"Brothers and sisters, these men have been chosen for the office of Reader. Will you uphold and encourage them in their ministry?" With this question the support of the people of God is sought as new Readers are admitted to this ancient office.
On 11 May, during a eucharist at the French Archdeaconry Synod in St Jacut de la Mer, I admitted and then licensed Rodney Bridges and Mike Pennington to this lay ministry. A copy of the New Testament is given to them, signifying that their ministry is focussed on preaching and teaching the Word of God in the congregations to which they are assigned.
Rodney and Mike will serve in the chaplaincy of Midi Pyrénéés and Aude, along with the Revd Andrew Hawkin, the chaplain, (below left) and assistant priests June Hutchinson (below right) and Tony Jewiss. Readers in the Church of England wear blue scarves over their surplice or alb.
Readers in training undergo a programme of theological and practical study, normally lasting three years. I like to think of them as lay theologians with skills in pastoralia and liturgics, who complement the ordained ministry of priests and deacons. There are about 100 licensed Readers in the Diocese in Europe. Information on the process of selection and training for this ministry can be found here.
|Rodney Bridges (left) and Mike Pennington, with their wives|