HUNDREDS of people flocked to Oxford’s Christ Church Cathedral to watch 12 new people become Licensed Lay Ministers in a special service.

Licensed Lay Ministers are ministers who lead most worship that isn’t communion, take funerals and are involved in a host of pastoral ministries. They come from all walks of life and offer their time and gifts freely in parishes across Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. A fuller piece on LLM ministry is here.

The 12 men and women who were licensed on Saturday 3 November had completed three years of training, including courses on the Bible, pastoral care and preaching.

Anne Taylor, Licensed Lay Minister Adviser and Tutor on the Diocesan Local Ministry Programme, preached an encouraging sermon, focusing on the New Testament reading from 1 Peter 4, 7-11. She talked about God’s grace, love covering a multitude of sins and the importance of hospitality. She mentioned her church’s food ministry, taking meals to people in need.

“Peter says each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others. As faithful stewards of God’s grace you are advised to use them all to serve other people. Use them in a way that shows that the gifts are from God, they are not your own.”

She added: “The key to all of these right at the beginning of the passage is prayer, loving God and loving others as God loves us, serving as Jesus did.”

Susan Cuthbert worships at St Aldate’s Oxford and has become a Licensed Lay Minister to help with her ministry in prisons.

“God gave me a heart for prisoners and a call to minister to people in prison. Jesus was friends with sinners and he gives us the same spirit that enabled him to preach good news to the poor and release the captives,” says Susan.

David Hare, from St Sebastian’s, Wokingham said he wanted to serve God but didn’t want to go into ordained ministry. “I enjoy being available to people in the midst of whatever they are going through. Some people find it easier to relate to a lay person.” David, a former social worker who is now the Churches Together representative for Oxfordshire and Berkshire, said he found the service moving. “I was almost in tears, tears of joy. It was an inspiring service about dedicating yourself to God and his work which is so important.”

Anthony Wisdom, from Caversham, Thameside and Mapledurham, said he felt called specifically to Licensed Lay Ministry. After the licensing service he said: “I’m looking forward to preaching my first sermon tomorrow. The service is great but preaching the word is what it is about for me.”

The new LLMs are; Jill Bell, from St Mary’s, Wexham; Emma Carter, from St Edburg’s, Bicester; Ann Cogle, from Greyfriars, Reading; Avril Coleman from All Saints, Faringdon; Keith Disney, from St Peter’s, Hook Norton; David Hare from St Sebastian, Wokingham; Peter Mayers from St Mary Magdalen, Tilehurst; Rosemary Sandbach, from St Stephen’s, Basildon; Ian Sansbury from St Mary’s, Wendover; Wendy Wickens from St Michael’s, Warfield and Anthony Wisdom from Greyfriars, Reading.