Ministry Experience Scheme

Are you an 18-30 year old exploring your Christian calling and willing to engage with the prayer and vision of the Diocese of Ely to be ‘generous and visible people of Jesus Christ’?

Are you willing to engage fully and courageously with the needs of a major university city that has the biggest disparity of wealth and poverty in England?

Are you keen to see God’s church grow through community engagement, imaginative outreach and the discipling of young and old?

Do you want to deepen your own faith through theological study/reflection and vocational exploration?

The Diocese of Ely is providing an opportunity for four young people to live in Cambridge for 11 months where participants will

  • live together in community
  • experience Christian ministry first-hand in different city churches
  • complete a foundation year of Theology for Ministry & Mission
  • have a full programme of vocational and personal development

Further details

Our aims

  • To help you discover God’s calling on your life
  • To support you in living and working with others who may be quite different from you
  • To enable you to be more aware of the gifts God has given you
  • To deepen your understanding of Scripture and the Christian tradition
  • To provide a practical and varied experience of ministry
  • To gain experience of serving the poor and vulnerable
  • To help you develop a personal way of life to sustain your relationship with God

The context

Cambridge is a small university city with great numbers who visit as tourists, students, shoppers and party-goers.  It attracts some of the brightest people on the planet for study, research or work, but also has the biggest divide between wealth and poverty in the country.  Polls in the past have also rated Cambridge as having the highest rate of churchgoing in the country; the centre of Cambridge has mighty (and smaller) college chapels with choral foundations rubbing along with parish churches that have small populations but large congregations at services that represent the full breadth of worship (and theology) in the Church of England.  In recent years churches of all denominations (and New Churches) have worked together to support Street Pastors, the Cambridge Foodbank and the Cambridge Churches Homeless Project.

The house

Our participants will live in the vicarage at East Barnwell, an ‘outer estate’ where council and social housing predominate – though it is only half a mile away from countryside and the world of lovely village churches.  Christ the Redeemer Church – a small but faithful presence – has long engaged with a programme of clubs and activities for children and all ages.  Every participant will have a weekly involvement with one of the clubs there.  An initial retreat will include time for participants to work on the rule of life for their community and agree patterns of shared meals and praying together. 

The house has four bedrooms and a shared living room, dining room and kitchen.  Utilities (including internet and tv licence) will be paid for and there will be a living allowance (for food and other things) of £350 per month. 

Church placements

Participants will spend half their week sharing in the life and ministry of one of the following churches (where they will play a full part in the ministry team and receive weekly supervision):

Little St Mary’s – thriving Anglo-Catholic church in the city

Little Saint Mary’s is a medieval parish church in the centre of Cambridge.  Formerly the chapel of Peterhouse it has been a separate parish church since the 17th century.  Former clergy include the Metaphysical poet Richard Crashaw, the great Uncle of George Washington, Godfrey Washington, and the early anti-apartheid campaigner and Archbishop of Cape Town, Geoffrey Clayton. Little Saint Mary’s has a significant liturgical tradition of daily morning and evening prayer and Eucharist, together with Sung Masses on every feast day. The keeping of Holy Week and Easter is the high point of our year.  We have a strong musical tradition including adult and junior choirs.  A large congregation welcomes people from across the city and diocese of every age and background.  We are founder members of the Cambridge Churches Homeless Project and continue to be closely involved as volunteers and hosts.  We have a monthly lunch for sufferers from dementia, and their carers, and are actively involved in social justice and mission work across the city and beyond. There are opportunities for members of the Ministry Experience Scheme to gain profound liturgical, pastoral, and preaching experience in the Catholic tradition of the Church of England along with involvement in the many social projects operating from the church. The parish has benefitted from Pastoral Assistants for several years, many of whom have gone on to ordained ministry, and values the presence of those exploring Christian vocation.

Christ the Redeemer, East Barnwell – outer estate community ministry

At Christ the Redeemer we can offer quite a wide variety of experience of working withing a community where financial and educational deprivation is significant. Many families in the area are large and complex, often living in poor housing. There is also significant alcoholism and mental illness in the area. We are one of the few places to do any significant work with youth (under 16s) in the area. Our aim is to see Barnwell renewed by the power of the gospel by establishing disciple making 'family' groups across the communities.

Among our activities are a weekly after school club for up to 40 primary age children. The club runs for 2 hours on a Friday afternoon though the time commitment is slightly longer due to set up and take down. For those who move on beyond primary we have two smaller boys groups and also have two girls groups. These include bible content and we aim to see the youngsters grow in their knowledge of Jesus as well as learn to deal with the issues which arise from often difficult family situations. We also have two 'family' groups which meet weekly to eat, pray and study together as well as plan various community activities. We have a close relationship with the local Baptist church with whom we work on a variety of projects together. Involvement with any of these groups would serve our work significantly as well as give valuable insight into what life and ministry are like in a deprived community.

St Clement’s – city centre Anglo-Catholic church shared with the Russian Orthodox

St Clement's is an Anglo-catholic church that has been going through a long process of physical and spiritual renewal, seeking to maintain traditional Prayer Book catholic worship alongside newer expressions of sacramental faith - including Contemplative Eucharists and Taizé masses.  The newly restored and equipped church has a significant ministry to visitors and passers-by; the ministry of welcome (including discussing the faith and helping visitors towards prayer) could be a full-time job in itself.  The participant would be involved in building partnerships for the church building to be used (sometimes let out) throughout the week for activities compatible with our core mission.  The church is committed to sustaining a visible praying presence with open doors to the outside world. There is opportunity to participate in and learn about the distinctive forms of liturgy practised at St Clement’s, especially the increasingly rare patterns of traditional worship that characterise the principal Sunday Mass.  There is much scope for using traditional and imaginatively contemporary forms of prayer (with art and music) to reach out to spiritual seekers - during the day but also in evenings and at night.  There may also be opportunity to be part of the Cambridge Churches Night Shelter project.

St Andrew’s Chesterton – with an emphasis on working with and discipling young people

St Andrew's is a community-based ancient parish church - a large ‘village’ church in the northern part of the city. This placement will have a brief for working with and discipling young people - on Sundays, in midweek groups and in 1-to-1 pastoral support. But there is scope also to get involved in all manner of ministries. In normal times the church runs a weekly coffee morning and toddler group and regularly visits a number of residential homes.  St Andrew’s has a varied diet of worship – from traditional services with a choir to informal services with a music group.  We seek to nurture those of all ages and all stages of Christian experience.

There will be an office base within St Andrew's Hall where the participant would be part of a large and diverse staff team of clergy and laity.

Theological study & formation

Participants will take part in a ‘Foundations for Ministry’ programme of study that is delivered in partnership with ERMC (the Eastern Region Ministry Course).

Personal & vocational development

Participants will be supported through the year with a programme of theological reflection and personal & vocational development.  This will include (if possible and practicable) an initial retreat, weekly sessions visiting each ministry context (and further afield) and contact with both the Director of Vocations & Ordinands and a vocations adviser.

How do I explore further?

Applications are now closed. For any general information on the scheme, please contact the Cambridge Co-ordinator, Canon Nick Moir (

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Page last updated: 16th April 2021 9:27 AM
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We pray to be generous and visible people of Jesus Christ

Ely Diocesan Board of Finance is a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales with company number 142183, and a charity registered in England and Wales with Charity Number 245456. The registered address is: Diocesan Office, Bishop Woodford House, Barton Road, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB7 4DX. All rights reserved.