These are some of the words and phrases I have heard members of the St. Michael’s Altar Guild use to describe this ministry.
Members of the Altar Guild are scheduled in pairs and work together to care for our church vessels and vestments. They make quick work of cleaning up after one service and preparing for the next. Altar Guild also prepares the altar for worship for weddings, baptisms and funerals.
The work also involves accommodating Fr. Kraft and his joke telling.
It is the time after the services that is special for most of us. The parishioners have left, the organ is quiet, the silence is soft, and the presence of God real. There is something about washing the vessels, laying out the vestments and arranging the Host on the paton; it is a deep feeling of reverence that washes over you. There is a bond that is shared among members of the Altar Guild. We all get to share that special time together after the service and we understand what it means.
This prayer from the National Altar Guild Association describes the privilege of serving in this ministry best:
National Altar Guild Prayer
Most gracious Father Who has called me Your child to serve
In the preparation of Your Altar, so that it may be a suitable place
For the offering of Your Body and Blood;
Sanctify my life and consecrate my hands
So that I may worthily handle
Those Sacred Gifts which are being offered to You.
As I handle holy things, grant that my whole life may be illuminated
And blessed by You, in whose honor I prepare them,
And grant that the people who shall be blessed by their use,
May find their lives drawn closer to Him
Whose Body and Blood is our hope and our strength.
In Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN
Altar Guild is the perfect ministry if you feel called to serve but have limited amount of free time. Some members serve only one Sunday a month. The entire Altar Guild meets only 2-3 times a year, for organizational meetings mainly before Advent and Lent.
Novice members receive plenty of training, so please do not be hindered by any unfamiliarity with the practices of the Episcopal Church. In fact, you will grow more deeply in your understanding and love of our liturgical practices!
And, if you like a well-organized ministry, this is it. Thanks to current and former leaders, the Altar Guild is more organized and streamlined than ever before!
The Altar Guild is made up of very friendly, pleasant people. We even have fellowship time outside of church (a happy hour here and there). We would love to welcome you!
To learn more about the Altar Guild Ministry, or to get involved, contact Madeline Tober at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was written by Cheryl McKean, Altar Guild member.