Leaf Background

What's What?

Describing some Church roles


A curate is in his or her first years of ordained life. They work with the vicar at the church to which they have been appointed as they continue with their training ‘on the job’ (this is part of what is called initial ministerial education, or IME).

A curacy normally lasts for four years.

Pioneer Minister

The discernment and selection process for ordained pioneer ministers is the same as for all priests, but you need to have had experience of a fresh expression of church and be have the right mix of vision and passion for missional work.

Pioneer ministers are ’sent out’ by the church to a particular place of people group where there is little or no Christian presence in the particular community or network to which feel go.

They seek to live an authentic expression of Christian spirituality and mission that is often marked by hospitality, prayer, discipleship, listening & involvement in the lives of people they meet on the journey. They often have a vision to create and foster churches that connect with a particular sub-culture, but many start off small and grow over time.

If you have a yearning passion to take the good news of Jesus out to new people and places, and have an entrepreneurial spirit of adventure, fun, teamwork and imagination, maybe God is calling you to be a Pioneer?

Parish Priest

A parish priest works mostly within the parish to which they are appointed. They're also likely to act as chaplain to some local organisations. A vicar or rector is called an incumbent, and will have overall responsibility for the life of the parish church and its mission to the community.

Parish priests are supported by other members of the church, such as churchwardens and PCC members, plus any other ordained colleagues. If you become a parish priest, you don’t have to stay doing it forever—you can move in and out of different roles, including chaplaincy, and administration within the diocese or the Archbishops’ Council.


Chaplains are ordained or lay people called to ministry in primarily secular (non-church) contexts; full-time or part-time, paid or unpaid. They try to meet the spiritual needs of people living, working, studying, caring or being cared for. This may be in education (universities, colleges and schools), hospitals, hospices, prisons, the armed forces, or the workplace.

Chaplains serve people in a variety of ways, including pastoral and spiritual support, preaching and teaching, worship and prayer, leading discussion, and exploratory groups and courses for Christians and those exploring prayer and spirituality. Most chaplaincies are ecumenical, working across church traditions and denominations, and/or multi-faith teams, usually working within the structures of the organisations in which they serve.