Reving up for a new life

HIGH-FLYING professionals are choosing the Church of England in search of a quieter vocation in life. According to new figures released by the church, there were 578 new recruits last year – the highest number since 1980. But they can t expect a tranquil,

HIGH-FLYING professionals are choosing the Church of England in search of a quieter vocation in life.

According to new figures released by the church, there were 578 new recruits last year - the highest number since 1980.

But they can't expect a tranquil, easy-going lifestyle, warns one businessman turned priest

The Rev Simon Chambers, attached to Ashwell parish church, is a former company director of an electronics firm and left behind an affluent life to pursue his vocation.

The 41-year-old, who was ordained in 2002, said: "There wasn't a flash of lightning one day that made me choose this direction, although I think everyone would like it to be that simple.

"Running my own business, I had the opportunity to question what I was doing and look at the direction I was taking.

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"A lot of my friends were not surprised by my decision but I surprised myself."

According to the figures, the number of new priests over 40 increased nearly five-fold between 1980 and 2005 - there were 369 in 2005 compared with 79 in 1980.

Mr Chambers, who has a PhD in electronics, said: "The church has recently come up to date with quite a lot of its thinking and that may have caused people to become more interested."

He has been administering the church in Ashwell since he completed his curacy in November last year.

He said: "There are aspects of my life before that are different and I do miss some of it but ministry certainly feels a lot more wholesome, complete and holistic.

For those who expect a quieter life from ministry, Mr Chambers has a warning.

He said: "It can be quite frustrating and is much harder work than it ever was being a company director."

He added: "People coming to the ministry having had more life experience can identify with people more and also come with a lot more skills. A lot of skills I had through business are transferable. This is just a different way of thinking.