“I didn’t come from a particularly church family although my mother made sure I was confirmed. Throughout my younger days I came and went. I was like the tide. At university I was involved with the Christian Union but not in a big way. My faith was always solid but I didn’t express it.”
Like many young people starting out in careers, Rick’s life was unsettled. “I travelled a lot and I didn’t have a regular church and lost the church going habit.”
Originally from London and the South East, it was following his move to the Saltash area over 30 years ago to take up work, first as a sports reporter at the Western Morning News then in his current post as Head of Communications for Plymouth Argyle Football Club, that Rick got back into church.
“When I first started in church it was just as a member of the congregation. Then I got asked to read the prayers. The first few times I did it, I felt really nervous and if you said then that I’d be taking services from the pulpit within a few years I would have said ‘no, you’ve got the wrong person!’.”
But that’s exactly what Rick does now as a Reader working across five churches in the Saltash and Landrake area.
Rick, 54, has been a licensed Reader for just over a year. “I don’t know what made me decide to become a Reader, it just sort of happened!
“We had quite a small congregation and the parish priest had asked me to be a church warden which I did for a number of years. Then about three or four years ago I did the Worship Leader course and Reader training just seemed a natural progression.”
Rick undertook the three years of Reader training in Truro before he was licensed at Truro Cathedral in October 2014. “I think I was quite fortunate because I was given plenty of opportunities before I was even licensed. As a Worship Leader I was able to play a big role in services. In the year since I became a Reader, I have prepared and played a part in many services. I really enjoy the whole process especially when a sermon comes together. I enjoy the challenge of it.”
Rick works across five churches in two benefices – Saltash and Landrake with St Erney and Botus Fleming. “A lot of my services have been in St Mary’s, Botus Fleming, and it’s been really good because I and the congregation have been able to build up a rapport. I enjoy ministering to them.”
Rick has also been able to combine his Reader role with his day job at Plymouth Argyle.
“I think people think Reader ministry is something you do when you retire and I was probably one of the youngest people on my training course but I have been able to extend my ministry into my work at the club.”
Plymouth Argyle has a growing Christian Ministry and as well as Rick, the club has its own chaplain.
“There is a chaplain who comes to the games and spends time with the players and staff and I was very much involved in his appointment. We have a regular players group that’s been going on for five or six years. It’s really interesting because at the beginning it was one player, myself, one other person and the club chaplain and then in the last two years there has been a huge boost and it’s become quite well attended. That aspect of my time at the club is almost an extension of my Reader Ministry. When the chaplain is away, I lead those sessions.”
Rick says there are currently around 4 or 5 players attending before a game, although numbers ebb and flow as player come and go. “All of them are welcome. Some have faith, some have other faiths and some have no faith. Some come because they were brought up in the church, some because it’s quiet. There are all sorts of reasons for them being there in those pre-match prayer sessions.”
Rick advice to anyone considering Reader Ministry is to just do it. “If you have been considering it, there is obviously something calling you.”
Rick’s only regret about Reader training is that he didn’t do it earlier. “I wish I had done it when I was much younger in order that I could serve longer but I wasn’t settled then. In hindsight I feel I was probably called although I never saw it at the time.”