In 2021, the Methodist Conference established the office of Local Lay-Pastor in the Changing Patterns of Ministry Report. This recognised, celebrated and affirmed the ministry of many lay people who in similar roles had responded to God’s call to serve in this way. The recognition of this role as an office in the life of the church provides an opportunity to support, equip and develop many gifted lay people as part of the ministry of the whole people of God who serve in local contexts.

Local Lay-Pastors are part of the ministry of Circuits and provide a recognised presence among a congregation or gathered community and in the wider community. They care for, enable, lead and represent a relevant local church or churches, and represent the wider Church to the relevant local church(es). It is a form of ministry complementary to but distinct from the ministries of presbyters, deacons and other lay officers in enabling the Church’s mission for the sake of the world.

In the relevant church(es) they

  • work under the oversight of the presbyter that exercises pastoral charge
  • undertake specific pastoral work that is agreed as part of the role
  • provide leadership for others
  • share pastoral responsibility with other office-holders, volunteers and workers (including class leaders and pastoral visitors) and with the presbyter exercising pastoral charge
  • work in collaboration and consultation with others.

The specific duties and role of Local Lay-Pastors varies based on their context. This has been one of its strengths as it has developed across the Connexion and has enabled roles to develop in response to the Holy Spirit and local need and opportunities.

The office of a Local Lay-Pastor, within the framework, allows flexibility so that roles are able to match the needs of different circumstances, while also enabling the particular gifts of those who are called to the role. Developing the role locally is the responsibility of the Circuit as they respond to God’s calling in mission and ministry.

There are, however, particular giftings, skills and knowledge that form the core of what the church understands a Local Lay-Pastor is. These are captured in the Competencies and form the basis of training, learning and development for Local Lay-Pastors towards accreditation.

There are two reports that relate to the establishment of the Local Lay-Pastor office. These are the Changing Patterns of Ministry report (from p.299) of the 2021 Conference and the Methodist Council part 2 (from p.188) report of the 2022 Conference. Please note that the original Standing Orders were changed during the Conference and the final versions of them can be found in CPD.