Ordination Training

Is God calling you to Ridley Hall?

The majority of our residential students are preparing for ordained ministry in the Church of England, to serve across the country in rural, suburban and inner city parishes.

Before booking onto one of our interview days please ensure that your DDO is happy for you to be interviewed.

The Road to Ordination

Ordinands at RidleyBecoming an Ordinand in the Church of England

There are five (overlapping) stages normally involved in becoming an Ordinand (the term for a candidate for ordained ministry) in the Church of England:

  1. Prior involvement in the Anglican Church
  2. Consulting your incumbent priest
  3. Contacting your Diocesan Director of Ordinands (DDO)
  4. The Bishops' Advisory Panel
  5. Theological training

Click the tabs to find out more.


Prior involvement in the Anglican Church

Normally before you can be ordained in the Church of England, you need experience of regular attendance and involvement in an Anglican church.

This helps to test whether you really want to commit yourself to the denomination's way of doing things, and it also helps to demonstrate to the wider Church that you are serious about the demands of ordained ministry. It is also important to test whether this ministry would really be suitable for you by asking those who know you well.


Consulting your incumbent

Next, you would normally approach your church's incumbent priest to ask whether he or she thinks ordained ministry would be appropriate for you. Do you have the gifts, abilities, temperament, etc., and would the priest be willing to support your application to the DDO (Diocesan Director of Ordiands) for training?

The DDO is the person in each diocese who has the responsibility to oversee applicants for ordination. Normally it is crucial for your own incumbent to support your application to the DDO.


Contact your DDO

The Diocesan Director of Ordinands has the authority to say no to an applicant, or to require more church attendance, study, or other preparatory experiences before approving a person's application.

Once the DDO gives approval, the person normally meets the Bishop, who also must give his approval.


The Bishops' Advisory Panel

All applicants must go to a selection conference (called a "Bishops' Advisory Panel" - BAP for short) run by a group of Selectors who serve the bishops of the Church of England.

If applicants are approved by the panel, they qualify to begin training for ministry at a theological college (seminary) or regional course. This training is currently paid for by the Church of England.

Interview Days

Our Interview Days normally take place on Thursdays within University term time. Thursdays are our ‘community days’ when many students’ families come in to meet up in the morning and stay for lunch. If you are married or engaged, your spouse or fiancé(e) is very welcome to accompany you on your visit. It is an ideal opportunity to meet with partners of current students and find out about life at Ridley from their perspective.

Before booking onto one of our interview days please ensure that your DDO is happy for you to be interviewed. See our application page for further details.


Studying at RidleyTheological training

Ordinands who are under 32 and have not done a theology degree, generally train for three years.

If ordinands are over 32 at the start of training, or if they have already done a significant amount of theological study, they train for two years, unless they apply for and receive permission to train for a different length of time.

For more information, go to the Ministry Division pages of the Church of England's website.

Pioneer Ordinands

What is a 'pioneer'?

Pioneers are those who work primarily in 'fresh expression' churches – contextual and missional churches which take a variety of shapes and forms. Pioneers aim to create church for and with people, groups and networks who have no contact with any existing church.

In 2004 the Church of England published the report Mission-Shaped Church (pdf download), which – recognising changes in churches and culture – officially encouraged missionary forms of church established mainly for people who might not normally venture into a traditional church building. Recommendation 11 of the report called for the identification, selection and training of pioneers, and added that 'patterns of training should be appropriate to the skills, gifting and experiences of those being trained'.

Ordained Pioneer Ministry

Ordained Pioneer Ministry (OPM) is designed for individuals who are clear that their vocation is to serve and guide the whole Church in developing fresh expressions of church. For more details on Ordained Pioneer Ministry see the Guidelines (pdf download) on the C of E website.

Becoming a Pioneer Ordinand

The process for becoming a Pioneer Ordinand in the Church of England is exactly the same as for the standard Ordination track, except that in addition to a Bishops’ Advisory Panel you are also required to attend a separate Pioneer Panel (Word doc download) who will help to discern your pioneering potential.

Pioneer training at Ridley

Pioneer training at Ridley Hall is overseen by Ian Adams.

At Ridley we work carefully with our OPM students, helping them to deepen their sense of call to grow churches with those who are not yet disciples and to equip them spiritually and practically for this crucial task. We are also committed to working with ordinands who don’t have an official ‘pioneer’ designation but who expect to serve God in pioneering contexts, doing new things in new ways. With the active support of their sending bishop and DDO ordinands without an official pioneer designation are able to join the pioneer cohort for the weekly teaching and learning session. Pioneer training at Ridley draws in students from around the Cambridge Theological Federation and the pioneer cohort can potentially include ordinands from Ridley, Westcott, ERMC and Westminster.

Pioneer training is currently focused on a Friday morning session at Ridley Hall and combines both academic excellence and practical experience. Students gather between 9am–12pm each week in term time. The first hour and a half takes the form of guided input from the staff and visitors. After a coffee break students take turns to give a presentation and participate in a group discussion on an aspect of pioneering. The module draws on a range of key pioneering literature with close guidance from staff. The pioneer syllabus includes subject areas such as godly character, entrepreneurship, starting and developing a fresh expression of church, cultural hermeneutics, vision, leadership, the theology of fresh expressions, and ecclesiology.

In recent years the work with pioneers in Cambridge has been developed in collaboration with the Centre for Pioneer Learning (CPL), which has a national role in supporting, networking and resourcing pioneers and helping the national church to think through how it supports and encourages pioneers. Ian Adams works with the Centre, and Nicky Redsell is the Centre’s Director. The work of the Centre includes conferences, consultation, and training and mentoring.

For more on CPL see http://www.centreforpioneerlearning.org.uk

Find out more

If you would like to know more about training for Ordained Pioneer Ministry at Ridley Hall please contact Ian Adams.