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 maryann@episcopalri.org

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

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, https://www.episcopalchurch.org/sermons-that-work/,  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 https://www.episcopalri.org/lay-preacher/

 

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 diohouse@episcopalri.org
  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.

Safe Church

Safe Church, Safe Communities

The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Rhode Island recognize the potential for harm when a priest, lay employee or volunteer engages in sexual exploitation, harassment or abuse in one of our churches or institutions. Thus, we, like most Episcopal dioceses, offer training and resources that include suggestions for safe ways of interacting with children, youth and adults in the church.

We also provide “Intake Officers” who are trained to receive any allegations or concerns. Email intake@episcopalri.org to ask for a conversation with one of the Intake Officers.

ANNUAL SAFE CHURCH AUDIT DUE -September 1, 2024
Click Here for Audit Form

Safe Church Training

There are no in person trainings scheduled at this moment. You may look below for the Online Training Steps form to start your online training.

REGISTER BY CLICKING THIS LINK

 

 

Diocesan Safe Church Trainers will conduct this important training in-person for lay leaders and church staff on Saturday, November 11, 2023, at St. John’s in Barrington with check in starting at 8:30am and program starting promptly at 9am to 1pm. Coffee and snacks will be provided.

Safe Church Training is a required certification program for clergy, all licensed lay ministers including Licensed Eucharistic Visitors, vestry/bishop’s committee members, employees, and those who volunteer in programs for children and youth. This training is also recommended for all lay people in leadership positions. The program is grounded in our call to seek and serve Christ in all persons and to respect the dignity of every human being. The clergy and vestries of each individual church are responsible for oversight of their parishioners and staff who need to take the training.

Contact your parish priest or parish administrator for access to the training or access the training using the steps below. Safe Church, Safe Communities training is offered primarily as an online program.  In-person trainings are scheduled occasionally at locations around the diocese. Watch for notices in the diocesan e-newsletter or speak to diocesan administrator Mary Ann Mello to learn when the next in-person training will be held. 

If you need help setting up a Safe Church, Safe Community Program in your church or to revitalize your current program, please contact Mary Ann Mello at maryann@episcopalri.org

Requirements:
The National Church has updated training requirements and courses as of May 31, 2022. Please check below for new course requirements and screening recommendations.

Please look at the Screening Recommendation Chart for who needs Safe Church training and other requirements:
Screening Expectations Per Role

Please look at the Course Selection Chart to find the courses you need to take for your role:
Safe Church Training Courses per Role

To start your online training:

Step 1: Use this information to enroll and begin your online training:
1. Go to:  https://www.praesidiumacademy.com/redeem
2. Fill in your contact information including First Name, Last Name, Email Address, and desired Password.
3. Enter the appropriate registration code for your organization. Find your code HERE
4. Click Validate to confirm registration code. (if you do not see your church, enter your church’s name in the search bar)
5. Click the checkbox to agree to the Terms & Conditions.
6. Click Redeem.
7. Write down your user login and password for future reference.
8. Answer the Registration Questions about your status and role within the organization.
9. Click Save & Continue.
10. To begin taking training immediately, scroll down and click a course to start the content.

Step 2: Use this information to log in:
1. Go to www.praesidiumacademy.com log in page
2. Enter your login and password.
3. Click LOGIN button.
4. On the next page, scroll down the page a bit until you see the courses listed.
5. Click the title of the course to open and view it.

If you are new to your role and the first time taking Safe Church, Safe Communities, please click
this Online Training Course Chart for the courses to complete for training.

To Renew Your Safe Church Training:

Every three years the Diocese of Rhode Island requires that your Safe Church Training to be renewed. You may renew your training by taking an in-person training being offered or take the five universal courses online:
Safe Church, Safe Communities: Introduction & Theological Background
Safe Church, Safe Communities: Organizational Rule & Policies
Safe Church, Safe Communities: Healthy Boundaries
Safe Church, Safe Communities: Inclusion
Duty to Report: Mandated Reporter

 

Resources

 

Mandated Reporting

All persons in Rhode Island are required by law (RIGL 40-11-3) to report known or suspected
cases of child abuse and/or neglect to the Department within 24 hours of becoming aware of such
abuse/neglect. Reports of abuse and neglect originate from several sources including the public,
courts, hospitals, police departments, parents, and relatives as well as other sources.

Child Protective Service-Rhode Island

CPS operates 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. Investigators receive and screen reports of
suspected abuse and neglect on the Department’s hotline 1-800-RI-CHILD (1-800-742-4453)
and conduct associated investigations, as needed.

Abuse and Elder Law Information Resources

Rhode Island law requires any person who has reasonable cause to believe that an elderly
person has been abused to report it to the Office of Healthy Aging (OHA). Failure to
report abuse of a person 60 or older can result in a fine of up to $1,000. Report suspicion
of Elder Abuse and Self Neglect to OHA 401-462-0555.
If a Senior needs help getting out of an abusive home contact the Saint Elizabeth’ s Haven
for Elder Justice Program 401-739-2844 x36

Reporting an incident of misconduct

To report an incident of misconduct by a lay volunteer or church employee in a parish, in addition to contacting any relevant civil authorities, please contact the priest of the parish.

To report an allegation of  misconduct by a clergy person, in addition to contacting any relevant civil authorities (if this constitutes an illegal action), please contact either of the diocesan Intake Officers, who are responsible for beginning the Church’s own investigation process, or contact the Canon to the Ordinary.

Email intake@episcopalri.org to ask for a conversation with one of the Intake Officers.

You may also contact The Rev. Canon Dena Cleaver-Bartholomew, Canon to the Ordinary at  dena@episcopalri.org or call 401-274-4500 or 401-480-8651 (cell). She serves as the Case Manager and will refer your case to one of the Intake Officers.

Licensed Lay Ministers

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.

Once the required training is completed and an Application – Licensed Lay Ministries is submitted, the priest in charge contacts the Bishop Office by email to attest to the completion of the training and request that a license be issued.

Licensed ministries include:

  • Eucharistic Minister  – administers the chalice at public worship services
  • Eucharistic Visitor  – takes communion to home-bound members
  • Worship Leader – regularly leads public worship  (e.g. leading Morning or Evening Prayer and Compline) in the absence of a clergy person or leads public worship services in hospitals, prisons, and other institutions
  • Preacher – is authorized to preach; lay preachers have at least two years of seminary education, successfully completed Education for Ministry, or other equivalent training or preparation accepted by the Bishop and have had training in public speaking with a priest or other person designated by the Bishop
  • Catechist – prepares candidates for Baptism, Confirmation, Reception, and the Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows
  • Evangelist – shares the Gospel with persons who are not Christian, leads small groups in the community, starts new worshiping communities, etc. Evangelists also inspire, encourage, and equip church members to be effective witnesses to the Good News in Jesus Christ
  • Others– the Bishop may designate other ministers in consultation with the Commission on Ministry

In all cases, the lay person functions at the request of and under the authority of the clergy in charge of a congregation or faith community.

Bexley-Seabury Seminary is offering courses designed for those engaged in lay ministries, or discerning a vocation in lay ministry. We have information here.