On Sunday (22nd Sept), the Bishop of Dover, the Right Reverend Trevor Willmott licensed eight people as Readers, including a Director of an international oil company, a workplace counsellor and a former gas engineer.
A Reader is a voluntary lay person who is theologically trained and licensed to preach, teach, lead worship and assist in pastoral, evangelistic and liturgical work. There are currently over 10,000 Readers in the Church of England.
Charlotte Coles, who has been licensed Reader at Willesborough in Ashford, works part time as a teacher of music in a local Catholic school. The calling to Reader ministry came when Charlotte attended a week of guided prayer in Ashford. Charlotte commented: “On one of the days, we were given some clay and asked to mould it during prayer and meditation. Quite unconsciously, I moulded a chalice. I knew that this was very special, and held great significance, but did not understand why at that time.”
After attending an Authorised Lay Ministry (ALM) course, which left Charlotte thirsty for more, and with the backing of her Rector, Charlotte was accepted on to the two year Readers’ training course. Charlotte, who is married with three grown up children, said she is looking forward to working in a team so that people can meet Christ. She added: “I am passionate about people, and listening to their life stories, and being there for them as a support, particularly in times of need.”
Sonja Drew, who has been licensed as a Reader at Staplehurst, All Saints, where she also works as Director of Music, undertook the Reader training programme to develop the preaching side of her ministry.
Sonja, who is a trained work place counsellor and works as a senior HR manager, said: “I am able to bring with me a wealth of personal life experiences and as a workplace counsellor, I understand the pressures placed on people in the workplace.”
Brought up in the Methodist Church in Jersey, Sonja is married with a ten year old son. She added: “I am looking forward to connecting with the local community and leading worship which encourages a diversity of music and different ways of approaching God through prayer.”
Robin Fassenfelt served with his church as a ‘welcomer’, an intercessor, and a PCC member, but still felt God was calling him to do more. “I knew deep down that either Reader or ordination was the next step, but felt this was way out of my comfort zone. After a year of asking God to take away the wall, during Vestry prayers one day He answered very clearly ‘it is not my wall.’”
As a new Reader for St Martin’s and Parkwood in Maidstone, Robin who is a salesman, says that he sees his ministry as an opportunity to share the Saviour’s message with as many people as possible – in the parish and at work.
A heavy metal fan, Robin is married and has two children and one grandchild.
Sally Muggeridge identifies two people who have had a lasting impact on her faith; Archbishop Desmond Tutu whom she met and befriended when he was a curate in London and her uncle the famous broadcaster, writer and Christian apologist, Malcolm Muggeridge. Sally, who lives in Tilmanstone with her husband, has been licensed as a Reader for the Benefice of Woodnesborough and Eastry.
As a prominent woman in business, listed in Who’s Who, Sally has enjoyed 40 years working in international business. She is a Director of Total Oil UK Ltd and Master of a City of London livery company, the Worshipful Company of Marketors.
Sally commented: “In my ministry I can draw on particular experiences and happenings that can show what it is to be a true Christian in a modern, business environment.”
Sally who is also a churchwarden of Tilmanstone Church and a representative on General Synod, said: “The opportunity to serve God in more and different ways, to study the scriptures, to worship and to be able to constantly refresh my spirituality, simply opened my eyes and my heart and has provided the most personally invigorating and challenging learning adventure I have ever undertaken.”
John Selden worked for British Gas as an engineer before running a small village B&B in Mersham. Recently licensed as a Reader in Smeeth, John felt called to Reader ministry following a letter from Bishop Trevor which invited ALMs to consider the opportunity.
John commented; “I am looking forward to being a ‘bridge person’, as the ministry of Reader was described to me during the selection process – ‘someone who can connect believers to scripture, the church to the world and their own faith journey to that of others.’ In the past God has used the circumstances of my life to get me involved in His work and I look forward to finding out how he will use my current circumstances.”
Married with three grown up children and five grandchildren, John enjoys gardening, cycling and conservation volunteering.
Sue Shaw, who has been licensed as a Reader at St Faiths, Maidstone, is currently a teacher at a Church of England Primary School in Maidstone.
Sue, an opera and ballet enthusiast, says: “I have lived in Kent all my life and worshipped in St Faith’s, Maidstone where I have served in a number of ways. In exploring my vocation as a reader, I knew that God had called me by name and he promises to be with us wherever we go. I am excited by the possibilities that Reader ministry brings.”