I'm so thankful for our readers
08 June 2017 IN: Ministers
Chris Bracegirdle reflects on the role of Readers as he steps down from the role of Warden of Readers.
Sometimes our words can come back to bite us and so it was, with a slight anxiety, that I went back to an article in which I was introduced as the new Warden of Readers. Did I make promises I haven’t kept? Did I make predictions about an increase in numbers that hasn’t been fulfilled? I needn’t have worried; I was sufficiently cautious (probably still getting over the shock of being asked to do this job!) not to have caused any embarrassment to me or anyone else.
In that article, I wrote of the ministry of the Reader not exercised simply as an extension of the parish priest’s ministry but as a minister, under authority, in his/her own right. Readers must be collaborative, and thankfully I’ve seen many great examples of the outworking of this ministry across our diocese.
For five of my years as Warden, I also served as the Bishop’s Senior Chaplain. In covering Sunday services across the diocese, it was a privilege to share with many of our Readers. This shared ministry always reminds me that Readers are lay theologians – people trained in bringing the things of God to His world – and how better for Readers to do that than through worship and preaching?
As Warden I have seen 59 new Readers licensed, and the recognition of much long and distinguished service from our Emeritus Readers. Alongside parishes, Readers are involved in chaplaincy work in prisons, schools, the fire service, the health service and in specialist care homes.
Readers are people from all walks of life who have been obedient to the call of God and are now serve him in this ministry. For these things and for much else I am truly thankful to God.
I remain both excited and optimistic about the shape of ministry in the Church of England and this is due in no small part to all that Readers continue to bring to us.