In a 'Letter to the Editor', Vivienne Hayward responds to The Rev'd Dr. Canon Hayley Matthews' recently published paper 'Towards a radical theology of lay ministry': As a cradle Anglican and a lay woman I strongly affirm Canon Hayley Matthew’s post Towards a Radical Theology of Lay Ministry in which she describes ‘disciples mak[ing] disciples, through service to their communities, exemplary work ethics, pastoral care, lunchtime conversations about where we went last weekend, seasons of invitation and kindly cards of condolence—nothing ground breaking at all, in fact, just the gentle lapping of a love that will not let us go.’ ‘This is the essence of Lay Ministry,’ she says, ‘to bring the Gospel to wherever we are ... by being the Good News wherever we are placed.’ As a teacher I also strongly affirm that ‘it is vitally important to develop a solid foundation for our faith internally if we are to express it externally, but equally important that we are then disciples with a confident grasp of the Gospel. Consequently, we can have those awkward conversations over the water cooler about why someone’s parent is suffering so as their life nears its end, or how God can let their colleague’s child succumb to cancer.’ No Anglican that I know would dispute this. The question is, though, ‘to what end?’ about which there is certainly no consensus. Central to this difference of understanding is the meaning of ‘salvation’. ...
The Rev'd Canon Dr. Hayley Matthews writes:Having been in lay leadership for over two decades, I clearly recall the moment I reverenced the altar, glanced up at Jesus wrought in stunning stained glass and turned to walk towards my stool. Be-robed, cope and all, I turned to see two hundred+ laity in the congregation before me, Servers to left and right, vergers standing stall, all eyes on me as I took my first steps towards inhabiting my priesthood. The words ‘this is what I was born to do’ appeared in my mind like a ray of sunshine through a steel-grey sky. Just as quickly, I was unexpectedly flooded with a sense of God’s Spirit and I had an almost ominous sense that all are called towards ‘this point’ of commitment in our discipleship which shifted the focus from all eyes on me, to my eyes on all of them. Certain that we aren’t all called to ordination, but equally bemused by the experience, in those five long meters between altar and nave I had come to the fullness of entering my priesthood along with a blinding revelation that all laity should reach the point of knowing the fullness of their own vocations in Christ. Every baptised Christian should reach pivotal moments of discipleship that required as full a commitment, dedication and public affirmation as those surrendering to the priesthood, each equally celebrated by the Church.
- An analysis of research across five Anglican Provinces.
The Rev’d Dr. Nicholas Henderson, April 2010
(2015 Annual Cathedral Lecture, Chester Cathedral) Canon Professor Elaine Graham