Seven new Readers were admitted and licensed by Bishop Tim at the annual service of renewal in Truro Cathedral on Saturday 29 September. Just under 100 Readers were present in a nave packed with friends and family to hear words of encouragement from the Canon Theologian, Revd Canon Stephen Dawes.

Opening his sermon, Canon Dawes said, “It’s a brave thing to commit to the Church of England in 2012. Or to the Methodist Church, come to that. Both the Church of England and the Methodist Church in these islands are tired, uneasy, anxious. There’s a sense that a tide is going out, that a day is drawing to a close, that we’re in an autumn of that way of being Church and doing Church.”

Referring to his first contact with a Reader in Northumberland in the 1970s, Canon Dawes continued, “We had lots of ecumenical things going on in that little Northumbrian village, and this Reader was a retired Colonel. Each Sunday he would be found doing matins or evensong in one or other of the local churches, because that’s what Readers did. He’d never been trained, of course, and I can still hear his “Humph” if anyone might have suggested he needed any such thing.

“But like it or not, we live in a changing Church in a changing World. In our little world of the Church hereabouts the parish system seems to be stuttering to a halt. The public, representative ministry of the Church is no longer confined to paid, ordained men in black at the rate of one per parish.

“So we are discovering – sometimes reluctantly and often out of sheer financial and economic necessity – the ‘Ministry of the whole people of God’, both in the Church and in the World. And Readers are part of that new awakening with both its joys and its costly tensions. And it is not going to stop.

“We thank God that you have responded to the Spirit’s call,” he concluded. “And that you have committed yourselves to training and study over the past three years, that you are committing to continue to study to equip yourselves for your new responsibilities, and that you are giving yourselves to the changing and widening Ministry of Readers in this Diocese. That’s brave. We salute you.”

Full text of Canon Dawes’ Sermon

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