Skip to Main Content

Worship Leader

As defined by Canons: The worship leader is authorized to lead public worship in the absence of, and/or at the direction of, a bishop or priest, subject to direction of the Book of Common Prayer. A licensed worship leader is a confirmed adult communicant in good standing called to lead worship in the congregation. Note: Examples of worship services led by this lay leader include Morning or Evening Prayer, and Compline. Examples of public spaces include churches, hospitals, prisons, and other institutions.

  • Personal qualities and history of the Worship Leader

    Ability to work collaboratively with other members of the parish and diocese for the good of the community 

    Deep relationship with God and a personal commitment to the ministry of the church 

    Spirituality, centered in public worship, as exemplified in long-term regular faithful participation in the worship of the church 

    A strong, clear, and articulate voice 

    A person who has a concern for order and details without being obsessed by minutiae 

    The ability to share the spotlight with others and not dominate when in charge 

  • Formation considerations prior to licensing

    The text and rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer, with special attention to both the opportunities for and limitations on lay worship leadership 

    The underlying structure of the basic worship services of the church 

    Appropriate and inappropriate ceremonial during worship 

    “Scaling” the worship service for the particular case or occasion 

    Ability to use the lectionary accurately and easily 

    A clear picture of the church year and how it is appropriately observed 

    The ability to use the hymnal and to select appropriate hymns 

    A knowledge of copyright law as it affects modern liturgy 

  • Suggested elements of training

    In addition to encouragement of parishes to provide this training, we also lift up Bexley-Seabury’s Pathways for Baptismal Living course, Worship Leader Course.  Click on the course name for dates and more details.

    BCP, Lesser Feasts & Fasts, Book of Occasional Services – This course will review the basic worship materials of the Episcopal Church and their proper use. 

    Hymnal – Hymn texts are an accessible source of the theology and spirituality of the church. Worship leaders will learn how to use the authorized hymnals as part of their services. Preachers will learn how to use the authorized hymnals as part of their exegesis for preaching. 

    Voice – This course will be a practicum on the best use of the voice in leading public worship. 

    Practicum for Worship Leaders – This will be a tutorial under an experienced worship leader on the preparation of appropriate worship services for all the sorts of occasions a lay worship leader might encounter. The tutor will be an experienced liturgist and familiar with pertinent canons 

    Liturgy – This course will give worship leaders a basic understanding of their role within liturgy. 

  • Suggested resources for licensing and renewal


    • The Holy Bible (any canonically approved version) 
    • The Book of Common Prayer. Church Hymnal Corporation, 1979 
    • A Commentary on the American Prayer Book. Marion Hatchett, Seabury Press, 1981, 1995 
    • The Hymnal, 1982. Church Hymnal Corporation, 1985 
    • Canons of the Episcopal Church, Title II (Worship) 

    Web sites 



  • Renewal of license process

    A Worship Leader will be licensed for up to 3 years at a time. Before or immediately after 3 years have passed, the licensed lay Worship Leader should receive some refreshing of their training and assessment of their good standing. At this time, a member of the clergy with oversight and responsibility for this ministry can recommend that their license be renewed or that they pursue other ministries within the church and give room for others to practice this ministry. 

    Every 3 years the diocese will request an updated roster of licensed Worship Leaders for each parish and worshipping community.