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14th March 2012
Nothing happened, nor should it have done!
The symposium papers will be made available - soon!
Quite understandably, there has been much interest expressed about what happened at the symposium dealing with lay ministry, which was held in Sussex at the end of last November under the chairmanship of Bishop Robert Paterson.
In one sense nothing happened – nor should it have done. The event was not held to decide the way forward for the ministry of Readers and other lay people, so there is no list of recommendations to be scrutinised or discussed. Rather, its purpose was to seek guidance from an academic study of various aspects of lay ministry, to advise bodies like the Central Readers’ Council, the Ministry Council and not least the House of Bishops – all of which agree that the church will be increasingly reliant upon the ministry of lay people in the future.
One particular insight from the biblical evidence was that ministry evolved to meet the needs of each congregation, and that these could and did differ from place to place. Equally, the charisms and abilities of individual ministers were taken into account in the assigning of tasks. All this took place before the threefold order of ordained ministry as we know it was established. Looking at Reader ministry in particular, its establishment in the reign of Elizabeth I and revival under Victoria followed the pattern of meeting local needs on the Biblical pattern.
All the three bodies mentioned above will be meeting in February and March – and we cannot (and should not!) second-guess what the results of their discussions will be. The papers that were presented to the symposium will be made available for reading or downloading from the Reader website, as they become available.