Parish Leaders - Licensed Lay Ministries

Episcopal Diocese of Washington
Parish Leaders - Licensed Lay Ministries

Licensed Lay Ministries

Lay leaders provide skills and energy that empower the church for ministry. “The 99 percent” – the 2 million members who partner with some 18,000 ordained leaders – serve as paid and unpaid staff in congregations, dioceses, and national bodies.

Lay leaders who work as the “church scattered” in their daily life ministries also serve the church as vestry members, ministry staff, study leaders, strategic thinkers, and “worker bees.” Professionals in the church include musicians, ministry developers, directors of Christian formation (adult education or Sunday school) parish nurses, and executive secretaries, and many others.

Bishops can issue licenses for lay persons to serve as pastoral leaders, worship leaders or preachers; to help administer the Eucharist as Eucharistic ministers; to act as Eucharistic visitors, taking Holy Communion to congregants not present during worship; or to offer instruction in the faith as catechists. Congregations discern lay members to serve as readers for Sunday worship and to carry out the many functions that advance the church in its mission.

The Episcopal Church looks to lay leadership to serve alongside ordained leaders. The resources, abilities, and gifts offered by lay members are the cornerstone of the good work the church accomplishes. More detailed information on licensed lay ministries may be found below:

Eucharistic Minister
A Eucharistic Minister is a lay person authorized to administer the Consecrated Elements at a Celebration of Holy Eucharist.

Eucharistic Visitor
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 Catechist is a lay person authorized to prepare persons for Baptism, Confirmation, Reception, and the Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows.

Pastoral Leader
A Pastoral Leader is a Lay Person licensed to exercise pastoral or administrative responsibility in a Congregation under special circumstances by the Bishop.

Worship Leader 
A Worship Leader is a lay person who regularly leads public worship under the direction of the Member of Clergy or other leader exercising oversight of the congregation or other community of faith.

A Preacher is a lay person authorized to preach.

Please note that first-time licenses for Pastoral Leader, Worship Leader or Preacher, all require additional information. 

Renewal of Licenses 

Renewal of the license shall be determined on the basis of the acceptable performance of the ministry by the licenses and upon the endorsement of the Member of the Clergy in charge of the Congregation in which the person is serving.

A reminder to renew licenses will be sent out on regional listservs, and requests should be filed by way of the On-line License Request Form. License renewals will be processed by Regions, as follows, to aid in the efficient distribution of the administrative work:

Region One Parishes will renew their lay licenses by January 1
Region Two Parishes will renew their lay licenses by March 1
   (St. Albans' Parish and Close schools expire September 30)
Region Three Parishes will renew their lay licenses by May 1
Region Four Parishes will renew their lay licenses by July 1
Region Five Parishes will renew their lay licenses by September 1
Region Six Parishes will renew their lay licenses by November 1

More information on requirements, process, and licenses can be found here. 

St. Christopher's, New Carrollton
Photo Tom Wolff

Lay Ministry Documents

Lay Licensing Request Form
Dowload Form [pdf]


For information on vocations and discernment to the priesthood, visit Vocations and Discernment


For routine questions, contact Kim Bujak or call 202-537-6526

For questions regarding requirements and training or  first-time licenses for Worship Leader, Pastoral Leader or Preacher, contact Ann Talty or call 202-537-6548

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