Licensed Lay Readers


Licensed lay readers provide liturgical assistance to the clergy on a regular basis. They can read the scriptures, lead the Prayers of the People, preach or plan and lead a service of worship under the direction of a priest. "The privilege of leading God's people in Sunday worship is an awesome responsibility and it must be approached with confidence and dignity. This can only come through training and experience."—Bishop John Chapman, 2008

A substantial amount of training happens in a parish setting. In order to be licensed, trainees will also be expected to participate in additional training, particularly in the areas of biblical interpretation (exegesis) and preaching (homiletics), through diocesan workshops or courses offered by recognized seminaries or colleges. The diocesan program starts with training to be a Worship Assistant, followed by training to be a Licensed Lay Reader. At the end of the training cycle, the parish must formally endorse the application for a Lay Reader's license.

Each licensed lay reader is expected to attend or participate in a minimum of two (2) approved workshops, courses or training events within a 2 year period to fulfill the Bishop's requirement for continuing education for those serving in licensed ministries.

Why are lay readers licensed?
Lay readers are licensed by the Bishop because of the responsibility, commitment and training that this form of baptismal ministry requires. Licensing also enables greater consistency across the Diocese of Ottawa in how licensed lay readers function and how they are trained. Licensing increases accountability for this ministry and integrates this role into the life of the church.

How do people get started?
An application form and a parish endorsement form need to be filled out by the applicant and the corporation of the parish (or congregation). A police records check is also required as a standard part of the screening process. The training program and requirements are outlined in this training manual The incumbent or other member of the clergy who is in charge of the congregation signs off the various requirements as the licensed lay reader-in-training completes them.

If there is a backlog in the processing of police records checks, send in your application and parish endorsement forms anyway, with a note about the delay. Once you receive your police records check, send it in.

Education for Ministry is very helpful preparation for licensed lay reader ministry, but it is not a requirement per se. EFM offers excellent preparation or continuing education opportunities in the biblical foundations and Christian ministry and Sharing the Good News areas. However, practical skills like public reading of scripture, preaching and leading worship are also required for licensing and these are not covered in the EFM course. Also, EFM is a four-year program and it is possible to be licensed become a licensed lay reader in as short a time as one year if the candidate is either already experienced or is able to get all the key requirements done.

The blue licensed lay readers' scarf or medallion and ribbon
Blue preaching scarfs in both a longer "male" and shorter "female" size can be purchased through the Church Bookroom in Kingston, ON. This store also stocks a generic lay reader medallion and the blue ribbon (which goes round the neck of the wearer). The medallion needs to be sewn onto the ribbon. The blue scarf should only be worn while preaching. The ribbon with the medallion is worn for all other occasions.

License renewal
When a licensed lay reader moves to another parish, or a new priest comes into a parish, the licenses are all revoked and a renewal application (signed by the incumbent) is mailed to the Warden of Lay Readers. The Warden ensures that the Police Records Check is current and applies to the Bishop for a new license which will be sent directly to the Parish. Those wishing to have their licenses renewed are expected to participate in some form of continuing education, particularly in the areas of biblical interpretation (exegesis) and preaching (homiletics).

Lay Reader Position Description
Manual for Licensed Lay Readers
Application Form - Licensed Lay Reader
Parish Endorsement Request
License Renewal Request

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Staff Support

All applications, whether New or Renewal should be directed to:
The Rev. Canon David Andrew
122 Julie Anne Cres.,Carleton Place ON
K7C 4M5
If any of this is unclear please call 613-324-6960

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