Licensed Lay Ministers within the Diocese of Oxford are, elsewhere in the Church of England, called “Readers”.
Our ministry can be summed up under the three headings of Preaching, Leading Worship and Pastoral Care, and as theologically articulate lay people in the workplace and in society we are regarded as an essential link between the world and the church.
Who are Licensed Lay Ministers?
Lay Ministers are theologically trained lay members of the church who hold a Licence from their Area Bishop to exercise their Reader ministry in their parish and in the Bishop’s Episcopal area.
There are 10,000 Readers at present in the Church of England and they are administered centrally by the Central Readers’ Council (CRC) located in Church House in London. Each Diocese is responsible for the training and appointment of their own Readers but, as the training is based on a common syllabus, Readers can move between Dioceses across the country and the worldwide Anglican Church. Each Diocese has a Warden of Readers who is responsible for Reader ministry in that Diocese.
Reader ministry is traditionally a preaching and teaching ministry and many Readers are also members of the College of Preachers. However, increasingly many Readers are finding their ministry spreading into other areas like prison or hospital chaplaincy and other pastoral ministries, particularly at their places of work.
What is Lay Ministry?
Reader Ministry is a preaching and teaching ministry. The Diocese of Oxford Handbook for Licensed Lay Ministry describes the duties of Licensed Lay Ministers as follows:-
a) To read the word of God
b) To preach
c) To read Morning and Evening Prayer (with the exception of the Absolution).
d) To administer the elements at the Holy Communion
e) To take the service of Holy Communion using Reserved Sacrament
f) To visit the sick; to read and pray with them
g) To teach in Sunday School and elsewhere, and generally to undertake such pastoral and educational work and to give such assistance to any minister as the bishop may direct
h) To conduct Funeral Services with the goodwill of the persons responsible
i) To publish Banns of Marriage at Morning and Evening Prayer, (subject to the conditions laid down in the Marriage Act 1949)
j) Take a service of dedication after a civil marriage
Are you called to be a Lay Minister?
Are you being called by God to be a Licensed Lay Minister? If you believe that you are being prompted towards this vocation then you should first discuss it with your Vicar or Rector (Incumbent). You can also find advice about Vocations on the Diocesan website.
After consultation and conversations with their local Incumbent to ensure that the Parish/Benefice is happy to sponsor the candidate, the Incumbent will direct the candidate to a Vocations Adviser in the Deanery.
After further discernment, the Vocations Adviser will write a report to the local Lay Minister Archdeaconry Adviser who will meet the candidate and, when the time is right, will put him/her forward for a Selection Conference for recommendation to enter Lay Ministers Training.
The training is normally for three years and is done through completion of a Portfolio of evidence of competency in all areas of Ministry.
Once training is satisfactorily completed, and the Parish/Benefice is also deemed to be ready with a satisfactory Ministry Agreement in place, then further discernment is undertaken to confirm that the candidate is fully prepared. The candidate is then recommended to the Bishop. It is the Bishop who gives the final consent for the candidate to be Admitted as a Reader in the Church of England and Licensed as an Lay Minister in the Diocese of Oxford, and this then takes place at the annual service in October/November in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.
As Readers and Lay Ministers, we are committed to life long learning. To support this we are required to undertake Continuing Ministerial Development (CMD) and a regular programme of CMD is organised in the Diocese. Attendance at the annual Lay Ministers’ Forum, Annual Conference and LAMP group events (see Events page) are counted as CMD and it should also be noted that all Lay Ministers are welcome at any clergy events put on in Diocesan Church House. Additionally, if there are any other courses that a Lay Minister wishes to attend, for example those organised by the College of Preachers and the Central Readers Council, there is money available to assist attendance.