Church of England bishops raise age limits for trainee clergy as they

“He knows that faith has to relate to life or it doesn’t work.”The move comes as figures show that the number of people under the age of 32 applying to become Anglican priests has risen by almost a third over the past two years.  Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Church of England dioceses are abandoning upper age limits for clergy training as they hope to boost numbers by encouraging second careers. A change in approach is allowing more older people to train to become ordained ministers in their late fifties and early sixties, with dioceses lifting previously-enforced age limits. “60 is the new 40,” said the Right Reverend Tim Dakin, bishop of Winchester. “We’re living longer, we’ve got a lot of energy – I look at some of my episcopal colleagues and they’re still going like a bomb. They’re really hard-working, energetic people,” he said. A new programme in his diocese allows trainees to stay in the local area to do their training part-time instead of having to travel to a college to train full-time. –– ADVERTISEMENT ––The number of people recommended for training in the diocese has risen from 14 two years ago to 21 this year. Nationally, numbers have risen from 476 in 2016 to 580 this year. New guidelines mean dioceses can now choose in consultation with the candidate what form of training they should do, rather than being governed by nationally set requirements.   Bishop Dakin said the change was introduced following a shift in policy in the Church of England to give individual bishops more control over their policies for local candidates. If you’re in your late fifties or early sixties, the thought of going off to a college or even a course elsewhere in the country is just a bit too muchRight Reverend Tim Dakin “The emphasis is now on local decision-making,” he said. “If you’re in your late fifties or early sixties, the thought of going off to a college or even a course elsewhere in the country is just a bit too much I think.”You can stay in the diocese, in your local context, and we want to draw on your experience and your understanding, because we think you’re going to be a pretty effective person with all that background,” he added. “We like people with experience.”Different dioceses can set different upper limits for students beginning training depending on the length of the course and the type of role they are training for. Local age limits for new trainees, which vary from 56 to 62, have been based on the premise that new priests needed to be able to work for enough years before their retirement, which is normally between 65 and 70. There are currently four trainees over Winchester diocese’s previous limit of 56, including Peter Goodall, 62, a former senior police officer in Hampshire, who began training last September. Bishop Dakin said older priests had particular skills based on having already had a previous career and more extensive life experience. “Imagine having an assistance chief constable as a priest. He’s seen everything. He’s locally engaged, he knows Hampshire, he’s got a realism about what life is all to do with, he’s seen some really tough issues.  read more