We’re not sure exactly how many parishioners it takes to worship God at St. Columba’s, but we know it’s a lot. Many sit in the pews, while some wear vestments and serve up front. Some give a Saturday morning to prepare for Sunday. There are those who sing, those who greet and those who pray for others. They keep us faithful to the original Greek meaning of the word “liturgy”—the work of the people.
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Working under the leadership of the verger, acolyte director and sacristans, young people ages 10 through high school serve at most Sunday services. They carry the cross and torches and banners in the processions and they hold the Gospel book for the deacon. As they serve, these young people contribute to the parish in important ways, and learn about the care we bring to the worship of God. Older acolytes, who demonstrate particular dedication and skill in their work, are invited to serve as sacristans, a position of great responsibility in the liturgy.
Just as we do for festive occasions at home, we take out the best linens and silver and fresh candles for worship. Members of the Altar Guild work in teams behind the scenes to make sure that the vessels for communion and linens for the altar are set out, bright and clean and properly organized for services. They wash up when services are over and put everything away. They also keep the candle tree, located in the nave extension near the doors to the Common, cleaned and stocked with fresh candles. The Altar Guild also helps out with weddings and funerals. Some members serve on the Wedding Guild and help keep things running smoothly at wedding rehearsals and ceremonies.
The A/V guild makes sure everyone can hear the readings on Sunday, operates the camera so those sitting in the nave extension or holiday overflow seating can see what's happening at the altar, and records the sermons so parishioners can download them from the website later. Most A/V volunteers serve once a month at the Sunday service they usually attend. They play a vital role in ensuring everyone can participate in worship and always have a reserved seat on Christmas Eve.
Contact: Elizabeth Terry (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Every Sunday of the year, except during Lent and Advent, flowers decorate the church nave and the Great Hall. These arrangements are crafted by the Flower Guild, a faithful group of parishioners who bring the beauty of Creation into our worship. More>>
Contact: Bill Riggs (email@example.com)
Readers are responsible for reading scripture and leading the Prayers of the People. After an initial training session, readers are assigned to one of four teams that serve about once a month.
Contact: Rob Boulter (firstname.lastname@example.org)
When we gather for worship, both clergy and lay people have a place in the administration of Holy Communion. We "feed" large numbers of people each Sunday in six different celebrations of the Eucharist. Lay people (about 75 in all) serve in teams to administer the chalice of wine.
Contact: Rose Duncan (email@example.com)
Walking into a church service can be a bit daunting. Ushers are there to try and bring a little grace to that moment. They provide a welcome, a bulletin to help navigate the service and directions to available seats, in addition to gathering the offering and directing people to the various communion stations. Ushers work in teams, volunteering to serve approximately one Sunday service a month.
Contact: Larry Harris or Woody Turner (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A verger is a lay person who assists in the ordering of religious services (an ecclesiastical stage manager), particularly in Episcopal churches. The title comes from the verge (ceremonial staff or rod) carried by the verger, which in earlier times was used to make way through the crowds for the clergy. At St. Columba’s, one or two vergers are always on duty on Sundays for all eucharistic services, and the vergers also serve at Christmas, during Holy Week and on other festival occasions.
Contact: Wayne Fowler (email@example.com)
This is a subset of the Altar Guild. When there is a wedding, a Wedding Guild member attends both the rehearsal and ceremony to provide back-of-the-church coordination so the procession starts when things are ready, and helps with myriad last-minute questions and emergencies.
Contact: Rose Duncan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Photos: Wayne C. Fowler (Flower Guild Photo: Kristi Womack Lowe)