The Work of all God's People
In the past, there was in the Church of England a very unhealthy tradition that the work of the church was for the Vicar, and that everyone else was there to receive that ministry.
Thankfully in recent years we have returned to much better and more scriptural practice with the recognition that every baptised Christian has a vocation and calling from God, both within the church and perhaps more importantly outside in the world. In our benefice, we would not have churches were it not for the many people who give of their gifts, time and money sacrificially. We remain grateful for all who helps us to retain a Christian presence in our villages through our churches.
Some lay people are trained for specific ministries recognised formally by the diocese. These are Licensed Lay Ministers (LLMs) of which we have one in our churches, Lay Pastoral Assistants (LPAs) who have a particular role in visiting people in their homes and in hospital, and Lay Worship Leaders (LWLs) who help to lead Sunday worship.
Salisbury diocese recently held a celebration of lay ministry, which was well attended and provided an opportunity for people to renew their ministries, start new ones and share together in worship. They also attended workshops aimed at giving them new skills and ideas.
Two brief accounts of the day follow. The first written by the Revd Rosie Coldwell from Milborne and the second by Emma Hughes, one of Puddletown’s LWLs
“On the morning of 21st April lay ministers from all over the diocese gathered at Salisbury Cathedral to celebrate Lay Ministry that is carried out in our diocesan churches. The cathedral was full and it was a joyful service when new Lay Pastoral Assistants (LPAs) and Lay Worship Leaders (LWLs) were commissioned by Bishop Karen. Existing ministers also stood to be re-commissioned and all had opportunity to commit themselves to serving others within their own parishes.
“Janet Voke was presented as a new Lay Pastoral Assistant for Milborne St Andrew by Rev Rosie Coldwell and existing LPAs and LWLs from our benefice were also present to be re- commissioned and to re-commit themselves to God’s service.
“Bishop Karen welcomed everybody and briefly explained the purpose of lay ministry which is to be God’s ‘agents of love, hope and care in the world’ and to join with the clergy and other church workers in serving others within their parish(es) according to their various gifts. This may involve visiting the lonely and housebound, the sick and/or bereaved or prisoners, and offering practical help to those in need and praying for them. Or it may involve working with young people. Always they must be willing to work as members of a team to bring Christ’s love and compassion to others.” (Rosie Coldwell)
“I travelled up to Salisbury with Bob Todd (LWL/LPA Puddletown), Jean Jeffreys (LWL Puddletown) and Sue Britton (LPA Dewlish). After registration in the cloisters followed by coffee and a browse through the Sarum College bookshop stall we entered the packed cathedral for our re-commissioning service.
“After lunch we all went our separate ways to attend our chosen workshops on subjects such as Messy Church, Voice Projection, Photography, Sermons and Prayer. On our return journey back to Dorset we shared some of the things we learnt on our workshops with each other.
“The only bad thing was, after such an enjoyable day, we won’t be back for re-commissioning for another 3 years now!” (Emma Hughes)
Serving God is a joy and a privilege for all Christians: God uses our hands, hearts, words and deeds to share his love and continue his work.
If you are a baptised Christian, unsure of where your calling lies or who has let their faith lapse, do come and have a conversation with any of us; we would be really pleased to walk with you as you seek to discern what God might have in store for you.
With best wishes