29 MARCH 1930, Page 20

[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.]

SIRS Mr. Lennard's criticism as to the possibility of an ordinand in training changing his mind and no longer desiring to seek Orders appears to have bern duly met by Earl Grey, but, if I may say so, there is another and even graver danger ; I allude to the type of men to be recruited.

Earl Grey says the selectors' indispensable conditions are (1) real persistence ; (2) a very strong sense of vocation. Without these qualifications the Sponsor Scheme rejects an applicant. I would have added a third requirement (only I would have placed it first)—a strong personality and marked ability for self-expression especially in public speaking.

Bearing in mind that it is the function of the clergy to be leaders of men, it seems not unnatural to require that a candi- date should be unmistakably of the leader type. It is in just this respect that failure has so often occurred: The vast majority of the Clergy are veritable Nathaniels and must be respected as such, but it is one thing to be gnileless, and deeply in earnest, and quite another to be endowed With those'Powers which qualify a man to lead others. People deplOre the falling away from the practice of religion, but is not this largely due' not to the indifference of the masses of the people, but to'the mediocrity of their appointed .leaders and their inability to- gain either the attendance or attention of the bulk of their • parishioners ?

The Bishop of Durham refers to the Church of England as being allowed to peter out for want of ministers; but ought he not halie said the right kind of Ministers ? Here is the danger.` Faced with an undoubted Shortage we must beware lest a sort of spiritual press gang gets to work, and at no time is the Old prayer that the Chuich should not lay ban& sud- denly on any Man more apprOpriate than at present-.

The Bishop of Southwark recently recommended that a sense of vocation should be rowed in the diocese. Now this may result in a number of well-intentioned, fairly well-educated and otherwise blameless-living young men being :canvassed. The sense of vocation is detected, or is thought to be, and a start towards ordination is made. But at what stage is it considered, Is this man of the leader type? Has he a cora- pelling personality? Is he ever likely to preach so as to attract? And what if the .answers to these questions are doubtful ?

From experience one cannot believe that any man who clearly had no gift for public speaking would be disqualified. Preaching of recent years has sunk to a low level, and one hears even from the clergy the remark that " it is not sermons that are wanted, it is the Miss that matters." The idea of depreciating the value of preaching seems most fallacious, and there is no doubt whatever that its neglect and the falling off in church attendance are directly related.—I am, Sir, &c, P. H. C. PRENTICE.

1 Wishwell Road, Streatham Common.