Local Preachers

Local preachers have been an integral part of Methodism right from the very earliest of times.  A Local Preacher is a lay (i.e. not ordained) person who is "accredited" (or authorised) to lead acts of worship on a regular basis.

Local Preachers are given a large degree of authority over the whole content of a service, rather than just delivering the sermon. A local preacher may, at their discretion, do any of several different things:

If you would like to learn more about Local Preachers, then why not visit the website of The Leaders of Worship and Preachers Trust (L.W.P.T.) by clicking here ?  Don't forget to come back and finish your visit to this website though!

In this Circuit, as of August 2017, we are blessed with 18 fully accredited Local Preachers.  

The rest of this page is given over to the reminiscences of one of our Local Preachers, with grateful thanks to the lady concerned:

The ‘Build-Up’ of a Methodist Local Preacher

 Inheritance, environment and example are factors which shape the development of children and greatly influence their future.  The ‘build-up’ to becoming a Methodist Local Preacher can develop similarly.   My father questioned every aspect of living and my mother practised the art of living - caring and loving her family, friends and neighbours.  I inherited my father’s yearning to ‘question’ and my mother’s desire to care, and for that I am most grateful.   

As a family we belonged to the local Methodist Chapel, where my father was a trustee and society steward.  I attended all the departments of the Sunday School and my spiritual thinking began, seriously, around the age of 14 years.  I was asked to become a Sunday School teacher.   I could not possibly accept, at that age, as I was already questioning my own belief and understanding.   Later, I had the opportunity to study for a Sunday School Teachers Diploma which satisfied my questioning for a while.  

It was not until many years later, in the same church, that I became the leader of a Youth Fellowship of a dozen or more lively teenagers.  They had all attended the Sunday School and absorbed a mixed ‘diet’, including Moses in the bulrushes and David and Goliath - completely out of context.  They had never discussed any aspect of Christian faith, belief or even read through a Gospel.  We talked, discussed the Bible and worship, regularly interviewed the minister, and willing members of the congregation.    The young people attended worship in a Roman Catholic Seminary, a Salvation Army Citadel, a Quaker Meeting House and a Church of England service.  They would not be bullied into becoming members of the Methodist Church by the Leaders Meeting, until they were sure they understood what it meant for them.    

I learnt a lot myself in those years.  In the late 1950’s, as Secretary of a Bazaar Committee which raised £5,000 towards building a new church, I was in danger of always being identified with monetary concerns.   I decided to transfer to a smaller church.  Now, with professional experience in nursing, social work and education, I answered the call to preach.  The inheritance of questioning and caring came to the fore.  I established that it is ‘love until it hurts’ that shines through the example of the life of Christ and affects my Christian belief.  

 I studied over two years and followed the necessary theoretical and practical requirements of the Methodist Church for Local Preachers before becoming fully accredited in 1989.  During training, Local Preachers on Trial (usually for 2-3 years) are always accompanied at services by a fully accredited Local Preacher who reports to the Circuit Local Preachers Meeting.  At the first service which I was appointed to take, a young man with learning difficulties entered the church on his own and sat down.  Unfortunately during the first hymn he was asking questions in a loud voice.  I left the pulpit to talk to him.  He liked the attention and I was unable to return.  My supervisor was left to take the service unprepared.  He remarked afterwards how pleased he was, as he would have had no idea what to do.  (A sort of ‘job-share’ situation!).   I was invited to return to that church again, a few weeks later when, during the service, water began pouring through the roof!   Stewards were emptying buckets continually to enable worship to continue.  Needless to say I was never invited back!  

For many years I fostered identical twins with severe physical handicaps and learning difficulties.  I always took them with me when leading worship.  They would sit below the pulpit on any piece of carpet and flick through pages of catalogues, the thicker the better!   After service I would take them with me to meet the congregation.  One Sunday a lady apparently showing interest remarked, ‘But they don’t sleep at your house, do they?’   We have a lot to learn! 

On one occasion I arrived at an empty church in the north east of England to fulfil an appointment.   Eventually a steward appeared with the hymn books and explained that she would not be staying, but would return later to lock up.  No one did appear for that service!  Perhaps it was for the best, because the roof was leaking in that church also.  Recently I was appointed to take a service in an Anglican Church belonging to an ecumenical partnership.  Unfortunately the central heating had failed, so we met in the home of one of the members.  We worshipped, we prayed, we sang hymns together.  It was a memorable occasion.  ‘For where two or three meet together in my name, I am there among them.’ (Matt Ch. 18 v20).

As a Methodist Local Preacher I am very privileged.   I am motivated to study the Bible, to identify its relevance to our lives, to the local and world situation.  Preparation for leading worship enables the participation of the congregation in the adoration of the God in whom we believe, in thanksgiving, confession and in receiving an assurance of God’s forgiveness, as well as in prayers of intercession and dedication.   The preparation of the preaching is always a challenge to align the set lessons with our Christian lives in the 21st Century.   

The ’build up’ of a Methodist Local Preacher, as of life itself, is full of ‘ups and downs’, but the love and welcome given by Methodist Church Families, small or large, at worship appointments answers at least some of my questions.