The Life of a Reader

The title of Robin Robson’s talk was “The Life of a Reader”.

This role goes back a long way in the Church of England. In 1561, it was established under Archbishop Parker. Candidates were invited who were, “no brawlers, not drunkenly, or jesters, but of good morals, submissive, with benevolent intentions, those who would speak plainly and audibly.” The Readers were appointed to minister to the poorer parishes. They were allowed to bury parishioners, but not to administer the Sacraments. However, as Robin put it “they fizzled out”. In 1866, the office was reinstated, meaning that last year, the Church could celebrate 150 years of service, by the Readers. In 1969, women were admitted as Readers. (Currently, one is not aware of any further “fizzling out”) Readers are described as the workers, rather than the master builders. They made a valuable contribution to Church life during the two World Wars, when they stepped into the breach left when Chaplains went to minister to the armed forces.

Holding her blue Reader’s scarf, Robin said that it showed a division between the Clergy and the Laity, but again, the two ends of a scarf will essentially also, create a link. Robin had wanted to “do something in the Church”. She and her family attended a small but lively Church in Wiltshire. Eight people went forward to be lay Readers, at the Vicar’s suggestion. They underwent Reader Training, which included learning to meditate, and involved lots of essay writing. The goal of all this was “The advancement of Christ’s Kingdom”

By 2002, Robin’s three children had moved to the east of England, and she and her husband came to Bisbrooke. Canon Julie Hutchinson was then Vicar of the Lyddington group of Churches, and was replaced by Reverend Jane Baxter, when she went to serve in Peterborough. Besides preaching at Church services, Robin would take Communion to the housebound, and visit the sick. She was also appointed Bishop’s Assessor, interviewing candidates coming forward for Readership. After interviewing, Robin would write a report. She also interviews those Clergy having their “Annual Review”, in their parishes. There are two authorised “Listeners”, for people in the Diocese, and Robin was one of those, for two. years. These are demanding and time consuming roles to which Robin has brought much enthusiasm and insight. She told us that she loves being part of the Ministry Team in Oakham.

Currently Robin is attending a two year course at Launde Abbey entitled “Holy Listening”. We wish her very well, in this next part of her ministry.

The next meeting will be on Thurs 11th of May at 2:15pm in All Saints Church.

Helen Bush