Although many priests (myself included) have lots of transferable skills, in the real world to get a job in employment such as teaching, lecturing and social work you now require a degree specific to the profession you want to work in. Do not contradict me on this, it was the first thing I checked out thoroughly when we moved from Newcastle to County Durham. Do not think that I haven't scoured the job vacancy sites because I have and I do. The only work that might be available to me would be of the most menial and unskilled variety. As I have said before, I would rather die than waste my life experiencing such boredom all day and every day. Remember, I spent 20 years doing those jobs before I became a priest. I know what I am talking about whilst most (although not all) givers of "good" advice do so from a position of success and fulfilment in life.

Non-stipendary priests tend to have worthwhile careers in the secular workplace or are retired or otherwise not in need of an income. Their transference to full time ministry is easy. The opposite is not easy in the slightest. A full time, stipendary priest is not allowed to be of use in any other employment other than that of the full time priesthood. Because a dismissed stipendary priest never receives redundancy, as the Church is exempt from employment legislation, they cannot even set up their own business unless they are fortunate enough to be independently wealthy.

All of this becomes more and more restricting for the rejected stipendary clergyperson the older that person is. It is virtually impossible for a person over fifty years old (possibly 40 years old) to get a job other than in a supermarket or in security, in the North East of England at this time.

That the Church of England authorities (on the whole, there are one or two exceptions) provide no counselling or help for the people they dump into unemployment, let alone real practical assistance, is a terrible indictment of an institution that claims to love its neighbour. That, in reality, a lot of bishops and archdeacons don't give it a second thought and just want you to go away and not bother them, is an obscenity.



  1. “That the Church of England authorities (on the whole, there are one or two exceptions) provide no counselling or help for the people they dump into unemployment, let alone real practical assistance, is a terrible indictment of an institution that claims to love its neighbour.”

    I, of course, completely agree. I was 60, by the way, when I got dumped. Fortunately, I had already set up my own non-profit organization over the then-bishop’s objections, I might add. He said he didn’t want my ministry/vocation “institutionalized”. It’s funny. I only did that so I could receive the contributions from ordinary people that I needed to keep my ministry going as the diocese did not see fit to give me any kind of a budget. I desperately needed some administrative help and the only way I was going to get it was to raise the money myself. Incorporating as a non-profit turned out to be fortuitous as I would now have no means of income at all had I not done that about 12 or 13 years ago.

  2. So, it’s the same on the other side of the Pond as it is here, huh?

    Why am I not surprised? And yet still saddened….

  3. I know that you won’t like the question, but I wonder if there is any opportunity for you to retrain or to convert your skills to ones that would open up different avenues for employment in education or some other leadership role in a different sector?

    But I hear the case you make against the church authorities, who appear to have no idea of the effect of their actions – perhaps they salve their conscience with a prayer or confession, or transfer blame to their victims.

    I think that it’s a disgrace that you and several other Priests I know online are unemployed due to the completely illogical exemption of the church from employment law.

    I wonder if any politician are interested in taking this up as a case, perhaps for a Private Members Bill to change it?

  4. I’ve looked into retraining. It is costly and time consuming and I’m worried I would lose the small amount of financial support I get through blogging. Also, I would be 56 before I qualified and it’s difficult enough getting an employer to take on a 53 year old.

    But, above all I’m scared that it would be a waste of time. I’ve lived my whole life believing that I am going to die tomorrow. I’m used to it and hide it well now but it does make thinking about the long term future (in respect of myself) a bit problematical.

  5. I can certainly relate. In all fairness, while Oracle does not want a 66 year old implementation consultant back, US law required and I received better treatment. I am still broke, unemployed, and for all practical purposes unemployable.

    I am considering an odd solution that is sort of uniquely American. If as I pray, Mr. Romney returns to the piranha sector of the economy in November, I am planing to borrow like crazy and go back to grad school. In the likely chance that when I graduate at 70 or so, I still won’t find a gig, I will have a good shot at a bunch of loan repayment deferments. And with any luck, I can string that out until I kick off.

    Guess what? Student loans here are self insured. Yup, all my kids have to do is send in a death certificate and they go away. I am just saying, maybe a phd, mba, jd, or all three?


  6. That really is brilliant, creative thinking, JimB. The sort of thinking that employers are crying out for. Somebody should offer you a job. Unfortunately, Mr B, you are not only old but you look old and your face would screw up the company brochure.

  7. You don’t need any extra training to come across the pond and join academia – you’d be a huge improvement over some of the professors I had in college. But I know moving countries is an insane proposition, but I hear our cost of living is considerably less especially where I am.

  8. but I hear our cost of living is considerably less especially where I am.

    Are you noticing that people are moving out of the neighbourhood as well?

    • Not as much as the media would like you to believe. Everything grows here and even city-dwellers with teeny yards are allowed chickens so it makes it even more economical. And gas here is only $3.50/gal (I’m sure KJ pays more in Seattle).

  9. MP – apologies if this is something you have looked at and discarded, but have you considered Lifelong Learning – say through the Workers’ Educational Association? The barriers to entry there are much lower and you don’t always have to have a degree in your subject, or even teacher training at a high level. For example, you might well be considered able to teach running an online business as well as theology, as a result of OCICBW.

    There are two problems:

    1) The work tends to be very part-time and erratic, so the source of income isn’t very secure

    2) Because there have been swingeing cuts in the sector, there are fewer staff than there used to be.

    However, if you can actually get in and get fairly regular work, it’s a really positive thing. I’ve worked in Lifelong Learning and it made a major difference – both to me, in terms of my life and career, and to the people I was working with. I loved it, and I’m sure I’ll never forget it.

    Just a thought, anyway, if you’re still struggling (and I know you are).

    Best wishes


  10. Thanks, Huw. I have another friend who has been involved in the WEA for most of his working life. I’ve not come across it in my area yet but I will look into it. We do have a very good public access continuing learning scheme here but it’s run by the universities and the lecturers all have PHDs, which excludes me.