Two people from parishes in the Diocese were admitted to the office of Reader on Saturday in Worcester Cathedral. The Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, conducted the service, licensing the individuals to minister in the parishes they have been called to serve.
Readers are trained and licensed lay ministers in the Church of England authorised in particular to exercise a ministry of preaching and teaching. They undergo a two year training course before being admitted to the role, after which they carry out a wide range of tasks within their parishes and beyond, especially helping others to reflect on their faith and how it relates to their daily lives.
Those admitted and licensed were:
Sally-Anne Burdett, licensed to the Bromsgrove Team MinistryMelissa Beynon, licensed to the United Parish of Stoke Prior, Wychbold and Upton Warren together with the Bowbrook Group
Bishop John said: “Lay Ministers play a very important role in our churches, sharing their faith with others and serving them in God's name. I was delighted to be able to license Sally-Anne and Melissa to this very important role.”
The service was also an opportunity to say thank you to Canon Sheila Banyard, Rural Dean of Droitwich, who has had a pastoral role looking after the Lay Ministers in our Diocese for many years as ‘Warden of Readers’. Sheila was the preacher at the service. She said: “God calls each of us, just as we are. As Christians, we have a responsibility to tell people God’s story and give them the space to work out what it means to them. We should listen constantly for God’s voice reminding us that we’re all loved by Him and help others to do the same, as well as giving thanks for those who have been God’s storytellers for us.”
The Revd Sue Oliver, Vicar of St Mark’s Church in Pensnett, Dudley, has taken over from Sheila as Warden of Readers.
See photos from the service
Quotes from the Candidates:
It is such a great privilege to have been given the opportunity to train as a Licensed Lay Minister in the Diocese of Worcester. The two years of training at Queen’s Foundation in Birmingham has been enormously helpful in preparing and equipping me for the ministry that now lies ahead.
This journey has been encouraged and supported by so many different people from family, friends, tutors, fellow students, those from my training placement and my home parish. They have all helped to shape and enhance the way forward into Licensed Lay Ministry and I am extremely grateful to them all.
I am now looking forward to serving the communities within my own parish and to supporting my clergy colleagues; as well as growing and developing in ministry to walk alongside others in faith, hope, and love.
Since around five years ago I knew that I needed to do ‘something’ in terms of ministry in the church. This felt like an inner voice, or a ’prodding’ to step out of my comfort zone and to help others to see and experience God in everyday life. I tried to ignore it, but the inner voice and call grew!
When exploring ministry, the phrase ‘helping people connect faith and life’ was in some of the literature I saw about Readers. This leapt out at me, as something that I loved to do already informally, and that I wanted to be trained and given authority to do more effectively.
In Reader ministry there is a lot of flexibility, such as leading services, teaching, preaching, small groups, community projects, chaplaincy work, visiting, or taking communion to those at home. I find this very exciting, as the possibilities are endless.
The training has been very demanding and challenging, but I have loved going to Queen’s Theological College. I’ve learned how to approach scripture and theology in a much deeper way. My thinking has been expanded by the tutors and the other students. In our classes there were students from very different churches and backgrounds, all adding to the richness of our discussions. The weekly worship at Queen’s has been amazing too, I will never forget all the wonderful people I’ve met and will miss going there. But as we are licensed we’re beginning another adventure.