Being a Reader

Being a Reader takes many forms. Readership in our diocese is very strong with about 300 active Readers. In many churches on Sundays, Readers preach and lead services. But a Reader’s ministry is not just on a Sunday. Reader’s minister, as a result of their licence, in schools, prisons, care homes. They work as street pastors, chaplains, and pastoral visitors. We are asking Readers to tell us about what they do beyond the ‘church walls’.  We hope to build this section up. If you are a Reader we would love to feature your story explaining what “Being a Reader” means for you. Your stories provide encouragement for those considering Reader Ministry. They also challenge and inspire other Readers.

Thanks to Martin for offering this for our new leaflet on Readers.

Martin from Portishead Deanery

For me, some parts of Reader ministry are acts of privileged service to the Christian community in which I live. Others are about encouraging all of us in that community to work at increasing our collective understanding of our faith and our engagement with the world at large – in the local and the global sense. That says something about being light and salt, and both have importance for me within my ministry.

Was I “called”? Well, I was “spoken to” by a previous Rector, but I had felt for some time that more was being asked of me. Certainly, I needed to be better equipped for whatever that was, so the foundational study course was required. Reader training was wide-ranging and fun and crucial for me was learning that when I preach the voice and the words are from me, but the thoughts and inspirations are, I pray, of God. I hope that what God enables people to hear through this and the rest of my ministry is helpful.

Elizabeth from the Old Deanery

Bishop Ruth, Elizabeth Harper and Jane ChamberlainI have been a Reader since 2002 and the calling has led me to the wonderful role of Lay Ministries Enabler for the Diocese. The great thing about Reader Ministry is that its recognised nationally. I have served in Bristol, Durham and Ely Dioceses before coming to Bath and Wells in 2018. Wherever I go I feel welcomed. Growing up in an evangelical New Zealand Anglican church there was lots of encouragement to evangelism and mission, but I knew my gifts worked best within the church, facilitating others to go out into the community.

Early on, I applied for ordination and the refusal was quite a blow at the time. But as a result I discovered my unique gift as an adult theological educator and I began to train people for ministry. Had I become an incumbent, teaching and preaching would have jostled with so many other demands. As a full time educator, training ordinands, readers and other lay ministers I have much more opportunity to teach.  And, being a Reader, I do so as a lay person and can represent lay people at the heart of the Diocese.

Recently the Central Reader Council identified “Teachers of the Faith” as one of the three strands of Reader Ministry.  I fit there, but you might fit better in the other strands: “Enablers of Mission” or “Leaders in Church and Community”. I also like the definition that Readers are Ministers of the Word, while clergy are Ministers of the Sacraments. Ministering the Word of God in what we say and in what we do at home, in church and in the wider world, as examples to fellow Christians of living and telling the story.

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