Over 600 lay ministers, or Readers, gathered with their patron, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and approximately 40 bishops and other clergy on 5 May to mark their 150th anniversary at a special service at All Souls, Langham Place in London.

Chair of the Readers Council, the Rt Revd Robert Paterson, Bishop of Sodor and Man, said, 'We were honoured that Prince Philip was able to join us and are grateful to him for his very many years as patron of the Readers Council. Readers are the unsung heroes of many churches, supporting clergy and congregations as well conducting funerals and acting as chaplains in places such as prisons and hospitals. It was important to be able to shine a light on this valuable form of ministry and give thanks for generations of quiet dedication and commitment.'

Readers are lay people from all walks of life who are licensed by their bishop to a teaching and preaching ministry. They work with ordained and lay colleagues, usually serving within a ministry team. There are currently over 9000 active readers in England and Wales

Each diocese has its own programme of training with many being accredited by the University of Durham under the Common Awards scheme. Training usually lasts three years and is intended to develop both theological understanding and practical ministry skills.

150th anniversary celebrations will continue on 16 July at De Montfort Hall, Leicestershire with Follow 2016, a day festival, open to everyone of any age or denomination and sponsored by the Central Readers Council. Alan Wakely, Secretary to the Readers Council said, 'Following the All Souls service of thanksgiving for what has been and what we have, this festival will look forward - growing lay discipleship.'

Speakers include Paula Gooder, writer and lecturer in Biblical studies, Mark Russell, Church Army Chief Executive, Mark Greene, author and speaker from the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity, Debbie Thrower, former broadcaster and champion of BRF's the gift of year's initiative, and Paul Blakey, founder of the Street Angels movement.


Notes for editors

The full text of the sermon by the Bishop of Sodor and Man can be found here.

Photos from the service can be found here.

More information about Readers can be found here - http://www.readers.cofe.anglican.org/

More details of Follow 2016 can be found here:


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