Letters to the Editor
THE UNIVERSITY EDUCATION OF ORDINANDS [To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.]
Lennard, writing in your issue of March 8th about the " Sponsors Appeal of the Church to help the education of ordinands, admits by implication the vital character of the need for more ordinands, but then selects one point of difficulty in the working of the scheme, assumes that no one else has foreseen it or guarded against it, and therefore proceeds to call the whole thing ill-considered. I should like to reassure him. We have never lost sight of the obvious fact that to ordain a man who has lost his real desire for the service of the Church would be unfair to the man and even more unfair to the Church.
Those who control the working of the scheme arc men whose lives are passed amid the educational problems of our Univer- sities and who are conversant with this type of difficulty. The Sponsor Scheme, since it started in 1927, has selected for help something over 600 men. It has rejected many times that number. For the very reason that Mr. Lennard has in mind, it is the regular practice of the selectors to begin by throwing every discouragement in the face of those who offer themselves, and it requires real persistence on the part of an applicant and a very strong conviction of vocation before he is accepted. Even so, no doubt some of these men do change their minds, though very few have done so. But Mr. Lennard is wrong in his suggestion that the man who changes his rhindlt asked to repay the help that the Church has given him. No such burden is placed- on him. The Church is well content to run the risk of having selected wisely, and the man is abso- lutely Tree to change his mind at any time. Indeed, pressure is put on him to do so unless he is quite sure of himself.
• May -I venture to trespass a little further on your space and ask two questions ? What will be the result on the next generation of citizens if all religious denominations continue to be understaffed in the crowded-industrial= areas ? The Bishop of Durham recently wrote that the Church of England was not decaying, but was being allowed to peter out—for want of sufficient ministers. This is no more than the literal truth. My second question is, at a time when 75 per* cent. of the undergraduates at Oxford and Cambridge would not be there were it not for assistance from some outside source, is it reasonable for the Church to expect that all the young men who are fitted for the Ministry, and desire to enter it, should be able to pay without assistance for a course of education that is prolonged beyond the normal ?
Experience of post-War conditions has proved abundantly that financial assistance is a vital factor-to success in this matter, and I would earnestly appeal to your readers not to be deterred by Mr. Lennard's fears from helping such a good cause. "Sponsors," 'Church House, Westminster, will gladly answer all enquiries.—I am, Sir, &c., GREY. Church Assembly, Central Board of Finance. Church House, Westminster, S.W .1.