The Church of England encompasses and functions around many different forms of ministry and understands that every individual has a distinct vocation. St Mary's in Woodbridge, like many Churches, could not serve the parish adequately without the various form of ministry that one finds within it.
The Parish of St. Mary's is fortunate in being well supported. We have a Rector and an Assistant Curate who are both full time. We also have two Readers who give of their time for the life of the Parish.
The Office of Reader has existed in its present form in the Church of England since 1866, and there are now 10,000 Readers, some in every diocese. Readers are lay men and women from a wide diversity of occupations and backgrounds, from which they bring a rich experience of the community to the work of preaching and teaching which is at the heart of their pastoral ministry.
Readers are admitted to office by the diocesan Bishop. Their main duties include preaching, teaching, leading worship, assisting at Holy Communion and pastoral work.
Each diocese has its own programme of training for Readers, which usually lasts about three years and is designed to offer study and experience in important areas such as Biblical study, Christian belief, pastoral studies, prayer and worship.
An Elder is a person commissioned by the diocesan Bishop for service in the parish to assist the clergy. Their ministry is both pastoral and liturgical. They are commissioned for a three-year period, which may be renewed. In this parish we have eight Elders, who meet monthly in St. Mary's for communion together, followed by a meeting at the Rectory to discuss their work.
They assist at the Eucharist by taking the Intercessions and administering the chalice. Some take House Communion to the sick and housebound, some take Matins at the Seckford Chapel.
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