Report on the 2012 Lay Readers Conference


Linda Walls reports on the Scottish Episcopal Church Lay Readers Conference, 'The Word in the World', which took place from 18 to 20 May 2012:

On a rather chilly Friday afternoon in May, three of us from the diocese arrived at Tulliallan Police College to join over thirty Lay Readers, for the second national Lay Reader Conference to be held in Scotland.

The theme for the weekend was “The Word in the World”. The conference provided an opportunity to consider the role of the Lay Reader in the 21st Century Church and to learn about the diversity of work carried out by Readers in the seven dioceses. The accommodation was comfortable, the food hearty and sustaining.

We had time to meet up with old friends and make new ones over the weekend. We were extremely fortunate to have The Rev John Knowles, Warden of Readers in the Diocese of Chester, as the main speaker at the conference. Having nearly 500 Readers in his diocese he brought a wealth of experience of the highs and lows of Reader Ministry. He had also served as a Non-Stipendiary Priest in the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway so he was well aware of cultural differences between the SEC and the Church of England.

On the Friday evening and on the Saturday afternoon, John led excellent Bible Studies on parts of Ezekiel, entitled “Fill your Stomachs!” and “Fill your Hearts!” He told us to be like Ezekiel and fill our mouths and our stomachs with the scriptures. We had to read the scriptures to be able to preach. If we didn’t take them in and absorb them, we couldn’t give them out again in preaching. We were urged as preachers of the Word to have, “hearts of flesh and foreheads of flint”.

We were to be like Ezekiel and preach whether people listened or not! He said that if God was sending us out to preach the Word, then it was not our job to worry about how it was received. On the Saturday morning, The Rev’d Canon Ian Paton led us through the new Liturgy of the Word Service. He explained its origins and showed how it could be used as a Sunday morning service. The vexed question of Lay Readers taking Services of Holy Communion with Reserved Sacrament was discussed and we were told that the Service of the Word was seen as the preferred option for Reader use by the College of Bishops.

Canon Paton’s talk was informative and interesting and he urged Readers to try out the new Service of the Word with their congregations and report how it was received to the Liturgy Committee. As part of the worship during the weekend a Reader from the Glasgow Diocese led a Service of the Word on the Sunday morning. There were four interesting workshops to choose from on the Saturday: “The Permanent Diaconate” led by the Rt Rev John Armes and Rev Dr Anne Tomlinson, “Ritual and Ceremonial” led by Reader Alan Hall, “The Word in your Local School” led by Reader Nerys Brown and “The Word in the Environment” led by Reader Richard Murray.

John Knowles final session was called, “Looking back and looking forward” a historical survey of Reader Ministry. It was entertaining and motivational helping to prepare us for the closing Eucharist celebrated by John with an excellent address from The Primus, who joined us on the Sunday morning. One slogan that John repeated throughout the weekend was, “Life’s a campaign, not a holiday!” Food for thought as we left the lovely Georgian splendour of Tulliallan Castle to return to our homes. Now we’re looking forward to the next conference in 2014.

Categories: Reports on events