ANGLICAN Diocese of Bathurst Bishop Mark Calder will visit several Australian theological colleges in the next few months to encourage training clergy to consider taking on pastoral roles in regional areas.
There's currently 17 positions vacant across the diocese, including positions in Nyngan, Bourke and Coolah-Dunedoo, and Bishop Calder, said one of the major challenges facing potential clergy wanting to take up roles is a lack of financial support.
"Potential ministers will have to fund their own financial support if they're going to come out here," he said.
While some parishes are huge in terms of distance, Bishop Calder still has a vision to bring "renewal" to the churches.
"Parkes is huge and Gilgandra is huge, but even for the smaller ones, I still have a vision for bringing renewal and life to the churches in those places," he said.
"Even though some of the towns are smaller, there's still plenty of people that need to hear about Jesus and I don't accept the fact that if a town is tiny that they don't need or shouldn't have a minister.
"All of these places need ongoing ministry and especially in this context that life is hard, farming is tough. They need to know the hope that comes from knowing Jesus."
As Bishop Calder visits theological colleges, he'll be encouraging students to think about taking a position in the diocese.
"I'll be going to five theological colleges on the eastern sea board in the next two months to speak to students and put before them the opportunities and challenges of coming out here," he said.
"I'm going recruiting, basically, amongst theological students that are training for ministry and haven't decided where they want to serve."
While there might be a shortage of ministers, the diocese welcomed new deacons into three different parishes back in December, with Wally Cox going to Blayney, Andrew Thornhill joining Coonabarabran and Steve Klouth heading to Kelso.
- VACANT PARISHSES: Bourke, Brewarrina, Cobar, Condobolin, Coolah-Dunedoo, Coonamble, Cowra, Cumnock, Gilgandra, Grenfell, Narromine, Nyngan, Oberon, Parkes, Trundle, Warren, West Wyalong
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