28 Sep 2019

New Diocesan Director of Reader Ministry


The Revd Canon Paul Wignall has been appointed as new Diocesan Director of Reader Ministry from 1st October, succeeding The Revd Canon Elaine Labourel.  Paul is Chaplain of Holy Trinity, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and writes an introductory piece for us here:

It is a delight and privilege – and also a bit of a surprise – to be invited by Bishop David to follow Elaine as Director of Reader Ministry for the diocese. But it does continue a thread that’s run through my working life: preparing women and men for ministry in Christ’s church, whether as ordinands or curates, lay worship leaders, pastoral carers, evangelists, and Readers.

There have been so many challenges in ministerial development in those 40 years or so (yes, so long!). Though there are two in particular I care about a great deal. One is to find the right balance between the hard struggle with biblical texts and the writings of great minds past and present on the one hand, and the nitty-gritty of human encounter as we learn to live with the mind of Christ in our daily lives on the other. Perhaps the connection lies in the fact that Paul the Apostle, Augustine, Cranmer, and all the rest were doing just the same: working hard at being a follower of Christ, heart and soul and strength – and mind – wherever the journey took them. The same goes for us, in whatever ministry we are called to. It’s far from easy but it can’t be avoided.

The second challenge is maybe even more significant. That is, the way the church has  acknowledged that “ministry” doesn’t just equal ordination. Ministry is rightly now seen as something every member of Christ’s body is engaged in – administrators, teachers, evangelists, carers, worship leaders, coffee makers, leaders and welcomers; we are all ministers, and must be acknowledged as such. That doesn’t cheapen the idea of Christian service – it makes it wonderfully diverse.

So where do Readers fit? Well – you/they have to struggle with ideas and with sometimes cussedly difficult thinkers past and present, and perhaps find from the struggle something that will illuminate and challenge today’s church. And, they/you are part of a complex spectrum of ministry, overlapping, intertwining, mutually supporting and challenging. Not a kind of half-vicar as (many years ago) someone once described the role to me, but a person in a special place, with a particular role in the church today and tomorrow. Living, thinking, acting and believing in the borderlands between church and world, faith and action; and being a messenger between the two.

I know that Readers of the Diocese in Europe have been very well cared for, trained and developed by Elaine, by Bishop David, and by chaplains across our archdeaconries. I will certainly be doing all I can to make sure that continues. But more than that, I hope we can start a conversation going that asks what kind of ministry a Reader will have in tomorrow’s diocese and church.

Above all, I’m always ready to listen, always ready to do what I can to help and support Readers in their ministry. So, please, whether you are a Reader, or in training, or thinking of exploring the role, don’t hesitate to contact me: