Pastoral Worker Ministry and Training

What are Pastoral Workers?

Pastoral Workers are lay people who exercise a vital ministry in the Church. They are licensed to work in pastoral ministry in a voluntary capacity. This means work in the fellowship of the Church and in the Church’s many contacts with people at important parts of their lives. That usually means involvement in pastoral care and visiting, including contacts through baptism, weddings, bereavement and illness—and in enabling others to work in these areas. It may also include taking Holy Communion to the sick or housebound.

To equip people for that ministry, the Diocese of Chester provides a course of Initial Training in pastoral knowledge and skills designed to develop you in this important Christian ministry.

Pastoral Workers are licensed by the Bishop to an area of ministry determined in that parish and agreed with the incumbent and PCC. Pastoral Workers’ ministry will vary depending on their gifts and the needs in the parish. However, the training is designed to give a grounding in a wide variety of pastoral skills and experience.

Exploring Pastoral Worker Ministry

Pray that God will help you to know whether you are being called to this ministry.

Talk with your incumbent to explore your calling further.

Discuss your ideas and feelings with your family, friends, other members of your church fellowship and if possible with a Pastoral Worker.

Consider the demands on your life and the training involved.

Applying for Pastoral Worker Training

You will need the support and agreement of your incumbent and your PCC to proceed. Your incumbent will then contact Revd Vivien Gisby, the Warden of Pastoral Workers for an application pack which must be submitted by the end of April in a given year. Your call from God will be discerned through a diocesan selection process which will be completed by the end of June to start training that autumn.

How long is the training course?

The Initial Pastoral Worker Training Course is usually three years long. You do have to have done some Christian learning before you start the course, such as an Alpha or Emmaus course or similar learning.
Trainees do need that basic grounding before the course but you don’t need to have a theology degree or be a great academic. The more important issues are those of Christian faith and maturity; together with skills and experience in listening to and working with people.
The course will stretch you but is designed to be practical as well as theoretical, open to all those fitted for Pastoral Worker Ministry. In some cases people have relevant prior experience (a counselling qualification, for example) that may have some bearing on the form of training. If you think this might apply to you, contact us as early as you can to discuss it.
Initial Training isn’t the end. After successful completion of the three years of Initial Training, you are licensed as a Pastoral Worker, but after that you should be using specific opportunities to develop and deepen your skills and knowledge. There is also a wide range of courses put on by the diocese on a variety of topics and skills, as well as a generous annual grant for further training.

What's involved in training?

The course comes in two parts — the one-year Foundations for Ministry course and two years of Pastoral Worker Training.

The Foundations for Ministry (FfM) course forms the first year of training for Readers, Pastoral Workers and is also open to anyone wanting to develop their ministry for God.

You’ll be training together with others in a way that helps everyone to learn from people with different callings and gifts.

FfM consists of a one day conference, two ministry days and 24 evening sessions spread over three terms.

The three terms cover three modules:

Term 1: Church, Faith and Action

Term 2: Ministry, Vocation and Teamwork

Term 3: Groups, Growth and the Gospel This covers a whole range of material on Church and Kingdom, Ministry and Mission, prayer, the Bible and working with others.

Foundations is designed to be a basic grounding for all involved in Christian Ministry. Each Foundations session runs in two venues (Chester on Mondays, Macclesfield on Tuesdays).

During this first year you will be matched up with a Pastoral Worker Mentor, who stays with you throughout the three years as a listening ear, pastoral support and someone to help you apply what you are learning to the reality of Pastoral Worker Ministry.
Link to the Foundations for Ministry course

After the grounding of Foundations, learning with people in a broad variety of roles, you then spend two years training for the specifics of Pastoral Worker Ministry.

All the time we are trying to help you to integrate knowledge and information with the practical skills and spiritual growth you need for being a Pastoral Worker.

Over the two years there are six  modules:

  • Learning to Listen Designed to develop skills and experience in the vital art of listening to people. This module works with and builds on material from Acorn Christian Listeners.
  • Volunteers and Teams Looking at how to motivate and organise others, including issues of supervision, accountability, resourcing and training.
  • Baptism Designed to equip people in doing and organising baptism preparation and follow-up. Including material on what baptism means, parish policies, church law, baptism services, resources such as parenting courses.
  • Bereavement care Focusing on areas surrounding bereavement—work with the dying and with their families and friends. Including a Christian approach to death and dying, liturgy and practicalities of funerals, bereavement process, models for bereavement visiting and support.
  • Marriage Designed to help with all contacts with people through weddings, including Christian ideas about marriage, Church law (including divorce issues), Marriage preparation models, Marriage services, follow-up models.
  • Ministry with the sick and pastoral visiting A module on working with those who are sick in a variety of contexts. Looking at Christian ideas of health, sickness, Hospital and Hospice (Home sickness) visiting. A module on working with those who are sick in a variety of contexts. Looking at Christian ideas of health, sickness, disability and healing, Models of care, Care for the carers, Home Communions and visits.

As well as the six modules, there are also regular events throughout the two years where all those training as Pastoral Workers get together to look at common issues for Pastoral Worker Ministry.

Download the Pastoral Worker training leaflet here

Where can I find out more?

For further information on Pastoral Worker Ministry and training you can contact:

The Director of Studies for Pastoral Workers, Revd Peter Mackriell, vicar of Kelsall. Contact details:
Tel: 01829 752639 Email: Peter Mackriell

The Warden for Pastoral Workers,  Revd Vivien Gisby.  Contact details: Tel: 01928 573798 Email: Vivien Gisby

Committee for Ministry, Church House, 5500 Daresbury Park, Daresbury WA4 4GE
Tel: 01928 718834 ext 237 Email:

Pastoral Worker training application packs are now available.  Incumbents putting forward candidates for Pastoral Worker selection should contact    The closing date for applications is 30 April.

Pastoral Worker Handbooks and Forms

PW Incumbent Feedback Form Year 3 (Word format)

PW Mentor Feedback Form Year 3 (Word format)

PW Overall Course Evaluation Form Year 3 (Word format)

Pastoral Worker Training Handbook (pdf)


For details of the 2017 licensing service go to Licensed Pastoral Workers

Page last updated: 9th Aug 2018 1:57 PM