Welcome to the Reader ministry webpage. For further information please contact our Co-Wardens Mr Nigel Collins and Revd Canon Donald Lawton at Diocesan House or by email: or

Readers are lay woman and men from a diversity of occupations – teachers, shop or office workers, accountants, machine operators, nurses. They may be found in agriculture, government, industry, or at home. There are 165 active Readers in the Canterbury Diocese and they play a vital role in the mission and ministry of the church, taking part in thousands of services each year and giving many hours of their time to their communities.

The Reader’s calling

The visible role of a Reader on a Sunday morning may appear to be very similar to that of others who minister.

But theirs is a distinct ministry because:

  • They are theologically trained
  • They are recognised not only locally but by the wider church
  • They can be the focus of lay ministry in the daily life of the church
  • Readers can serve as bridges between church and community and between clergy and laity, and they need to be team players if they are to exercise this ministry effectively

What they do

Readers are local lay theologians who work collaboratively with ordained and lay colleagues; often serving within the ministry leadership team of the benefice. Readers are licensed by the Bishop to exercise a public ministry within their deanery under the authority of their benefice incumbent. Some Readers are involved in chaplaincy work and fresh expressions of church. They bring to the ministry the insights of one who is actively involved as a Christian in the life of the world.

Readers’ roles vary depending on the individual and on their church and community context, but would typically include some liturgical role within services (leading services, reading, preaching, helping administer communion) and often work far beyond church walls.

Readers may help with a whole range of work with children, families, older people; assist in baptism, confirmation and marriage preparation; lead small groups and Bible study. On completion of additional training, Readers may also be authorised to conduct funerals.

Readers will be good communicators who encourage others in their exploration of the Faith and as they grow in discipleship. Some Readers assist in delivering training packages in support of local churches and deaneries.

Selection and training

An annual Selection Day for potential Readers is held in June/July. Successful candidates normally commence training in September. Prior to this there is a period of discernment working with vocations advisers.

The training programme for Readers is delivered by the St Augustine’s College of Theology leading to a Certificate in Theology accredited by the University of Durham as part of the National Common Awards scheme. There are two elements to the course: core modules and Reader-specific modules. The core modules may be undertaken on a Monday (at Southwark), Wednesday (at Malling Abbey) or by a number of teaching days through the year plus one Saturday School. Reader-specific training consists of an annual Residential weekend and three Saturday Study days.

After completing the two year licensed lay ministries course, students are normally admitted to the office of Reader and are licensed at a Celebration service in the Cathedral. New Readers are then supported during a further year of context-based non-validated study enabling them to grow in and reflect on their ministry.

If you would like more information or a discussion about your potential calling to Reader ministry then please contact one of the Co-Wardens of Readers on 01227 459401 or by email: or It is advisable to have an initial conversation with your parish priest.

The ideal time to begin exploring Reader ministry is in the autumn as this would allow time and space for discernment prior to attending the Reader Selection Day.