Chris Boulton has been licensed as a Lay Minister in a service held at Malvern Priory last weekend. Chris has trained for the past year to take on this new role and has also recently completed a Master’s Degree in Applied Theology.

Chris, who has had careers in the armed forces and in business, has worshipped at Malvern Priory since 2011, when he and his wife Caroline returned to the UK after living in Japan and Singapore.He was brought up in a Christian family and was a choir boy for many years, but his journey of faith took many more to develop.

Chris said: “I grew up in an Anglican church and when I was working in Asia we attended a number of different churches and denominations.Coming back to worship at Malvern Priory felt like I’d come full circle and I experienced the richness of the Anglican liturgy in a new light!”

After being made redundant in Singapore, Chris took on a number of part-time roles which enabled him to get more involved in the church. “While in Asia, we were involved in working with people converting to Christianity, which made me want to better understand my faith, so I attended theological college.Many years later when Regent’s Theological College announced they were starting a part-time Masters course and I jumped at the opportunity to continue my studies.”

Chris being licensed as a ReaderDue to his theological training, Chris has been able to complete a slightly shorter course than the usual two-year course taken by Lay Ministers (also known as Readers). “The training to become a Reader has been excellent,” he continued. “I really enjoyed being with other Readers-in-training and Ordinands at Queen’s Theological College where we worship, eat, and learn together once a week. A three-month placement recently with the West Worcester group of churches in St John’s and Dines Green has also been a key element of my training.”

Chris felt a strengthening of the call to Lay Ministry during the year when Malvern Priory was between vicars.It was a time when the Priory congregation really pulled together, and he felt that obtaining a Reader’s license would enable him to better assist the interim leadership team.

“In 2014 I was involved in setting up a Café Church at Costa Coffee in Malvern and began to participate in the diocesan Fresh Expressions network. This contemporary service has now moved into the Priory as ‘The Gathering’ and takes the place at 6.30pm on the first Sunday each month. Around 40-50 people regularly come along to worship, to discuss different and challenging issues, and to share their faith.”

Chris Boulton“My involvement in this service will continue, but being a Licensed Lay Minister means I can be part of the preaching and worship team, and help out wherever required. What really interests me is the path of Christian discipleship - my own journey has not been straightforward and it helps me to understand that everyone’s journey is also unique, challenging, and ongoing.”

Chris runs one of the home groups at the Priory and is also involved in the Priory’s Messy Church. Chris and Caroline have two married sons and two grandchildren.The eldest son still lives in Singapore and is married to a Muslim.

See more photos from Chris' licensing