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4th May 2009
Readers Swoop on Bradford
Reader officials and representatives from around the Church of England descended on Bradford for this years CRC AGM.
The Annual General Meeting of the Central Readers Council was held over the weekend 24th to 26th of April in Bradford. Although I have been a Reader since 1994, this is the first time I have been involved in the wider picture. It was a joy to meet fellow Readers from all over the country and to realise that some of the issues, frustrations or joys are common to us all. I came away from the weekend not only personally enthused and encouraged but with real sense of purpose. There are many Readers out there who are committed to the role they play within the church. They are positive about their ministry, feeling privileged to lead worship, preach and teach in their communities but also willing to listen to God, to develop their gifts as they try to discern their role in today’s world. In the discussions and meetings many issues were raised and to me, as a new rep, some seemed almost unimportant – just my personal opinion and said with humility. Others however, were challenging and thought provoking, evidence that Reader ministry is alive and moving forward.
The meeting began on Friday evening with addresses from both the retiring Chair, Bishop Graham Dow and the retiring Vice-chair, Canon Ron Black. The report into Reader ministry, Reader Upbeat, was the focus of Bishop Graham’s address. He felt that at the heart of the report is the feeling that Readers are in a ‘no-mans-land’ between licensed and unlicensed lay ministries and ordained clergy. There is a world of difference between the ideal and what happens on the ground and working practice combined with allocation of resources, often gives the impression that in the eyes of the church ‘ordained is best’!
Bishop Graham highlighted five main areas where he sees Readers ministry: Catechismal, Pastoral, Pioneer, Chaplaincies and General ministerial work. The opportunities are immense and urged us to ‘just get out there…we are not a church for ourselves but for those around us’. He concluded by urging us to discover, and then follow, where our gifts take us.
Ron Black pointed out that we live in changing times - but not to be worried by this because ‘to live is to change’. Life is a continuing process that brings growth and we need to remember that there are three stages in the work of God: impossible, difficult and done!
Saturday’s business began with the section meetings – wardens, secretaries and representatives. A variety of topics were discussed, including: