Beginning in Reader ministry

Published on: 10 January 2020

In September 2019, four new Readers were Licensed and five who have recently transferred to this Diocese were welcomed in a Readers’ Day Eucharist that highlights the importance of this essential ministry. The new four share some of their journey.

Gus Woodcock

“Whilst, over a number of years, friends both inside and outside church had observed that I’d ‘make a good vicar’, and I had certainly felt a pull toward some form of church ministry, I guess my uncertainty had found me waiting for that ‘voice of God’ moment to give me the confidence to take the first step on my vocational journey. Or better still, a letter in the post from God simply saying ‘yes, I do mean you’! But when I attended a ‘LifeCalling’ day (which I highly recommend, by the way) it was suggested to me that all those voices around me had the same discernment and affirmation as getting a Saul-like thunderbolt from above.

“Training has been a challenge, both in terms of volume of work and the challenging of some of my own views and beliefs, but the teaching staff have been tremendous. Working alongside other students also makes the whole learning and formational experience more enjoyable and rewarding. With every reader ministry being unique to itself, I am both excited and nervous about what God has in store for me as I take this new step.

“Although Forrest Gump might say that life (and maybe Reader ministry) is like a box of chocolates and ‘you never know what you’re gonna get’, I know I can be confident that, whatever direction my Reader ministry takes me in, God will be right there beside me.”


Fiona Tibbitt

“About eight years before I started training, a Reader at my church asked if I had considered it. I thought it was a ridiculous suggestion; there was no way I could stand up in front of people and speak!

“Over the next few years I became more involved with worship. I found this an incredible privilege, feeling so tangibly close to God. I could feel his Holy Spirit leading me, strengthening me. The stronger my faith became the more I wanted to share it with others. How could I help people to understand my faith, to feel God’s love for themselves?

“I became an Authorised Worship Assistant (AWA) for our church and while I enjoyed the training, I didn’t feel it was enough for what I was being called to do by God. Through many hours of prayer and discussion with my Vocations Advisor, my path became very clear: Reader ministry.

“I work as a Business Manager in a Church of England Primary School which has strong links with my church. I was where God wanted me to be and through Reader ministry, I would be better equipped to share my faith with those I work with.

“Reader training has been a wonderful journey; hard work but so fulfilling. It has given me a better understanding of Scripture and built my confidence so that through the grace of God I can now stand and preach. I have met so many amazing people along the way and made lifelong friends. I look forward to finding out what the next steps of my journey with Christ will be.”


Helen Grogutt

“When I wrote my review at the end of my first three years as an AWA, Bishop Alan replied to thank me for thoroughly embracing the role and to ask if I had considered further ministry. I was quite excited by this prospect. Urged on by close friends who told me that I would make a good Reader, I began the process leading to application and selection.

“It hasn’t been easy fitting in training with a full-time job and care of my elderly parents, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience especially the opportunities to learn and worship with the ERMC community, forming close friendships with both Ordinands and Trainee Readers. I have learnt an enormous amount and gathered a huge collection of books still to be read, but then initial training is really just the beginning of the journey.

“I have found a new confidence in sharing my faith. Now, rather than seeing my job as getting in the way of my serving God, I see my job as very much part of my ministry in which I can live out my faith and provide pastoral support for children, their families and staff. After all God’s love is everywhere. I very much look forward to continuing to serve the community in Rackheath, Salhouse, The Plumsteads and Witton and to whatever other doors God may open for me.”


Lesley Cox

“As I approached retirement from full-time teaching, I arranged a meeting with my incumbent to consider how I might become more involved in serving my local church. A few days prior to our meeting she received a letter from the diocese about recommending people for reader ministry. Praying together about this, we both felt that the letter described some of the ways in which I might be called to serve, so I contacted a vocations adviser and was recommended for training.

“Having completed my training during our subsequent vacancy, I have had many practical opportunities for beginning to develop ministry here, in particular, leading café church. It is difficult to summarise all the ways in which my spiritual awareness, academic understanding and personal formation have been promoted through training with ERMC but suffice to say it has certainly been a journey worth undertaking. I look forward to serving in the Tas Valley Team Ministry more fully alongside my fellow pilgrims on this life-changing journey.”


Might God be calling you to Reader Ministry?

If you think you may be interested in finding out more about Reader ministry, take a look at the Diocese of Norwich website on how to become a Reader and talk to others in your church community, including your vicar. Find out more here.


Newly Licensed Readers:

Lesley Cox, serving in the Tas Valley Team Ministry Benefice in the Deanery of Depwade; Helen Grogutt, serving in the Great & Little Plumstead, Rackheath with Salhouse & Witton Benefice in the Deanery of Blofield; Fiona Tibbitt, serving in the Aylsham & District Team Ministry Benefice in the Deanery of Ingworth & Sparham; Gus Woodcock, serving in the Lakenham Group (St John & Tuckswood) Benefice in the Deanery of Norwich East

Readers Welcomed:

Janice Cruse, serving in the Diss Team Ministry Benefice in the Deanery of Redenhall; Joy Fernando, serving in The Fountain of Life Benefice in the Deanery of Breckland; Martin Purnell, serving in the Gaywood Benefice in the Deanery of Lynn; Emma Sivyer, serving in the Flegg Group (Martham) Benefice in the Deanery of Great Yarmouth; Veronica Mowat, serving in the Wroxham Benefice in the Deanery of St Benet at Waxham & Tunstead

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