Bishop James recently licensed 12 new Readers who now serve in parishes across the Diocese of Liverpool. Many of them have kindly agreed to share their stories with us. This week we meet Gillian Beardwood, who serves at St Luke, Great Crosby.
Gillian was born in Liverpool, moved to Formby as a child and now lives in Thornton. She has lived and has worked in the Merseyside area all her life, and she currently has a role with the NHS.
Gillian first thought about becoming a Reader when the incumbent at her parish suggested she explore the idea: “I have always been interested in Bible studies, being an active cell group member for a number of years, and my incumbent suggested becoming a Reader as the next step,”
says Gillian. “I was rather reluctant in obeying my calling; I was unsure if I could cope with the studying and amount of reading involved, especially after the taster session when we were informed that this course was a part-time course requiring 15 or more hours study each week. However, I am glad that I made the decision to go ahead and have learnt if God calls ‘don’t fight, follow.’
Before becoming a Reader, Gillian, along with her husband Paul and a group of others formed an Eco-congregation/Green Team at St Luke’s Great Crosby, which aimed to build on existing environmental concerns from a Christian perspective.
Gillian said: “We wanted to encourage people to celebrate the gift of creation and care for it in appropriate practical and spiritual ways. Through the project of Eco-congregation we reflected on our personal lifestyles and looked at different areas of church life including praise, worship and financial matters and Bible studies.”
The project obtained its first award in March 2009 and is still going strong. Gillian also enjoys gardening and growing fruit and vegetables in her spare time.
As well as continuing with her interest in Eco-congregation, Gillian is also interested in developing All-Age worship, having recently established an All-Age Worship team to plan and participate in Sunday services. Gillian said: “When I became a Christian about ten years ago, I visited a number of local churches but felt God was calling me to St Luke’s Great Crosby. I feel that God has placed me here for a purpose.
"All through this, my knowledge has continued to deepen and broaden; it has been a joy to learn how this can used for the benefit of others – through preaching, teaching, leading worship and assisting in the pastoral and mission work of the Church. This time of discovery has led me to appreciate more that we are accepted with unconditional grace and sustained by our dependence on God.
"We all need encouragement to continue our journey of faith. Throughout, it has been vital that I remember what this is all about and who it is for. Each of us is called to participate in this race of faith, each of us is called to serve God in different ways, and I hope I can be an encouragement to others “as each of us runs with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith…” Heb. 12: 1,2."
What does it mean to be a Reader?
Being a Reader takes three years of study and is an important part of the work of the Church of England. Readers are involved in many types of church work including teaching, preaching, leading certain services and helping the local vicar with the worship at the church.
Readers are very often in work and as active members of the community bring a fresh perspective to the local church. For some, it is the first step to ordination
The Diocese of Liverpool is one of the leading dioceses in the country for the support and development of Readers, with over 280 carrying out an active ministry.
These take a variety of forms including a reader who is Chaplain to Liverpool John Lennon Airport and others who are chaplains in prisons or who run churches in schools.
To find out more about Reader Ministry please contact Warden of Readers Jean Todd: firstname.lastname@example.org