The Ritual of Worship:
The Ministry of the Altar Guild.
Before you go over to dinner to a friend's house, your host prepares a special meal. They might pull out a festive tablecloth, matching napkins, and pour a favorite bottle of wine. The time you share around the table with friends is a special experience where you build your relationship through conversations and spending time together.
That's what the Altar Guild does every Sunday service before the parish gathers together to celebrate the Eucharist. This dedicated group prepares the altar for service including the water, wine, chalice, altar dressings, and candles.
"The Altar Guild prepares the altar for Sunday services and Wednesday morning communion service, as well as wedding and funerals," says Barbara, an Altar Guild member.
By serving, members of the Altar Guild experience a new aspect of their faith. "I developed a deeper faith by learning the reasons behind why we do what we do. It's an honor," says Guild member Margaret.
The colors of altar dressings, banners, and vestments are all determined by the liturgical calendar. For example, purple is used during Lent and Advent. White signifies the resurrection of Christ during Easter. Red is the color of Pentecost. And green is featured in Ordinary Time, the season between Pentecost and Advent.
Members of the Altar Guild are vital to passing on the tradition and ritual of the Episcopal Church. New members to the Altar Guild receive individual training and then are placed within a group of experienced guild members.
"After 20 years, I'm still learning. You never know everything," says Barbara. "That's what keeps it interesting."
The Altar Guild serves in teams of four people covering one week a month. Every few months, they switch out teams and schedule. Twice-a-year meetings and an annual luncheon help maintain a sense of community for the Guild. If you're interested in joining the Altar Guild, please call the Altar Guild Director or Rector.