Diane Ruddock is one of the four diocesan lay readers who were commissioned by Bishop David on Monday 19 June. An active lay person throughout her life, Diane shares her account of being called, trained and sent into this new area of service.
I grew up in a loving Church of Ireland home where church on Sunday was as much a pattern of our week as school on Monday. This upbringing provided me with a firm foundation for a personal Christian faith which has been integral to me almost all my life. I was confirmed and married in my ‘home’ church, Christ Church, Bessbrook, and then I didn’t stray too far, as I have been worshipping at Holy Trinity, Banbridge (Seapatrick Parish) for over 30 years.
I regularly sought opportunities to deepen my faith, including through joining Bible study home groups, and Diocesan events such as Bible Week and Bishop’s Bible Course. I have served in various ways, including in Sunday School, and more recently as part of our prayer ministry team. I’ve also been churchwarden, and I am on our Select Vestry and on Diocesan and General Synod.
However, over the years, despite this practical involvement, I often wondered if God might have a different call on my life, to serve as a lay reader, but I always told myself ‘I wouldn’t be good enough’ or ‘not now’ or, as time passed ‘I’d be too old’. But in 2021, I heard Bishop David say that our Diocese needs men and women from all walks of life – young and old – to support our ordained clergy and to play their part in the mission of the church. Somehow all my excuses disappeared and I applied for the Diocesan Reader course.
The course, including weekends at Church of Ireland Theological Institute, was spiritually enriching and intellectually stimulating. I have forged friendships with people from almost every diocese in Ireland, from farmers to potters, teachers to poets, all united in a shared endeavour of study to equip us for service. This was augmented by a Preaching Course provided by the Diocese, led by our Warden of Readers, Rev Willie Nixon.
I have been so blessed by the prayers and encouragement of my family, friends and the parishioners and ministry team in Banbridge, without which, I’d never have reached this point. I know their prayers and support will continue as I step forward in the role of Diocesan Reader, and seek to live out our parish mission statement: ‘Growing in God’s love and sharing it with others.’
Find out more about the diocesan lay readers training course HERE.