I have been asked to introduce myself to you. I am Margaret Martin, a member of Portland United Church. I am licensed by the Four Rivers Presbytery as a Licensed Lay Worship Leader. This means that here in Elgin-Portland, and in other churches within the area of Four Rivers, in eastern Ontario, you will find me involved in leading worship services.
I became interested over the years, as an active member of the church and the Portland choir, in offering to lead worship as a volunteer, occasionally. The thing is…I realised I really liked to lead worship! I considered how I might learn and develop, and serve even more. I discovered that lay people (that is anyone in church who is not the Minister) are encouraged to develop leadership skills for worship leadership. There is a role for lay people, to both support and occasionally to lead in place of Ministers. After successfully completing a two year program of study (five weekend units with assignments and required reading) at the United Church Training Centre– Five Oaks – I was given my license in the spring of 2013. I continue to enjoy the challenge and the responsibility of designing and leading worship services. I am happy to report that recently our Presbytery has several more individuals pursuing training to become licensed to lead.
In this age of the changing church, with fewer Minsters graduating, and more congregations seeking to stay open and provide ministry in communities, but not so able to afford full-time personnel to lead in ministry, there is an increased need for qualified people to fulfill some of the responsibilities of worship leadership. We have examples in other parts of the country and our province of Ontario, of Ministry teams (ordained personnel with qualified lay persons), who together meet the needs in church communities. For the present I answer the occasional call to prepare and lead worship services during planned or unexpected breaks in a Minister’s service to a congregation.
Every day we are blessed to be in God’s loving care. May we be open to see this.