by Denise Cryer
This year sees the Church of England celebrate 50 years of women Readers!
In 1961 the Bishop of Southwell had asked, “If a woman can be Queen, why cannot she be a lay Reader in the Church?”
I celebrated 10 years as a Reader last year but my journey started 20 years before that when my vicar said, “You should be preaching!” and then jokingly added “…but not in MY pulpit!” I often think I should preach from St. Lawrence’s pulpit just in memory of him!
In 1725 James Rudge of Trysull left 20 shillings per year “to a poor man to go about the parish church, during sermon, to keep people awake…” We’ve all heard good and bad sermons. But I believe passionately in preaching and believe it can play a crucial part in drawing people to faith in Jesus and to strengthen and encourage them in faith. It can equip God’s people to engage with our living God.
BUT it’s a delicate and fragile business and a HUGE responsibility! It’s easy to fall short of preaching the whole truth. I haven’t always got it right but I listen to what the Spirit’s saying and preach from my heart. If I can’t reflect on how the passage might impact my own life, how can I hope to help others?
As a Reader I also appreciate the privilege of sharing with others. I’ve been humbled and blessed as I’ve drawn alongside folk in prayer, shared in dark moments, and journeyed with them into healing and restoration. My ministry has had highs and lows, some parts have been a huge learning curve, but this is where God’s called me
As we move forward in the Rivers Team, there’s lots of opportunity for growth. I believe we are going to see “new growth” like never before! Is God speaking to YOU? Are you using the gifts He’s given you? Are you prepared to?
I’ve always tried to encourage people to share what God’s doing in their lives because I believe it’s important. I’ve often been encouraged through other people’s testimonies when it seems God’s been silent to me. 1 Thess 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage each other and build one another up, just as you are already doing”. So let’s encourage, listen to and pray for one another as we move forward into a new season of growth.
PS: Remember where my journey began!