A SENIOR North-East church woman is to lead the national drive to help young people from all walks of life to find a role as members of the clergy.

The Bishop of Jarrow, the Right Reverend Sarah Clark, is to take on the role of chairing the Church of England’s Ministry Experience Scheme.

In the Durham Diocese the scheme, titled Ministry Experience Volunteers, is helping young people from different backgrounds across the North-East to find their way to ordained and lay ministry.

It enables those in the 18 to 30 age range to volunteer to experience ministry in the community for a year, supported by peers and supervisors.

Bishop Clark said: “I was pleased to be asked because, in my first 14 months here in Durham Diocese, I’ve recognised how pivotal our scheme has been in increasing our numbers of young people going forward to ministry training.

“It’s a good fit for me as the sponsoring bishop overseeing the selection and training of those going forward for ordination and lay ministry, seeking to enable women and men to be shaped and equipped for life long ministry serving both church and local communities.”

In 2019 - 20 nationally there were 25 schemes involving more than 100 participants, 10 in the Durham Diocese.

It will expand to 12 in 2020 - 2021, with the aim of having enough people leaving training to meet the diocese’s needs by 2022 - 2023.

The bishop takes over the national role from The Rt Rev Philip North, the Bishop of Burnley, a Hartlepool vicar until 2002.