The Road to Readership

by Richard Maltby and Mike Pilling


After numerous words of encouragement from congregation, clergy and family I decided earlier this year to apply to be accepted onto the Diocese Reader’s training course with a view to becoming a Licensed Reader (or in other words to get the blessing and permission of the Bishop to lead All Age Worship).

It has been a long road to this point.  A few years ago I completed the certificate in Christian discipleship course then run by the Diocese which helped me grow in faith and understanding and after which, with Nick’s encouragement, I began to become involved with the teaching in Sunday services. At that time I was working in Junior Church and it was a natural progression to become involved in All Age Worship services.

Having completed the application form and getting suitable references from willing referees I was called to Church House for interview at the end of June.  Along with the letter of invitation came a short story, “The Fifth of November” by Sylvia Townsend Warner and the instructions to read the story and write a pastoral letter to the main character of the story ‘acknowledging her experience and encouraging her to attend a Sunday  service’ at the church the story is set in.  My initial response was to send by return of post a letter declining the interview – how was I to write a pastoral letter?  But after much prayer and lost sleep I completed a letter as best I could.

The letter was to be read out to the interviewing panel which I duly did after the usual formalities of being thanked for attending etc.  Things didn’t look promising when, after only three words, a collective sharp intake of breath issued forth from the panel, followed a few moments later by a second collective intake of breath and a shocked silence as I signed off the letter.  Things got no better as they explored pastoral care, mission and evangelism with me.

As I left the interview I was sure I would not be accepted on to the course and even if I was, then the course and licensing process was not for me. As I travelled home on the train I even questioned whether it was time to move away from the Church of England.  So imagine my surprise when I received the letter from the Bishop inviting me to start the Reader training course and commenting that the panel had found my letter deeply sensitive and caring.  I do wonder if they had got me mixed up with someone else.

So in September I will be starting the training.  I don’t really know what it will consist of or how I will cope with it.  At the interview I was asked how I thought being able to wear the blue sash would change me, my response to the question being that it wouldn’t – irreverently liking it to being given a rosette for completing a race (another sharp intake of breath!).  Being able to wear preaching clothes won’t change me but I hope doing the course will make me a more effective conduit for God’s word.       Richard

Richard is now in placement at Buxton

And from Mike….

MikeI had been thinking about the Reader Training for some time and    indeed last year, nearly applied.  This year I was encouraged by a number of people to try and, although not seeing myself as a potentially naturally talented student, thought I would apply and see what happened.

The interview with 3 people from the diocese was quite tough, very friendly, but still tough with a wide range of questions.  I answered them as honestly and openly as I do and wondered if I might have ‘blotched my copy book’, an expression clearly steeped in self doubt.  I was pleased, and a little surprised, to find I had been  accepted and start in September.  I know we start off with sessions on preaching and ministry and then onto the meaty substance of the Old Testament.

I look forward to learning more about scripture and hopefully be more able then to give more insight and depth to my contributions in services in the future.  I also look forward to the HT prayer support. Thank you. Mike

Mike is now in placement at the Crooked Spire Chesterfield

Becoming a Reader  – from the Diocese of Derby website:

The Church of England takes its responsibility to select and train Readers very seriously. In this region we normally require people to undertake the Transforming Faith course first so that they can explore their sense of calling to this ministry. The initial training then takes two years. This training is    rigorous, enjoyable and designed so that people in full time employment can do it. And, of course, once licensed, all Readers are expected to carry on learning and undertake continuing professional development.

 “The recent church meeting was reasonably well attended and all those there had excellent comments and views about ways forward for HT. There felt a real engagement with the topics at hand and I believe some progress was made  towards seeing the vision of re-ordering proceed.”  
 Mike Pilling