Authorised Local Preachers Bishop Stephen writes: I have always believed that God gives to the local church all the gifts that are needed for the church’s ministry to grow and flourish. Sometimes these gifts are unrecognised. Sometimes they lie dormant. Sometimes they do not receive the encouragement and nurture they need. And sometimes it is matter of the wider church giving the necessary permission and authorisation. Most congregations will have people – even if it is only one or two - with a gift and calling to preach. In the past it was either a matter of going behind the back of the formal systems for recognising such a ministry, or training as a Reader. With this scheme for Authorised Lay Preachers the situation changes. Every parish in the diocese will now be better able to develop its ministry team and include within it men and women who can share in the preaching ministry under the leadership and oversight of the Incumbent and PCC and with proper authorisation from their Area Bishop. I am delighted to be able to support this initiative, and I encourage all churches to think and pray about who might be called to this ministry. There may be some great gifts lying dormant and unrecognised in your congregation. With encouragement, authorisation and training their voices could enrich the preaching ministry of your church. The ministry of preaching The ministry of preaching in the parish is primarily the responsibility of clergy and Readers. As the church grows and responds to the needs of mission and ministry, more and more people have become involved in the ministry of preaching, with the support of their clergy and congregations. In the light of this welcome development the Bishops are seeking to respond in a way that is flexible and sensitive to local situations, while affirming that this important ministry should be exercised in good order and with appropriate training. The ministry of Authorised Local Preacher is part of that response. The Authorised Local Preacher Preaching has always been at the heart of the life of the church and a focus for its mission and ministry. The Bishops wish to be linked with those who share in the ministry of preaching and to offer encouragement and support by giving their authorisation for this ministry. The ministry of authorised local preacher is exercised under the responsibility of the incumbent who, with the congregation, will have discerned the appropriate gifts and skills for this ministry. The authorised local preacher is part of the team of lay and ordained ministers led by and accountable to the incumbent. It is important to stress that the authorised local preacher is part of the preaching team and not simply cover for when other licensed ministers are unavailable and as such they should occasionally preach when the incumbent is present. What will authorisation mean? The authorised local preacher receives permission to preach from their Area Bishop. This permission is renewed on a regular basis, approximately every three years. The authorisation is for those sharing regularly in the preaching ministry of the church, not for those giving an occasional talk. Authorisation takes place in the following way: The incumbent discusses the request with the PCC who must fully support the proposal on behalf of the congregation. The incumbent writes to the Area Bishop requesting that the individual be authorised as a local preacher. The Bishop issues a letter to the authorised local preacher granting permission to preach and this letter is copied to the incumbent. PCC secretary and to the Lay Education and Training Adviser who is responsible for training and maintains a list of Authorised Local Preachers. The authorised Local Preacher is commissioned in a public act of worship during which the Bishop’s letter giving permission is read out. A working agreement is drawn up by the incumbent and authorised local preacher. Authorisation is reviewed during the third year. The incumbent writes to the Area Bishop requesting renewal with a report from the Lay Ministry Education Co-ordinator confirming that any required training has taken place. The authorisation is renewed on a three yearly basis. Training We all need to learn more about the things we do and the diocese is committed to helping those offering for this ministry. In seeking authorisation the preacher and their incumbent commit to undertaking appropriate training. The training takes place during the initial period of authorisation and will normally include the following: Studying on the Course in Christian Studies within the initial three year period, in order to gain a grounding in Biblical and theological understanding. Completing the modules for Authorised Local Preachers as part of CCS. Reflection on the study and training with a local mentor. This may be a member of the clergy or an experienced Reader. Those who have already completed an appropriate equivalent course of study and training may be exempt from the Course in Christian Studies and only required to do the specific modules on preaching. Preaching for those involved in other ministries There are those who have trained for other ministries within the church and who are asked to preach as part of the exercise of that ministry from time to time. Many of these ministers will have already completed foundational study on the Course in Christian Studies or an equivalent course. These ministers may include: Evangelists; Pastoral Assistants; Youth Workers; Pioneer Ministers and some Children’s Workers. Where appropriate and with the support of the incumbent and PCC, authorisation may be sought for these ministers to preach from the Area Bishop. The expectation is that they would complete the modules for authorised local preachers and receive the appropriate supervision. How does this relate to Reader ministry? Readers exercise a nationally recognised, accredited, licensed and transferable ministry governed by Canon Law. Preaching is only part of the wide scope of ministry offered by the Reader. Readers have a key role to play in the encouragement and support of others in exercising their ministry, including the authorised local preacher. The authorised local preacher’s ministry is locally focused under the auspices of a sponsoring incumbent. They are not authorised to lead worship and their ministry is not transferrable to another parish. The ministry is not permanent, being subject to regular renewal. For more information click here.