Although much older than the 13 year old boy that has always wanted to be an Army Officer I can identify with his desire to be one, as I had the same thoughts for years when I was much younger. However, the one essential question remaining for me is how do I determine whether God is calling me to be ordained in the first place or is that the same as my conscience telling me that I would be suited to this vocation?

    1. Hi Lloyd,

      This is indeed the big question. Sadly, most people don’t have a dream in which God says “Do this!”, or hear an audible voice or anything else like that.

      So, some things to think about…
      * Do you have a persistent sense that this might be the right thing to do?
      * Has anyone ever said “You’d make a great Vicar” (They’re not always right, but it helps if other people see it in you).
      * Similar to the previous one, but have you told anyone you know well and how did they respond. (“You want to what!” is probably not as good a response as “Well everyone else has known that for years”).
      * What appeals to you about the job?

      And all that is on top of the basic thing of are you saying your prayers and reading the bible and are you regularly attending church!

      I hope that helps at least a little bit.

      D

      1. Thank you for your reply on the 6th October, which I found very helpful.

        Whilst I’ve thought for some years that this might be the right thing to do, no-one has actually said I’d make a great Vicar.

        However, I’ve told a couple of people close to me about my thoughts that I’m attracted to being a Vicar and interestingly, whilst both of them were surprised and even found the idea a little funny, one of them has since said that they could see me visiting people and having the patience to deal with various people.

        One of the main appeals of the job is the feeling I imagine I’d have that I’m helping others and making a contribution to the community I’d serve. If I could extend this to becoming a military Chaplain then I feel that would suit me even better.

        However, one of my concerns is having to study and know all about Saints etc. This brings me to your last statement about saying my prayers, reading the bible and attending church regularly, since I do not do any of these. Although I do say a few prayers but that’s usually as a result of some form of exasperation or trying to understand aspects of life.

        Perhaps I am after all barking up the wrong tree or maybe you would urge me to attend Church, for at least that may make my mind up.

  19. Hello everybody, my name is Brian and i find this website absolutely fascinating, i myself have had what i can only describe as a life changing experience. I believe i have had the calling of god, although i didn’t realise it until recently. I have worked for the last 30 years as a dj entertaining the masses and have worked with quite a few ‘A’ list celebrity’s along the way. Because of my job I find it very easy to talk to people and have the ability to make people warm to me without really trying. Someone once said to my mother, ‘when Brian walks into a room the whole world takes notice because he shines, he has a presence about him which attracts people’. Many people have also said this to me over the years and a few also said to me that i’d make a great vicar ( I thought to myself who are you kidding) because of the warmth that eminates from me when i’m talking to people. Don’t get me wrong i’m not trying to imply anything here, these are other peoples words not mine. But surely these are skills that could be put to good use within the church, for a vicar must be approachable and easy to talk to. If you’d have told me a year ago i’d be writing this letter i’d have called you mad, I still don’t really understand what’s happening to me but something inside keeps pushing me, day and night it never stops. It’s a feeling i’ve never felt before and it’s actually so strong it scares me, it makes me feel sick at times and for some reason I feel totally content as though i’m bullet proof, nothing can hurt me. Does any of this make any sense to you, i’ve never been what you would call a regular church go’er because of one reason or another but i do believe in god, I do pray and god still hears me even though i’m not in church, but I now think he has plans for me which are beyond my control, please help me understand, many thanks Brian.

  20. Hi,

    I’ve just been reading your very interesting and informative website.

    I have been seriously interested in becoming a Church of England minister since I was a student. My local vicar told me to go into business and come back when I had some practical experience of life. I’m now 61 but it looks as though I might have missed the bus. I have not earned megabucks but have had a fulfilling career working with people and their problems and would now like to spend the next 20 years as an ordained minister in the Church. I am a committed Christian and practising Anglican. Am I wasting my time?

    Richard

  21. hi, i go to the church of england for every service and ive just been elected to be a member of the dcc and also deanary synod rep, i would love to be a vicar, i have never thought a me to do tbout it before but know i think gods calling me to do it, but i dont know where to start, any help would be much appreciated

    regards lisa

  22. I want to become a vicar and wonder if it is worth going to university and doing an undergraduate degree in theology or divinity before starting the process. If so, should I do a degree in Theology or Divinity?
    Many thanks,
    Ben.

  23. I’ve read through all the text although I still don’t understand what a priest actually does? Please can someone help, thanks

  24. Hi

    I am getting married in March 2014 in our village Chapel. Do we need to have a sanctified vicar to conduct the marriage ceremony or can any of the preachers who take services in the Chapel do this?

    No one seems to be able to answer this for me…… I know we need to have a register present which has been arranged but our local vicar is retiring in December and is not being replaced. We have lots of regular preachers that come to take the weekly services but they do not hold a ‘license’

    Many thanks

    Kate

    1. Hi Kate,

      Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

      If you’re getting married in a Church of England church (and it sounds like you’re not), you will need an ordained person to take the service and the church will arrange that.

      Otherwise the Registrar will deal with the legal parts of the ceremony and who is allowed to do the other parts of the service will be dependent on the rules of that denomination.

      I guess that isn’t mega-helpful, but I know the Church of England well and am far from an expert on everything else.

  25. Good Afternoon,
    im currently church warden at my local church and would like to be become a priest i dont have a degree but have alot of life experience (43) and feel i have a great deal to offer the church of england,is it really as long as 8 years is there not a quicker route then this.

  26. Hi,
    Im an optician…(but am a secret wanna be Vicar!) I have spoken to our local Vicar about what I think is a calling, and he agrees, long story , not enough pace to tell it here..
    Thanks for your web page, I would like to ask you something.
    I have my own practices in Devon. Am I able to train whilst still holding down a my current job? As I own the business, its hard for me to just “give up the job’ I would need to find a buyer, provide for my family, pay the mortgage and so on I am worried that I won’t be able to if I give up working. I have a young family that demands attention and money!! I am at a bit of a vocational cross roads!!

    Any thoughts,
    James

  27. hi I’m a disabled ex British soldier who has seen and done far to much for most men to handle, but I feel a calling to do something in the church but not sure what? and I’m not sure the church would ever take me as I have P.T.S.D. people all ways said that I would be a vicar if I had not gone in the army, because off my interest off the church. thank you for reading this Clint

  28. very great advice as i am on my way seeking to fulfill my calling though am a sigle parent with a chronic pain disability. My vicar is moving in feb 2014 n am abit upset as i was hoping she can help but she is very busy and at the same time taking another serious post at St. Pauls Cathedral any help welcome

  29. Thank you for your website! I have been trying to make sense of what I feel may be the second time I have been called to God.

    Earlier this year I woke up one morning with a feeling (although that doesn’t do it justice….I simply cannot put into words exactly how I felt) that I should join the church and possibly train as a vicar.
    However, equally I also felt that people like me (essentially working class Londoner) don’t become vicars!
    I had recently started a new local rugby club and instead of following my heart, I put those feelings aside and threw myself into setting up (and playing for) the rugby club.

    Fast forward to a few weeks ago and this time I was awoken in the middle of the night with a much stronger feeling that I should investigate and commit myself to finding out more about becoming a vicar. After realising that this burning feeling from within wasn’t just a case of heartburn, I decided to look online at what the process was and more specifically whether somebody like me would even be considered to join the Church of England as a Priest.

    Now, to confuse things further I also felt like I was being drawn away from the church my family and I have been worshipping at for the last 10 years and move to another. This was a huge decision as not only have my two children (8 & 6) been born and raised within that church, but I too was baptised and confirmed whilst there (although I was actually confirmed in another parish). I was also on the PCC there too.
    I can only describe this change of churches by comparing it to splitting up with your first love, but meeting your wife! Things have simply clicked and I feel refreshed and more focused than ever.

    The complication now arises in so much that the new church is currently between incumbents and therefore I am unsure how to begin my journey towards joining the church.

    Apologies for the length of the message and of the ‘ARRRRRGH!’ nature of it’s contents, but right now I felt that I had to try to put this all into words!

    Thank you in advance.

  30. My husband and I have been missionary couple to England for the past five years. Recently, my husband have been seeing DDO and by God’s willing will be going to BAP later this year. As I/we think the future of his and our ministry, I really think I should be going for chaplaincy in either school or hospital especially mental hospital. What advice should you be giving me

  31. hi, have had a burning desire all my adult life to become a man of god, just reading from this site has really made my mind up that this is the path for me.
    I just need help to make my dream a reality

  32. Hello Vicar and thank you very much for all of the information and encouragement that you provide on this site.
    I have for many years felt a strong desire to become a Vicar for a multitude of reasons. The thoughts and feelings are becoming more and more promiment now and I would like to actually take the steps towards realising this goal.
    My problem is that I am not a member of the Anglican Church. I have been raised in the Catholic faith and also in the Assyrian Church of the East. For a woman to become an ordained priest in either of these denominations is not possible.
    Would you please tell me if there is any possibility for me to still be considered for training and ordination in the Anglican Church, and also how to approach this.
    Thank you

  33. I would so much to become a vicar, I’ve only been following the lord for two and a half years, but I feel this is for me.
    I’m almost 30, the trouble is Im a single parent to six children, obviously I had them before I found the lord. Can I still become a vicar?.

    1. Hi Laila, sorry for being rubbish at replying!
      Having lots of children could make training more of a challenge, but being a single parent isn’t a bar to ordained ministry. Your first step is to speak to your Vicar about how you feel and ask for their advice and guidance.

  34. Hi great website, very interesting. For the past 3 years I have been considering leaving my job to become a vicar. Problem is, I earn £50-60K at the moment, and this equates to take home of just shy of £3K per month one it’s all taxed and pensioned etc. I have a wife who doesn’t work and 3 kids under ten, so as you can imagine the pressure on me as breadwinner is considerable. Added to the financial side of things, would the kids have to move schools if I were subsequently ‘posted’ somewhere? What sort of take home pay does a ‘qualified’ vicar get, and does it really take up to 8 years to get qualified? Thanks in anticipation.

    1. Yep, being a full time minister isn’t that well paid. The current Stipend in the Diocese I serve in is £24k, so one and a bit after tax, NI etc. On the other hand, I live in a free house. I don’t have much truck with those who say clergy are underpaid.

      I’m married and have two kids under 5, we do ok!

      Your children would almost certainly end up moving school though. There are challenges and sacrifices involved in being a clergy person, which is why it’s hugely important that you really really feel called to it.

  35. Would really like to know how to get into the priesthood been a dream of mine for a long time please email with help or any other details

  36. I have spent my life being an evil person I find its time now to pay something back and make my lufe whole again . Im 47 yrs old no and would like somw advice as to joining the ranks as a reverand and help teach those the error of my ways and make some good for the things I have done

  37. Hi I am 15 and I have a real passion for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and would love to enter the ordained ministry. I understand I’m still a bit young but this has been on my mind for the past year. I am a member of the Church of Ireland, in Northern Ireland and I see that this website is more for Church of England folk. Lots of people have been saying that I have a good pastoral, caring personality. I would just like to hear your views and opinion – thanks for your time.
    ps – Great website!

  38. Hi iam 34 a single mother
    I have been having this feeling like I have never felt befor since I got confirmed last year. I kept fighting it see I have no gcse or anythink. I kept saying iam not worthy enough to be a priest. Iam the sacristan at my church.I have spoken to a few people at my church about the way I feel and they all agree they think I will good as a priest and to follow my heart. I dream about it and when I pray it allways feels like someone is telling me to follow my heart I don’t know what to do can you please give me some advice.

  39. Thank you, came across your website, while looking up how to be a curate or reader. The Bishop came to our church last year, we were having a general conversation, not much god talk, he said “ever thought about becoming a curate” my anwser was “I think I would be to outspoken”, “just what we need”, he said. I have been a christian all my life and I am very involved in my church. I see myself as a simple believer, a doing christian. Never had god speak to me, but I have had moments, feelings when something or one is trying to get through, my heart feels full. Since this brief conversation with the bishop, these feelings have increased, hence the google. What do I do next?

  40. Hi Rev,
    Great reading all of your very useful lines.
    I came across this while searching the internet on how I may train as a minister in the Anglican communion here in the UK but I must confess I have a bit of a mixed background.
    1, I am 48 in a week’s time – 16 Feb 2015
    2, I was born into an Anglican family in Nigeria and attended the Anglican church in Nigeria into my teens
    3, I joined the Pentecostal brand of Christianity in my undergraduate days in the University and have attended a mix of pentecostal and Anglican churches since.
    4, For education, I have studied up to the doctoral level and I taught History and Diplomacy in a handful of universities over the last 25 years.
    5, At the moment, I am into writing, internet TV and documentary production and I have resided here in the UK for the last 12 plus years.
    I do not have an Anglican parish I attend very regularly and imagine the usual route you have so clearly outlined of going though an ODD may not be feasible for me (Having said that, I can still walk up to the local Anglican vicar who lives 3 minutes away if I have to)
    The summary of my question after all the contextualizing comment is; Is there an Anglican Theological School here in the UK (preferably in the South East as I live in the Greater London area) able to train someone like me?
    Will such school welcome a practical ‘self-referring’ candidate?
    Thank you,
    Aba

  41. I have a question. I have always been “searching” as it were. And 2001, I got “born again”. I beginning reading the bible, praying, going to church.. Apart from music,( I am a singer/Songwriter) I seem to have no other “pullings” to anything else but the Church. Lately, I have been attending the Church of England, St. Mary Abbots Parish Church , Kensington London: I was passing by one day and the priests were on the streets asking passerbys’ if they wanted to be “Ashed with a cross on the forehead”..that’s how I ended up going in the church. And I’ve been going regularly ever since.
    “Suddenly, I am thinking that I might be called to be a priest”. Of course I bursted out laughing. It cannot be! Then I thought..No I’m too old,, I am now 43 years old.
    Is there anyone I can speak to on these matters?

  42. How closely do the Church review their candidates as I have just come out of an abusive marriage but his Church believe I have issues with the Church. As that’s what he has told them, I would never receive the holy sacrament from my abuser and have found strength from my faith. He has been on longterm sick for 6 years suffering severe depression in his handwriting but the Church weren’t told that. He even enlisted in the armed forces attending reservist training when on sickleave. Until he went on another 3 1/2 year sickleave. Using this time not to support the family but to sit at home poring over the computer learning Gods words in his office upstairs, neglecting our two year old daughter leaving her downstairs alone with a tv for company. He even has the church paying for his degree. Luckily my Parish priests tells me to have patience his lies will be seen. All he wants is the easy life and is sitting waiting for his £22k payout for his Church provided home, whilst I have to sell our family home that I have worked hard to keep over his head. Its strange but none of his Church associates have been invited into our home no doubt they all believe that was my fault. That’s strange as I worked full time and he was the one sat at home all the time, and my family we never welcomed by him. Domestic abuse is just ignored by the church and bullys are allowed to continue bullying.

  43. Hi, I have been a nurse for 27yrs and things have completely changed in the last few months in my work. I had not thought of retraining for something new although I have started thinking about the church, I dont know why. I do attend church and have always had a faith but I’m not sure if this is a calling or not.
    Can you give me some words of advise

  44. Don’t quite know where to start sorry. A few weeks ago I was feeling very low, to the point of feeling suicidal but almost as soon as I thought this was the way out. I felt a much stronger feelng. Almost a voice saying ‘no I’ve got other plans for you’ I have always been religious but haven’t been to church other than hatchings, matches or dispatches for years. I was instantaneously lifted out of my depression and intrigued could this be the start of a calling? I would love some advice and guidance on how to find what God has planned for me. Thank you.

  45. Hi would like be vicar I have been to church since I was young and I hold Aaronic priest hood have authority administer outwards ordinances of sacrament and baptism . I am I awaiting for to get the Melchizedek priest hood and that will gave me power and authority to lead the church and direct the preachings of the gospel and do healing a round the world and over each woard,s and stakes

  46. Hi, I have felt a strong calling to God now for about 20 years but recently its become really persistent, however, I am a single mother to an under 5, I have only gcses at not spectacular grades and I am nudging 40.

    I would like to speak to my vicar about this but I see that he is always horrendously busy. Also I have only been with my present church 2 months (I felt a strong pull to this one from my previous non denominational christian church).

    I am not sure if my new vicar will take my seriously and this is what worries me. I have discussed this with a couple of close friends and they feel that I would be suited to the life.

    I would appreciate your thoughts on this, Thank you.

  47. I would like to become a vicar but i’m 50 and feel that this is to old. Does my age stop me from becoming a vicar as there is a shortage and I would like to be considered. My point is was Jesus choosing disciples for there age, or that they were the right people to be disciples.

    Thank you for reading my message.
    Dean.

  48. I am fifty six with lots of life skills with in the Church of England is there a way I can put all my experienced into becoming a Vicar I have been through the process before but the higher powers in the cathedral say that you need to have degrees but I have been around so called people who have no people skills what can I do

  49. Hi, I have a friend who is planning to study theology at degree (once they have took a degree in philosophy, religion and ethics) and hopes to become a vicar. She is female and is worried that this won’t happen because of her sex. Are women allowed to become vicars? Thanks Coral

  50. I have lived in France for many years. I am now 67 years old and I feel called to work for God in my daily life. I would love to train to become a vicar. So difficult question: is this possible? France being my home? because of my age? and I only have a small pension so I would need assistance to accomplish this enormous feit at a distance: i.e. accommodation if it is to be done in England etc. I know nothing is impossible for God but this is a really difficult one I know…
    Look forward to a reply with suggestions if possible…
    Elizabeth

  51. Hi my name is Luke I’m 29 how do I go about joining priesthood or a vicar if I have no degrees can I still do it if I can cause its always been my dream after my uncle

  52. I’m 45 ..have served in the forces / Army
    Is it to late to take this path. .say it’s a calling..it’s something I feel..
    I lost my mam to cancer in April my dad years past to heart attack.
    I pray for my family and self but feel as I should be doing this full time now… such a strange feeling ?
    Any feedback or a chat would be grateful
    Neil

    1. Almost a year on, sorry.

      Never too late! Get along to church, if you’re not already, and speak to your minister about how you feel.

      Dave

      1. Hi Karen,
        Thank you for sharing your story. It is a sad fact that there are abusive people in churches, I’m glad you’ve found help from CAP and Restored.
        I’m not divorced, but was replying to a commenter who was. Not every person who has been divorced is an abuser, but as you saw there are additional checks to understand what happened the first time.
        Thank you again for posting.

        Dave

  53. I was just wondering if there is a place for someone who feels they have a calling but would not be able to handle the “front of house” side of things? Are there behind the scene roles but not just as a layperson but for those who have done the training? Or would the selection process weed those people out? I am quite socially phobic and not the best of communicators but feel drawn to it at the same time. Am in my 40’s. Thanks.

    1. Yes, not all Vicar’s are parish priests. Some are chaplains, some work in clergy teams supporting others, some work in Diocesan roles. At the heart of the job is working with people and we’re all different (I prefer the one-to-one and small group stuff to the upfront, but in my role both are necessary).

      Dave

    1. In a word ‘no’. Plenty of clergy spouses aren’t religious. If she did it and it meant she was out many evenings and working Christmas etc. would that bother you? If it would, it may not be a good choice!

      Dave

  54. Hello I’m Graham and have wanted to become a vicar for many years now. My wife was appalled at the idea. Seven years ago she left me to bring up two daughters, one of whom sang as a Cathedral chorister. The Church was and is a rock of support. Many years ago my younger brother took his life aged just twenty one. A few years ago my nephew and Godson did exactly the same whilst a serving army officer. These terrible events have brought me closer to God and people with problems that need the strength of His love to keep going. I am to be married again in September to a lovely lady who is marrying for the first time. When I suggested my calling she said I would make a wonderful priest…..but it is late in life. After the training I would be in my sixties. I have so much energy and passion and, I hope, compassion and would feel that my life would be dedicated to helping people rather than entertaining them which is what I do now. I’m a singer and conductor. Is it too late do you suppose?
    God bless
    Graham

    1. Hi Graham,

      It’s (almost) never too late. As a remarried divorced person whose spouse is still living the process is (even) more demanding and intrusive, so that is something you need to bear in mind.

      At the risk of sounding like a broken record, your first point of all is your local vicar!

      Dave

      1. I am shocked that you are a remarried divorced person who was ordained to become a vicar. I was brought up catholic and led to believe that you should marry for love and life, and that you should work through problems in a marriage not leave at the first sign of troubel or a better offer. After an abusive relationship, a fist in the face, hands round my throat I decided not to marry my abuser who told me my parents would make me marry him now I was pregnant. Thank fully they didnt they allowed me to raise my child in love, hiding from my abuser to keep the child safe, with the blessing of my abusers sister. He nephews safety was more important than her need to be his aunt. And so I thought when I met my future husband, who confess to beleiving in god, like my father he was a soloist in the church choir. He wanted to protect me and our son and take me away from my abuser. He decided that he wanted a child and bullied me into marrying him, his child needed to be born in wedlock, we could only get a house if we were married in married quarters. The ink wasnt even dry on his divorce papers, I didnt know that his ex wife after less than a year emigrated and wouldnt give him her contact address. No sooner had I moved the 500 miles away from my family was I isolated and left without money, and slowly ground down. After 21 year of marriage, I kept telling him to go, but kept staying for the children and his lies that he would change, things would get better, he would get a job. I put u with his infidelity, I have been faithful throughout the marriage and divorce that could be that i have just lost trust in others and am learning self respect from myself and my body. What does this have to do with the church you ask, well after finally returning to full time work for 18 months and persuading me to have another child. My husband then went on the sick again third time long term sick leave (over 11 1/2 years out of the 22 years together). He proclaimed that he had foudn god, and wanted to become a vicar, my family and friends laughed this off as one of his pie in the sky idea from a man who was a bully to them, ignored them if they ever visited, and blanked his family, or anyonne who crossed him. So he manipulated and conned his way into training, 6 year down the line he told me we were getting divorced. He had ignored me for years during this training, he visited the church when he felt like it but used the family commitments when he didnt want to go. The church was more important to him than our sons 21st birthdays, my birthday he spent with the vicar. When our son jumped from a 3rd floor window and luckily broke his ankle, I took the call and sobbed my heart out on the bathroom floor, knowing I had no passport to go to him, knowing I had no money to go to him. The army refused to send him home and no-one called me, and my husband the vicar to be did not give a damn for his stepson. The reason he jumped, drink and memories and bullying and isolation from his mother, brother and sister. The one person he could turn to, after his step father pushed him to run away at 16, and when asked to return home was permitted on the promise he would enlist. And so the church knew nothing of his lies and deceit and when I called to ask for a copy of our daughters baptismal form. “I was told be the vicar that he knew I had issues with the Church” slamming the door in my face. And so they blamed me, and happily allowed my abuser to divorce me and introduce his new girlfriend and get them ready for their church house, just what he wanted. After all he had lived off the equity on our family home to pay for his years on the sick. I found the strength call it my calling to turn to my parish priest, and for the first time in several years I was welcomed at Church by a kind man, a priest who told me to keep faith thatt god was there for me, that he would never desert me like the vicars and congregation of the other church. Can you imagine what is was like for a 4 year old to be asked is your mammy feeling better, when she knew there was nothing wrong with mammy. Notone of this so called kind, caring congregation has been to see me. I have continued to return to my church and continue to gain strength from them, and confronted the Safeguarding person about my abuser. After reviewing his application form and looking deeper into the mans past. The church decided not to ordain him, they apologised for the suffering I had endured from him. But would not stand up and admit there are failing in the recruitment process and that domestic abuse and coercive control happens in the church. You are a long way from admitting that changes need to be made and that wives and families are overlocked. This is a vocation for the whole family, and not just the man, and a man who has had several wives or ex-wives should be looked at closely. Mine said he divorced his first wife as she committed adultery, when the church said they wanted to contact her he balked. And said it was ridiculous as it was 23 years ago and she lived in another country. I was asked what role I played in the divorce, nothin as he had another girlfriend between me and her, they spliit up the day he asked me out.

        !0 years into our marriage, his girlfriend splitup with him when she realised that he was still married. I stayed for the boys and thought that we should try at our marriage for them. The children are the ones to suffer my 6 year has been told to lie to me for the past 3 months she has been living at her dads girlfriends, where she works full time and he doesnt so he childminds her daughter. The poor women has moved 300 miles away from her friends and family. At least my salary goes to pay for my daughter and the debts my family left. I have found Christians against Poverty who are helping sort out the deebt, I received a food hamper and Chritmas presents from them and am so grateful for their support. I have also been in contact with Restored and find them a support in my dark house. This so called man had told the church that on his application form, we were a close loving family but 6 months into his training we were divorcing after 22 years. I take consolation in the fact god blessed me with my loving daughter, and she is the reason I stand up to my abuser and I have renewed my faith in god, every day he blesses me with breathing air in my lungs everymorning and putting the beat in my heart. Everyday is another day I have had distance from my abuser.

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