Pastoral Worker Ministry and Training

What are Pastoral Workers?

Pastoral Workers are lay people who exercise a vital ministry in the church. They are licensed to work in pastoral ministry in a voluntary capacity.  This means work in the fellowship of the church and in the church’s many contacts with people at significant times in their lives.  That usually means involvement in pastoral care and visiting, including contacts through baptism, weddings, bereavement and illness—and in enabling others to work in these areas.  It may also include taking Holy Communion to the sick or housebound.

To equip people for that ministry, the Diocese of Chester provides a course of initial training in pastoral knowledge and skills, designed to develop you in this important Christian ministry.

Pastoral Workers are licensed by the Bishop to an area of ministry determined in that parish and agreed with the incumbent and PCC. Pastoral Workers’ ministries will vary, depending on their gifts and the needs in the parish. However, the training is designed to give a grounding in a variety of pastoral skills of use in different contexts.

Exploring Pastoral Worker Ministry

Pray that God will help you to know whether you are being called to this ministry.

Talk with your incumbent to explore your calling further.

Discuss your ideas and feelings with your family, friends, other members of your church fellowship and if possible with a Pastoral Worker.

Consider the demands on your life and the training involved.

Undertake the Foundations for Ministry course to support this discernment process.

Applying for Pastoral Worker Training

You will need the support and agreement of your incumbent and your PCC to proceed.  Your incumbent will then contact the Ministry department at Church House for an application pack, which must be submitted by the end of July in a given year.  Your call from God will be discerned through a diocesan selection process which will be completed by the end of June to start training that autumn.

How long is the training course?

The course comes in two parts — the one-year Foundations for Ministry course and two years of Pastoral Worker training.

The Foundations for Ministry (FfM) course forms the first year of training for Readers and Pastoral Workers and is also open to anyone wanting to develop their ministry for God.  You’ll be training together with others in a way which helps you learn from people with different callings and gifts.

Link to the Foundations for Ministry Course

Pastoral Worker trainees will be enrolled with the University of Chester for the CUC Ministry award, which is an essential requirement for those intending to become licensed Readers or Pastoral Workers.  The assessed pathway is validated by the University of Chester.  On successful completion of the course you will be awarded the University of Chester’s Certificate of Higher Education in Ministry — a nationally recognized award — which allows you to take those credits on into further study.

You do have to have done some Christian learning before you start training as a Pastoral Worker, such as an Alpha or Emmaus course, but you don’t need to have a theology degree or to be a great academic. More important are your Christian faith and maturity, together with skills and experience in listening to and working with people.  The course will stretch you but is designed to be practical as well as theoretical, open to all those fitted for Pastoral Worker ministry.  In some cases, people have relevant prior experience (a counselling qualification, for example) that may have some bearing on the form of training.  If you think this might apply to you, contact us to discuss it.

What's involved in training?

After the grounding of Foundations, learning with people in a broad variety of roles, you then spend two years training for the specifics of Pastoral Worker ministry.  Throughout these two years, we help you to integrate knowledge and information with the practical skills and spiritual growth you need for being a Pastoral Worker. 

Some trainees may choose to be enrolled with the University of Chester for the Certificate of Higher Education in Ministry award, although all trainees study six modules.  These six modules are taught over two years on a rolling programme; contact the Ministry department for details of which modules are being taught in the next academic year.

TH4120 Presence; listening to God and others
Developing skills in pastoral listening and in understanding the link between prayer and listening to others

TH4121 Endings; pastoral care in bereavement
Developing an understanding of, and reflecting theologically on, loss, ageing, dying, death, bereavement and grief; considering different models of support for dying people and those bereaved

TH4122 Toolkit; developing skills in pastoral care
Reflecting theologically on health, sickness and disability; learning practical skills in pastoral care.  Considering approaches to working with volunteers and understanding policies and procedures that support safe, ethical working

TH4123 Awareness; listening to self, listening to others
Developing skills in pastoral listening, including self-awareness and an understanding of its importance in listening to others; considering different models of supervision for pastoral practice

TH4124 Beginnings; pastoral care for families
Developing understanding of child development and contemporary family life, reflecting on the place of children and families within the church and considering different models of care around baptism

TH4125 Stages; pastoral care and the human life cycle
Developing understanding of human growth and development and reflecting on appropriate pastoral responses to life events; considering marriage, and other relationships, in a Christian context

During this part of your training you will be matched up with a Pastoral Worker mentor, who provides a listening ear, pastoral support and an encouragement to apply what you are learning to the reality of Pastoral Worker ministry.

In addition, you will undertake a parish project and, at the end of your training, submit a learning portfolio.

What next?

Initial training isn’t the end.  After successful completion of the three years of initial training, you are licensed as a Pastoral Worker, but after that you should be using specific opportunities to develop and deepen your skills and knowledge.  There is also a wide range of courses put on by the diocese on a variety of topics and skills, as well as a generous annual grant for further training.

Where can I find out more?

If you would like to chat to someone informally about vocation please complete the Vocational Conversation - Initial Enquiry Form and then send it to who will then arrange the initial contact with a Vocations Adviser.

For further information on Pastoral Worker ministry and training you can contact the Bishop's Advisers for Licensed LAy Ministers:

Jeanette Howe 07549 214283
Karen MacMillan 07549 214284 

Pastoral Worker training application packs are now available.  Incumbents putting forward candidates for Pastoral Worker selection should contact  The closing date for applications is 19 June.

Pastoral Worker Handbooks and Forms

PW Incumbent Feedback Form Year 3 (Word format)

PW Mentor Feedback Form Year 3 (Word format)

PW Overall Course Evaluation Form Year 3 (Word format)

Pastoral Worker Training Handbook (2019-20)

Pastoral Worker Training Project Handbook 2019


Page last updated: Monday 4th December 2023 9:24 AM
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