THE Diocese of Oxford welcomed 13 new Licensed Lay Ministers in a special service at Christ Church Cathedral on Saturday (November 2).

The Rt Revd Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham, licensed the ministers, who will serve in churches across Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. Licensed Lay Minister Sue Simpson preached at the service. She said: “What does it mean to be an LLM in the Church of England? Hopefully, you know why you are here but some of your supporters might be wondering what this is all about.

“You are teachers of the faith, not just in church but also nurturing new believers who have little background knowledge of Christianity.”

…speak for truth and justice in all the places God has called you…

Sue, who is the LLM Archdeaconry Advisor for the Burnham and Slough and Wycombe Deaneries,  told the LLMs they are enablers of mission in their areas, as well as leaders in church and society. “You have training and a Bishop’s license to speak for truth and justice in all of the places God has called you to,” said Sue, who gave each new LLM an oak leaf, symbolising their calling to be ‘oaks of righteousness’.

LLMs, known as Lay Readers in other dioceses, are called to Christian ministry, but don’t feel called to be a priest. They can lead most worship that isn’t communion, including taking funerals. Read more here.

Below some of the new Licensed Lay Ministers share why they feel called to this ministry.

Debbie Fox
On November 2nd I had the privilege of being licensed as a Lay Minister, based at Christ Church, Flackwell Heath. Over the past few years, I gradually felt God calling me to preach, and I took an Authorised Preaching course. Following this, I felt God calling me further and I was accepted for training as a Lay Minister. As I now complete my training, I’m open to see what God has in store for me. I love finding new ways of bringing Christ to people outside of the Church, and I’m excited to see where this leads me in the future.

Margaret Poole
I have been discerning God’s call and serving the Parish of Chinnor, Sydenham Aston Rowant and Crowell for the past 17 years, having been authorised for preaching, leading and taking funerals. Through my own admission and lack of confidence, I have been very reluctant to take that final step in answering God’s Call to LLM Ministry. God has been very patient with me along with the Diocese and the parish. I look forward to continuing my journey as an LLM and especially sharing God’s Gospel of love to all those on the fringe and beyond.

Shirley Northover
As a child of the mission field, I know I was prayed for from before I was born. Throughout my childhood, my faith was nurtured not only in church but also at school because the headmistresses of both schools I attended (neither a church school) were Christians and the daily assemblies were true acts of worship. I long thought that my calling was to be one of God’s ‘odd job people’ rather than public ministry but I now find that, with the Holy Spirit’s help, I have a message to give as well as a message to live. I’ll be serving St Peter’s, Wootton.

Graham Weller
I have been a Christian since my teenage years. I have been involved in church leadership all my adult life in the UK and across the world. My calling to licensed ministry arose living in a small village and I saw the need for more trained people in the rural setting. I will be serving at All Saints’, Faringdon.

Chris Greaves
“Could I do that?” That is what I’ve asked myself for decades as I’ve sat and enjoyed (well mostly) worship in church. Always in an Anglican context, in fellowships ranging from the big city-centre to the small local, from the charismatic to the more traditional. I finally responded to the nudging, took the plunge and have trained as an LLM. I am now discovering if I can do it or not! I’ll be serving in Greyfriars, Reading.

Julia Hunt 
As a church warden I occasionally took services and that is how I embarked on my journey to become a Licensed Lay Minister. At first I thought people were just being polite when they told me how much they had enjoyed the service. After some time I realised that I had to explore this ministry and with the help and support of my family and my church family, I was accepted for training. The refrain of the hymn I, the Lord of sea and sky sums up my calling very well with the words, ” I will go, Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart”. I’ll be serving at St Denys, Stanford Dingley.

Helen Rouse
By inclination a Catholic Anglican, with both evangelical and liberal leanings I am deeply ecumenically committed, serving for many years, as an organist, leading devotional services and Bible reading/study and distributing home communion. Feeling spiritually unsettled for some time, however, I had, privately, been seeking God’s guidance. When a Reader urged me to consider LLM ministry, I was startled but, after prayer and discussion, realised I could not ignore God’s call. I currently feel drawn, especially, to develop my teaching and preaching skills and ministry for the elderly.

Tim Scane
My principal involvements are with children’s worship, both inside the church of All Saints’ Didcot, and within the wider schools’ community, and with the work of the Worship Group (liturgy, faith and prayer development). I also support pastoral visiting and delivery of home communion.

Heather Searle
I had long felt God nudging me for some time to do “something more” than just be a church member, at Christ the Servant King, High Wycombe, but I could never figure out what it was! At a diocesan vocations morning I had a clear sense that I should train as an LLM. A full-time job and family meant it was challenging to fit in all the studying, but I’ve been blessed with support from work and at home. The LLMs at my church have been excellent role models. My community placement was with the multi-faith chaplaincy at Bucks New University in High Wycombe. I enjoyed it so much I have stayed a member of the chaplaincy team.

Hugh Baxter
In 2000, I felt God bless my move to Uffington and that he had plans for me.  As often with God plans take longer and the result greater than we imagine.  His love has carried me through the ups and downs of work, life and training.  It is also evident through the wide support I have received across our benefice.

Jenny Veasey
I believe God chooses different ways and different voices to call us into his service. For me, it was the voice of my incumbent in the Winchester Diocese. Knowing I was considering retirement after years as a headteacher in a Church primary school, she invited me to lunch  in  our local pub. That conversation started with the words “Bishop Trevor and I have been talking about you . . .”
That call set me on the path of Lay Preacher in that benefice, then of Authorised Preacher in my current benefice in the Kintbury with Avington benefice in the Oxford Diocese – with an increasingly varied ministry, and the supportive and encouraging voice of an associate priest; now, still somewhat to my surprise, it has brought me to Christ Church, to licensing and to whatever lies ahead.