In the Book of Common Prayer, all people are called to “take their place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church” (p. 855). Baptism into the Covenant Community of Jesus Christ is the primary prerequisite for any ministry in the Church, and the Book of Common Prayer defines four orders of ministers: lay persons, deacons, priests and bishops, priests.
All ministry is relational and the call to licensed lay ministries begins with a relationship with local parish leaders, either clergy or lay. This starting point recognizes simply that the work of Jesus Christ is done in community and the call to a particular ministry is ultimately the call of the church to individuals asking them to share their gifts. In most cases, the Rector of the parish will oversee the formation of lay leaders as they take on these licensed ministries.
These licensed ministries provide accountability within the church and our common mission. Those who have leadership positions are part of the community and subject to its direction. Once licensed you act under the authority of the rubrics the Book of Common Prayer and within the faith and tradition of The Episcopal Church.
The Canons of The Episcopal Church specify seven licensed lay ministries:
- Eucharistic Minister: A Eucharistic Minister is a lay person authorized to administer the chalice at a Celebration of Holy Eucharist. The Parish Rector provides training for a Parish Eucharistic Minister. No special license needs to be obtained from the Office of the Bishop.
- Eucharistic Visitor: A Eucharistic Visitor is a lay person authorized to take the Consecrated Elements in a timely manner following a Celebration of Holy Eucharist to members of the congregation who, by reason of illness or infirmity, were unable to be present at the Celebration. Upcoming Eucharistic Visitor Trainings.
- Catechist: A Catechist is a lay person authorized to prepare persons for Baptism, Confirmation, Reception, and the Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows. The Parish Rector may provide information, education and training for an individual to be a Preacher in that Parish.
- Preacher: A Preacher is a lay person authorized to preach. The individual may preach approximately four times in one calendar year. No special license needs to be obtained from the Office of the Bishop.
- Worship Leader: A Worship Leader is a lay person who regularly leads public worship and the Parish Rector has oversight. A Parish without a Rector should call the Office of the Bishop for further details if a Worship Leader is needed.
- Lay Pastoral Leaders: A pastoral leader is a lay person authorized to exercise pastoral or administrative responsibility in a congregation under special circumstances, as defined by the Bishop. Administration of Reserved Sacrament Service Bulletin. An Order for the Administration of the Reserved Sacrament by a Lay Pastoral Leader. Lay Pastoral Leader Packet.
- Evangelist: An Evangelist inspires, encourages, and equips church members to be effective witnesses to the Good News in Jesus Christ. The Parish Rector may provide information, education and training for an individual to become an Evangelist in that parish. Please contact the Office of the Bishop if an individual in your Parish is looking to become an Evangelist.
Discerning a call
The Church believes that all baptized person are called to share in the ministry and mission of the Church. People discern and respond to calls from God in various ways. You may indicate to the Rector the desire to serve in a particular ministry or share a sense of calling. In other cases, clergy may seek out and recruit Lay Ministers.
“In all service, the entire Christian assembly participates in such a way that the members of each order within the Church, lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons, fulfill the functions proper to their respective orders, as set forth in the rubric directions for each service” (BCP, p. 13).
Preparation and Training
Those accepting a call will undertake a course of preparation for Licensed Lay Ministry. The course outlines assure standards and consistency in The Episcopal Church in Colorado and enables some flexibility for congregations to engage this process in their local context.
For the Pastoral Leader, the Commission on Ministry will oversee the training and structure for this specific ministry.
For the other licensed ministries, the Rector is responsible for evaluating, training, and certifying that qualifications have been met.
According to the Canons, those engaged in licensed lay ministries need to participate in continuing education opportunities. Rectors should encourage individual to participate in various continuing education opportunities such as reading materials in the Licensed Lay Ministries bibliography, discussion directed by the Rector, conferences, workshops or retreats.
Commissioning, Licensing, and Terms
After all training requirements are met; the Rector will submit required paperwork and forms to the Office of the Bishop. The Office of the Bishop will then issue the appropriate license.
Licenses are valid for a period of four years, and they are valid only within a particular congregation.