Readers are lay ministers, given a Bishop’s licence to lead services, preach and attend to pastoral and missional work arising from these ministries. Trained as lay theologians, they help all people think and talk about God and God’s relationship to the world. Reader Ministry provides a bridge between the clergy and the laity; the church and the community.
Current Bath and Wells Readers can find information and things they may need on the Reader Hub page
What is Reader Ministry?
The Office of Reader is one of the oldest lay ministries in the Church. In its present form, it dates back to 1866, but its roots are even older. Over 300 active Readers minister in the Diocese of Bath and Wells and around 10,000 Readers across the Church as a whole.
On a typical week, Readers preach over 100 sermons and lead, or help lead, over 200 services, working collaboratively with clergy, churchwardens and other church members. 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. Readers can be found in parishes, schools, prisons, hospitals, hospices, factories and shops, among seafarers and in the Armed Forces, with children and young people, the elderly, housebound and bereaved, and with those preparing for baptism, confirmation and marriage.
In order to be lay theologians and responsibly undertake the privilege and power of preaching, they have a rigorous theological training and ultimately gain the Bishop’s licence to preach and lead worship on the Bishop’s behalf. As such, they are public representatives of the Church of England. Their training and blue scarf is recognised nation-wide so that Readers can transfer their ministry to other Dioceses, should they move.
The ministry is under the oversight of the Diocesan Warden of Readers. The Diocesan Readers Council has a representative role and helps organise training and events.
Listen to Readers speak of their ministry:
Might Reader Ministry be for you?
God calls people from many different backgrounds to Reader ministry. The call to become a Reader may be felt by an individual or recognised by their incumbent, a fellow worshipper, or even someone who does not even attend church but recognises certain qualities. There is no single profile for a Reader. They can be men or women of almost any age and from all walks of life.
If you are someone
- Whose faith informs all of your life
- With a commitment to spiritual discipline including private and corporate prayer
- Who has the potential to engage in depth with theology (although not necessarily academic theology)
- With the ability to absorb and analyse their experience and reflect on it theologically
- Who can communicate effectively, helping people within and beyond the church to understand the Christian faith
- Enjoying a wide variety of people and is able to relate to them
- Who works well as part of a team
- With resilience, who is not afraid of change
- Committed to the Church of England (baptised and confirmed)
- Who others see as a person of faith and integrity
Then Reader ministry may be a calling for you to explore with others in your church.
To find out more about Reader Ministry, speak first to your minister and pray alone and with others for discernment. There are Deanery Wardens of Readers, who are Readers themselves, and would be happy to talk with you about the ministry. Your minister can put you in touch with them.
To find about more about Reader Ministry see the links below. Recommended reading for anyone considering Reader ministry is Reader Ministry Explored, which gives an overview of Reader ministry with its historical, practical and anecdotal insights.