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23 Aug 2019

Reader Ministry: Personal Testimonies

 

In the second article in this series, Sharon Grant from The Anglican Church of Costa Brava shares her perspectives on being a Reader in the Diocese:

“God is good” declare the psalmists and, indeed, it is so! Before moving to Spain, we prayed with the “elders of the church”. They confirmed that our calling was from God but they cautioned “don’t expect oranges, you might receive olives”! As we had no idea why we were being called to Spain expectations weren’t a problem, yet during our time here, my husband and elder daughter have both been Confirmed, my younger daughter has received the sacrament of Holy Communion and I have been called to be a Reader! God is definitely good.

About a year after we arrived, we attended a Quiet Day. Whilst praying over the scripture of the Annunciation, I was convinced that I had not been obeying God. Distressed, I finally listened properly to God. He showed me that He was calling me to be a Reader and I knew it to be true. This was certainly an unexpected calling!

On hearing of my experience, our priest said “I’m not surprised”. Friends and family weren’t surprised either and my husband and two daughters were – and still are – extremely encouraging and supportive. My sister prayed with me about God’s calling to become a Reader. She reminded me of the bible verse “…this is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21). “Sharon”, she said, “it’s not a suggestion and it’s not a request”.

God blessed my training years with growth, both theoretically and spiritually. The Reader Training Program answered my deep thirst to learn more about God. It was well structured, expanded my understanding and introduced new concepts. Elaine, my tutor has always been incredibly kind and positive. The weekend training sessions continue to be invaluable for study and fellowship. Additionally, our priest believed in “hands on” learning and she invited me to share all aspects of the practical and pastoral ministry. God gives me the desire and the ability to serve. He is with me always, even reminding me in the face of my own inadequacies “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Bishop David kindly licensed me just over 2 years ago, and 6 months later our church went into Interregnum. Naturally, this was a busy time. In the absence of a priest, I took Morning Prayer in our 4 centres, wrote services and service sheets, organised hymns, and prepared sermons and intercessions for each service. I also enjoyed liaising, assisting and serving with 3 locum priests, each of whom had their own very different style. Throughout Interregnum, I continued to lead Fellowship Groups and Quiet Days, make pastoral visits and take coffee mornings. It was not always an easy time but it was a time of blessing too. It is through difficulties that God strengthens our faith. God has shown me that He is a faithful God and I give thanks for His steadfast love.

Our church has been blessed again with our new priest, Reverend Rachel Shock and I am blessed to serve with such a warm-hearted, prayerful and enthusiastic priest. Increasingly, I feel God’s call to prayer ministry and the work of spiritual growth. Over the years, God has used me in these areas and Rachel is generously encouraging. I know that God will lead, I pray that I am alert to His voice, always willing to follow and open to His ways.

From teaching to listening, leading worship to pastoral care, fellowship to funerals, God has blessed me with a wonderfully diverse ministry and I love it! Being a Reader allows me to serve God and the church to a greater extent and to share the love and joy of the Lord more fully. Above all, I believe God wants us to know His immeasurable, infinite and unconditional love. With God’s grace, it is this which directs my ministry as a Reader.

Sharon Grant, Licensed Lay Minister (Reader)