The ministry of a Reader (sometimes called ‘Lay Reader’) continues to be a valued and significant ministry in the Church in Wales.
Readers are licensed by the Bishop, and operate under his authority. He appoints a Warden of Readers, currently Reverend Canon Alison Jones. The main area of their ministry is in leading worship and preaching.
The first step to becoming a Reader is to talk it over with a local priest, or with the Dean. Talking to a licensed Reader might also help to discover how they view their ministry – what’s enjoyable, and what they find challenging.
The next step is to complete a Reader training application form. This includes a section to be completed by a priest, which is why it is important to have their encouragement first. The church’s PCC (Parochial Church Council) should also be supportive.
Once the completed application form has been sent to the Warden of Readers and references taken up, an informal interview is arranged. The interview lasts about fifteen minutes and explores why Reader training is requested, current experience of Anglican worship and appreciation of it, willingness to work as part of a ministry team, and issues relating to what Readers are licensed to do.
Following the interview a recommendation is made by the Warden to the Bishop about whether the applicant should proceed to start training.
Training is through a course of distance-learning with regular residential times as well as hands-on learning through Sunday placements. Often the Sunday placement is in the trainee Reader’s home church, if the incumbent is willing. The course is not wholly about stuffing your head with knowledge, however. Learning as part of a community is also important as is developing the ability to reflect on experience, on the Church and the world.
Usually after the completion of training there is a final interview, similar to the first one. The new Reader is then admitted and licensed by the Bishop at Brecon Cathedral during a service of Evensong which takes place after the AGM of the Diocesan Readers Association.