Licensed Lay Ministers (Readers) in the Diocese of Derby are individuals who are authorised by the Bishop to enable people to recognise Christ's presence in every community. They do this both inside and outside the existing Church by:
- Being role models for, and fellow disciples with, people seeking to live out the Christian gospel in today’s world
- Explaining the Christian faith
- Leading worship
- Responding pastorally to need
Reader ministry started as a creative way of resourcing the work of the Church of England in an exciting time of growth. During the course of the 19th Century there was a massive increase in the population of England and particularly in the heavily industrialised North West and London. In response the Victorians built lots of churches and then had to work out how to respond to the spiritual and pastoral needs of the people who flocked to them, as well as their expectations for well led services. Part of the answer was to licence a group of lay people to work with the clergy. They were called “Readers” because one of their more obvious jobs was to read out loud Morning and Evening Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer so that congregations could join in.
Contemporary Reader ministry has not really changed in essence from that first vision. There are over 10,000 licensed Readers across the Church of England. These are people involved in the mission of their parish church who have been specifically trained to respond to community needs with pastoral care, teaching about the Christian faith and good quality worship and preaching. Readers are ordinary people from all walks of life who share a passion for the growth of the Kingdom of God in the lives of the people around them. They are lay people who are often in full time or part-time employment who undertake Reader ministry as volunteers. Readers are, however, public representatives of the Church in the community and therefore do hold a nationally recognised Office within the Church of England. Reader ministry is therefore often referred to as a bridge; between clergy and communities, between the world of everyday life and the world of the church and between the everyday and spirituality.
More information can be found on the Central Readers Council Website http://www.readers.cofe.anglican.org/
Reader ministry in Derby Diocese
There are currently around 260 Readers involved in mission and ministry around the Diocese. Some are involved in chaplaincy in schools, prisons, workplaces and hospitals, some are involved in community development work and some are involved in teaching in the parish and leading worship. All of them have a passion for supporting and encouraging people in their Christian faith.
All Readers in Derby Diocese are licenced to a parish or benefice to enable them to have direct relationships of accountability and support. However, this doesn’t mean that they are restricted to working within one parish or the work that the parish or benefice is already doing. Many Readers initiate new pieces of work and projects formed out of their relationships with ordinary people going about their everyday lives. Many Readers have long histories and well-founded relationships in a local community or with a family or network of people and are able to journey alongside “weeping with those who weep and laughing with those who laugh”.
To support and enable Readers in mission and ministry the Diocese provides pastoral support and care for them, a regular news email, a programme of learning opportunities and various social events.