What is a Reader?
In recent years there have been some questions around the role of a Reader, particularly in light of the changing context in which the Church of England finds itself, the growing number of people involved in ministry in diverse ways both inside and outside of the church and, in some cases, exercising authorised ministries such as occasional preaching, leading worship, and taking funerals. All these have traditionally been understood as being in the domain of Readers.
We believe that all are called to ministry and that Readers exercise their calling as Lay Theologians within their local communities. Within this there are three areas of specific interest for Readers: to be encouraging enablers of mission; to be inspirational teachers of the faith; and to be influential leaders in church and society. These three areas are at the heart of the Reader Training Programme.
What does training involve?
- Is a two year, part-time programme. Each year incorporates 15 week nights (Wednesday) via Zoom, three residential weekends and two Saturday sessions which will be held at Queen’s Theological College, Birmingham.
- Gives students the opportunity to achieve a Certificate of Higher Education in Theology, Ministry and Mission.
- Encourages students to reflect on their personal formational, with the help of their Parish Supervisors and Formation Mentors, with whom students are expected to meet on a regular basis.
- Asks students to reflect on and evaluate their own ministry and the opportunities for mission and ministry in their local context.
- In the first year has at its heart an intentional focus on a student’s local context and the core essence of Reader Ministry – leading worship and preaching.
- In the second year asks students to think beyond their current context and to consider their own ministry and mission in a broader context of the Church’s history and contemporary society.
- The parish is involved in discerning the vocation of ‘their’ candidate, in supporting them through training, and in working with them, after licensing, in local mission and ministry.
A copy of the 2021-2022 programme can be found here.
Frequently asked questions regarding the Reader Training programme:
What is the cost?
The diocese meets the cost of Reader training asking for a contribution from the candidate’s parish. Reader candidates themselves are not expected to contribute to the cost of training, other than the costs incurred in travelling to and from classes. Financial constraint should not be considered a barrier to Reader training; in such cases we look to support all candidates and parishes. Please contact us for more information.
How much time does it take?
Reader training is delivered as a part-time course run over two years involving evening classes, two Saturday study days and three residential weekends (Friday evening to Sunday lunch time) per year. A copy of the first year teaching programme is available here. In addition to this we recommend a further 8 hours per week be set aside for background reading and completing assignments.
What qualifications do I need?
No previous formal education is required, although participants should have been involved in some Christian learning, normally (but not always) Pathways to Ministry or an equivalent. Reader training is a formational process which encompasses academic learning among other skills for ministry. The training incorporates both practical skills, e.g. leading worship and preaching, as well as encouraging and developing theological reflection. It is delivered through a variety of methods, including practical engagement in the parish, discussion, lectures, workshops, and independent reading. Learning support is available for those who have not studied for a long time, or are not confident about their study skills, and the course includes some ‘back to study’ skills.
What will being a Reader enable me to do?
You will be licensed by the Bishop of Lichfield to a teaching and preaching ministry which may include conducting funerals. Each Reader’s ministry is exercised in their local context in collaboration with the local leadership team.
What if I move parish or diocese?
Reader ministry is a nationally recognised ministry. Readers who move parish or diocese can apply to transfer their licence.
I’m interested but not yet sure if Reader ministry is for me. What should I do next?
Discerning a call to a specific ministry can often seem confusing. We offer the Pathways course for those who are not sure what God is calling them to. The information regarding Pathways is here.
I’m interested in Reader training, what do I do next?
We offer free Taster Evenings across the diocese for those who would like to know more. The purpose of the evening is to give a broad insight into the content and expectations of training and to answer any questions you may have. The 2022 Taster Evenings are:
2022 Dates Coming Soon
To book a place on one of the Taster Evenings please email Helen Scheven and a member of the team will contact you to confirm your place.
How do I apply for Reader training?
Those offering themselves for Reader training are invited to attend a Diocesan Advisory Panel (DAP). However, before applying for a DAP you need to discuss your sense of call with your parish as they are expected to provide references for the application and to support you throughout the training and into future ministry. At the DAP you will meet with advisers from the Diocese who will discern with you a call to Reader ministry. DAPs take place on a Saturday in June.
If you wish to apply for a DAP please contact Helen
Do you have further questions which are not answered here?
Please contact Revd Dr Jeanette Hartwell, who is our Ministry Training Enabler
The Bishop of Lichfield’s guidance on age limits for licensed ministry are available here.
‘I didn’t think I could do it – but it’s been one of the best experiences of my life!’
That’s a frequent comment from people who have felt called by God – but anxious about their own gifts, abilities or confidence. But Reader training is transformative, bringing out gifts and skills people don’t expect, helping them grow in God, and in confidence, equipping them for their ministry and mission.