There are many different ministries people offer – and as St Paul reminds us, all are equally valuable. Oxford Diocese wants to encourage all kinds of lay ministry, and to give as much freedom as possible to the local church. So formal authorisation from the bishop is only given when this is required by the church’s canon law, and that currently means for two things:

  • Preaching (this includes responsibility for any talk or activity fulfilling the function of the sermon in a Service of the Word).
  • Leading services of public worship with communion by extension (clarification on what constitutes communion by extension and who may conduct these services is given here);

The bishop’s authorisation gives you permission to exercise such a ministry within your parish or benefice, but it is up to your incumbent / ministry team when you are asked to do so. The incumbent / ministry team is also responsible for supporting you in your ministry.

To be authorised, you need the backing of your incumbent and the PCC.  The incumbent writes to the area bishop, advising them of this support (expressed through a PCC resolution). The area bishop will send an intial letter of authorisation, often without needing to make any further enquiries.  This initial authorisation effectively allows you to begin ministering during an initial training period of up to two years and will stipulate the training you will be expected to undergo.   On completion of all relevant training requirements, you will then be able to apply for your initial authorisation to be renewed to a ‘full’ authorisation, which is normally renewable every five years.

This Authorised Ministry Handbook gives a full description of the Authorised Ministries scheme, including detailed explanation of training requirements, assignment titles and suggested reading.

Introductory leaflets for those interested (or those whom you think might be interested) in training for these ministries can be downloaded here:

Details of current and forthcoming training courses will be found here.

The formal policy documents underpinning this scheme are here:

Please note that any work which learners wish to be assessed for formal academic awards will need to use the Harvard (Anglia Ruskin) referencing system.

For more information, please contact Revd Dr Phil Cooke (01865) 208282.