NEW lay ministers from across the Black Country were celebrated at a service on Sunday (September 10).

The event at Worcester Cathedral was the climax for more than 40 people who have completed a year-long course to be Authorised Lay Ministers (ALMs) and who will work as part of the ministry teams in parishes, supporting their vicars.

The new ALMs came from a range of parishes across the diocese who have been trained to work collaboratively in ministry teams and are authorised in their own parishes.

Jean Rogers, from the Halas Team in Halesowen, was part of the group who completed the course to become pastoral workers.

She said: “It was an excellent course with very good tuition and gave us a real insight into the pastoral care of those in our parishes. I am particularly interested in helping families through bereavement and also being involved in baptisms.”

Bishop of Worcester, John Inge, said: “The emergence of this ministry is one of the most exciting things that has happened during my nearly ten years as Bishop of Worcester.

“As a result of the authorisation of over 300 ALMs over several years, there are now more people offering authorised ministry in the Diocese than ever before.

“That is a cause for great celebration.”

ALMs work as volunteers in their parishes as pastoral workers, community workers, in helping to lead acts of worship, in sharing their faith with others, as children’s and youth workers or as parish administrators.

Each person completes a number of training sessions in their specialist area over the course of a year and there is some training for all ALMs.

Jan Martin, from St Michael’s Church in Norton, Stourbridge, added: “It was a very helpful course. I help support the families’ worker in our parish and the ALM course has definitely given me more ideas and encouragement to progress work with children and young people in different areas.”