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5th September 2005
What is it really like training to be a Reader in the Church of England today?
Chris Andrew's experiences of a first year's training.
I am 39 years old, married for 13 years, with one daughter who is 8 years old, and a Teaching Assistant working with the integration of children with special educational needs in a mainstream primary school.
In July 2005 I completed the first year of three of the WEMTC (West of England Ministerial Training Course). If I complete a further two years successfully, I will be licensed and admitted to the office of Reader, sometime in 2007. However, there are no guarantees and I am continuously being assessed and evaluated as to my suitability to this type of ministry. The following is an excerpt from my first sermon on 12th June 2005.
“On the 12th June 2004, a year ago this very day, I was beginning my selection interviews to become a Lay Reader. The day would decide whether I was to be accepted or not accepted for 3 years training which, if successful, would lead to my licensing by the Bishop of Gloucester. It was a very challenging day where I was asked deep and probing questions about home, church and work and the relationship of God with each other. At the end I came away not knowing whether it was a “Yes” or a “No”, and when I got a phone call that afternoon my life would never quite be the same again.
If there is one thing I have learnt in my first year of training it is that the pressure between home, church and work intensifies in a way which I as yet have not got used to and perhaps never will. It will be no surprise to any of you that to train as a reader in the Diocese of Gloucester and indeed, in the Church of England, in general, is hard and uncompromising. The tension and struggle between home, church and work is unique to every Reader but in fact, I believe it is where the true value of my own ministry is and will be found. A Reader’s ministry is one that is walked within the church and outside the church and through that dual walk, I hope that is where I will be able to make my contribution to our church community here in this parish”.
The whole training process is a testing ground and quite a long one at that. The relationship between home, church and work is one that I am continuously developing and involves much prayer, academic work and support from my family. However, this has to be so, because of the responsibility and nature of the office to which I am being called. I feel a sense of achievement that I have made it through the first year. I have come such a long way. I have developed through many different assignments; it has been very challenging at times though.
The WEMTC course offers regionally based training and leads to an award of a certificate in Christian Theology and Ministry validated by the University of Gloucestershire. Readers are trained through WEMTC for the Dioceses of Gloucester and Hereford and training at WEMTC is normally for three years and involves