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Section A. Ministry

A23. Authorised Lay Ministry – Selection and Training

The diocese is currently providing training for four core authorised lay ministries: in alphabetical order, Children’s and Youth Worker, Evangelist, Pastoral Worker, and Worship Leader. While this provision is always open to review, and from time to time training for other ministries may be made available, these are the core ALM ministries for which PCCs are invited to select people, put them forward for training, and authorise them on the completion of that training.

The Bishop’s Code of Practice for Authorised Lay Ministry

The Bishop requires that:

All ministries, ordained and lay, will be exercised within a collaborative team, although the size and shape of the ministry team may vary at a local level

Authorised Lay Ministers will work with the authorisation and support of the Incumbent (or Priest in Charge or Vicar in a Team Ministry) and PCC, and be accountable to the Incumbent

ALMs will be selected by clergy and lay people together

Those selected will attend diocesan training, including sessions for the whole team.

Parishes will aim to review their collaborative mission and ministry every 5 years. They are encouraged to make use of an outside consultant (such as Rural Dean or Lay Chair). This provides an opportunity to ask whether a ministry might be laid down or refreshed.

The aim is to provide on-going diocesan and deanery based support to ALMs.

ALMs are encouraged to celebrate God’s gifts of ministry and renew their own commitment annually at a deanery celebration with other ministers, lay and ordained.

ALM Selection and Training

The ALM Candidate

Candidates should:

  • show a clear commitment to personal growth in faith and discipleship;
  • be recognised by the leadership of church and by the congregation(s) as being committed to serving God’s mission through the work of the parish/benefice/deanery, as well as in their own daily life;
  • be committed to working collaboratively as a member of a team;
  • be eager to encourage the gifts of others;
  • show evidence of the gifts and skills appropriate to the particular ministry being considered, 
  • and the potential to develop them;
  • have an appetite for life-long learning in a Christian context and be enthusiastic about following a course of training and formation;
  • normally be actual communicant members of the Church of England;
  • be willing and able to comply with the diocesan and parish policies on safeguarding children and adults with particular needs and vulnerabilities.

Selection

ALM training is carried out currently on a two-year cycle. In the September before an ALM training course is due to begin, clergy will receive an invitation to start exploring whether they wish to put forward anyone to train as an ALM. The parochial selection process needs to be carried out by the end of April, and names of candidates for training forwarded to the Ministry and Discipleship Team Administrator by the second week of May, so that there is sufficient time to organise training.

Normally, the primary responsibility for selecting, as for supervising and supporting, authorised lay ministers lies with the parish priest. Where there is a clergy team, or wider ministry team, the selection of potential ALMs should be discussed confidentially within the team. Where there is no team, the incumbent will ideally have some wise churchwardens or other people who know the parish / benefice well, with whom they can discuss people who might be selected, before taking those names to the PCC.

In selecting potential ALMs, the area where they might exercise that ministry should be considered: a single congregation, a single parish, or the whole benefice. Given that ministries tend to expand in practice, it will normally be best to assume that authorisation will be to the benefice, and therefore the incumbent’s and PCC(s)’s discernment process should also ask whether this person is capable of ministering in this wider framework.

Depending on who has initiated the discernment process, a conversation with each person being proposed is central. (It may start with a person volunteering to be an ALM, or it may come from the parish priest or be suggested by another person.) It may be that as well as a conversation with the parish priest, the prospective ALM could also be invited to have a conversation with another member of the ministry team, or a churchwarden.

Only when the incumbent, other appropriate team members, and the person being selected are all in agreement, should the proposal be taken to the PCC. The PCC should be able to have a confidential discussion of the appropriateness of the person or people concerned without them being present. It will be sufficient that the minutes of the meeting
a. simply records the decision taken, and
b. that the PCC affirms and supports the selection of the person, and
c. states for which ministry they are being selected.

Specific content of the discussion need not be recorded. However, the PCC decision does need to be minuted, and when the person begins training, the minute should be recorded on the application form.

In exceptional circumstances (although the groundwork referred to above should make this unlikely) the minutes of the PCC may need to record that a person has not been selected. In that case a simple statement that the PCC was unable to agree to support the candidate’s selection is all that needs to be recorded.

Once the incumbent and PCC have agreed on the selection of a candidate, the person selected should review with the parish safeguarding representative whether the ministry they are expecting to carry out will need DBS checks, and what level of checking will be required. A decision that a particular role does not need a DBS check will need to be recorded on the training application form, for review by the diocesan safeguarding team.

The application form for training for ALM (available on the diocesan web site) will need to have been completed and sent to the Ministry and Discipleship Team Administrator by (normally) the beginning of May (but may be sent at any time before that if the selection process is complete considerably earlier).

The final decision about whether an application should be made rests with the parish priest in consultation with lay and clergy colleagues in leadership in the parish/benefice.

Where a parish is in vacancy, applications would be considered and supported by the Rural Dean in consultation with others in the parish(es). In such cases specific arrangements for the support and oversight of candidates in training and after authorisation must be put in place. The application process may also be delegated to a person appointed by the Rural Dean in consultation with the Course Leader.

Training

The ALM course consists of 5 Saturdays, and around ten (mainly) evening sessions. The Saturday sessions run as follows: one at the beginning of the course, three in the Spring Term, and one at the end of the course. The evening sessions typically run in two groups, five in the autumn term and five in the summer term. Incumbents (or other delegated member of a ministry team) should meet with an ALM in training at least once each term of the training year, for support, review and on-going discernment.

The tutors on the course will be asked to raise any concerns they have about individual trainees with the course director as the training progresses. Where those concerns have a bearing on a person’s suitability for ministry, the incumbent will be informed, and a way forward agreed to address those concerns.

At the end of the training year, there will be a diocesan celebration at which the Bishop will award Certificates of Completion of Training.

Ongoing support

From time to time the Ministry and Discipleship Team will arrange in-service training opportunities for ALMs which they should be encouraged to attend.

It is recommended that each ALM has a simple role description setting out the mutual expectations the ALM and the incumbent may have of each other, and what ministry they will be carrying out. This should ideally be fully reviewed annually.

It is strongly encouraged to gather a team of those engaged in ministry together in the parish, clergy, licensed lay ministers (Readers), and ALMs, with others (e.g. Directors of Music) as appropriate. Such a team might well meet (for example) once a term or quarter, for prayer, reflection and the sharing of ministry concerns.

Deanery celebrations of ministry, which have typically happened annually, should still be occasions of affirmation, celebration, mutual support and developing a sense of participation in the wider mission and mission of the church in the locality. While it will no longer be necessary for Rural or Area Deans to sign people’s authorisations, this can be an opportunity to focus the celebration more on relationships and collaboration in ministry, and remove a burden of administrative bureaucracy.

August 2017

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