From Jo Johnson, Licensed Lay Minister - March 2017

Jo JohnsonJust for a change, the Rector has asked me to write this month's piece. In view of the unavailability of some members the Benefice Ministry team, he has found himself under pressure to cover all services. I am a Licensed Lay Minister (LLM), in the Blackmore Vale Deanery, so I asked the Bishop for permission to help out here in Chalke Deanery. She agreed, and I have been delighted to "come home". I lived in Donhead St Andrew for eighteen years, so leading worship in the two Donheads really does feel like coming home. I have also branched out and have been to Sedgehill - March seeing me at East Knoyle as well.

Moving on from being a Lay Worship Leader, I have been an LLM for four years. The difference between the two, is that I wear a blue scarf which indicates that I hold the Bishop's permission to preach, which a Lay Worship Leader does not have, consequently needing to read someone else's words from a book. The path to LLM status is very interesting and stretching. I graduated from Oxford Brookes with a degree in Christian Ministry, having studied part time at Sarum College, and as my last Rector put it, ‘‘She knows what she is talking about, (academic hood), and what is more, has the Bishop's permission to talk about it, (scarf).

LLMs follow a variety of ministerial paths - because of my age, I am very comfortable leading BCP worship - let's face it - that is all there was in my youth and we said Matins three Sundays a month and had Communion once a month - how things have changed! Some of my college peers handle all the family and Informal Worship in their parishes - not my forte, I'm afraid. Some undertake nearly all the funerals and interments in their churches and yet another undertakes to reproduce the Sunday service in sign language for the deaf parishioners in Poole. As you can see, there is no real definition of Lay Ministry - it is a case of using the talents which God gave us, to the best of our ability.

Lent is upon us and this year I have produced a liturgy for the Stations of the Cross, which I shall lead on Holy Wednesday at St Peter's in Shaftesbury. Rather like this editorial, you never know what you will be asked to do next - it certainly keeps life interesting.

This year we have all been given a little book of prayers and suggested readings as a gift from the Bishop of Salisbury*. Lent is a time for reflection and I commend this book to you, for use in the forty days of this season. It will probably do you good and combined with a renouncement of chocolate will definitely be good for your soul!

* Copies of the booklets are available in each of the Benefice churches to take away.