More women than men are training to become priests.

According to the latest statistics published by the Church of England, more women have been training for ordained ministry than men - for the second year running.

Last year, 54 per cent of people who started training to become clergy were women.

Meanwhile, 30 per cent of the 20,000 active clergy across the country today are women, which is up from 27 per cent in 2014.

In the Diocese of Salisbury around 40 per cent of those in active ministry are women - higher than the national figure.

The number of women in senior posts such as dean or bishop also rose from 23 per cent to 25 per cent across the country over the last year.

But these figures don’t take into account the appointment of six female bishops earlier this year, bringing the national total up to 24.

Revd Prebendary Ronnie Crossman, Diocesan Vocations Coordinator of the Diocese of Salisbury, said: “Back in 1994 when women were first priested in the Church of England, there was an interesting statistic flying around that suggested that the number of women about to be priested coincided with the current number of vacant posts within the church of England.

“I don’t know if that was proven, but it seems the number of women still coming forward for ordination is continuing to rise.

“Certainly looking at the statistics for those currently exploring a vocation within the diocese of Salisbury (lay and ordained) there are slightly more women than men. It is also good to see an increasing number of women inhabiting more senior roles within the Church of England such as Bishop and Archdeacon.

“We need to ensure those who lead our churches are representative of our community as a whole. It is good to see more women coming forward, whilst continuing to encourage all those: men and women, from all walks of life and the varied cultures from within our wider community.”

The Revd Helen Dawes, Dean of Women’s Ministry for the Diocese of Salisbury, said: “It’s really good news that more women are responding to God’s call to ordained ministry. In England in 2018, 54% of the people who started training to become clergy were women. Across the country now, about 30% of clergy in active ministry are women and here in the Diocese of Salisbury it’s even higher, at about 40%. What matters most is that women and men are all able to follow where God leads them, whether that’s as lay members of the church or as clergy.”