What is a Reader?
Readers are Licensed Lay Ministers of the Church of England. They:
- lead worship, preach and teach
- are licensed by the Bishop to carry out their ministry
- are lay people - not clergy.
Readers may lead 'Services of the Word', including Morning and Evening Prayer. However, as they are not ordained they may not preside at the Eucharist (Communion), although they may assist with the service including preaching, conducting some parts of it and distributing the consecrated bread and wine.
Most Readers also carry out extensive pastoral, evangelistic and other. Readers are not permitted to conduct weddings, but, with additional training, may conduct funerals.
Readers are volunteers - they receive no payment for their ministry. Many also have secular careers, and this often helps in relating the Gospel and the Christian life to the lives of the members of their congregations. Many others are retired from secular employment and take the opportunity of the extra time retirement offers to expand their ministry. Readers' licences are renewed five years, usually at a special service. There is no official retirement age from Reader ministry and many Readers continue to minister into their seventies and beyond. However, on reaching the age of seventy a Reader must surrender his or her licence. If the Reader wishes the ministry to continue (and the parish desires it), he or she may receive Permission to Officiate (PTO) from the Bishop. Eventual retirement is by mutual agreement between the Reader and the parish. A retired Reader will be granted 'Reader Emeritus' status.
The photo shows a Reader assisting at a service in the cathedral. The blue scarf which he is wearing is the symbol a Reader.