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Record Clergy Numbers

Sunday 25th June 2017

Record Clergy Numbers

Record numbers of men and women - including those aged in their mid 20s - are coming forward to serve as Church of England clergy across Suffolk.

Pictured above, the Rt Revd Martin Seeley, Bishop of the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese, with newly ordained Priests, from left, Simon White, Karen Burton, Charlotte Cook, Susan Foster, Maximilian Drinkwater and Penelope Brinkley.

Those coming forward to train in the county are up 90% during a two-year period, from 10 at the end of June 2015 to as high as 19 at the end of this month.

Clergy training takes up to six years and during the weekend Bishop Martin ordained this year’s 14 newest priests and deacons who will make a difference in communities right across Suffolk.

Their backgrounds include previous careers in the London Stock Market, nursing, restaurants and the NHS.

The new clergy, who bring both youth and decades of experience to their new roles, will serve in parishes including Ipswich, Felixstowe, Walton, Bury St Edmunds, Hadleigh, Woolpit, Lavenham, Aldeburgh, Saxmundham, Newmarket and Stour Valley. 

Bishop Martin welcomed the new clergy as he led two moving services at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds, in front of hundreds of well-wishers on Saturday. He said: “I am thrilled by the upsurge in the number of candidates for ordination in Suffolk, particularly among younger people, but also across the whole age range.

"People offering for ordination is always a sign of the spiritual health of a church, and of individual congregations.  

“The Church nationally has committed to a 50% increase over the next 5 years as older clergy retire after decades of service. In Suffolk we are appointing much younger clergy into these posts.

“The increase in those being accepted for ordination training in this diocese is due to a very active recruitment programme especially among younger Christians, making people aware that this might be where God is calling them.”

Bishop Martin Seeley, with from left in white gowns, ordained Deacons Elke Brunhilde Emma Cattermole, Joanna Stacey Mabey, Ernest Okeke, Lynda Anne Sebbage, Nicolas Jon Stuchfield, Donna Gibbs, Matthew Selman, Herbert Michael Birt and clergy at St Edmundsbury Cathedral.

The Rt Revd Dr Mike Harrison, Bishop of Dunwich, said he is delighted to see callings to the ordained ministry increasing rapidly in Suffolk.

The Very Rev Dr Frances Ward, Dean of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, added: “It's always an enormous pleasure to welcome everyone to the Cathedral for the inspiring occasion of ordination. “It's a time when we all come together in joy as one by one those ordained offer themselves and their futures to God and the Church in ministry.”

  • Listen to the two youngest Priests Charlotte Cook and Max Drinkwater, both aged just 26, talk about their experiences and what called them to serve on the BBC Radio Suffolk Faith Programme. Download Audio | MP3

Factfile:

The new Priests are: Penny Brinkley, 59, from Felixstowe who will serve in Felixstowe St John the Baptist with St Edmund; Karen Burton, 48, from Thetford who will serve in North Bury St Edmunds and the Lark Valley; Charlotte Cook, 26, from Trimley, who will serve the Walton and Trimley Benefice; Max Drinkwater, 26, from Newmarket, who will serve in Newmarket St Mary with Exning St Agnes; Sue Foster, 58, from Hadleigh who will serve in the town and Simon White, 56, from Assington, who will serve in the Hadleigh, Layham and Shelley Benefice.

The new Deacons are: Mike Birt, 60, from  Woolpit, who will serve Woolpit with Drinkstone; Elke Cattermole, 65, from Bures St Mary, who will serve Lavenham with Preston; Donna Gibbs, 51, from Ipswich, who will serve in South West Ipswich Team Ministry; Johanna Mabey, 52, from Aldeburgh, who will serve Aldeburgh with Hazlewood; Nicolas Stuchfield, 57, from Aldeburgh who will serve in Saxmundham with Kelsale-cum-Carlton; Lynda Sebbage, 63, from Sudbury, who will serve in the Stour Valley, and Matthew Selman, 36, from Bury St Edmunds who will serve in the North Bury Team Ministry/Lark Valley. Ernest Okeke, 49, from Nigeria, will serve in the Elmswell parish.