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Readers are people of all ages and from all walks of life uniquely qualified to bring the word of God into issues of working life, voluntary work, leisure and relationships; as well as being involved in the life and mission of the Church. They encourage others to share the Gospel wherever they are and help others discover the Christian faith for themselves.
The Office of Reader is the only voluntary lay ministry in the Church of England that is nationally accredited, episcopally licensed and governed by canon law. Readers often lead worship and can be easily identified by the blue scarf they wear. They also preach and teach; in fact the name ‘Reader’ is a reminder of their core calling: to speak aloud God’s Word in the community. Some have particular roles and gifts for serving in the wider community; some in schools, in work-place chaplaincy or as pastoral visitors. Some are specially trained to take funerals and in caring for the bereaved. Others are in pioneer roles, seeking to bring the Gospel to people beyond the familiar boundaries of the Church.
Readers work alongside ordained and lay colleagues, often in ministry teams. Having been trained and licensed they share responsibility in leading the people of God in discipleship and mission.
Who can become a Reader?
Anyone can apply to join a Reader training programme. Often we shrug off this question or assume it couldn’t possibly be me! Sometimes, others recognise your calling before you do; others have recognised that they have a calling by a feeling inside of them or through prayer or an experience in their life. The way people are called by God is as varied as the people called.
After a process of selection, Reader training takes place locally as a three-year part time course. Upon completion you can expect to receive a license to minister in this Diocese from the Bishop. Like all Christian service it is exciting, demanding and rewarding.
Like those in ordained ministry, Readers are sustained and supported in their work by participation in a continuing programme of training and development.