This year marks the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible, so named because it was commissioned by a conference of English churchmen summoned by King James I to study “things…amiss in the church.”
It is difficult to remember that only a generation before this an English language Bible was published that was so large it could not be printed in London, and so few in number that they were chained to church pulpits to avoid having them stolen. For the first time, the Bible became accessible to laity, and many grown people learned to read in order to study what came to be known as the “Chained Bible.”
A Protestant principle is that the Bible is for all people.
Perhaps you have noticed that our laity read our Scripture lessons each Sunday in worship. This is no accident. We recently instituted a Lay Reader Program that encourages members of our congregation to assist in worship leadership by reading the two lessons each Sunday morning.
Each week our lay readers are given the Lectionary lessons, which they read at their leisure, in order to grasp the meaning and cadence of the text. During the week, they come to the sanctuary and practice reading each lesson from the lectern to get the “feel” of the sound of their voices projected in our high-ceilinged sanctuary.
The benefits? It allows laity greater involvement in our worship. It gives clergy an opportunity to hear Scripture as the congregation does. It enables worshippers to connect faces they see regularly with names of readers. Finally, it conveys to our worship guests that Scripture and worship are not the private prerogatives of robed-clergy.
Kudos to Carolyn Briggs and Page Highfill, who give leadership to our Lay Reader Program. If you would like to volunteer as a Lay Reader, contact Carolyn at (804) 400-0460 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Page at (804) 784-0057 or MrPage2@verizon.net.