Authorised Lay Ministry (ALM)

The Diocese of Worcester has had Authorised Lay Ministers (ALMs) since 2010. We believe that a shared ministry of ordained and lay people develops a healthy Church and a world-facing discipleship, and so we pray “your kingdom come on earth as in heaven”. 

Equipping ministers for mission undergirds all our other diocesan priorities, and that means equipping lay ministers as well as ordained ones. Lay ministry is thriving in many different ways, and Authorised Lay Ministry affirms this. Many people want to offer their time and talents in particular ways, and this scheme offers them a short but focussed diocesan training course, to equip them for specific roles in their parishes. 

The Training

For the last decade, we have run ALM training every two years, organised centrally by diocesan staff. From 2023 we are trying to offer it more responsively, whenever there is a sufficient number of people to run a course. You may ask, “how many people are enough?” Our experience is that a group needs at least 5-6 people, and ideally from at least three different churches, if the course is to be a good learning experience for those who take it.

We expect the worship leader and pastoral worker courses will run in deaneries (or pairs or groups of deaneries), and the evangelist and children and youth worker courses still to run with central organisation. For more information about the training, see the separate pages for each ALM strand in this section of the website.

We shall invite all those who do the training for a particular module to come together for four Saturday mornings to reflect together on what it means to share ministry. These will continue to be organised by diocesan staff, and bring people from different parishes together to reflect on Scripture, on thinking as Christians, on prayer and spirituality, and on mission and ministry. ALMs may do them before or after they do the training for a specific strand of ministry, and before or after their initial authorisation. They will, however, have needed to complete the shared ministry module before their first re-authorisation.

Selection and authorisation as an ALM

The selection process for an ALM is the same whether you are hoping to attend a locally or centrally organised course. It begins with the safer recruitment process, and your parish priest and PCC affirming that they support you for this ministry. You then undertake the training, and your parish priest authorises you as an ALM, normally at a main Sunday service in your benefice. See the individual selection and authorisation pages in this section of the website.

Making an application

We have two different forms for different purposes:

Expression of Interest
If you and your parish priest agree you should explore a particular ALM ministry, but there is currently no course advertised, please fill in and return this expression of interest form to the events and training co-ordinator. When a course is being organised, we shall get in touch with you.

Application for ALM training
When a course is being advertised or planned, and you have completed your parish selection process, please complete and return this application form to the events and training co-ordinator.

Celebrating ALM

Those who have completed their training will also be invited to a service of celebration, at which they will receive their certificates to say they have completed the initial training course for the module. Where the course has been run in the deanery, this would normally be at a deanery celebration of lay ministry. It is also important to celebrate the ministry when ALMs are authorised in the main Sunday service of their parish. Some prayers for this are available on the authorisation pages.

Ongoing training

All of us who are called to ministry in the church, whether lay or ordained, are also called to be life-long learners. The word “disciple” while we use it to mean “follower of Jesus” more literally means “someone who learns (from Jesus)”. The Mission and Ministry team put on a number of learning and training events through the year. Some of those will be specifically tailored for ALMs. All ALMs are encouraged to make good use of the breadth of the diocesan programme, and be committed to their own learning and development.

Reviewing and renewing ALM

Once a year each ALM should review with their parish priest how their ministry is developing. Every three years ALMs will need to renew their DBS check. Because it makes everything easier for you and your parish administration if your safeguarding checks and re-authorisation happen at the same time, we strongly recommend that your initial authorisation is for two years, to bring your safeguarding and re-authorisation dates into sync, and then every three years after that. See the section on reauthorisations on this page.

When things go wrong

Just occasionally things can go wrong between lay ministers and clergy, or lay ministers and other parishioners. Whenever that happens we hope that people will be able to resolve their concerns and issues locally. However, we do have a clear and transparent framework in this diocese for dealing with concerns or complaints involving lay ministers. This is both to ensure a concern or complaint is dealt with properly and fairly, and that all concerned have the benefit and protection of a fair process. You can access the policy document here, and a flowchart showing how it works here.

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