The term refers to the many ways the laity of the church live out their baptismal covenant. The laity are the people of the church, those who have been baptized. It generally refers to those who have not been ordained. The term "laity" is derived from the Greek word for "people." Lay ministry is exercised in the "gathered" church through the organizations of the church (e.g., vestry, Christian education, parish programs, etc.) and in the "scattered" church as the ministry of the baptized is expressed in the home, in the marketplace, and in the many places where there are opportunities to live the Christian faith. The ministry of lay persons includes bearing witness to Christ wherever they may be. The Catechism notes that "the ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons" (BCP, p. 855). The laity is also know as the Lay Order. The various ministries of the church are complementary, not mutually exclusive or competitive. See Lay Order.
Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.