Manna interview: We can do it!

25th January 2023

Michael Spicer with other LWAs‘We can do it’

Julian Spicer is one of nine Lay Worship Assistants licensed in Quantock Towers benefice last year. 

What made you all decide to become LWAs?

We had advance notice of our rector retiring and as churchwardens are practical problem-solving people and we knew, post-Covid, how important it is for people to have confidence that we are maintaining our normal service pattern. We went out and asked our congregations who would like to join us and train up and in total nine of us trained up, including five churchwardens.

How was the training?

It was only four Saturday mornings and was just for our deanery and with just 11 people in total on our course, it felt very comfortable. Although churchwardens can take services if needed, there was a real benefit in us all taking the same training and getting a common grounding. I don’t think the training would get anyone from zero to where they needed to be, but because there is an element of self-selection in it – in that few people put themselves forward as they all had some kind of role that meant they were used to being up front in some way, for example a churchwarden or choir members.

Are you looking forward to having a vicar again?

It will be nice not to have to worry about finding someone to take a Christening service, for example, and knowing that there is someone there who can either do it or find someone to do it. There is a bit of a sense of ‘we’ve proved we can do it but don’t want to do it on our own forever’.

Have you enjoyed it?

I think some people have found it a growth experience. They feel they really have moved on from one place to another place and we are all very happy to carry on doing services. We also have two more people are in training so we will soon have 11 LWAs which is great.

What would you say to anyone considered being an LWA?

There is a satisfaction in getting on with the role. If you feel it is something you want to do and would like to do then you can probably do it. You can be reassured that generally you will be doing it for people you know, who are not generally critical and they will be very pleased that someone is prepared to stand up and do it. You feel the gratitude and reward in doing it. 

Is it a demanding role?

You have to choose how much you are prepared to do and of course at first it takes a bit of time to get used to, finding everything you need for the service, for example a suitable sermon, and such like but you do get into a rhythm and learn where to find things. I am also in the process of setting up a Facebook group for LWAs (Lay Worship Leaders England) so we can support one another and share resources which I hope will be as useful as the one for Churchwardens.

Do you move around the churches in your benefice?

Not generally. Most of us have another role in the church so if we did we would need to find cover in that role so we are not particularly mobile, although we have started to do ‘swaps’. Partly of comfort, which can be overcome in time.

A shorter version of this article first appeared in the Manna mailing for February 2023.
Find out more about Enabling Ministries in Bath and Wells.

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