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Lockdown Licensing of Lay Leaders

by Michael Ford last modified 02 Oct, 2020 11:47 PM

The licensing of Angharad Hughes and Alison Andre as Lay Worship leaders in the Upper Kennet Churches finally went ahead – albeit with significantly fewer attendees than originally planned.

You can view a video of the service here.

Rector Maria Shepherdson says:

"Alison Andre is a key worker in a local care home and Lay Chaplain, and has to follow stricter social distancing rules than most of us. When the rules changed again just ahead of the 21st of September it looked as if Alison’s commissioning would need to be delayed a second time.

"However, thanks to the flexibility of Bishop Andrew and the gracious offer of Angharad to stand down all supporters, the long-anticipated licensing took place with just 4 people present."

Angharad Hughes says:

"It was actually very special to be commissioned amidst the Corona pandemic restrictions. Although the absence of friends and family was felt physically, I certainly felt their presence in spirit with us within the church. The intimacy of the 4 people present - myself, Alison, Maria and Bishop Andrew - was incredibly special and moving.

"Maria and Bishop Andrew’s musical performances of the hymns was something that could not have happened during 'normal times', so I am incredibly grateful to the unique, special and intimate experience we all had."

Angharad is looking forward to using her commissioning to further work with the children and families community in the near future. Prior to lockdown, she was working and leading ‘Little Angels’ - a 0-5s pioneering group at school - and developing Family Services alongside Big Thinkers @ Kennet Valley, a philosophy and faith discussion group for Key Stage 2, as well as a children-led ‘Open the Book’.

She found the course exciting:

"I enjoyed furthering and developing my faith during the Lay Worship Leader course and exploring concepts and ideas within my faith which I had not previously considered."

For Alison the journey was a bit different. She recalls:

"From when I was first asked to read the lesson in my early teens, I have felt very at home standing in front of a congregation. Now I am getting closer to 60 than I would like, but it has taken until now to finally confirm what this feeling of 'being at home' means for my vocation.

"I was selected for training for the priesthood, but had to withdraw for family reasons and for a while, stopped taking services altogether, wondering whether, as someone who would have liked to have trained as an actress, I was simply using it as my chance to shine.

"However, nearly 4 years ago, I started working as a carer in a care home. Being naturally drawn to comfort those at the end of their lives, I was asked whether I would also work at the Home in a pastoral way. I therefore became their Lay Chaplain. Our residents are unable to attend church services, through their own frailty but miss the chance to worship."

Alison will be leading services for them at special times such as Harvest, Remembrance, Christmas and Easter, and will help to facilitate their Communion Services. At this time of semi-lockdown, she will be able to bring people consecrated bread in their rooms.

Other aspects of Alison’s work will include the holding a Service of Light to remember those we have lost in the past year and take funeral services at the Crematorium for those residents for whom otherwise this would be led by someone unknown to them.

She also looks forward to assisting Revd Maria in her home church at Winterbourne Monkton church and that of the neighbouring villages and leading worship there once the Covid-19 situation eases.

Maria adds:

"We rejoice with them and look forward to holding a Benefice celebration once Covid has passed!"

You can view a video of the commissioning on

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