Readers are licensed lay ministers.
This means they are not ordained, but are authorised by the Bishop to lead worship, helping to enable people to recognise Christ's presence in every community.
They do this both inside and outside the existing Church by:
- Explaining the Christian faith
- Responding pastorally to need
- Being role models for, and fellow disciples with, people seeking to live out the Christian gospel in today’s world
The role is often described as ‘theologically educated and culturally engaged.’
Readers were first used in the 19th Century, when there was a massive increase in the population of England.
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.
Readers come from all walks of life.
There are currently around 180 Readers involved in mission and ministry around the Diocese of Derby.
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 Readers in the 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.
To support and enable Readers in mission and ministry, the Diocese provides pastoral support and care for them, email update, a programme of learning opportunities and various social events.
More information can be found on the Central Readers Council Website http://www.readers.cofe.anglican.org/