Reader Ministry in the Diocese of Sodor and Man
Colin Finney is the Warden of Readers and an active Licensed Reader serving in Castletown Parish Church, and he has the responsibility of oversight of this valued and important role within the Church of England in the Isle of Man.
The Office of Reader
The Office of Reader is one of the oldest ministries in the Church, but it in its present form in the Church of England was established in 1866. Since then, the growth in Reader Ministry has been one of the great success stories in the Church of England and there are now over 10,000 Readers, some in every diocese. It is the only lay ministry in the Church of England which is voluntary,nationally accredited, episcopally licensed and governed by Canon.
Readers exercise what is sometimes called "a teaching and preaching ministry within a pastoral context". They are authorised by the Church of England to preach and teach, to conduct or assist in conducting worship, and to assist in the pastoral, evangelistic and liturgical work of the Church in the parish or area where they are licensed.
Readers are lay men and women, from a wide diversity of occupations and backgrounds, who recognize a call to serve God and his world through the Church of England. They are sometimes described as 'lay theologians'; their close contact with everyday situations helping them to interpret the Gospel, and to proclaim Christ's teaching both in the Church and in the world. In collaborative teams with clergy and other church members they work in a variety of situations; in parishes, schools, prisons, hospitals, hospices, factories and shops, among seafarers and in the Armed Forces, with children and young people, the elderly, housebound and bereaved, and with those preparing for baptism, confirmation and marriage. Roles and scope for Reader ministry vary across the dioceses.
In church, Readers can be distinguished from their ordained colleagues by the distinctive blue Readers' scarf.
In this diocese Readers serve in many of the islands parishes. At present there are 23 active licensed Readers and another 10 who having reached the age of 70 now take a slightly less active role and are given a 'Permission to Officiate' by the Bishop.
Bishop Robert has just established a new 'pioneer' role of Local Minister. This is where a selected Reader is given responsibility for a parish and its church under the oversight of a priest in an adjacent parish. Mission Partnership Teams are being established in the island to replace 'Deaneries' in this new arrangement,Readers will be encouraged to take an active part in ecumenical mission in their area.
Are you interested?
If you have been interested in what you have read, please contact Colin Finney for an informal chat about the role, training and selection process for Reader ministry.
Your first action though should be to talk it through with your incumbent. He or she will know what is involved and be able to explore your sense of calling.
In the meantime you will find significant information on the Church of England Readers'website.
The Diocesan Regulations for Readers can be found here.