Clergy and Readers

Around 300 clergy minister to communities across the diocese, we are further supported by more than 300 active Readers (lay ministers).


Clergy is the term for all people ordained for religious service. A person who is accepted for ordination as a priest is first ordained as a deacon. Usually after a year, a deacon is ordained as a priest; however, some people are called to remain life-long distinctive deacons.

There are different jobs priests can do including: curate, parish priest, chaplain or ordained pioneer minister.

Information on training and development opportunities, including Continuing Ministerial Development, for Bath and Wells clergy is available in the School of Formation section.


Readers (formerly often known as Lay Readers) are lay ministers who are trained theologians and who hold a Bishop’s licence to preach, lead services and undertake pastoral work. When leading worship they generally wear cassock and surplice and the distinctive blue Reader scarf. (In some dioceses, Readers are known as Licensed Lay Ministers.)

On a typical week in Bath and Wells, Readers preach over 100 sermons and lead, or help lead, over 200 services. Readers have a significant pastoral role, visiting people in their homes, taking communion to the housebound and working in our schools and colleges. Some work with the bereaved and lead funerals. Read more about Reader ministry.

Who may minister?

There is sometimes confusion about what should happen when a parish invites someone to minister on an occasional basis – to conduct a wedding or funeral, for example, or in a vacancy.

Worshippers need to know that whoever is conducting such services is properly authorised and that they can have the same confidence in him or her as they have in their own parish priest, who will have been DBS checked and hold the Bishop’s licence.

Two documents are available for download below which explain the current position under Canon Law and under safeguarding good practice. You may like to share the shorter Who may minister? paper with those around you who are involved in inviting clergy, for example, during a vacancy. The longer paper sets out the legal position and is intended for reference.

Who to contact

  • The Ven Simon Hill

    Archdeacon of Taunton and Diocesan Warden of Readers

    Tel: 01823 413315

  • Revd Canon David Harrex

    Archdeaconry Warden of Readers - Bath

    Tel: 01934833772

  • Revd David Weir

    Archdeaconry Warden of Readers -Taunton

    Tel: 01643831330

  • Revd Graham Witts

    Archdeaconry Warden of Readers - Wells

    Tel: 01278782991

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