Presenter: Archdeacon Tom Henderson, Warden of the Diocesan Lay Ministers Association
Precis: Introduction by the Reverend Tom Henderson, Warden, to a series of on-line presentations that form the basis of an on-line study program for Lay Readers. These are programs that may be offered by Parishes and Regions.
A Lay Reader is a lay man or a lay woman, from a broad section of jobs and backgrounds, who is licensed to a Parish to preach and to teach, to conduct worship, and to help in the pastoral, evangelical and liturgical work of the Church. All Lay Readers are appointed and licensed to a Parish under the direction and supervision of the Rector; such license being held at the pleasure of the Priest and Bishop.
Lay Readers may be asked to do the following:
- Lead Morning & Evening Prayer;
- Read the Litany, Order of Compline, Service for Young People, and other Appointed Services;
- Conduct in case of emergency, a Baptism or the Burial Office;
- Teach Christian Education including Confirmation Class;
- Assisting at the Altar and Eucharistic Minister;
- Other duties as asked.
None of these tasks are specific only to Lay Readers, but the Office is broad enough to take in these duties and more.
The Office of Lay Reader is intended to be an opportunity for ministry in the Spirt in which an individual can respond to the call to be helpful in the building up of the body of Christ. It must be recognized that it may involve other areas such as pastoral care, Christian education, social action, and parish administration.
As Lay Readers you will be expected to know something about each of the following:
- Biblical Foundation
- Doctrine and Church History
- The Book of Common Prayer and the Book of the Alternative Services
- Basic Preaching Skills and Sermon Preparation
- Spiritual Discipline (Prayer and Devotional Life)
Vestments for leading services is either: 1) a Cassock and Surplice; or, 2) an Alb. During a non-Eucharistic service, an academic hood may be worn with a Cassock and Surplice. Lay Readers are responsible for the ownership of their own vestments. Avoid embellishments with your vestments; the one exception is a poppy may be worn during a Service of Remembrance.
The badge of office is a medallion featuring the shield of the Diocese attached to a ribbon. Lay Readers-in-Training wear a blue ribbon; fully licensed Lay Readers wear a purple one. Medallions are available through the Association.
Most Lay Reader training will take place by way of serving within the setting of a Parish. Every Parish has its own culture and way of doing things. Lay Reader-in-Training lasts for a period of not less than one year and up to two years. Once completed and your Rector decides you’re ready, she/he will talk to you, fill out the application for licensing that is available through the Diocese, and will write a letter to the Bishop to indicate your readiness. Parish Council is to be consulted and asked for its commendation. Lay Readers licenses are issued directly from the Diocese.
A valuable resource for Lay Readers is the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island Lay Readers’ Handbook of Standards and Regulations. The Handbook is a helpful guide to what is expected: dress code, conduct, level of knowledge, accountability, and the chain of command in the Association, Parish and Diocese.
The Association is here to help.
Lay Readers are encouraged to stay connected with others doing the same thing, within your Parish and throughout the wider Diocese. Please participate in Diocesan events whenever you can and robe when asked to do so. Every year there is a Fall Conference where Lay Readers come together for fellowship and Christian Education.
Blessings to you as you go forth to proclaim the Gospel in Word and Action.