Readers in the Church of England

Readers are called to serve the Church of God and to work together with clergy and other ministers.  They are to lead public worship, to preach and teach the word of God, to assist at the eucharist and to share in pastoral and evangelistic work.  As authorized lay ministers, they are to encourage the ministries of God's people, as the Spirit distributes gifts among us all.  They are called to help the whole Church to participate in God's mission to the world.


There are currently four Readers licensed to St Michael's Church, Boldmere.  Meet them below.


Gary Connell - became a Reader in 2017

With a busy career in the construction industry I was very much a Christian on the outskirts of faith and church life.  However, with the birth of our two daughters family life encouraged me to support my wife Edwina in her church worship.  Over the next few years I became increasingly curious and decided to join a confirmation group to explore my faith further, certainly not expecting to be confirmed.  However, God was working and I was confirmed at St Michael's Parish Church in 1994 by Bishop Mark Santer.  Our confirmation group continued to meet afterwards and is still the case today, with changing members over the years, I led the house group every week.


Always questioning scripture and increasingly opening up to the Holy Spirit, which is a wonderful story in itself, too long to recount here, I joined the Prayer Ministry Team, PCC and was Church Warden for six years, a period that saw many instances of God, through friends and strangers alike, gently nudging me towards a calling as a Reader.


My hope is that God will be my guide and, as I walk with Him, that new doors will open to me and that my gifts and skills can be used accordingly to His will.  As a young adult I would never have thought that I would be here today and it only by God's amazing grace that I am.  My hope and commitment now is in helping others find the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ in their lives.


Richard Hornsby - became a Reader in 2016

For most of the first fifty years of my life, I was an atheist with a lot of socialist leanings.  At 7.15 am one February morning as I drove to school in the rain, I met Jesus.  He wasn’t meek and mild – more radical invader.  The shock was, quite literally, life changing.  I shut myself away in my office at school for over an hour and tried to understand what was happening.


When I announced to my wife that I wanted to attend church I wasn’t expecting the very positive reaction that I received.  Eventually, we were both confirmed and went on to do a 3D course.


I was extremely surprised after one morning service when our curate asked if I had thought about becoming a Reader.  What at first seemed a silly idea rolled around in my head for a couple of weeks.  I prayed about it and discussed it with my family, the more I talked about it and the more I prayed about it, the more natural the idea became.  So here I am about to be licenced as a Reader.  From decades of persecuting Jesus I have changed to worshipping him with every fibre of my body.


Our two longer standing Readers are Elaine Riley and Ann Willis


Licensing Service 22nd January 2011.


There are many days in all our lives that are memorable and life changing. The day of my licensing was such a day.


It had taken eighteen months of training to get to the day. Eighteen months of interesting, exciting, challenging and rewarding work. The training took place at the diocesan office with seven like- minded people; we had evenings of hard work, thought provoking discussion and learning how to write sermons. It took each of us to a new level, a new place that I had never considered – I had never considered the idea of Readership, but obviously it had been mapped out for me.


The strange thing was how quickly the time went. We began in September 2009, wrote our first sermon in December 2009 and our fifth by the summer of 2010. The time just flew. During the summer of 2010 we were placed into groups of 2 or 3, each group having to complete a project on our churches. A presentation was done in September 2010 to our colleagues and then we waited. We waited for the letter to arrive from the Bishop of Birmingham to say that we had passed. With real excitement the letter arrived and the news was good. Then an evening, in November, transition from training to Readers in waiting.  Unfortunately it was the beginning of the really bad weather – the snow had arrived and I was unable to go. It was a real shame, as it felt I had missed something special.


As with special days you plan and plan and suddenly they are there. I was so excited. Friends had travelled up from London the night before and others travelled by train from Ely to be a part of the day.


I travelled into Birmingham with my friend and lay sponsor Pat Tennant and met Rev Paul Rattigan at Wragg & Co – where the legal part of the proceedings had to take place. All of the Readers changed into cassocks and surplices ready for the Bishop of Birmingham to arrive. Legalities done we all walked across to the Cathedral. The faces of the people walking down Colmore Row were a


Into the Cathedral and the service began. It was so lovely seeing all my family, friends and friends from St Michael’s there to support me. It makes special days so much more special when you share them.  Having the Bishop present you with the Blue scarf was a very special moment, especially as he had to clean mine first – how it ever got dirty I do not know. Another very special moment was giving wine at communion, something I have never done. Being able to give it to my family and friends was moving. That made an incredibly special day even more special. All too soon the service was over and into the grounds for photographs.


I hope that I will now be able to put into practise everything I have learnt from this incredible journey.


Elaine Riley.


The verse I picked for my Licensing Day.


“Before I was formed in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”

Jeremiah 1:5a


In recent years I have felt I could do more for church. I really felt I wanted a more active role, but just didn’t know what. My Vicar, the Rev Paul Rattigan, sought my views on being involved with preaching. This was something that I had never considered, but thought this was a way of becoming more involved and perhaps what I was looking for. After an initial conversation I signed up for the 3D course. I so enjoyed it mixing with like- minded people, finding informative and fun. Here I came across my special bible verse Jeremiah 1:5 - “God knows me better than I know myself.” There is no one more surprised than myself that I’ve been moved to take this journey. I believe that it is God, through his knowledge of me, who has guided me from birth to this part, “set you apart”.


I was asked again about preaching and taking the step to Readership. I still was not sure, but “before you were born I set you apart.” – I went on a second course at Queen’s Foundation. Our recently Licensed Reader Ann Willis was on the course and we travelled together discussing Readership and our curate Rev. Margaret Brighton concurred with the idea, and finally the idea was cemented having met the person running the course (Rev Liz Howlett). I truly believed that God has called me to Readership and the passage from Jeremiah, I feel, says everything. I had never considered Readership, and would have thought people mad if they said that I would have done it. Yet God has put in my path the people who could guide me on my journey and steer me in the right way. I can only do what He wants and am grateful to all who have helped me along the way.





“Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to Thee.”

At the age of 7 years I joined the church choir, started to play the piano and became a Brownie. As I stood in the choir singing the well-known hymn written above I knew that I wanted to devote my life to praising and serving God. This strong vocation to serve God and tell people about Jesus continued throughout my time at school but as a female in those days there was little I could do as a career. I had always felt I should teach but when I was in the sixth form decided that I could serve God and help people better as a nurse. From the age of 7, I had felt a calling to work as a missionary in Malawi and was very involved with CMS for many years. My training as a General and Paediatric nurse followed by Midwifery and then a time as Sister in casualty was all designed to equip me for going to Malawi but having begun the selection process it was discovered that I had a heart defect and I was rejected.

I moved back to Sutton Coldfield, trained as a Health Visitor and got married. For the next twenty years I was busy working full-time, running a very lively Brownie Pack and enjoying time with my husband. In 1998 I had to retire from the NHS because of ill-health and had a year off work. During that time I began to get more involved at church and did the 3D course. I then went back to work as a school nurse in an Independent school but still felt God was calling me to something more. Finally I discussed this calling with the incumbent at that time who persuaded me to explore the Pastoral Course which was a new Diocese course. (Health Visiting but talking about Jesus as well – appeared to be just for me at the time!)

Along with 5 other people from church we completed the course and I worked/still do work as a Pastoral minister. After a few years I still did not feel fulfilled and discussed this with the incumbent. The new vicar suggested that I try preaching and leading a service which I did and that led to me applying for Reader training which I began in 2007.

Ten years later I am still working in the Parish as a Reader and Pastoral minister. The roles do overlap but I am pleased that I have done both courses because that, along with my experience as a nurse and health visitor gives me confidence in visiting and relating to the people I serve. Having spent most of my life with children I now find that all my work as a Reader is with older people. This is not something I chose to do but there is such a great need that I had to take up the challenge – I have found that whatever I feel is right God always has a different plan!

As a Reader I now lead services and preach at St Michael’s but also at other churches where there is a need – at the moment I am also on the team rotas at Netherwhitacre, Overwhitacre, Shustoke and St Peter’s Maney plus Chester Road Baptist church. I co-lead a 3D Course at St Michael’s and a Christian Fellowship at New Oscott Village. Overlapping with Pastoral care I conduct services each month at two retirement homes in the parish and I also work as a volunteer chaplain at Queen Elizabeth Hospital




Printer Printable Version