Ordained ministry

As God calls us on to different ministries and roles, we often have a sense of excitement or trepidation. If we commit ourselves to following God, it will inevitably mean sacrificing time and effort in order to prepare for this new ministry or role. For some people, this call is a life-long commitment to the ordained ministry.

The Church of England ordains priests who are called to shepherd and lead people in their worship of God and mission to the world. They do this through a ministry of word and sacrament. Ordained deacons are called to serve and equip the people of God to make Christ known. They assist priests as they share in the task of preaching and offering pastoral care in the church and in the community.

'Am I Called to Ministry?' evenings

If you are interested in either ordained or licensed lay ministry, please talk first with your vicar or chaplain before coming along to one of our ‘Am I Called to Ministry?’ evenings, which are held twice a year for six weeks. Please contact mmsupport@bristoldiocese.org to find out when the next event is.

Spiritual Direction

You may find it helpful to meet with a spiritual director as you seek to discern God’s calling. A spiritual director does not help decide if you are suitable for licensed lay ministry but may be an important person to support you in your discernment journey. You can find out more about spiritual direction and start the process to put this support in place here.

What kind of person is called to be ordained?

The Church of England looks for six qualities in those who are called to ordained ministry. These qualities are:

  • Love for God
  • Call to ministry
  • Love for people
  • Wisdom
  • Fruitfulness
  • Potential

In discerning if someone is called to ordained ministry, each of these qualities is explored in the context of a person’s relationship to Christ, the church, the world and themselves. For further information on understanding discernment click here.

Who decides if I am suitable for ordained ministry?

All candidates for ordained ministry work with both local and national advisors to discern their calling and suitability for ordained ministry. The discernment journey they undertake is one in which God is at work to form and prepare for this calling.

Candidates may find it helpful to talk to a vocation chaplain to explore their sense of calling to the ordained ministry in the Church of England further. 

A candidate for ordained ministry will work closely with the advisor for vocations and ordinands or an assistant (ADDO) as together they explore how the candidate inhabits the six qualities. This is a deep and probing process that takes time and may involve reading, writing and short placements in different churches. 

Candidates also have the opportunity to reflect on the qualities with other candidates for their mutual support by participating in monthly workshops.

Candidates will meet with a number of local and national advisers during their journey who will review various pieces of evidence against the six qualities for ordained ministry and make recommendations as to whether a candidate should proceed to the next stage. The decision whether to send a candidate for training for ordained ministry rests with the sponsoring bishop (currently Bishop Lee).

What training will I need?

If a candidate is recommended for training at national level and the sponsoring bishop agrees they will normally study theology for two or three years, alongside learning in a ministerial context. The Adviser for Vocations and Ordinands will work with the candidate and training institution to help determine the shape of that training and the support offered by the diocese. During this period of training the candidate is ‘formed’ for ordained ministry and their suitability is further determined with reference to the qualities.

What happens if I am ordained?

If a candidate successfully completes their training and is deemed to be suitable, the bishop will ordain them as a deacon, and, if appropriate, later as a priest, to serve in a training post under the supervision of a training incumbent.

I am wondering if I am called to ordained ministry – what do I do next?

The first step is to talk to your incumbent or chaplain. With their support you should then contact the Adviser for Vocations and Ordinands for an initial exploratory meeting and you may then be invited to attend the ‘Am I Called to Ministry?’ event.

Could God be calling you to ordained ministry?

You can read about people who have followed God's call on their lives below:

Jones Mutemwakwenda Aggy Palairet Laura Verrall Kelly Sarah Matthews

David Jones Anjali Kanagarathnam Anton Campbell You?


Jones Mutemwakwenda

My name is Jones Mutemwakwenda. I am married to Gladys with four children.

I am the Priest In Charge of All Hallows Easton an Anglo Catholic Church in the heart of Bristol. We are a welcoming, all aged community drawn from the parish, the Diocese and beyond. Our worship and faith keeps the celebration of Eucharist ( Holy Communion ) at the centre of what we do. We also seek to provide a welcoming place where God can be worshipped in an atmosphere which helps people to pray.

God calls people to ordination in different ways. My call to Priesthood came in the form of a feeling. I started having this feeling to serve God as an ordained person in my early twenties. The feeling became stronger when I got more involved in the activities of the church. I just felt inspired by what the church was doing for the people in the Parish and beyond.

I have always enjoyed doing God's work as an ordained Priest. I would encourage you thinking of ordination to come forward and serve God as an ordained person. Pray about how you think God is calling you. If you feel strongly that God is calling you, accept His call.

Aggy Palairet

Hello, I’m Aggy, a third-year curate in the Diocese of Bristol.

I was ordained in 2019 in Bristol Cathedral and since then I’ve been serving in the parish of St Mary Redcliffe. Moving to Redcliffe meant that my children had to change schools and luckily for my husband, it reduced his commute.

So, you see, my vocation in the Church of England (one that I entered knowing myself to be obedient, realistic, and informed) doesn’t stand alone, because it intertwines with my vocation as a wife and as a mother. Before I was recommended for ordination training and before I accepted my curacy, my husband and I had many conversations about what my vocation means for the whole family: what might be some of the changes for us? and are we as a family being obedient, realistic, and informed?

Even though we had explored what our future might look like, we simply could not predict everything that would happen or what opportunities might come next. Being as prepared as we could, there was still a sense that we had to take a leap of faith, to open ourselves up to potential disappointments and positive outcomes, to trust in God’s faithfulness.

I am really enjoying being a curate and over the past three years, I’ve had many opportunities to preach, lead worship, and get involve with the nitty gritty of parish ministry. I have learnt so much from my colleagues, parishioners, and neighbours, I will treasure all the wonderful time we’ve had together and take the wisdom and knowledge I’ve gained from being with them.

As my curacy comes to an end, it is time to explore the next stage of my ministry, hopefully as vicar of a parish church. So now, as a priest and as a family, we trust that God is faithful and in control of our lives, and that he will lead us to a place where we are supposed to be.


Laura Verrell Kelly

Hi! I’m Laura, I’m 30 and for the last three years I have been completing my Curacy at St Martin’s Knowle. I am about to become Curate-in-Charge of St Luke’s Brislington for my final year of curacy. 

I can honestly say that I never thought I’d be a vicar… and I’m sure many people exploring ordination can relate to that! Having completed a secular Youth Work degree, I had started working for a church helping to shape and lead their Youth Ministry. During this time, after getting a job I had always dreamed of, I felt unsettled about my vocation. I started to pray about this- was this God nudging me or just me? I remember so clearly reading back through a journal I had kept the previous year (as a big external processor, journaling is key!) and reading some notes I had taken on a seminar on ordination at a weekend away. It felt like it hit me like a bus- could this be what God was nudging me in? It was easy to shake this off initially because well, at the time I thought ‘vicars don’t look like me and vicars aren’t like me either.’

However, I couldn’t shake the idea and after I plucked up the courage to talk and pray with some trusted friends, I knew I had to take the step. I started the discernment process when I was 22/23 years old and I thought numerous times I wasn’t good enough, or intelligent enough or felt like I wanted to back out- but God was so kind and generous and gently walked with me, stilling my fears whenever I spoke them out. It was during this time I also explored Pioneer ministry and this felt like a confirmation and acknowledgement of the sorts of aspects of church I am passionate about- being with those on the outside of church, being with those on the fringe and how to create a church that is accessible for all. 

The Bible verse that spoke to me deeply around this time was Song of Songs 2: 10-12, My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away, for now, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

I felt like God was saying to me to arise, step forth, a new season is coming and I am with you. My prayer for anyone exploring Ordination is that same prayer- to arise into whatever God may be calling you into, safe in the knowledge that we don’t have to be completely sorted or ready, but willing to step forward with God.

Sarah Matthews

My name is Sarah, I’m a married mum of two teenagers, and I work at the University of Bristol. I am also a self-supporting Assistant Curate at Easton Christian Family Centre.

Although baptised as a baby I was not raised with a Christian faith and only started getting curious about God when I was about 35. I can only speculate why but on a bit of an impulse I walked through the doors of my local parish church one Sunday and I haven’t stopped going since! I did the Alpha course and decided to get confirmed. I kept an open and willing mind to serve in whatever way necessary at church and tried to be obedient to where I thought the Holy Spirit was leading me. About five years later I started having a sense of being called to either lay or ordained ministry, every time I thought about it I started crying! I told no-one for a while, it felt too raw and emotional. Eventually I blurted it out to the curate at our church and that was the beginning of the rollercoaster journey of discernment… I kept doubting myself that surely this was not from God, I was a middle-aged mum with a great job and settled life, why would I be suited to this rather risky and sacrificial vocation? However, doors kept opening for me and it felt right and also my heart was excited!

The Bishop’s selection panel I attended was intense and nerve-wracking but I tried to be myself. God had called me, Sarah, and I trusted the process and also those who were carefully considering my call to ordination. I was picking up the kids when I got the call saying I had been selected and burst into tears at the school gates!

Studying and training part-time at Trinity College in Bristol whilst juggling work, children and life has been one of the hardest things I have ever done. Trusting and relying on God was key to survival (plus having a very supportive husband!) and sure enough I gained a Diploma in Theology, Ministry and Mission. I am now a full time curate on a part-time training program. Being a curate is so fulfilling and God is always doing something new and exciting that I can join in with. Yet, God’s call on my life doesn’t just stop at the church walls, I bring the same Sarah to my secular work too. The roles may be different but I continue to seek God’s will in everything I do. If you are thinking about ordained ministry, honour God by exploring what that means for you. It might seem risky, impossible and even crazy but God does surprising things in your life when you let him!


David Jones

I am David Jones, I am married to Elaine and we are parents to six ranging from 10-27 years.

I am a life long resident of Bristol. I have held several jobs over the years including as an office clerk, a bus driver and a depot supervisor. I spent four years as a church warden, 3 years as chair of the East Bristol Partnership and 2 years as Lay-chair of the City Deanery. For all of this time I was putting off stepping forward in faith and following my call to ordination. Eventually I ran out of excuses and distractions, I am very glad I did.

I completed a diploma in theology, ministry and mission at Trinity College Bristol, alongside a placement in the Fromeside Benefice. I served my curacy in the same benefice with responsibility for St. James the Less, Iron Acton. I have been appointed to serve as associate minister for Coalpit Heath, the Fromeside Benefice and as discipleship missioner in the Yate and Fromeside mission area.

I love being a priest for God to the people and for the people to God. I put myself amongst the people at every given opportunity. Some may say I follow the trail of coffee and cake. I would describe myself as a middle to high church, sacramental and liturgical minister. I gain spiritual refreshment through the Eucharist and the daily office. I hugely value my prayer triplet and my spiritual director. I am passionate to help people live their lives fully embracing the ministry to which God is calling them. I very much enjoy helping people overcome the barriers which exist, whether these are internal or external barriers.

Anjali Kanagarathnam

My name is Anjali Kanagaratnam and I am a second year Curate in the Bybrook Benefice in the Diocese of Bristol.

When I was 18 and some family friends suggested that my decision to study Theology at university was due to the ‘pull of the church,’ I confidently answered that I had no intention of ever preaching a sermon! But God obviously had other plans for my life…

I had my first inkling that God may be calling me to ordained ministry around 18 years ago when I was training for licensed lay ministry and people I knew and respected suggested that I should consider being ordained. I resisted. I did not sense that call on my life; I felt unworthy; I really did not want to go down that path. However, I remained open to God’s prompting.

Over the next decade God gently but clearly showed me that this was indeed His will for me. Those were years of transition for my family as we moved homes and countries but throughout that time, I continued to be involved in the life and work of the local church while always prayerfully wrestling with God about whether He was calling me to be a priest. Slowly, but surely, I began to sense that this was indeed what God was calling me to pursue and that I needed to be obedient in testing that call.

When we returned to the UK, after a time abroad, I once again restarted the discernment process with the Bristol Diocese (a process that I had to pause due to our move abroad). Over the next year or so as I journeyed with my ADDO (Assistant Diocesan Director for Ordinands) and others, I was given the opportunity to articulate my sense of call and explore what ordained ministry might mean for me. As I did so, my sense of call was strengthened, and my reluctance was replaced with a real desire to pursue this call on my life. I went forward to my BAP (Bishop’s Advisory Panel) in 2018 and I was accepted and started my training soon after that.

Some years ago, while I was still discerning my call, a friend gave me a card with the following words by missionary Hudson Taylor printed on it: ‘God gives the very best to those who leave the choice to him.’ I write this as I am coming to the end of my second year in ordained ministry and these words resonate so much with my experience. There have been challenges but I can honestly say that I love what I do and there is a real sense of being in the place that God has called me to.


Anton Campbell

Hi, my names Anton and I am a husband to a wonderful wife called Claire and have two children. I work full time as a police officer and have done so (at the time of writing) for fast approaching 20 years.

I have been in the privilege position that I cannot remember a time when I have not felt the call to serve Christ in our communities and at some point, as an ordained priest in the Church of England.

I have never doubted the “if”, my question was always the “when”!

This meant that in 2010 I trained through Gloucester diocese to be a LLM and spent 9 years as an LLM in both the diocese for Gloucester and from 2014 in the diocese of Bristol.

The more I was involved in church leadership the stronger the call God placed on my heart to explore ordained ministry. So, after a lot of prayer, conversation, interviews, diocesan discernments days and, what were then BAP’s, and after deferring my training for a year, I started training in 2019. I trained part time whilst still working full time and due to a couple of promotions at work, I was at the same time doing a degree level qualification for said promotions! Thankfully with Gods sustenance and my family’s patience and support it culminated with my priesting in 2022.

There is little doubt it has been full on for a number of years, work, training, family and “doing” has not left for a dull diary. But it also reminds me of Gods provision, the importance of the trust in his timing and in the fact that when we walk the path he has laid out before us it is an honour and privilege that sustains us.


Could this be you?

Are you being called to ordained ministry?



Powered by Church Edit