The ideal to which all people called to the Office of Lay Reader should strive has been succinctly laid down by no less a person than St. Paul who, in his letter to the faithful at Corinth said, ‘Let all things be done decently and in order’ (1 Cor.14:40).
The object of the Diocesan Order of Lay Readers is to unite Lay Readers with one another and with the Bishop and clergy of the Diocese for the proposes of: The deepening of spiritual life, the stimulating of sacred study and the interchange of thought and experience for the greater efficiency of the Office.
To be admitted to the Office of Lay Readers a person must be recommended by the Incumbent of the parish and also be approved by the Bishop.
A Lay Reader must be confirmed, be a lawful age, be seen as a devout person of good character and qualified to do the work of a Lay Reader in an intelligent manner. A Lay Reader continues to hold the license at the Bishop’s pleasure.
The Bishop or his representative has the authority to admit a Lay Reader to the Order and to deliver a license from the Bishop When performing the duties of the Office, a Lay Reader may wear a blue Lay Reader’s scarf approved by the Bishop. A Lay Reader, when exercising any function of the Office, shall normally wear either a cassock and surplice or an alb.
It shall be the duty of a Lay Reader when called upon: To assist the Incumbent of a congregation in such ways as may lawfully be directed. Under the direction fo the Priest-in-Charge or the Bishop a Lay Reader may conduct services of: Morning and Evening Prayer, The Order of Service for young people, The Litany, The Penitential Service, The forms of prayer to be used at sea, The Order for Compline, and such other services as may, from time to time, be approved by the Bishop. To read or preach sermons under the direction of the Incumbent or the Bishop and with the Bishop’s permission, to administer the Chalice at Holy Communion
In cases of urgent and extreme necessity to baptize and to bury the dead.
N.B. A Lay Reader who has performed a Baptism, a Burial or any other civil act, must immediately see that the said act is registered in accordance with canon and provincial law.
In the normal course of events, a Lay Reader is presented to the Bishop for licensing by the Incumbent or the Parish. The candidate, standing before the Bishop or his representative, declares that he or she is confirmed, is a regular communicant and will abide by the doctrine of the Anglican Church of Canada. The candidate also promises to conform to the regulations and to obey the bishop and the Incumbent of the congregation. The candidate agrees to give up his or her license and to cease from the exercise of the Office if required to do so by the Bishop.
At this point the Bishop asks God’s Blessing for the candidate and admits the candidate to the Office of Lay Readers presenting him or her with the Bishop’s license together with the blue lay reader’s official scarf to which the crest of the Diocese is attached.
Several prayers are then said including the Lord’s Prayer and the following prayer: O Lord God Almighty , we beseech thee for this thy servant ‘N’. Grant him/her wisdom and understanding in the exercise of the Office of Lay Reader. May the light of thy Holy Word so illumine his/her life and conversation that he/she may never be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified: through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
N.B. A lay reader may not pronounce the absolution or give the Blessing but may, in place of the absolution, use the collect for the 21 st Sunday after Trinity (BCP p. 252) or the Prayer for Pardon (BCP p. 730). Also, a Lay Reader may not perform marriages except with the express permission of the Bishop and must also obtain a provincial license for this.
The call to serve as a Lay Reader is a very special call and a great privilege -but, in a very real sense, we are all called to serve, each in our own unique way.
Again, as St. Paul has written in 1 Corinthians. 12: ‘Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same spirit -the manifestation of the spirit is given to every person from the common good.’ God has given each one of us gifts and we are instructed to use them to benefit each other.
To the people at Ephesus St. Paul also wrote:
‘Unto everyone of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ’ (Eph.4) There words are very clear -There is no possibility of misinterpretation -we all have responsibilities to use the gifts God has given us. The role of the laity in the church is becoming increasingly important. In the future, the church will need our participation even more. Together (with God’s help ), we must do what we can to make where we live, a better place.
Warden of Lay Readers