Linda Dott & Gillian Melvin licensed as readers in the 50th year of women being made Readers in the Church of England (Picture: Keith Blundy)

The Diocese of Durham has held a service of celebration to recognise those that are called to exercise lay ministry within a wide range of areas in the life of the Church and to license two new lay Readers in the Church of England. 

The service was held in Durham Cathedral on Saturday 21st September saw the licensing of Linda Dott (St Aidan’s & St Columba Hartlepool) and Gillian Melvin (Hebburn, St John with Jarrow Grange, Christ Church) who have each completed three years of training as Readers in the Church of England and also recognised the those who have trained as lay Pastoral Ministers in the Diocese.

The annual service also celebrated 50 years since women were first licensed as lay Readers in the Church of England.

The service was led by the Rt Revd John Pritchard, Honorary Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Durham who was delighted to conduct proceeding on behalf of the Bishop of Durham as he was previously Bishop of Jarrow (2002 – 2007) before becoming Bishop of Oxford in 2007 prior to his retirement in 2014.

Bishop John said: “It is a great delight to me to be back in this magnificent Cathedral and to lead this service in celebration and dedication of the important work of lay ministry in the Church.

“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.

“Lay Pastoral Ministers are to share in the pastoral care of our communities in a distinctive way and are to encourage the ministries of others, as the Spirit distributes gifts among us all. They enable the whole Church to participate in God’s mission to the world.” 

Gillian said: “I feel really excited to be starting this journey as a Reader. God has plans for me and that makes this really exciting for me – its a new season and I’m very much looking forward to it.” 

Linda added: “I’m very excited but nervous of course, it’s a big day for me and my family, both Church and personally. I’m particularly looking forward to getting more involved in our outreach work and all the possibilities they bring to be with people in our community and to share in the life of the church.”

As well as the formal licensing of Gillian and Linda, the service also celebrated the successful completion of lay pastoral ministry training by nine lay Pastoral Ministers (Sharon Dodds, Julie Smith, Tracey Fox, Paul Tabley, Julie Harrison, Paul Vincent, Alfred Jennings, Christine Wragg and Jennifer McLagan). 

Pastoral Ministers training recognised. (Picture: Keith Blundy)

Revd Dr Alastair Prince, Vocations Strategy & Development Adviser and Warden of Lay Ministries for the Diocese said: “I’m really grateful to Lindisfarne College of Theology for enabling these candidates to fulfil God’s call on their lives through the training programmes.

“It is truly wonderful to celebrate the many and varied ways that so many across this Diocese seek to bless their communities in Jesus name. I’m confident that lives will be transformed by the ministries of these people in their various settings.

“All of God’s people are called, through our baptisms, to seek to serve Jesus in a range of different settings according to our own giftedness. We look forward to working with many others who feel similarly called in due course and welcome enquiries via local clergy to explore a range of vocations.”

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