Readers, parish clergy and their congregations gathered at Durham Cathedral on Saturday 23rd September for the annual Reader Licensing and celebration service.
The occasion was also marked by the licensing of Stephen Martin as a Reader in the Diocese of Durham the latest to take on this important work of lay ministry in the Diocese.
Stephen, from Belmont St Mary Magdalene and Pittington St Laurence, who is a Funeral Director in his day job said: “I feel nervous but excited to be taking on this role – it’s amazing to get here.”
Originally from Sherburn Village, Stephen explained that his faith journey started back in 1992 when he first attended church with friends and things just grew from there. He said: “I was encouraged by our previous vicar to discern where my ministry might lead me and the culmination of three years of training is this licensing service, but this is only the start of things.”
Stephen has been a funeral director in Sunderland for more than 12 years and says that the combination of his lay ministry with his day job is very complimentary as both are focused on getting alongside people.
The Right Revd Mark Bryant, Bishop of Jarrow and Warden of Readers in the Diocese who also lead the service said: “Readers provide are a very important part of the Church of England leadership of ministry. Readers are lay people who often act as a wonderful bridge between the Church and the wider community. Many of them are still working or working in the community and people often look to them to tell them about the Church and about Christian faith.
“The great thing about reader ministry is that it is constantly developing and changing as the world around us changes.”
Images from the service can be viewed below and can be purchased here.