This week we talk to Helen Randall, the new reader in the St Luke in the City Team, Liverpool, who is keen to develop ministry to people who are bereaved or seeking healing.
Q. Why do you think reader ministry is important, and what role will you play in your church?
I think reader ministry is important because it offers an opportunity for a shared, collaborative ministry in our churches, as well as a structure for formalised initial and continuing training and development. I believe that it is also important that transferable work-place skills can be offered to support the ministry of the whole church community, while still in full or part-time employment.
I am licensed as a reader in the St Luke in the City Team, which has three churches. Leading Sunday worship and mid-week Morning Prayer at my own church, St Bride’s, is currently a regular commitment, as well as teaching a monthly Godly Play session for the St Bride’s FISH (friendly, inclusive, spiritual and happy) children’s group. I am one of many at St Bride’s who regularly take part in leading talks and discussions related to a theme discerned by the Worship Planning group, of which I am a member. I am also a member of the Core Community Group (DCC) and co-facilitator of one of our Soul Friend groups. I preach at St Michael’s once a month and spend time with the congregation after the service, enjoying coffee and chat. I will develop my involvement with St Dunstan’s this coming year. I have recently been asked to use my organisational skills to devise the rota for the three churches, working in close collaboration with the whole staff team.
Q. Where are you from originally, and have you lived or worked elsewhere?
I was born in Reading, Berkshire, where I lived until I was 10 years old. Then the family moved to the outskirts of a village in rural Hertfordshire. From there I went to college in Bath to train as a primary school teacher. I married 40 years ago and we settled in Bristol, where I started my teaching career and my husband trained for ordained ministry. We moved north for his first curacy in Sale, Cheshire, then to Liverpool three years later, where we have remained! After our two sons started primary school I made a gradual return to teaching. My last teaching post, before I retired from full-time work three years ago, was Deputy Headteacher of Emmaus Church of England and Catholic Primary school.
Q. Was your interest in reader ministry gradual, or something you knew you have always wanted to do?
My interest in reader ministry developed during my role at school as worship co-ordinator, one of my many roles! During this formative time I was involved in developing liturgy with clergy and children, leading and supporting others in leading worship, and being a pastoral presence in the school. One day in 2010 I had a strong sense that, as this aspect of my work was the most enjoyable and rewarding, I had a calling to some form of ministry and knew it was time to retire and be open to new possibilities.
Q. What roles did you hold in church before your licensing?
Before training for reader ministry I was one of the Church Wardens, keeping busy attending to many practical tasks. I was also involved in leading worship and speaking, with an awareness of different learning styles, and being a member of developing groups in an exciting time of growth and development for St Bride’s.
Q. Do you have an interest in a particular kind of ministry, and how would you like to develop this?
Assisting in the pastoral and evangelistic life of the church is an aspect of ministry which interests me. I aim to be a generous companion; being responsive to the needs of others and to enable others to develop in their journey of faith. I see myself as a relational evangelist, drawing in others from outside the church through my friendship and faith. I would like to develop this ministry to both those seeking healing and those bereaved.
Q. Do you have any interesting hobbies?
In my leisure time I love to walk, appreciate nature, especially birds and trees and explore wild and ‘thin places’, as early Celtic Christians might say. I also enjoy music, both taking part and listening to it, as well as reading, films and theatre.