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Self-Supporting Ministers

We celebrate our Self-Supporting Ministers (SSMs) in all their many and varied roles and callings: they are a rich part of the diverse ways this diocese serves our people.

God calls. God calls us in our lives in all kinds of ways, often to what we think at first is impossible. As I hear the stories of those who are sensing a call to ordination it is to this sense of the impossible, with a slow realisation that God’s call is persistent and others are sensing it in that person as well, that always amazes me. This is often especially true for those who respond to be Self-Supporting Ministers (SSM), often via a road that has been a long and winding one. In the Diocese of Norwich we are blessed with many who give in ministry in this way. Self-Supporting Ministry, like all ministry, is both a privilege and a joy. It’s a privilege to be trained and supported to make a free gift of one’s time and energy to God. It’s a joy to serve God’s people in all the ways that Self-Supporting Ministry can, in all the places it can reach. As we seek Christ in “ten thousand places”, Self-Supporting Ministers build bridges, hold strands of life in tension, and live on thresholds and in ambiguity, whilst seeking out God in God’s world and in God’s people as they do their work to God’s glory, making God explicit wherever they go. We are praying in the Diocese of Norwich that God will continue to send more harvesters to the vineyard. We are keen to increase the number of Self-Supporting Ministers. So, is God calling you? Or do you know someone who God might be calling, even if that seems impossible for now?

What is self-supporting ministry?

Self-Supporting Ministers have undertaken theological training and are ordained as deacons and then priests; they might serve full-time or part-time in the parish, they might combine this with paid employment in a workplace or have voluntary roles in the community, they might be chaplains full-time or part-time.

Theological training for Self-Supporting Ministers is usually on a regional course, but is sometimes residential.

Each individual Self-Supporting Minister works within the parish system, yet follows their unique vocational path, led by God and licensed by the Bishop.

It is wise practice for licensed SSMs (this title includes OLMs) and their incumbents to discuss and draw up a Working Agreement. This will take into account the variety of ministry and work undertaken by the SSM, both within and beyond the parish, to the glory of God and the growing of his kingdom.
This document ( SSM Working Agreement) is the framework we recommend for doing that.

Supporting Self-Supporting Ministers

The Bishop of Thetford has responsibility for the Diocesan Ministry Team which includes:

  • The Revd Canon Keith James, Director of Ministry
  • The Revd Dr Michael Fox, Diocesan Director of Ordinands & Initial Ministerial Education (DDO and IME2)
  • The Revd Canon Susanna Gunner, Spirituality & Discipleship Adviser (part-time)
  • The Revd Susan Hemsley Halls, Authorised Worship Assistants Co-ordinator (part-time)
  • The Revd Charles Read, Licensed Lay Ministry Training Coordinator (part-time)


For information and support in connection with this type of ministry, please contact the Revd Carol Pritchard, Bishop’s Adviser for SSM on or 07759 801622.

Exploring a vocation in self-supporting ministry

To explore a vocation in self-supporting ministry, please go to the Vocations area.

You might then have an initial conversation with the Revd Dr Michael Fox, Bishop’s Officer for Ordinands & Initial Training (BOOIT), or go straight to a Vocations Advisor, many of whom are or have been Self-Supporting Ministers or Licensed Lay Ministers. 

The Revd Carol Pritchard, Bishop’s Adviser for SSM

Carol became the first Bishop’s Adviser for Self-Supporting Ministry for the Diocese of Norwich in June 2020.

The role involves advising Bishop Graham and his fellow bishops, encouraging and supporting SSMs, helping those who are considering the vocation, convening conferences and gatherings, meeting with other diocesan advisers and being an SSM voice on various working groups when invited to do so. This work is rooted in the ministerial development team led by Revd Keith James