According to Co-Workers in the Vineyard (issued by the United States Bishops in 2005), lay ecclesial ministry is:
Lay ecclesial ministers are women and men whose service in, to, and through the Church is characterized by:
- Lay because it is service done by lay persons. The sacramental basis is the Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist (received by all the faithful), not Holy Orders (only received by ordained clergy).
- Ecclesial because it is bound up closely with the Church, whose communion and mission it serves, and because it is submitted to the discernment, authorization, and supervision of the hierarchy.
- Ministry because it is the work by which Christians participate in the threefold ministry of Christ, Who is priest, prophet, and king and continue His mission and ministry in the world.
In February 2013, Bishop Bradley appointed eight people to the Diocesan Commission for Lay Ecclesial Ministry.
- Authorization of the hierarchy to serve publicly in the local church
- Leadership in a particular area of ministry
- Close mutual collaboration with the pastoral ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons
- Preparation and formation appropriate to the level of responsibilities that are assigned to them.
In July 2013. Bishop Bradley named a priest as a consultant to the commission and appointed two more people to complete the commission.
In January 2014, Bishop Bradley appointed a new person to the commission to replace one whose term expired and could not continue.
In November 2014, the commission presented their recommendation for a new Lay Ecclesial Ministry Institute to Bihsop Bradley who accepted this recommendation and approved this Institute to begin in the fall of 2015.