Might God be calling you to Reader Ministry?
29 July 2019
On Saturday 21 September four new Readers will be licensed in Norwich Cathedral, and over a hundred more will renew their promises, as they do each year in a Readers' Day Eucharist that highlights the importance of this essential ministry.
Our four new Readers-in-waiting share some of their journey so far:
“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 a 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. For that revelation I am very thankful, as it started me on the road through Vocational Counselling and selection for Readership training.
“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 (and very understanding!). Working alongside other students also makes the whole learning and formational experience much 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 am licensed in September.
“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.”
“I have been blessed with faith for the majority of my life. From my early childhood I have been chatting with God and He has guided me over the years, even if I didn’t always listen. About 8 years before I started training, a Reader at my church asked if I had considered it. At the time I thought it was a ridiculous suggestion; there was no way I could stand up in front of people and speak. I read the Gospel, but that was different, they were entirely God’s words and I was hidden behind the eagle lectern.
“Over the next few years I became more involved with worship, through children’s work and eventually leading intercessions. 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. A retired vicar and friend asked why I wasn’t going for Ordination, he thought I was making a mistake. I took this thought away and while gardening had a long chat with God.
“My path was Reader Ministry; I work as a Business Manager in a Church of England Primary School which has strong links with my church. I spend my days with children and parents, spreading the love that only Christ can bring. 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. I can talk to the children about my faith and when they come to activities at the church, I can be there as a witness for their parents to see and bring God into the conversation.
“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.”
“Now in my early fifties (not sure where all those years have gone!), I have lived and worked in Rackheath for fifteen years and also worshiped there for the last nine. I live with my partner of 20 years, a slightly crazy but loveable cat and on occasion my gorgeous 23 year old son, Harry.
“Brought up in a traditional suburban Anglican Church where I was Christened, Confirmed, sung in the choir and taught in the Sunday School I worshipped in various churches as an adult before returning to my roots. When Authorised Worship Assistants (AWA) came into being, the Revd Lorna Allies, who was my Incumbent at the time, suggested that I should become one, and without really knowing what they were I said yes! I found that I enjoyed leading Morning Worship and as time went on thought I might like to do more including preaching, yet knew that I didn’t have enough knowledge of the Bible to do so.
“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, and urged on by close friends who told me that I would make a good Reader, the process leading to application and selection began.
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 and rather than seeing my job as getting in the way of my serving God, now 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. This summer I am very much looking forward to serving as a volunteer for the Seeing It Differently experience at the Cathedral – a perfect opportunity to bring together my teaching and Ministry experience. 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.”
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 after being licensed 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, have a look at our website: on how to become a Reader and talk to others in your church community, including your vicar.