Foundations / Lay Ministry Course
God calls and gifts all his people for different ministries in his kingdom. Some are called to take leading roles in particular areas of ministry in their local churches. In the diocese of St Albans we believe that it is important to recognise and nurture these gifts by training people to be equipped for these particular ministries, in order that our churches may grow spiritually, missionally and numerically.
Foundations is a 1-year annual non-accredited course delivered by the Eastern Region Ministry Course (ERMC) which began in September 2020.
This course is both for those already exercising, or looking to exercise, a leadership role in an area of ministry in their local church; and also acts as a prerequisite course for Reader training. The course will enable participants to develop their biblical and theological understanding and consider this in relation to issues and situations that affect individuals and communities.
There are 3 modules, 1 module per term. Each module has a specific focus:
- Module 1 – set texts from Isaiah 40-55 and Matthew’s gospel;
- Module 2 – development of Christian beliefs in the early church looking particularly at Augustine of Hippo, and then the church in modern decades;
- Module 3 – exploring issues that affect individuals, groups, churches, local communities and the wider world and how we shine the light and hope of Christ into these such situations.
Whilst these are specific areas of focus, the course keeps the Bible, Christian beliefs and ministry in view throughout.
Sessions will be approximately 1 hour in length and will be delivered online by podcasts and/or videos, and will be made available on the Monday of each week of term, so participants can access the session at any time in the week, whenever is most convenient. In addition there will be 2 hours of reading per week, and an online discussion forum to discuss the topics raised in the sessions with others on the course. There will be a piece of work to be submitted for each module.
2020/21 Term dates
Induction – week commencing (w/c) Monday 7th September 2020
w/c Monday 14th September 2020
w/c Monday 21st September 2020
w/c Monday 28th September 2020
w/c Monday 5th October 2020
w/c Monday 12th October 2020
w/c Monday 2nd November 2020
w/c Monday 9th November 2020
w/c Monday 16th November 2020
w/c Monday 23rd November 2020
w/c Monday 30th November 2020
w/c Monday 11th January 2021
w/c Monday 18th January 2021
w/c Monday 25th January 2021
w/c Monday 1st February 2021
w/c Monday 8th February 2021
w/c Monday 22nd February 2021
w/c Monday 1st March 2021
w/c Monday 8th March 2021
w/c Monday 15th March 2021
w/c Monday 22nd March 2021
w/c Monday 19th April 2021
w/c Monday 26th April 2021
w/c Monday 3rd May 2021
w/c Monday 10th April 2021
w/c Monday 17th April 2021
w/c Monday 24th May 2021
w/c Monday 7th June 2021
w/c Monday 14th June 2021
w/c Monday 21st June 2021
w/c Monday 28th June 2021
There are 3 gathered sessions via Zoom per year – 1 per term. These are done in stream groups with others who selected the same stream (mission & evangelism, pastoral & community care, teaching the faith) and are facilitated discussions that link the content of the module to the chosen stream. In the 2020/21 year these will be 7-9pm on Thursdays:
- 10th December 2020
- 18th March 2021
- 8th July 2021
Those who complete this course (except for those who go on to Reader or ordination training), like Lay Leaders of Worship (LLWS) will receive a letter of recognition from the bishop and then be commissioned to their local benefice in an act of worship in their local benefice by the parish priest. There are three “flavours” of commissioning which will reflect the current or future role of the individual person.
In recognition of the diversity of contexts, worshipping traditions, and ministerial activities in churches across the diocese, the “Enabler roles” are intended to be permissive not prescriptive and should reflect the needs and context of the local benefice, as well as the gifts and skills of the individual Enabler.
Those who are (or with the incumbent’s permission are looking to) be involved in teaching the faith – which could include leading home groups and Bible study groups, assisting with baptism or confirmation preparation, and teaching on discipleship courses – will be commissioned as Discipleship Enablers. This role links in with the Living God’s Love strand of Going Deeper into God. The Foundations course will enhance these people’s ministry by equipping them with skills and knowledge relating to the Bible and Christian beliefs and how these are entwined with the complexities of life, which will enable their ministry of teaching of the faith to be enriched.
Those who are (or with the incumbent’s permission are looking to) be involved in pastoral and community care – which could include pastoral visiting, voluntary chaplaincy work, running foodbanks, community support, prayer and healing ministries, and bereavement support – will be commissioned as Pastoral Enablers. This role links in with the Living God’s Love strand of Transforming Communities. The Foundations course will enhance these people’s ministry by developing their understanding of the story of God’s people past and present as involving faith and response through the trials of life.
Those who are (or with the incumbent’s permission are looking to) be involved in mission and evangelism – which could include contributing to MAPs, implementing LYCIG principles, encouraging mission and outreach events, sharing their faith and enabling others to do so – will be commissioned as Mission Enablers. This role links in with the Living God’s Love strand of Making New Disciples. The Foundations course will enhance these people’s ministry by deepening their understanding of the faith we have inherited and are called to pass on, and considering this in relation to the context of today so as to bring the light of Christ’s hope into the darkness of the struggles of this world.
Those exercising or looking to exercise a care home ministry or leading a children’s/youth group may find this course useful and could consider whether the focus of their ministry is on deepening people’s faith, providing pastoral care or mission.
In all cases, the aim is to enable the participants to deepen their own discipleship which bears fruit in their ministry.
The “Enabler roles” are specifically focussed on a leadership role in an area of ministry in a specific benefice. There is no age limit for those entering this course with a view to commissioning.
Whilst Foundations is a standalone course leading to commissioned lay ministry, it is also one of 2 courses along with the CMS course for pioneers that act as prerequisite for Reader training, other than in cases that qualify for an exception as explained on the Readers In Training page. Reader ministry is a wider ministry covering teaching the faith, pastoral and community care, and mission and evangelism as well as leading worship, and can be exercised in churches outside of the local benefice due to being a licenced ministry. Reader ministry also offers further theological and ministerial depth. For these reasons Reader training involves 2 further years of training. Those to be licenced as Readers must be under the age of 70 at the time of licencing.
Those who are interested in exploring Reader training should indicate on the application form that they wish to see a Vocations Adviser, and should also select one of either teaching the faith, pastoral and community care, or mission and evangelism as an area of focus for Foundations. Someone exploring Reader training can select any of these, as each of these 3 equally act as a part of the prerequisite for Reader training, as all 3 are involved in Reader ministry. Reader training will further cover all these areas of ministry.
In order to receive the letter of permission from the bishop to enable commissioning as an Enabler, those who successfully complete this course will also be required to complete the online Safeguarding courses C0 and C1, and the classroom based training C2 Leadership (clergy/readers). We also recommend that parishes consider a basic disclosure for those on the Foundations course/commissioned as Enablers. Information on basic disclosures can be found here: Safeguarding Newsletter Dec 2018
For those who have already completed and are up to date with C2 (deanery) safeguarding training due to another role in church then they won’t need to complete C2 Leadership (clergy/readers).
Similarly, for those who, due to another role in church, already have an up to date DBS check, it would not be necessary to obtain a basic disclosure. However, if the DBS check expires and is not renewed due to the Enabler no longer occupying the role that required it, then it is recommended that the parish considers obtaining a basic disclosure for the Enabler.
Enablers are required to keep up to date with safeguarding requirements. This means attending a refresher course for the highest required level of training, which is C2 (clergy). It is the parish’s responsibility to ensure that Enablers are up to date with their safeguarding requirements.
There is no course fee to take part in this training but your time and willingness to be involved in the mission of God.
Applying for the Course
Applications for the Foundations course beginning in 2021/22 will open in the first quarter of 2021.
Application forms will be available here.