The Subject was raised at the last committee meeting and is connected with workload, working agreements, performance reviews and the wider issues of whether Readers are used well.
there follows som views from Readers to get you started on the issues- we’d be delighted to hear from you!
An Email Discussion….
As suggested, I think that Readers simply just get re-licensed every 3 years from the age of 70. Forget about the PTO and confusing use of that term in relation to Readers & Clergy. (WE)
I think you have pinpointed an Anglican strength which is at the same time a weakness, namely a reluctance to change. I have long agreed with Wendy’s observation that Readers/ LLM’s could still be licensed on a 3 or 5 years basis after 70 without the change to PTO. This change as far as I can see does nothing to improve anything, so why? The fact that it was, as far as I can see, designed to reflect the clergy model does not mean that it should automatically be adopted for Readers. If a reader falls below an acceptable standard and is not able to self diagnose the decline, then the clergy simply cease to use them. The current system is an expensive additional administrative burden and the fact that this is the way it is currently does not mean it has to be the way for the future.
Psychologically, there is shift at this 70 point in the way Readers see themselves and the way they can be viewed by the system. Some believe, rightly or wrongly that they are consigned to the back shelf at this point and only have routine to contribute. I have met many high qualified multi-talented Readers whose skills are often overlooked. After all 70 was set at a time when life expectancy was much lower than it is now.
I am certain that there are other things I want to mention but I will have to wait until I have had my morning coffee.
Wendy makes a good point, which is reinforced by Don. Don also makes some good points.
I am in favour of change, but not change for changes sake. The name we call ourselves should generate or create respect. Does it?
We were pushed to consider changing our name to Licensed Lay Minister because others were doing it. I agree that ‘Reader’ is an inappropriate, even an inadequate name. It has a 150 years behind it and people have come to know what it means even though it is inaccurate as a label. I advocated using a word, which is more descriptive and equally brief. I tried and offered some original names and which was ‘kicked into the long grass’.
The use of Licensed Lay Minister is an inadequate job description, not a name and should not be used even though it has become popular in other diocese. Do we call Vicars, Rectors, clergy ‘Licensed Ordained minister’? No, of course not – that would be silly. But we do not hesitate to use this for Readers. Is there not a name, other than Reader, that can be used? Surely there are people in academia, who could advise. A Reader could be an LLM before 70 and a PTO-LM after 70. I was admitted as a Reader and then licensed. I reached 70 and was given the Bishop’s PTO without a license, but still as a Reader. Wendy’s point makes some sense.
What advantage is there in licensing a Reader before 70? The argument goes: Exeter is doing it and we should consider it. Why? Again, the argument goes that it forces the reader and the priest to confront the Reader’s ministry and ensure that it is adequate. This presumes that the priest and the Reader do not discuss this – either implicitly or explicitly. That is a big assumption. Most clergy and Readers discuss their role in the parish – naturally at the beginning of the priest’s tenure and then through his/her time in the Parish. There may be some who do not and we want to ensure that everyone does because 5 or 10% do not . . . the innocent must pay for the guilty? It seems to be a heavy handed approach, lacking in realistically addressing the problem. A lump hammer for a thumb tack. The other question is who is going to do this job? There is enough pressure on the Secretary now.
If there is concern in Truro Diocese about the relationship between the clergy and the Reader, then why not address it head on? The Warden could request a report from a meeting of clergy and Reader every three or five years (the time frame for renewal of licences), with the clergy and the Reader invited to submit private and personal comments on the meeting and their views of the Reader’s role in the Parish. The Warden can look through it to ensure that everything is going well or that it needs tweaking. I fully understand the desire to delegate some form of checking by licensing, but it would not achieve the objective and, in the final analysis, the Warden is responsible – in our case (with two Wardens) it might be delegated to the Deputy Warden if the Warden is too busy.
Should we renew Reader licences every three or five years? Not in my opinion. The licence given should be left as it is until at least 70.