A Reader is a lay minister whose ministry is authorised by the bishop of the diocese. Readers, who come from a wide diversity of occupations and backgrounds, exercise an official and crucial leadership role and provide a vital link to the world of work, witnessing to the unchanging love of God in their communities.
In essence, a Reader’s ministry is that of teaching, preaching & conducting worship and assisting with the pastoral ministry of the benefice. How an individual’s ministry develops is dependent upon his or her individual strengths, the balance of skills within the ministry team and the particular needs of the benefice.
In addition to those areas of ministry identified for Readers in the Canons of the Church of England, Readers are also a focus for lay ministry in general, illustrating that it is not only the ordained that have a ministry - lay people too have a God-given ministry to fulfil. Readers are enablers and encouragers of other lay Christians helping them to make use of their gifts in the service of God.
Reader ministry is nationally recognised and those admitted to the office of Reader in one diocese are welcomed upon relocation to another. Nationally, the ministry of Readers is overseen by the Central Readers' Council.
In our diocese we have over 200 Readers actively ministering in their benefices each week. Readers conduct around two and a half thousand services each year and deliver almost four thousand sermons, but that is by no means the full extent of Reader ministry.
Readers lead home groups and confirmation classes; they are involved in baptism preparation and follow-up; they visit and take the sacraments to the sick, elderly and house-bound; they share in the church’s outreach; they lead school assemblies and work with youth groups and music groups; and a number, authorised by the bishop to do so, conduct funerals – there is almost no end to the ways in which Readers put their theological training to good, practical use.
Do you think you might be called to Reader ministry? The diocese has a team of Vocation Advisors whose members are available to anyone wishing to explore his or her vocation, whatever that might turn out to be.
If you think Reader ministry might be for you, take a closer look at Becoming a Reader