Call Waiting - The Church of England Church of England

Vicar taking part in Street Pastors scheme

There isn't really a formal career path for priests, but there are lots of opportunities, including for further education and training. Some ordained people work full-time within the Church of England; others do it as part of their ongoing occupations.

Below are some different jobs that are available:


A curate is in his or her first years of ordained life. They work with the vicar at the church to which they have been appointed as they continue with their training ‘on the job’ (this is part of what is called initial ministerial education, or IME). 

A curacy normally lasts for four years.

You can read a reflection from Helen on curacy  here.

Parish Priest

A parish priest works mostly within the parish to which they are appointed. They're also likely to act as chaplain to some local organisations (see below). A vicar or rector is called an incumbent, and will have overall responsibility for the life of the parish church and its mission to the community. 

Parish priests are supported by other members of the church, such as churchwardens and PCC members, plus any other ordained colleagues. If you become a parish priest, you don’t have to stay doing it forever—you can move in and out of different roles, including chaplaincy, and administration within the diocese or the Archbishops’ Council.

Kat reflects on her parish ministry  here.


Chaplains are ordained or lay people called to ministry in primarily secular (non-church) contexts; full-time or part-time, paid or unpaid. They try to meet the spiritual needs of people living, working, studying, caring or being cared for. This may be in education (universities, colleges and schools), hospitals, hospices, prisons, the armed forces, or the workplace. 

Chaplains serve people in a variety of ways, including pastoral and spiritual support, preaching and teaching, worship and prayer, leading discussion, and exploratory groups and courses for Christians and those exploring prayer and spirituality. Most chaplaincies are ecumenical, working across church traditions and denominations, and/or multi-faith teams, usually working within the structures of the organisations in which they serve.

Pioneer Minister

Some ordained ministers feel called to ‘fresh expressions’ of church, working in pioneering ways which are complementary to traditional parish structures. The discernment and selection process for ordained pioneer ministers is the same as for all priests, but you need to have had experience of a fresh expression of church and be have the right mix of vision and passion for missional work.

Pioneer ministers are ’sent out’ by the church to a particular place of people group where there is little or no Christian presence in the particular community or network to which feel go. They seek to live an authentic expression of Christian spirituality and mission that is often marked by hospitality, prayer, discipleship, listening & involvement in the lives of people they meet on the journey. They often have a vision to create and foster churches that connect with a particular sub-culture, but many start off small and grow over time.

If you have a yearning passion to take the good news of Jesus out to new people and places, and have an entreprenerial spirit of adventure, fun, teamwork and imagination, maybe God is calling you to be a Pioneer?

With thanks to Gareth Irvine for Pioneer Ministry content

For more information go to

Distinctive Deacon

Distinctive deacons are part of the three-fold ministry of the Church, along with priests and bishops. It is an outward-looking, community-minded ministry where deacons prefer to work on the margins - the margins of society, and the margin between church and community, and between God and the world.

Distinctive deacons usually work in non-stipendiary (unpaid) roles, and different dioceses have different paths for them after ordination. Deacons usually don't run parishes, but many work in chaplaincy roles.

For more information about the Distinctive Diaconate visit Diaconal Association of the Church of England