20 Sep 2019

Parting reflections from the Director of Readers


The Revd Canon Elaine Labourel shares her parting reflections here as Director of Readers:

Dear Friends,

Reader Ministry is such an important calling, building up the life and mission of the church. Like every Christian, Readers have good news to share but through their training combined with their life experiences, they can talk about the faith, listen sensitively and offer pastoral care. It is both liturgical and educational.

As many of you know, I accepted this voluntary post some time ago starting as a tutor for the St.John’s Extension Study modules. I was first a ‘star’ i.e. Senior Tutor and Advisor for Readers, before becoming the Director of Readers. However, after thirteen exciting years of taking care of Readers in one way or another, I have prayerfully taken the decision to step down from this ministry as from the end of September this year. It has been a wonderfully enriching experience. I have so enjoyed getting to know Readers and Chaplains and simply being present through selection, training and beyond. My on going prayers for everyone has been an important part of my life and ministry.

Putting together the various Reader Workshops and the Conferences has been exciting and fulfilling. Having a background in Adult Education has been a plus and goes to show how God uses everything we have done previously to further His kingdom today. The workshops (especially the social evenings getting to know people and sharing food and drink from around Europe) have been one of the highlights for me. I have thoroughly enjoyed being invited to Archdeaconry Synods and having the opportunity to meet many face to face there too. Living in Paris means that Skype too has been a blessing (when it works) as one means of keeping in touch. I could say the same for Messenger, Facebook and WhatsApp.

Every Reader licensing has been a time of celebration and although I have not been able to be present, I have felt a part of the day thanks to your photos and messages.

There have been challenging times, not the least as we have gradually updated the Reader Handbook and the training programme and without the continued administrative support of Debbie Cunningham, nothing would have happened so smoothly. The geographical distances between us in our Diocese has made keeping in touch more complicated but at the same time has brought many different perspectives on the working out of our faith in our specific contexts, which enrich us.

As I move on, not exactly into retirement as I am still involved in ecumenical work, leading retreats and offering Spiritual Direction, I am looking forward to having a little more time to invest more in my own spiritual journey.

It has been a privilege and an honour to serve the Lord and you in this way.

I pray for blessings on each one of you and your Reader ministries and I am sure you will all continue to be faithful and fruitful in His service.

With warm wishes,


Revd Canon Elaine Labourel