MAGAZINE: An unexpected delight

MAGAZINE: An unexpected delight

From the Rectory. Iffley Parish Magazine, October 2021.

We all know what vicars and curates look like and roughly what they do because they’ve been around for a while; but when it comes to lay ministers we’re less sure.

In the Church of England the most widely recognised lay ministers are Churchwardens (whom Maureen wrote about last month) and Readers (who now tend to be called licensed lay ministers); they too have been around for a while. But when you stop to think about it there are many more lay ministers – organists, Sunday school teachers, treasurers, pastoral assistants, parish secretaries, bell ringers, magazine editors, small group leaders, choirs – the list goes on and on.

In the first, shorter list of Churchwardens and Readers, the Bishop has an important role to play in authorising, licensing and admitting to office the lay ministers; whereas in the second, much longer list, who does what is left to each parish to sort out.

We are blessed at St Mary’s with many committed and thoughtful lay ministers in both the short and the long list. Maureen McNaboe and Tom Leach have just been admitted to office as our Churchwardens for the coming year, and Sarah McKearney and Mandy Watts are both Readers; and I won’t even begin to put all the many names to the long list.

Soon though the short list will be made a little longer with the addition of authorised lay preachers at St Mary’s – and they’re something new for us. They arose out of the pandemic.

It was one of the unexpected delights of ministry during the pandemic that a number of lay people preached online and preached very well. For some of those who have preached for us this has come after many years of experience, study and reflection, while for others this has been much earlier in their Christian life. The ministry team and the PCC are very supportive of this development.

Now that we’re back in church, those who offer themselves for this lay ministry must complete a DBS check and the necessary safeguarding training before I write to Bishop Stephen requesting permission for them to become authorised lay preachers for an initial two-year period during which time they will do some training in preaching.

We look forward to supporting them in their ministry and enjoying their sermons.

Andrew McKearney

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