In all things may God be glorified!
The Book of Common Prayer states, “At all celebrations of the Liturgy, it is fitting that the principle celebrant, whether bishop or priest, be assisted by other priests, and by deacons and lay persons.” (BCP 322 & 354)
The sacrificial ministry of the Altar, and the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, is the primary service of the Church to Almighty God. Those that celebrate and assist must approach their ministry with dignity, humility, and care.
Areas within the Liturgy that involve lay participation are:
- Acolyte. An acolyte can be either youth or adults. Among the duties of acolytes are lighting and extinguishing the candles, serving as torch bearers, and serving as the crucifer. They are involved in the Procession into the sanctuary at the beginning of the service. They are involved in processing the Gospel out into the middle of the assembly so it may be proclaimed by a priest or deacon. They help to take up the alms. They serve the priest in preparing the Altar for Holy Communion and in doing the ablutions after everyone has received the blessed sacrament. Another common term today is ‘server’ or ‘altar server.’ There is training involved.
- Altar Guild. The Altar Guild at St. John’s was established by Fr. Ira Day, the first rector in 1925. It has been known as the “Guild of St Mary’s” since that time. The Altar Guild takes care of all the sacred vessels and linens and vestments. They prepare the Altar for the services and clean up afterwards.
- Chalice-bearer. Sometimes referred to as ‘lay eucharistic ministers’, chalice-bearers assist the priest in serving Holy Communion to the faithful by serving the chalice with the Precious Blood. There is training involved.
- Choir. At St John’s we have a children’s choir, bell choir, and two sanctuary choirs, one serving at the 9:00 am and the other serves at 11:15 am. Our choirs are established through-out Fort Worth. They play a key role in assisting in our worship.
- The Prayers of the People. A key component to our worship is the prayers of the faithful. A lay person leads the congregation in bringing before God in prayer the needs of the world, our country, local community, and individual needs.
- Ushers. The ushers function as greeters, assist people in receiving a Sunday Bulletin, help folks find a seat if needed, and they help people come forward for Holy Communion.
All of these areas require training and a sense of calling.