Licensed Lay Readers

Licensed Lay Readers provide liturgical assistance to the clergy on a regular basis; whose responsibilities can include reading the scriptures, leading prayers, preaching or planning and leading a service of worship under the direction of a priest.

“The Privilege of leading God’s people in Sunday worship is an awesome responsibility and it must be approached with confidence and dignity. This can only come through training and experience.”
– The Rt. Rev. John Chapman, Bishop of Ottawa.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are Lay Readers licensed?

Lay Readers are licensed by the Bishop because of the responsibility, commitment, and training that this form of ministry requires. Licensing also enables greater consistency within Lay Readers functions and training throughout the Diocese. Additionally, licensing increases accountability for this ministry and integrates this role into the life of the church.

How do I get started?

An application form and a parish endorsement form need to be filled out by the applicant and the corporation of the parish, or congregation, within which they are applying. A police records check is also required as a standard part of the screening process for all people in a position of leadership within the church. This training program and its requirements are outlined in the Lay Readers Training Manual. The Incumbent, or other member of the clergy who is in charge of the congregation, signs off the various requirements as the Licensed Lay Reader In-Training completes them.

If there is a backlog in the processing a police records check, please send your application and parish endorsement, along with a note about the delay; sending the records check once it is received.

What training is required?

A substantial amount of training for Lay Readers happens in a parish setting. In order to be licensed, trainees will also be expected to participate in additional training, particularly in the areas of biblical interpretation (exegesis) and preaching (homiletics), through Diocesan workshops or courses offered by recognized seminaries or colleges. The Diocesan program starts with training to be a Worship Assistant, followed by training to be a Licensed Lay Reader. At the end of the training cycle, the parish then formally endorses the application for a Lay Reader’s license from the Diocese.

Each Licensed Lay Reader is expected to attend or participate in a minimum of two (2) approved workshops, courses, or training events within a two (2) year period to fulfill the Bishop’s requirements for continuing education for those serving in licensed ministry.

Education for Ministry (EfM) is very helpful preparation for Licensed Lay Reader ministry, but is not a requirement per se. EfM offered excellent preparation or continuing education opportunities in the areas of biblical foundations, Christian ministry, and sharing the Good News. However, practical skills such as public reading of scripture, preaching, and leading worship are also required for licensing, and are not covered by the EfM course. Additionally, EfM is a four (4) year program, and it is possible to be licensed as a Lay Reader in as short a time as one (1) year, if the candidate is already experienced or is able to complete all of the key requirements.

Where can I get a Lay Readers' Scarf of Medallion on Ribbon?

Please contact the Warden of Lay Readers to obtain Lay Reader’s Preaching Scarves, Medallions, and/or Ribbons.

The blue scarf should only be worn while preaching, whereas the medallion is worn for all other occasions.

When do I need to renew my license?

When a Licensed Lay Reader moves to another parish, the licenses are all revoked and a renewal application, signed by the Incumbent, must be mailed to the Warden of Lay Readers. The Warden ensures that the police records check is current and applies to the Bishop for a new license, which will be sent directly to the parish.

Those wishing to have their licenses renewed are expected to participate in some form of continuing education, particularly in the areas of biblical interpretation (exegesis) and preaching (homiletics).

For more information contact:
Rev. Canon David Andrew
Warden of Lay Readers
warden-layreaders@ottawa.anglican.ca