Worship at Holy Redeemer provides several opportunities for active participation by the members. The liturgy of the Episcopal Church is a shared experience of worship and expresses who we are and what we believe as Christians. The word “liturgy” comes from the Greek and is defined as an arrangement and order of public worship. Many parts of our ceremonies are enhanced by the involvement of the congregation. In other words, if you want to do more than sit in a pew during church service, this is the place for you.
Some of the options available in the area of Worship Ministries are:
- Welcoming and helping as an Usher
- Being a Lector
- Assisting as a Chalice Bearer
- Supporting the Priest as an Acolyte
- Reaching out to the homebound as a Lay Eucharistic Minister
If you are interested in or have further questions about any of these lay (meaning not ordained) ministries, please contact our Priest or any Vestry member.
Ushers are usually the first people you meet when entering the church. At Holy Redeemer they are a combination of doorkeeper and welcome committee. In this Worship Ministry, you greet people upon their arrival, hand out church bulletins and leaflets, and if required direct them to their seats. When new-comers and visitors arrive you may be required to answer questions and provide basic information about the particular church service scheduled that day. Like theater ushers, they also tactfully and inconspicuously seat late-comers to avoid disrupting the ongoing service.
During the service, ushers receive and “pass the plate” during the collection and present the money offering to the altar afterwards. They also invite and direct the congregation from the pews when it is time for communion at the Eucharist.
After services they assist in picking up in and around the sanctuary; gathering bulletins left behind and turning in items to the “lost and found.”
Being a lector or “lay reader,” is thought to be one of the first and oldest of all the lay worship ministries. During colonial times their role was quite important as clergy was often scarce.
Lectors play a major role during what we call the “Liturgy of the Word.” This portion of Episcopal Church service is deeply rooted in scripture and the appointed readings provide specific lesson for our spiritual edification and a theme for that day’s sermon. Preceding the gospel reading, lectors typically read a selection from the Old Testament, an appointed Psalm, and a portion of one of the New Testament epistles. After the sermon, the lector will lead the congregation in the “Prayers of the People;” a time provided for intercessory prayer.
Lectors are assigned on a rotating basis and must be willing to read aloud in front of the congregatio. The ability to take time before their assignment to become acquainted with the appointed Scriptures and their meaning is essential .
Lay Eucharistic Minister
Lay Eucharistic Ministers (also known as LEM’s) are licensed by the bishop and trained by the Diocese to administer the consecrated bread and wine to the ill, infirm and shut-in of the congregation. Members of Holy Redeemer consider each other as family. The word “family” is sometimes defined as people who gather together at the table for a common meal. When someone is not there, the table is not complete. At our Eucharist, communion is our common meal, thus when a member of our family cannot be at church, we take the sacred meal to them. This is a very special pastoral ministry that solidifies all of our members, both present and absent.
Toward the end of the Mass, LEM’s are provided a kit in which a portion of the blessed bread and wine are placed. Once the service concludes, the minister leaves with the sacraments to proclaim God’s love to the sick and shut-in members of our parish. By carrying the presence of the Eucharist to our absent members, LEM’s bring a tangible reminder to those who often feel excluded from life that God is always with them.
Chalice Bearers are members of the congregation who assist the priest in the administration of the sacramental wine during communion. At Holy Redeemer we have two Chalice Bearers at each communion service, one who serves the right side of the sanctuary, the other the left side. Members of this ministry are scheduled on a rotating basis and can expect to be scheduled approximately six times a year.
In addition to training and certification, volunteers must approach this worship ministry with solemnity and respect for sacrament they are bearing. The Episcopal Church upholds the belief that Christ is truly present in a special way in the consecrated elements of bread and wine as his body and blood. Jesus instituted this Holy “meal” at the Last Supper as a new covenant for his disciples and commanded us to “do this in remembrance” of Him.