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A layperson (also layman or laywoman) is defined as either a non-ordained member of a church, or a person who is not qualified in a given profession and/or does not have specific knowledge of a certain subject.
In the Catholic and the Anglican churches, anyone who is not ordained as a deacon, priest, or bishop is referred to as a layman or a laywoman. In some Catholic parishes, due to the lack of ordained priests in the diocese, the parish priest is unable to conduct the mass at all of the church locations of the parish. As a result prayer services are led by a layperson during the absence of the priest. Laypersons are also involved in running the parishes.
A layperson lacks professional qualifications in a particular field, but acquires knowledge and/or expertise in a field that partly overlaps that of the professionals, allowing the layperson to make useful contributions to the overall outcome (e.g. a person who is not a medical doctor may assist in the medical care of a patient).
For instance, an astronomer is usually skilled in physics, geology, or engineering. There are, however, a substantial number of amateur stargazers, who are laypersons in the field of astronomy. Many such laypersons do make discoveries, which can be the subject of much scientific attention, or receive substantial awards recognising the scientific value of their contributions. See, e.g., amateur astronomer and citizen scientist.
Laity means "common people"; the word comes from the Greek λαϊκός (laikos), meaning "of the people".