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In baptism, each and every one of us becomes part of the body of Christ, and each and every one of us is given gifts for ministry.

Most Christians are called to a ministry that does not require them to be set apart in the way that ordained ministry does. Most are called to show God’s love and to serve in the place where they live and work.

In the Diocese of Southwark we are committed to encouraging more lay ministry and vocation. But, whether lay or ordained, Christians are called to work together to carry out God’s mission both within the Church and in the wider world.

Types of lay ministry

Here in Southwark, we have a wide range of recognised lay ministries. Some are unique to our local situations (affirmed), and some are wider in breadth and involve being in a public role (commissioned and licensed). You can find out more about these categories below.

Affirmed ministries

Affirmed ministries are locally driven and respond to local need. They often involve partner organisations in the community. They are discerned within the local context and training takes place locally.  Sometimes this is a day-long course and sometimes the course lasts for a few weeks. People taking on this kind of ministry are then blessed or affirmed at Area, deanery or parish level.

Examples of affirmed ministry include:

  • people in pastoral ministry such as Street Pastors, Volunteer Lay Chaplains in hospitals, or leaders of food banks, overnight shelters and local Christian charities
  • people working with children and young people (CYP) as church representatives on school, college, and university governing bodies, or those teaching CYP
  • worship leaders
  • people facilitating roles in new monastic communities
  • workplace ambassadors.

Commissioned ministries

Commissioned ministries operate Diocese-wide and are discerned at Diocesan level. The Diocese provides training, which usually takes two years part-time. Once trained, people undertaking this kind of ministry are commissioned by the Diocesan Bishop.

Examples of commissioned ministries include:

  • Southwark Pastoral Auxiliaries (SPAs)
  • Commissioned Lay Pioneers
  • Commissioned Youth and Children’s Ministers.

Licensed ministries

Licensed ministries are nationally recognised. People undertaking this kind of ministry are discerned at Diocesan level and the Diocese provides training to national standards (Level 4 or equivalent, which usually means two years’ part-time academic study plus two years ‘on the job’).

After training, people are licensed by the Diocesan Bishop. They may transfer their licence to another Diocese.

Examples of licensed lay ministers include:

  • Readers
  • Licensed Lay Pioneers
  • Licensed Lay Ministers (Youth and Children)
  • Licensed Lay Ministers (Pastoral)
  • Church Army Evangelists.
The South London Church Fund and Southwark Diocese Board of Finance is a company limited by guarantee (No. 236594).
Registered Office: Trinity House, 4 Chapel Court, Borough High Street, London SE1 1HW. Registered Charity: (No. 249678).

© The Diocese of Southwark 2021. All rights reserved.
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