Sue Smith is a reader – licensed lay minister – in the Parish of Alverstoke. Here she write about her first weeks in the role
I am thoroughly enjoying being able to meet different people and put all the experiences and learning from my three years’ of training into practice around a very busy and growing parish.
I am based at St Faith’s Church in Tribe Road, Gosport, where I lead a monthly service.
This includes preaching a sermon on the topic and readings of the day.
I also assist, preach and take services for St Mary’s and St Francis churches, which offers the opportunity to meet and share God’s word with other congregations.
As the Church of England attempts to modernise it is looking for new and culturally-relevant ways to share God’s love in every community.
Some regular members of the church have found these changes difficult to accept.
As reader I have been spending quite a bit of time listening to them and trying to guide them gently through the changes with the support of the rector.
One change is the regular weekly communion which is now only held on the first, third and fifth Sundays in the month.
Since being licensed I have felt a greater responsibility to those who attend St Faith’s and I am enjoying the challenges being presented to me as a reader and member of the congregation.
As reader I am in the wonderful position of being a member of the congregation, while having that strong link with the clergy.
Sometimes I can offer the lay listening ‘ear’ to people who might find it difficult to talk to a vicar.
But equally, there are other times when someone feels that they need to share their personal experience with a vicar.
For me lay ministry has given me the privileged position of trust with members of the congregation whilst all the while being able to spread the word of God.
The joint parishes of Alverstoke and Forton are currently advertising for a pioneer minister to help lead us into the future.
I embrace the future challenges and trust that with God’s guidance I can help grow the church.
n St Mary’s Church is in Green Road, Alverstoke PO12 2ET.
To get in touch, call the parish office on (023) 9258 0551.
To find out more about what’s happening in the parish, visit the website at stmarysalverstoke.org.uk.