Each year the Church of England reveals the number of people recommended for training for ordination, with this year's statistics showing the highest number of people in 13 years.
In 2020, 591 people were recommended for training, the highest figure for 13 years, and 580 of them started training in September.
The figures have grown by 22 per cent compared to 2016, from 480 people.
Of those recommended, 431 plan to go into paid, or stipendiary, ministry - the highest number for 34 years. This figure is revealed in the context of plans by the Church of England to grow its number of lay ministers drastically - something being discussed at its General Synod in the next few days.
It plans to launch 10,000 lay-led churches in the next decade, with church planting leaders arguing that this is what led to rapid church growth in Africa.
However, many paid vicars have criticised the fact that they they were referred to as "key limiting factors" when Canon John McGinley, the head of church-planting development at New Wine and a priest in the diocese of Leicester said: "Lay-led churches release the Church from key limiting factors. When you don’t need a building and a stipend and long, costly college-based training for every leader of church...then actually we can release new people to lead and new churches to form."
The figures show that 230 people began training to be a Reader and or a Lay Minister in 2020.
Women made up the majority of the ordinands, at 54 per cent, and nearly a quarter were under 32 years old.
Ordinands from UK Minority Ethnic backgrounds made up 10.9 per cent of the intake.
The statistics also show the total number of clergy currently active in the Church. Overall, there were nearly 20,000 at the end of last year with just over 2,000 working in areas such as chaplaincies, theological colleges and dioceses and 320 clergy retired during 2020.
The Church of England's head of vocations, Revd Helen Fraser, paid tribute to the dedication of all those who kept the discernment process on course during the pandemic: "We thank God for his generosity and express our gratitude to our colleagues in the dioceses, parishes and national church, who have shown such dedication and perseverance," she said.