Last Updated on 19 May 2022 by Ann-Marie Nye
Is God calling you to lead worship more widely than just in your local context? This was the question that seven people answered before applying to the United Reformed Church (URC’s) Assembly Accredited Lay Preachers course which is currently being offered through Northern College.
The two-year part-time course covers personal development, crafting worship, the Bible in worship, theology of the URC, safe boundaries in pastoral care, equality and diversity and intergenerational worship.
Learning is by mixed mode with some sessions on Zoom, some pre-recorded, with work to be done in between; there’s also two in-person weekends a year at Northern College.
The next course begins in September, although the exact date is yet to be confirmed and depends on the cohort and their availability.
Applications, however, must be submitted by 30 June.
If you’re thinking of taking part, why not check out the views of the course’s current participants:
“As well as the inspiring and supportive online and face-to -face teaching and the discussions with the other students from all around the country, another valuable part of this course is that it is local, too, in that our Synods assign a local mentor to us,” says Jean Summers.
John Driver adds: “Despite most of the course being online I feel it’s been delivered in a way where we can be open and honest with each other. It was great to meet up on the first residential weekend and I’m sure that this will enhance even further the supportive learning group we have become. My eyes have been opened to new ways of worship and to different ways of engaging with the Bible and sharing my faith.”
“With existing commitments at church, working full time and undertaking regular voluntary work, I wondered whether I would be able to do the course amongst everything else?” says Claire Ette.
Meeting on-line, receiving excellent resources, access to the library, prompt replies to emails and knowing that I am journeying alongside others has not only assured me I made the right decision, but it has enabled me to build the study into my weekly routine.”
Rachel Coward adds: “The benefits of a largely online course cannot be underestimated: regular meetings at a time and ‘place’ we are all able to manage ensure we are able to meet and study with pleasing frequency. Session timings are rigorously adhered to, respecting the challenge of maintaining work and lives beyond the course.”
“The course inspires me in worship leading and has introduced me to a great group of people travelling with me and building my confidence on my ongoing journey into the ministry I feel God is calling me to,” says Sam Goodman.
“The continuing strong support goes out of its way to ensure we feel completely resourced – challenged yet safe – before, during and after each session, even if certain aspects feel personally uncomfortable,” says Rae Morrell.
“The course overall has gone better than expected,” adds Bruce Hale. “I would encourage any layperson that is interested in pursuing such an environment to enjoy the company of like-minded individuals. To grow is to learn, and to learn is to teach others. This course corroborates with this goal.”
The URC has produced a booklet to help consider lay preaching and worship leading which can be found here.
If you’d like to apply for the course for a September start, please contact your Synod Lay Preaching Commissioner, or equivalent, who can give you an application form and more details. If you wish to get more general information about lay preaching in the URC please email Nicola Furley-Smith, the Secretary for Ministries at [email protected].