Southampton Ministry Experience Scheme inspires young people to explore their vocation

    1 Feb. 2016
    From left to right: Revd Amy Powis; CEMES participants, Marc Allez, Ellen Alexander, Jen Farwell, Bex Greagsby, Serena Carthy, Simon Crispin; and The Ven Paul Moore, Revd Jon Oliver; and Revd Canon Mark Collinson (Canon Principal, School of Mission)

    A new scheme is giving young people a chance to experience leadership within the Church of England and explore the possibility of ministry. A group of parishes in Southampton, led by Revds Andy Smith and Jon Oliver have pioneered the Church of England Ministry Experience Scheme (CEMES) in Winchester Diocese. CEMES is a unique ministry experience scheme offering placements in churches around the country for 18 to 30 year olds to give them hands-on understanding of leadership roles within the Church. In Winchester, five young people joined the scheme in 2015, giving a year of their lives to experience mission. Participants are housed and fed by their parishes, meeting each Tuesday to share their experiences and pray together. Tuesday is also study day for the CEMES participants who are all taking theology and leadership courses provided by St Mellitus College.

    24 year old Serena Carthy is one of the first cohort of young people to join the scheme in Winchester Diocese, having started in September 2015, and already she is working towards ordination. Serena grew up in London and is currently based in the parish of St Mary’s Sholing. When not studying, CEMES participants are involved in all different aspects of the lives of their parishes, and Serena spends much of her time within the parish working on mission-shaped projects for young people, she said:

    “The CEMES programme is such an awesome opportunity to lead worship and I feel privileged to have been given the chance to serve God in this way. I’ve been working a lot with children and I love the weekly toddler service I’m involved with in our parish. The toddlers can be a bit of a handful but they respond so positively to bible stories and shared worship. They really engage with the service and so do their parents, it’s wonderful for me to be able to guide their prayer.”

    She has also taken up a leadership role in the Messy Church as part of her service to the parish of St Mary’s Sholing. Serena signed up for CEMES and its unique programme because she was attracted to the idea of exploring vocation, but the experience has been life changing for her, and she is now actively working towards ordination:

    “When the possibility of ordination was mentioned my eyes just lit up. The process of becoming ordained can seem intimidating, but being a part of CEMES has given me a really positive understanding of what’s involved, as well as providing a support network of people who are part of the same extraordinary programme.”

    Paul Moore, Archdeacon for Mission Development in the Diocese of Winchester, said:

    “It can be difficult for young people to know what their calling is. This scheme is a brilliant way of encouraging them to consider whether ordained or licensed lay ministry may be right for them. I’ve been so impressed by what I’ve seen so far and I know the young people currently on the programme have very bright futures ahead of them. This scheme is helping us to re-imagine church for a 21st century generation. Applications for the scheme commencing in September 2016 are now open, and I look forward to welcoming the next group of young people onto Winchester’s CEMES programme.”


    Applications for CEMES 2016 are now open, with the course commencing in September 2016. If you would like to find out more please

    click here.

    For more infromation you can also contact Jon Oliver or Andy Smith on 023 8055 9074 or email

    Photo from left to right: Revd Amy Powis (CEMES Supervisor); Marc Allez, Ellen Alexander, Jen Farwell, Bex Greagsby, Serena Carthy, Simon Crispin (CEMES Participants); The Ven Paul Moore (Archdeacon for Mission Development); Revd Jon Oliver (Pioneer Minister & CEMES Coordinator); and Revd Canon Mark Collinson (Canon Principal, School of Mission)