The Bishop of Jarrow is to take on the role of chairing the Church of England’s ‘Ministry Experience Scheme’ (MES). In the Dioceses of Durham, the scheme is helping young people from all walks of life across the North East find their way to ordained and lay ministry by allowing them to volunteer for one year and experience ministry in the community.
The scheme gives 18s-30s, from all backgrounds, space and time to test God’s calling on their lives. It offers the chance to experience practical ministry, enrich theological understanding and further personal development, all with ongoing support from peers and supervisors.
In Durham, the scheme goes under the banner ‘Ministery Experience Volunteers’ (MEV) emphasising the importance of volunteering as part of the process of people discerning their call to God’s ministry.
Bishop Sarah said: “I was pleased to be asked because, in my first 14 months here in Durham Diocese, I’ve recognised how pivotal through our scheme has been in increasing our numbers of young people going forward to ministry training.
“This is a perfect fit for me personally because I’ve always been passionate about young vocations and seeing young people in contexts that represent the breadth of society discern God’s call on their life. It’s also a good fit for me as the sponsoring Bishop overseeing the selection and training of those going forward for ordination and lay ministry, seeking to enable women and men to be shaped and equipped for life long ministry serving both church and local communities.”
Vic Wilson, the MES programme Manager for the Church of England, said: “I am excited that Bishop Sarah has agreed to take on the role of steering group chair, at this time, as MES looks to push forward, with some new central funding, to help many more young adults discover their vocation in life for the benefit of the whole church.”
In 2019-20 nationally there were 25 schemes involving over 100 participants, 10 of which were in the Diocese of Durham, spread across seven regional locations, Bishop Auckland; Stockton; Durham City; Washington; East Durham; Sunderland and Hartlepool. In 2020 – 21 the plan is that the scheme will have a total of twelve.
Bishop Sarah added: “You will have seen the announcement of 6 people going forward for ordination training from St Nics in Durham recently. The news is fantastic, but even more so when you factor in those coming through to ordination from other MEV locations such as Sunderland, Easington, Wheatley Hill & Wingate. For the first time, in 2022 and 2023 the Diocese of Durham will have enough people leaving training to meet our own needs and also support the wider Church of England in ministry.”
The Rt Revd Sarah Clark, Bishop of Jarrow takes over chairing the scheme from The Rt Revd Philip North, Bishop of Burnley who previously served as vicar in Hartlepool until 2002.