Nick Bird, Diocesan Adviser for vocations, writes:

Ember days

At four periods of the year, the traditional liturgical calendar of the Church marks ember days. These days are attached to the natural seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter and were days of fasting and abstinence, but also of prayer and preparation. Over time, Ember Saturdays became the traditional days for ordinations. Tradition prescribed that ordinations be preceded by fasting and prayer (see Acts 13:3), and so it was quite reasonable to place ordinations at the end of this fast period. This allows the entire community to join the candidates in fasting and in praying for God’s blessing upon their vocation and ministry.

Prayer for the whole church

However, vocation and ministry are not simply about those who are ordained or in Licensed or Authorised ministry, and so these four periods in the year can become a time of prayer and response by the whole church, calling forth all the faithful to respond to God’s invitation to join in God’s mission to the whole world through the whole of life.

The call of vocation and ministry

The Michaelmas Embertide culminates in the Sunday 24th September gospel reading of Matthew 20.1-16 and the parable of the workers in the vineyard. May I encourage you to pray and preach and talk around the theme of vocation, call, service and mission? You will note that the owner of the vineyard did not wait for workers to turn up at his gate. Rather, he actively sought them and sent them to work. Why do we so often wait for people to hear a direct call from God instead of being partners in the calling? We don’t expect evangelism to work in that way, so why can we be so passive around the call of vocation and ministry?

September starts

This September marks the beginning of our first Deepening Discipleship Project, which is ‘a new accompanied learning community to support the growth and development of the ministry of God’s people in local churches across our Diocese...the first step for those who are interested in developing their ministry and would like to explore their calling to either Licensed Lay Ministry or Authorised Lay Ministry’. September is also when we send our ordinands into formation and training, and thus marks another beginning in ministry.

For further support around vocations to ministry you are welcome to contact the Revd Canon Nick Bird ( or the Revd Anna Burr (Coordinator of the Network of Vocation Advisers –


The Revd Canon Nick Bird
Diocesan Adviser for Vocations

Go to Vocations home page