What is a Reader?
Readers (also known as Licensed Lay Ministers - LLMs - in some dioceses) play an important role in the public ministry of the Church by leading worship, teaching and preaching, as well as in a wide range of missional and pastoral contexts. As theologically trained lay people they offer a ministry within the church and to the wider community; and are well placed to encourage people in their everyday faith. The office of Reader in the Church of England is governed by canon law (Canons E4, 5 & 6).
The ministry of individual Readers varies according to their gifting and mission context. Whilst most Readers minister collaboratively as part of a team of lay and ordained ministers some work very much on the margins of society sharing God’s love and message of hope to those who may not yet know it.
- Called by God to a ministry of the Word
- Licensed by the Bishop to exercise a public and representative lay ministry in Church and the wider community
- Theologically trained and equipped as:
- teachers of the faith
- enablers of mission in the everyday
- leaders in church and community
Some Readers are also trained and authorised for funeral ministry.
Might you be called to Licensed Lay Ministry in the Church of England?
To be considered for this ministry a candidate must be a baptised, confirmed and a regular communicant of the Church of England.
Reader ministry is nationally recognised and transferable within the Church of England, the Church in Wales, and in some other dioceses and provinces of the Anglican Communion. This distinguishes Readers from other locally recognised forms of lay ministry, such as that of authorised lay ministers (ALMs), chaplains, pastoral assistants and ‘lay’ lay leaders.
Being able to articulate a sense of calling to a ‘licensed’ lay ministry rather than a call to recognised local lay ministry (or simply as a means to completing some theological training) is an important aspect of the discernment process.
Recommended Reading - Reader Ministry Explored by Cathy Rowling and Paula Gooder (SPCK 2009) is an informative read for anyone wishing to find out more about this ministry and has lots of ueful guidance for anyone involved in Reader ministry clergy with Readers.
- Diocesan Reader Ministry Handbook (Word) (PDF)
- Resourcing Sunday to Saturday Faith - Readers, Lay Ministers & Everyday Faith
- Transforming Ministry - the website of the Central Readers Council
- Suggested Ministry Agreement
- Briefing Note for Clergy and PCC Members
Ministry Agreement & Review
All Readers in active ministry are required to have a written ministry agreement with their incumbent; this agreement is subject to annual review. The annaul review meeting willbe initiated by the Warden of Readers after Easter (each year) but may take place at any convenient time during the year. This meeting provided an opportnity for reflection as well as identifying areas for continued ministerial development (CMD) and should be used to review and revise the ministery agreement. Useful statistical informaton (number of services taken, areas of ministry etc) is also gathered annually through an online survey initiated by the Warden of Readers.
Transfers into and within the Diocese
Admitted Readers arriving into the Diocese may seek to be licensed. It is normal procedure to allow a settling in period before proceeding. Where a Reader moves parish or deanery a similar process is begun. The Warden of Readers is available for further advice.
Ministry Breaks & retirement from active ministry
Sometimes a Reader may wish to take a temporary or indefinite break from active ministry; this may be for a variety of reasons. When a Reader wishes to retire permanently from regular active ministry, the Bishop may grant the title ‘Reader Emeritus’ in recognition of the service given by the individual. In either of these situations, the Warden of Readers should be consulted and is available for further advice.
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