The following information is important to all laity who wish to be licensed for certain ministries in the Episcopal Diocese of New York as well as for all clergy who need to facilitate the licensing.
Questions? Contact Arlene Bullard, 212-932-7363. For application forms click on the download links to the right of your screen, or on “Forms” at the bottom of the page.
Canon 4, “Of Licensed Ministries,” is included in full at the end of this page. The guidelines for training and selection of such persons are established by the Bishop.
Section 1 Confirmed communicants in good standing, 16 years or older, may be licensed to serve as Eucharistic Ministers, Eucharistic Visitors and/or Worship Leaders.
Section 6 Eucharistic Minister (formerly chalice bearer or lay eucharistic minister): A eucharistic minister administers the chalice at a regular celebration of the Holy Eucharist in the eucharistic minister’s parish.
Section 7 Eucharistic Visitor (formerly lay eucharistic visitor):
Directly following a parish celebration of the Holy Eucharist, a eucharistic visitor takes the consecrated Host to members of the parish who were unable to be present at that celebration because of illness or infirmity.
Section 4 Worship Leader (formerly lay reader):
A worship leader regularly leads non-Eucharistic public worship in his or her parish under the direction of the member of the clergy in charge of the congregation.
These licensed ministries do not license a lay person to preach; lay preaching is not authorized in the Episcopal Diocese of New York. The function of a worship leader is not that of a lector. A lector is an unlicensed parishioner appointed by the clergy to read the Lessons, lead the Psalm, or lead the Prayers of the People. Similarly, service at the altar as an acolyte is not a function of either a worship leader or eucharistic minister, although many are called to do those things as well as to serve as licensed ministers.
Selection of Applicants
In the Episcopal Diocese of New York, an applicant for a license to function as a eucharistic minister, eucharistic visitor or worship leader is selected by the member of the clergy responsible for the congregation (rector, pastor, priest-in-charge, vicar), who shall choose applicants on the basis of their perceived faithfulness to Christ as evidenced by participation in the worship of the parish and active involvement in the leadership and life of the parish community. Those selected should also have gifts of pastoral sensitivity to others, especially those who seek to be licensed to administer the Holy Eucharist to the ill and infirm. They should be selected also for their abilities in reading, speaking and praying with others. Applicants are urged to follow a stated rule of life that should include Bible reading and study, and prayer with regular intercession for those who are sick and infirm.
Applicants for licenses to minister to those members of the parish who have been absent from the Sunday or other principal Eucharistic celebrations should be willing to meet on a regular basis with other eucharistic ministers and with ordained ministers, especially the supervising deacon or member of the clergy for the purpose of insuring good pastoral care.
Training of Eucharistic Ministers
Those who are to be licensed as eucharistic ministers, visitors or worship leaders must be trained by a member or members of the ordained clergy in a parochial and/or regional training program which is approved by the bishop’s office. In the case of those eucharistic ministers who shall be ministers to the infirm, this program shall also include instructions in pastoral calling, use of the Book of Common Prayer, especially in reading its rites and lessons and the Authorized Rites of the Church, and particularly the “Form for the Administration of the Eucharist by a Eucharistic Minister,” which is attached (click attachment to the right)
Obtaining a License in the Episcopal Diocese of New York
Clergy in charge of congregations who wish parishioners to be licensed as eucharistic ministers, visitors or worship leaders should send the appropriate application (click attachment to the right) to the Diocesan Office. Please note that applications must be signed in the original. Signature stamps are not accepted. Applications from interim priests will be issued, but during an interim period, or in a parish without a regular clergy person, the license will be valid for one year, rather than the customary three years.
Transfers – Licenses are valid only in the parish in which they are issued. If a person licensed to officiate in another parish or diocese wishes to obtain a license “transfer” to function in another parish in the Diocese of New York, that person should be a full member of the new parish for at least one year before the clergy in charge of the new parish requests the transfer.
Renewals – Licenses for laity in the Episcopal Diocese of New York are valid for a period of three years. It is suggested that the clergy appoint such persons on a rotating basis; it is the Bishop’s wish that this ministry should not be considered to be a lifetime appointment, but is to be shared. It would be helpful if the clergy in charge of the congregation would apply for license renewals six months before the expiration date on the license. (click attachment to the right)
Here’s the appropriate canon in full:
CANON 4: Of Licensed Ministries
Sec. 1. (a) 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, 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.
(b) The Presiding Bishop or the Bishop Suffragan for the Armed Forces may authorize a member of the Armed Forces to exercise one or more of these ministries in the Armed Forces in accordance with the provisions of this Canon. Requirements and guidelines for the selection, training, continuing education, and deployment of such persons shall be established by the Bishop granting the license.
Sec. 2. (a) The Member of the Clergy or other leader exercising oversight of the congregation or other community of faith may request the Ecclesiastical Authority with jurisdiction to license persons within that congregation or other community of faith to exercise such ministries. The license shall be issued for a period of time to be determined under Canon III.4.1(a) and may be renewed. The license may be revoked by the Ecclesiastical Authority upon request of or upon notice to the Member of the Clergy or other leader exercising oversight of the congregation or other community of faith.
(b) In renewing the license, the Ecclesiastical Authority shall consider the performance of the ministry by the person licensed, continuing education in the licensed area, and the endorsement of the Member of the Clergy or other leader exercising oversight of the congregation or other community of faith in which the person is serving.
(c) 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.
Sec. 3. 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.
Sec. 4 . 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.
Sec. 5. 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.
Sec. 6. 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.
Sec. 7. 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.
Sec. 8. 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.
Contact for Lay Licensing
Ms. Arlene Bullard
Bishop Dietsche’s Assistant for Special Projects & Assistant to the Canon to the Ordinary