Lay Worship Leaders

Diocesan Guidelines for Licensed Worship Leaders

According to Title III, Canon 4 of The Constitution and Canons of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, 2018 Of Licensed Ministries:

Sec. 1
A confirmed communicant in good standing or, in extraordinary circumstances, subject to guidelines established by the Bishop, a communicant in good standing, may be licensed by the Ecclesiastical Authority to serve as Pastoral Leader, Worship Leader, Preacher, Eucharistic Minister, Eucharistic Visitor, Evangelist, or Catechist.

Sec. 2
The Member of the Clergy or other leader exercising oversight of the congregation or other community of faith may request the Ecclesiastical Authority with jurisdiction to license persons within that congregation or other community of faith to exercise such ministries. The license shall be issued for a period of time to be determined under Canon III.4.1(a) and may be renewed.

Sec. 4
A Worship Leader is a lay person who regularly leads public worship under the direction of the Member of the Clergy or other leader exercising oversight of the congregation or other faith community.

Steps for Licensing:

  1. Letter of recommendation by Rector/PIC/Vicar
  2. Application – Licensed Lay Ministries
  3. Bexley Seabury Seminary Worship Leader Training Registration
  4. Safe Church Training Modules for Worship Leader
  5. Background Check – Active Screening Faith

Once these steps are completed, please submit application with supporting materials to

The diocese will reimburse $150.00 half of the cost of the $300.00 Bexley Seabury Worship Leader class-please submit receipt to 

Licensed Worship Leaders are not paid, and the Bishop prefers that they serve as Worship Leaders only in their own congregation.

The Bishop will license a lay person at the request of the priest in charge. In order to be considered for licensing, a lay person must be a confirmed communicant in good standing. The license is issued for three years and may require additional training before renewal. Lay worship leader applicants are asked to complete the training offered by Bexley-Seabury Seminary, the details of which will be found here. The Diocese will contribute to the required tuition, with the remainder to be split between the parish and applicant.

A licensed Worship Leader may read a sermon from Sermons that Work, the approved resource for The Episcopal Church,,  a sermon from a resource that has been approved by their priest, or occasionally offer a personal reflection approved by their priest.  Only a licensed Preacher may compose their own sermon and preach regularly in public worship, and the process to prepare for that ministry may be found here


Bexley-Seabury Offerings

The Diocese of Rhode Island, as part of Province I, has partnered with Bexley-Seabury Seminary to offer Pathways for Baptismal Living. Currently there are two courses we bring to your attention:

Backstory Preaching’s Sermon Camp

Over the course of seven weeks, you will learn an adaptable rhythm of sermon preparation so you routinely complete your sermons by Friday. This rhythm incorporates your spirituality so you preach Good News you believe, and preach it more effectively. This process of studying the sermon text is adapted from the ancient rhythm of Lectio Divina: read, study, express, and pray. While you will learn to employ this process over five contiguous days, it is expected you will adapt this process and schedule to suit your personality and calendar. In addition, you will learn and apply BsP’s “Heart of the Message” process to clarify and articulate your sermon’s message and content. You will also appraise sermons based on BsP’s definition of an effective sermon, with two sermons of your own and two of your peers. By the end of this course you will:

  1. Write better sermons faster
  2. Consistently complete your sermons on your desired schedule.
  3. Grow closer to God in the process of sermon prep.
  4. Create a sermon prep process to sustain you throughout your ministry.
  5. Preach into the uncertain state of the world.

This course is for those preparing for a Lay Preaching License and is meant for those who have gone through Education for Ministry, or taken the pre-requisite courses. Additional information on this course is here. If you are interested in becoming a Licensed Lay Preacher or Minister, please begin here.

More information and registration for Bexley Seabury courses is found here.

Discerning my path for faithful living

More than a course, this innovative communal process invites participants into a time of deep listening, practice of ancient and modern spiritual disciplines, and insights offered and received regarding individual gifts and passions — all within a brave/safe circle of trust. In addition to monthly synchronous Zoom meetings in small groups of 6-8 with a trained facilitator, participants will engage classic and current texts, videos and articles on discernment, spiritual practices, and the ministry of the baptized. Our journey together will be enriched with activities for self-reflection, guided conversations with others, and exploration of our own contexts. Our goal is to encourage each person to practice discernment of their call as a baptized Christian and equip them to actively be the Body of Christ in daily life.

This discernment process is meant to assist persons in finding their lay vocational ministry; it is not intended as a step towards ordained ministry.

More info here.

You can watch informational videos from the Instructor, and past participants.

Complete this online form.

The Diocese of Rhode Island is offering to pay $100.00 towards each tuition; it is expected that the participant and their parish will make up the difference. There is scholarship funding available, based on need.

Other formational opportunities with Bexley-Seabury will be coming. Please stay tuned.

Eucharistic Minister

The Ministry

A Eucharistic Minister is a lay person authorized to administer the consecrated elements at a Celebration of Holy Eucharist. A Eucharistic Minister acts under the direction of clergy exercising oversight of the congregation or other community of faith.

Training and Licensing

Individuals wishing to serve as Eucharistic Ministers and/or Eucharistic Visitors should do the following:

  1. Meet with your clergyperson to discuss the ministry of a Eucharistic Minister and your desire to serve in this ministry.
  2. Ensure that you are currently a confirmed communicant in good standing in your parish.
  3. Complete appropriate training with your parish clergyperson. Training curriculum is determined by Rector or Priest in Charge of congregation.
  4. Ensure that your Safe Church certification is up to date.
  5. After above requirements are complete, you will be ready to apply to the bishop’s office for a license. Please work with your parish clergy to submit the Eucharistic Minister License Request.


Eucharistic Visitor

The Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island licenses lay people to serve as Eucharistic Visitors. Training for this ministry is conducted by the Diocese.

The Ministry

A Eucharistic Visitor is a lay person authorized to take the consecrated elements in a timely manner following a Celebration of Holy Eucharist to members of the congregation who, by reason of illness or infirmity, were unable to be present at the Celebration of the Eucharist. A Eucharistic Visitor acts under the direction of the member of the clergy exercising oversight of the congregation or other community of faith.

Training and Licensing

Individuals wishing to serve as Eucharistic Visitors should do the following:

  1. Meet with your clergyperson to discuss the ministry of a Eucharistic and your desire to serve in this ministry.
  2. Ensure that you are currently a confirmed/received communicant in good standing in your parish.
  3. Contact the Diocesan Eucharistic Visitor Trainer at
  4. Ensure that your Safe Church certification is up to date.
  5. The church office must run a background check.
  6. After above requirements are complete, you will be ready to apply to the bishop’s office for a license. Please work with your parish clergy to submit the Eucharistic Visitor License Request.

Virtual Stations of the Cross

We are pleased to offer a virtual Stations of the Cross this year. Churches from around the Diocese have contributed to this video and we hope that it will have meaning for you this Lent.

The Order of Service was taken from the Book of Occasional Services.

Getting your service Online

Paraphrasing from a webinar: Online is not the backdoor to worship anymore. It is the front door for many newcomers, and a sidedoor for the faithful (those homebound, and those away from home). This pandemic forced us into online worship that many of us were not prepared for or enthusiastic about but, having made it over the initial hurdle we now find ourselves equipped with new tools for spreading the Word. Let’s make use of these tools to the best of our abilities.

If you have questions, or answers about online ministry, we have formed a user group. Email our Director of Communications, Kristin Knudson-Groh, to join.

We had a great forum led by Jeremy Tackett, Digital Evangelist for the Episcopal Church. You may watch a recording of the evening here. His slide deck is here. He gave us a good deal of hands-on information about equipment and things to consider.

Below are some resources for instruction, for equipment, for software, for platforms. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and not necessarily meant to endorse any particular products or services. And please remember, whatever works best for your community is enough! Be true to yourself and your priorities; you do not have to do everything, or buy all the toys.

Suggestions for what equipment and software you might need for starting to record or livestream your services:

Recommendations from the field:  

  • “EpocCam that lets you use your phone as a webcam with either Mac or PC.  This is a huge benefit because for $8 I can use the 1080 on my phone rather than the 780 on my laptop”
  • “I am really pleased with  It’s quite like OBS, but much more integrated and robust (also, not free, but you get what you pay for!).  One of the issues we had with OBS was a considerable visual delay between hitting “Go Live” and the screen saying we were live (though on FB we had been live during the delay…awkward!).  In any case, eCamm is so much smoother and works directly with Facebook, YouTube, and a bunch of others.

What other tools can I use for videos or livestreams?

  • The Diocese has been using Vimeo to host our videos and push them out to social media.
  • is another platform for livestreaming and pushing to social media.

Music Licensing
One License: If you would like use music in any of your streaming services, you must have a streaming license. One License is the most comprehensive source for titles found in the 1982 Hymnal, and they have an arrangement with Church Publishing Incorporated. If you would like assistance with your streaming license, please contact Mary Ann Mello. The Congregational Development Commission is making grants available to help defray the cost of this additional license. Apply here.

Public Domain: There are a number of hymns in the public domain that can be used during your live-stream with no license. Please check the list of public domain hymns here before moving forward with individual songs.

Another information source –

Additional considerations:

Internet signal. Do you have the bandwith or signal strength that you need, or will need? We’ve all been figuring out that what’s worked fine in the office may be lousy in the chancel. Rambling buildings and stone walls are not helping the signal from your router. It may be time to investigate wifi extenders, or to contact your provider about an upgrade.

Who is doing this? You should expand the number of people involved in your online ministry. Who can run the camera? Who can be the Zoom usher? Who is editing the recordings, who is producing the feeds?

Welcome. How do you reach out to your digital audience to include them into your community?

We’re all trying to sort this out. Below are some resources that other dioceses have put together. Not all of the information may fit us here, but there are helpful elements. Diocese of Western Washington Diocese of Colorado Church of England

Music Streaming Licenses

Streaming License Grants

These grants are no longer available as of  December 31, 2021. 

To apply to this grant for up to $300.00 you must:

  • Go to to determine the streaming/podcast license that you need. There are two options:
    Limited Podcast / Streaming License
    Annual License/Podcast/Streaming Bundle

*Please read all options for streaming license on website. It is not a one size fits all license, there are many variables for you to consider what is best for your church. Consult with Choir and/Music directors about what music they are using. You may already have a OneLicense License and just need to add the Streaming License. For questions about Onelicense and what they have to offer please visit

  • Submit your Grant Request by using this link Streaming Grant Application provided by CDC.
    Once your request is received and approved; we will be able to process the request.
  • The Diocese will send the funds to your church in the form of a check made out to your church.
    The next step will be for your church to set up your account and purchase your license in your church’s name at

Worship at Home

We Are the Church

As we are unable to attend worship services in person, here are a few suggestions for worshiping at home.

If you are looking for information regarding putting your congregation’s service online, start here. There are additional resources here, and here. Regarding the use of music online: OneLicense. A list of hymns available under public domain is here. Additional information regarding copyright is here.

The National Cathedral in Washington, DC will be live Sundays at 11:15 am.

Most congregations are holding worship services in person and online, please contact the parishes directly to learn more about their specific offerings. Search for a church in your area here.