Monday, 3rd October saw the licensing of readers for the Ripon Episcopal Area take place in the Cathedral. We hosted this service not as the Cathedral, but as the Parish Church of two of the newly licensed readers and of one already-established reader who has transferred to the Cathedral from another parish. John Baldini and Michelle Dearlove have just completed their training course and are to be congratulated on this significant achievement. Taking time out of busy lives to attend weekly seminars and seasonal weekends, as well as engaging in parish placements, is not a trivial thing. Yvonne Jefferies, with her family, has been worshipping at the Cathedral for some time. It is natural, then, that she should wish to exercise her reader ministry here and we are delighted that she is doing so. Already, Yvonne has taken on the chairmanship of our new C3 Group – promoting our community engagement. Please, do pray for John, Michelle and Yvonne, and for all the readers, newly licensed and well-established, who serve throughout the Diocese.
John writes below:
“When I was asked to write this, I wondered whether I should do this chronologically, or start from a position and emanate out to cover what has taken place to reach this point, but my mind doesn’t work like that. Instead I’ll let you know that over a number of years and conversations with people such as Canon Ford, Michael Glanville Smith, Dean Keith, Keith Punshon to name but a few, I found myself being drawn closer and closer to the life and work of the Church. My thanks go out to them, and others, for their patience and kindness in explaining their positions on the Word and Works of God.
Although a regular church goer, a change in work schedules meant I was able to attend Mattins on some Friday mornings, my thanks to the late Roy Newell for all his help in guiding me through those services. After standing for election on to the PCC and also being invited to attend the Parish Education Group, a conversation with Canon Elizabeth was the final straw that encouraged me to apply for Reader Ministry. During a rather haphazard conversation, she said fire away and I’ll join the dots. Acting rather like a parabolic aerial, Canon Elizabeth gathered all these, apparently random, thoughts and events in my life and coalesced them into reasonable notion and then suggested I look in to Reader Ministry. Following this, I enrolled on to a Foundation Degree in Theology and Ministry. The references for Reader application were a source of discussion and surprise for by boss and my previous boss, who is now ordained, as they had no idea this was coming. So for me there was no Epiphany, no Emmaus Road moment, just a slow, on my part, recognition of God’s work in me. Two years later and here we are, newly licensed. I’ve skipped over the past two years as they have been some of the most testing and difficult, causing more stress and strain than I could almost bear at times, mainly in terms of time management and impact on life in general. I have not read a book for ‘pleasure’ for these two years, with an autobiography and a book of poetry part finished on my bedside reading pile. Have I enjoyed the journey? On reflection, yes, but we have only just begun. There will be on going reading, courses and daily interactions with people who always have comments and observations on the work of the Church, its direction of travel and the Word of God.
I would like to say thanks to all those who have been with me on this path, their support, love and encouragement has been of invaluable help. My final thoughts are ones of almost awe-inspiring love; I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of affection toward myself and my fellow readers at our licensing, the kind words, cards and gifts a symbol of that love. And it is all about love: “God is love and those who live in love, live in God and God lives in them.” wrote St. Paul – and elsewhere, he stresses the faith and the hope of it: “three things last forever, faith hope and love; and the greatest of these is love.”