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"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good."
1 Corinthians 12:4-7
The Diocese of London actively encourages the involvement and leadership of lay people in the ministry and mission of the church.
Christians in London are involved in the Church’s ministry and mission on a day-to-day basis in churches, community and social action projects, places of work, schools, hospitals and prisons, local neighbourhoods and many other places, settings and institutions.
The Church has long encouraged lay people to train and be licensed, accredited or commissioned in a wide variety of formal and semi-formal roles in the Church. These pages will outline these different opportunities. There are also a wide range of other lay ministries which people undertake in their parish or local ministry setting. These will be agreed with their incumbent and will not necessarily require any licence, commission or permission. There is no hierarchy of ministries, so this in no way suggests that a lack of licence, commission or permission undervalues such ministries.
If you are considering a calling to Lay Ministry, visit our Exploring Vocations pages. For more information talk to your parish priest or chaplain. To explore how Lay Ministries are exercised locally please contact your Area Director of Training and Development.
LLMs and Readers
Licensed Lay Ministers, also known as Readers, are lay men and women from diverse backgrounds who have been authorised by the Church to teach, preach, lead worship and give pastoral care. They are leaders in mission and ministry in their parishes and ministry settings.
Examples of ministry include:
- Taking confirmation classes
- Teaching youth and children
- Leading discussion groups
- Preparing couples for marriage
- Visiting the sick
- Conducting funerals
Previously known as Reader ministry in London, Licensed Lay Ministry builds on the history and experience of generations of lay ministry and leadership in this Diocese and in the Church of England generally.
LLMs come from and generally intend to remain within their local community although they do receive national recognition, joining in parishes across England.
There are over 300 Readers and Licensed Lay Ministers in the Diocese of London, and many more in training. Training lasts three years and is designed to develop theological understanding and practical ministerial skills.
If you think LLM ministry may be for you, talk first to your parish priest. For more general enquiries, email LLM@london.anglican.org
Commissioned Lay Ministers
At the discretion of the Bishop and at the request of the incumbent and PCC, there are a number of ministries which qualify for a Bishop’s Commission. Commissioned Ministers are local to a parish (or other ministry setting), and their commission would not normally be recognised outside the local situation.
There are two recognised routes to becoming a Commissioned Minister.
One is the apprenticeship model, whereby a Minister will be commissioned into a parish or ministry setting with an agreed job description. The Minister will then receive on-going training from the incumbent or other in their ministry.
The other route will be commissioning following a specific and agreed training course, often though not always run by the Area or Diocese.
Areas of Ministry
The ministry of Commissioned Ministers will be more specific and focused than that of Licensed Ministers, and may include:
- Pastoral Assistants
- Lay Hospital Chaplains
- Youth Ministers
- Children’s Ministers
- Community Ministers
- Lay Ministers who focus on leading worship and/or preaching
- Parish Administrators
They will carry a specific job title to reflect their ministry.
Commissioned Ministers may also be given Bishop’s Permission to carry out other specific ministries, such as the leading of services of Holy Communion by extension, leading public worship, preaching and the taking of funerals. Each of these ministries may, though, require agreed training.
At the request of parish priest and PCC, Bishops will give their Permission, at their discretion, for people to carry out certain specific ministries. A Bishop’s Permission means that a lay person will be authorised to carry out this ministry in their local setting.
Bishop’s Permissions are commonly granted for the following ministries:
- distribution of Holy Communion in Church
- distribution of Holy Communion to the sick and housebound
- leading public worship
Other Lay Ministries
There are a wide range of other lay ministries which people undertake in their parish or local ministry setting. These will be agreed with their incumbent and will not necessarily require any licence, commission or permission. There is no hierarchy of ministries, so this in no way suggests that a lack of licence, commission or permission undervalues such ministries.
Other ministries may include:
- spiritual direction
- healing ministry
- leading small groups
- parish visiting