Pastoral Workers and Readers from across the Diocese of Chester gathered together earlier this month, as part of two community days for licensed lay ministers. Over 70 Readers met at St Peter’s Elworth on Saturday 4th November, followed the next day by a gathering of over 50 Pastoral Workers at Forest Hills Hotel in Frodsham.
At the beginning of the Reader gathering, Bishop Sam licensed Jeanette Howe, a Reader from Eccleston and Pulford parishes, as one of the newly appointed Bishop’s Advisers for Licensed Lay Ministers. Jeanette’s job share partner, Karen MacMillan, who is a Pastoral Worker at St Mary’s Ashton upon Mersey, will be licensed to the same role at the end of the month. Karen and Jeanette will work together to support both Pastoral Workers and Readers, with a likely geographic split between the two archdeaconries.
There was a busy programme on both days, with participants hearing an update from Bishop Sam on the Vision and Strategy work being undertaken particularly in areas of healthy culture and flourishing lay ministry. Bishop Sam emphasised the significance of licensed lay ministry in this diocese and his desire to resource it effectively, reflected by the introduction of this full-time-equivalent post to support Readers and Pastoral Workers.
Participants also received training on Safer Pastoral Practice; a project developed as a collaboration between the Ministry and Safeguarding teams at Church House, which encourages a safer approach to pastoral visiting and other pastoral ministry. They also took part in a feedback exercise, and were asked to provide input across a number of areas, including how supported they felt in ministry, how much resource and training they had managed to access in recent years, and how they best felt their gifts might be used and encouraged into the future.
As Bishop’s Advisers for Licensed Lay Ministers, Karen and Jeanette will be analysing the data collected across these days to refresh existing support structures and implement new ways to resource and encourage licensed lay ministry in the Diocese of Chester. They will also be seeking to make contact with those unable to attend these events to gain a fuller picture of licensed lay ministry across the diocese. Do be praying for them as they begin this important role: look out for a further news item introducing the two of them and the work they will be doing.
Are you, or is someone you know, interested in exploring a vocation to licensed lay ministry? Why not come along to Called to Serve, the annual vocations event, to find out more about serving God in this particular way? Book via Eventbrite