Staff and Leadership
Revd. Mike Partridge
Children & Families Worker
Church Safeguarding Officer
Contact Details: 01392 210777. Mobile: 07875 578786
The Parish Safeguarding Representative plays a key role in helping to ensure the safety of all those involved in local church life. Please speak to your Safeguarding Representative, in the first instance, should you have any concerns about a child or adult. If an individual is at immediate risk of harm, please contact the police.
Lay Leadership Team
Photo (left to right): Front – Joy Littlefair, Kathy Rowden, Lesley Phillips-Cannon, Eira Rowe, Peter Turnpenny. Back – Ash Leighton-Plom, Debs Philpott, Reg Williams.
Within the church family at St Michael’s there is a team that has grown in confidence and importance since it was originally set up in 2013. They are the Lay Leaders, led by Lesley Phillips Cannon, a Reader. The Lay Leaders are members of the congregation who support Mike, our Rector, in leading services in all three churches of the Mission Community of Alphington, Ide and Shillingford. A morning service is held in each of the parishes every Sunday and although staggered timing allows Mike to take two of the services not even he could do three in one morning. Step up the Lay Leaders Team. The members are not ordained, as Mike is, or licensed by the bishop, as Lesley is. Rather they are carefully selected and prepared members of the congregation who are able to lead both All Age and Morning Praise Services. They do this in all three churches along with Lay Leaders from both Ide and Shillingford.
One of the leaders spoke with affection of our former minister, Rev Jeremy Clarke, who set up the team and gave them their initial training. “It was Jeremy who first trained some of us. He arrived each week with a box of mugs, coffee and milk to get us going. His criticism was constructive and it made us aware, taught us to look at ourselves while giving us confidence.”
When you ask these special people why they do this, their answers are varied but with a thread running through them of wanting to serve both God and the church family. One said, “I felt that God wanted me to encourage people in their faith .” Another said, “I really value the opportunity to tell people the good news about Jesus, about what he has done for upon the cross and what he will do for us when her returns.” When asked, members of the church family said that they felt particularly blessed by the fact that the Lay Leaders were willing to stand up, literally, and give themselves to this ministry. For this is not about turning up five minutes before the service starts and announcing the hymns and readings. The leaders spend many hours in preparation and prayer. Many of them now prepare and deliver their own talks bringing a new approach and perspective to the bible passages they talk about.
Lesley has watched and encouraged as each Lay Leader has brought their existing skills to the role and these have been developed as they grew in experience. The congregation have noticed this and speak fondly of services that they have particularly enjoyed or been challenged by. There is a genuine love and acceptance of the Lay Leaders that was reflected on by one leader who said,” It’s giving me greater confidence speaking to a group of people, partly because I know the congregation are so loving and accepting of me.” Among that congregation is someone who said, “ I couldn’t do what they do but I am so glad that we have church family members who can. I look at them and think, wow!”
The team meet every 2/3 months to look at the rota and decide who will lead which service. Generally the leaders work in pairs, one choosing the hymns, liaising with the organist and church wardens and the other finding a talk, or someone to fill that slot. They are always warmly welcomed in whichever church they take services.
The final word comes from one of the Lay Leaders who described the team as the “Priesthood of all believers” in action. Those of you who are familiar with 1 Peter 2 will know exactly what he meant. For those who are less familiar with the verse, Peter is saying in this that all Christians are priests. In the ministry of the Lay Leaders Team, the members are living out their commission to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God.