Lay Licensing in the Diocese of Maine
Administering Communion on Sunday mornings or taking the Sacrament to those who are sick or homebound is a sacred duty. The Lay Eucharistic Minister assists in the central act of the Christian liturgy, feeding the faithful with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, this ministry is not to be taken lightly but is to be understood as a sacred trust. In order to be faithful in this work we must be prepared in heart and mind through prayer and training so that our efforts honor God and God’s sacrificial love.
Within the Diocese of Maine, discernment and training, plus licensing of lay ministers (Pastoral Leader, Worship Leader, Preacher, Eucharistic Minister, Eucharistic Visitor, and/or Catechist) occurs within each congregation as of 2022. This was a departure from our church’s canons and done to affirm the discernment of each congregation, and to free the people of God from burdensome administrative tasks. Church leaders know who best to license and train for these sacred duties!
- The rector or priest-in-charge, or someone they designate, is responsible for preparing, training, and supervising the people who are called to these ministry roles.
- Completion of Safe Church training is required of all licensed lay ministers.
- We recognize that in some congregations, and for certain individuals, a signed license from the Bishop may be desired, or provide a pastoral endorsement. If you would like Bishop Brown to sign lay licenses, please have the certificates available at his episcopal visitation.
- All licenses are for three years, for a maximum of six years. Lay ministers are expected to take a year off following six consecutive years of ministry.
- Each congregation should maintain a complete file for all licenses. It is appropriate to file these with the Safe Church records, and to have it available when Bishop Brown is with you for an Episcopal visitation.
Lay License Templates
Below are some Word templates for certificates/licenses that you may download to use for your parishioners serving in Lay Liturgical ministries along with a Commissioning Service.
- Eucharistic Minister Certificate Template
- Eucharistic Visitor Certificate Template
- Preacher Certificate Template
- Catechist Certificate Template
- Worship Leader Certificate Template
- Commissioning Service
Note: you must download these files to your own computer before using them. They are not fillable forms.
Download a tri-fold for Eucharistic Visitors to use here.
Q: How do small churches with limited volunteers deal with the rule: six years on, one year off?
A: This is a suggested guideline and at the discretion of the priest in charge. We understand that there may be limited numbers of volunteers for these roles. We also know that long tenures sometimes make it hard for new people to step into these ministry positions. Please be in touch with your clergy person (or senior warden in the absence of a priest) to discuss extending past the recommended license term.
Q: How are Safe Church certification and lay licensing tracked at the congregation level vs. the diocesan level?
A: Certification and licensing will take place on the congregational level. Templates for certificates are above along with the liturgy notes for a commissioning service. Should you like Bishop Brown to sign your certificates, you can have them available at your next visitation.
Q: What about training for lay licenses?
A: Training for all licensed lay ministers happens on the congregational level and are rooted in the baptismal covenant/theology, and include the ‘mechanics’ or ‘logistics’ of each ministry. Who conducts the training is at the discretion of the priest in charge: it may be the priest in charge, or associate priest, a deacon, or a skilled and experienced lay leader from the congregation. Collaborative training(s) with a nearby congregation(s) is/are encouraged.
Q: What about care for lay ministers?
A: Protocols for any Safe Church concerns, and provisions for the pastoral care of lay ministers who encounter celebrations or challenges in their ministry should be made by the priest in charge and/or senior warden of the congregation.
Q: Do seminarians/postulants need lay licenses for doing different roles as part of their training?
A: No, by acceptance into the program of formation for Holy Orders, licenses are implied.
Download a document outlining both Safe Church Training and Lay Ministry Certification FAQs here.
From CANON 4: Of Licensed Ministries
A confirmed communicant in good standing or, in extraordinary circumstances, subject to guidelines established by the Bishop, a communicant in good standing, may be licensed by the Ecclesiastical Authority to serve as Pastoral Leader, Worship Leader, Preacher, Eucharistic Minister, Eucharistic Visitor, Evangelist, or Catechist. Requirements and guidelines for the selection, training, continuing education, and deployment of such persons, and the duration of licenses shall be established by the Bishop in consultation with the Commission on Ministry.
A person licensed in any Diocese under the provisions of this Canon may serve in another congregation or other community of faith in the same or another Diocese only at the invitation of the Member of the Clergy or other leader exercising oversight, and with the consent of the Ecclesiastical Authority in whose jurisdiction the service will occur.
A Pastoral Leader is a lay person authorized to exercise pastoral or administrative responsibility in a congregation under special circumstances, as defined by the Bishop.
A Worship Leader is a lay person who regularly leads public worship under the direction of the Member of the Clergy or other leader exercising oversight of the congregation or other community of faith.
A Preacher is a lay person authorized to preach. Persons so authorized shall only preach in congregations under the direction of the Member of the Clergy or other leader exercising oversight of the congregation or other community of faith.
A Eucharistic Minister is a lay person authorized to administer the Consecrated Elements at a Celebration of Holy Eucharist. A Eucharistic Minister should normally act under the direction of a Deacon, if any, or otherwise, the Member of the Clergy or other leader exercising oversight of the congregation or other community of faith.
A Eucharistic Visitor is a lay person authorized to take the Consecrated Elements in a timely manner following a Celebration of Holy Eucharist to members of the congregation who, by reason of illness or infirmity, were unable to be present at the Celebration. A Eucharistic Visitor should normally act under the direction of a Deacon, if any, or otherwise, the Member of the Clergy or other leader exercising oversight of the congregation or other community of faith.
A Catechist is a lay person authorized to prepare persons for Baptism, Confirmation, Reception, and the Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows, and shall function under the direction of the Member of the Clergy or other leader exercising oversight of the congregation or other community of faith.
An Evangelist is a lay person who presents the good news of Jesus Christ in such a way that people are led to receive Christ as Savior and follow Christ as Lord in the fellowship of the Church. An Evangelist assists with the community’s ministry of evangelism in partnership with the Presbyter or other leader exercising oversight of the congregation, or as directed by the Bishop.