Readers from across the diocese gathered at Truro Cathedral this weekend for the annual service to celebrate Reader Ministry.

Trigg Minor and Bodmin Deanery Choir provided an uplifting start to the worship with Bishop Chris presiding. Brenton Blandford, a Reader from Saltash, was the Assistant Minister and Helen Purchase from Godrevy Team Ministry preached on encountering God in thin places. Other Readers took their part in the service – Annette Claridge led the intercessions and Brian Davis read the Lesson from Exodus.

A day of firsts

Being Admitted and Licensed as Readers during the service were Esther Brown, Elizabeth German and Mark Sinden. Eileen Waterhouse was welcomed and Licensed as a Reader to the diocese. Graham Ford, Wendy Smith and David Watson received their Permission to Officiate License for the first time. All Readers were invited to dedicate themselves afresh to God’s service, as heralds of his gospel and ministers of his grace.

While it was a service of firsts for those Readers already mentioned, for two others it was about celebrating their contribution to Reader Ministry. Brian Davis was recognised for his 50 years of service and Betty Booker was celebrated for giving 25 years. You can read more about Betty below.


“God takes care of me”

The annual Reader service is all about celebrating the work of Readers across the diocese.

One of those Readers is Betty Booker from Helston who was recognised for giving 25 years to Reader Ministry in Kerrier Deanery during the service.

Betty sits in her conservatory as she says that there are others who do so much more than her, before quietly mentioning that she’d made three visits to the church the previous day and had been there every day that week.

Betty believes her role is to serve, looking after the clergy and simply doing what she has to do. And Betty’s service is far longer than her 25 years of Reader ministry.

Having grown up attending church with her sisters in Wakefield, Yorkshire, Betty says that she only had a brief spell away from the church as a teenager. Having met her husband Philip through Christian groups and following the arrival of their first child, they were drawn back into church life. The couple were even confirmed together.

The family moved to Cornwall in the 1960s. Philip had a job at Goonhilly. It wasn’t an easy time for Betty and took a while for her to settle. “We’d gone to an active church in Yorkshire and after we moved, we joined St Michael’s in Helston. We didn’t know what to do with our children because there was nothing for them.”

After 18 months, a new vicar arrived who turned the church around and soon there were families and Betty was helping with the Sunday school. Something she continued to do for 20 years.

“I was working with toddlers right up to teenagers. I also did a youth bible study group as well – they ate me out of house and home but I loved it.”

It was this service that left Betty feeling she needed some training. Betty had been asked if she had considered ordination a number of times but felt it wasn’t for her. “I knew it wasn’t me, I didn’t want to lose the children.”

One of the first locally trained Readers

Betty was part of the first group of Readers trained in the Diocese of Truro and says the training was very strict. On completing it, Betty discovered that she had lost the children anyway. “As soon as I finished my training I had to stop teaching at Sunday school. My services were needed in church.”

Betty threw herself into taking sick communion, something that continues. “I really love it. There was a time where I was seeing 13 or 14 people a week. It’s probably only three or four now but I have taken a couple of the funerals for those people I gave communion to. They are hard to do but it was lovely to be able to.”

In church Betty can be seen quietly working in the wings, there to support as and when needed. “I always work with the clergy. I lead prayers, read the gospel, preach and I do the sacraments.”

Then there’s her seat on the Parochial Church Council. She’s also part of a weekly prayer group, a healing group praying for over 100 people and Betty and Philip host a weekly Bible Study group at their home. Betty acknowledges that she is part of the fabric that holds it all together. When asked who looks after her after she’s finished looking after everyone else, Betty replies: “God takes care of me and I have got to meet so many lovely people.”