New Lay Ministers Licensed at the Diocese’s Called Together Service

On Saturday 18 May, 11 new Associate Ministers were licensed at the annual Called Together service, a celebration and licensing of lay ministers from across the diocese.

The service was held at Leicester Cathedral and led by Bishop Martyn and Bishop Saju with music from the Cathedral’s junior boys’ and girls’ choir.

As well as the licensing of new Associate Ministers, a number of lay ministers, including Pastoral Assistants, Pioneers and Evangelists, renewed their commitment to ministry, and Bishop Martyn commissioned the Lay Ministry Council, which supports and advocate for lay ministers. 

Melanie Oldershaw, Associate Minister at the Parish of Old Dalby, reflected on her experience of the service, and said: "The Called Together Service was warm and welcoming. There was a real sense of affirmation for those being licensed, and those whose licences were being renewed. It felt like a significant moment as we gathered in the Cathedral, with both bishops leading us along with the wonderful choir, but there was also a real feeling of intimacy."

The service drew on different cultures and languages, reflecting the diversity of those being called and sent, and recognising the mission of God to all nations - of particular significance given the service took place on the eve of Pentecost.

Jenny Holland, Pastoral Assistant for St David's Church, Broom Leys, found the service uplifting and affirming. "I attended the Called Together service to be re-licensed as a Pastoral Assistant and this year felt particularly significant," she said. "When those being licensed for the first time stood at the front to make their commitment to ministry, all those being re-licensed were invited to stand and participate. It was a special acknowledgment of what we've been doing and what we hope to continue doing in our churches.

"It really did feel like we were all together, there was no separation whatever people's role or title. When the clergy made their commitment to support lay ministers, and when we said the Lord's Prayer in multiple languages - these were wonderful moments."

During the service, Claire Bampton, Diocesan Programme Manager, spoke of how our calling comes from our deepening experience as the beloved children of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit. In her sermon, Claire shared these words on the work of the Spirit:

"The Holy Spirit breathes in and through each of us. The Spirit helps us to sustain patterns of prayer and study of scripture that establish our rhythm of life. The Spirit infuses our lives with the love and energy of God, seeping into every nook and cranny of our being, providing us with nourishment and enabling us to let go of those things that weigh us down. 

"The Spirit guides us to notice what is going on around us, prompting our empathy and compasion for those we encounter near and far. And the Spirit gives us freedom to choose how to respond to our calling, as faithful disciples, each moment, each day. And when things go wrong, or we find ourselves having strayed away or simply weighed down by weariness or fear, the Spirit lifts us up and pulls us back into the Father’s loving arms.”

You can read Claire Bampton’s sermon for Called Together in full here.

Associate Ministers are licensed to provide lay leadership in the local church, often leading particular areas of mission and ministry, working collaboratively with incumbents and others. Amongst the 11 new Associate Ministers licensed this year were those called to ministries including teaching and preaching, leading services, sung worship and prayer, ministry in schools and to the elderly and those called to lead social action projects. 

If you have a sense of calling to serve the church, visit our vocations page.

New Associate Ministers

Alastair Michaelwaite

I have worshipped in the Parish of the Transfiguration in Little Bowden since becoming a Christian 14 years ago. I am married to Nik, and we have two grown-up children. When I left my job in commercial IT to work as a project manager for the diocese I thought that God had finally got me to where He wanted, but a growing sense of a calling to something more crystallised during a Cursillo weekend and with the encouragement of our vicar eventually led to the Associate Minister training. I still feel very much called to the 'teaching and preaching' side of ministry, although my placements during training have opened my eyes to areas for further exploration in the future.

Catherine Stray

I am based in the Benefice of Castle Donington with Lockington-cum-Hemington, where I have been worshipping for over 35 years. My wonderful husband and grown-up son continue to be incredible sources of support.

My faith has grown through music – I play guitar and sing – and prayer, and in the last few years I felt called by God to ‘do more’. This prompted me to join the JiF course, which gave me the desire me to want to learn even more. After some conversations and many prayers, I found myself at the Everyday Calling event, which then led to me finding myself here!

I now have the privilege of preparing for and leading worship, including through music, taking an active role in our newly launched Rooted intergenerational prayer space, and being part of our Breakfast Church Team. I hope to see my ministry develop through this and being able to explore some form of chaplaincy by being there for others where they are.

Di Rydings

I live in Woodhouse Eaves and worship at St. Paul’s in the village. My ministry is focused at leading ‘Come and See;’ worship and preaching at church, along with pastoral care visits to the elderly and infirm. I also take joy in taking discipleship out into the community through leading ‘Jesus and Me’ after-school clubs and 'Open the Book' at St. Paul’s school, participating in intercultural gatherings with local Afghan asylum seekers and supporting food banks. In the future, I am hoping to bring comfort and hope to those suffering from loss through leading a Wellbeing cafe and potentially stepping towards funeral ministry.

Graham Heath

I look forward to serving as an Associate minister, supporting and assisting the team in a variety of ways, including the discipleship of men. Growing up in London, I attended the children’s and youth work at the church my mother attended. At the age of 19, having left school and started work, Christ drew me to accept and acknowledge Him as Lord and Saviour. I was baptised the following year. I went on to train for ministry at Spurgeon’s College, becoming a Baptist minister in 1986 and, after serving with my wife as a church planter in Japan with OMF International, returned to pastoral ministry in UK.

Jay Jones

I am looking forward to becoming an Associate Minister in the Barrow and Wolds Benefice. My calling is to pioneering and particularly a bringing the hope and joy I have in Jesus Christ to the people that are yet to know him.

Michael Rule

A Leicester lad born and bred, school teacher by day and organist of St James the Greater on London Road for the past 14 years, I felt a call that my ministry could extend beyond the musical and I’ve been thoroughly inspired by the training and the people I have worked with over the past 2 years to become an Associate Minister. I see my ministry's focus to be mostly preaching, teaching and leading services and to continue with my music-based ministry, but feel strongly called to see how our church can develop links with our parish and how we can best serve our local community.

Penny White

I have been worshipping at All Saints with Holy Trinity Loughborough since 1979. I am married to Jim and have four children and eight grandchildren. I am a retired teacher. I have had many roles in church, in the choir, as Warden and working with children. I hadn’t expected to take on any more roles, but God had other plans for me.

I joined a JIF course, to support my daughter who was exploring ordination, but slowly realised that God was calling me too. I spent some time questioning this but found myself training for Associate Ministry.

I am called to pastoral care and co-ordinate the Pastoral team. I am passionate about accessibility for everyone, and it is important to me that All Saints with Holy Trinity is both an inclusive church and a part of the IWC programme. I am looking forward to developing my ministry whilst praying that I am open to where God takes me in the future.

Barbara Guntrip

Based in the High Framland Benefice, Barbara enjoys leading worship in creative ways and building relationships with her communities. She was part of a Journey in Faith Course a few years ago and discerned a call to licensed ministry. She senses a particular call to supporting the bereaved.

Scott Else

I came to faith as a wayward teenager in London and have served in many different roles in church over the years since then. This has included lots of children and youth work, regular preaching, leading two church plants and now working for St John's Clarendon Park as Director of Discipleship, Leadership Development and Church Planting. I am married to Emma and we have three children and we are all excited to see what the future holds for us and St John's.

Pastoral Assistants transferring to Associate Minister

Joan Hawkins

 I have been pastoral assistant at Ratby Parish Church for a number of years. The focus of my ministry is working with senior citizens living in our Parish. I am passionate about this work as I think there is a blind spot in the church for senior people when they are unable to attend in person. I want them to know that they are still loved by us and most of all by our Lord God.

Sue Holt

I was brought up in Surrey and Lincolnshire before coming to Leicestershire in the late 80s. I have been a Pastoral Assistant for about five years, firstly at St Bartholomew's, Quorn, and more recently in the Benefice of Christ Church, Coalville. I am hoping that as an Associate Minister I will be able to take a wider role in the Benefice although my focus will still be pastoral care. I have a daughter and a granddaughter and 2 step children, and I live in Coalville with my husband and two dogs. 

First published on: 30th May 2024
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