A "quiet" but essential service...
"The altar is the center of the Christian Church. Around it, the people of God gather to celebrate the mysteries of Christ's body and blood. That sacrament, the Eucharist, along with our baptism, is what binds us to Christ. Whatever we do in the world to live out the Christian life -whether it be prayer, study, work for social justice, ministry to the sick, care of the dying, tending the needs of the poor, and the hungry — all Christian activities arise from the presence of Christ within us and that presence begins at a baptismal font, and gets renewed, and nourished at an altar." National Altar Guild Association (NAGA)
The Altar Guild is a ministry — a ministry of service. The members (women and men) of the Altar Guild serve the Church under the direction of the Rector and are responsible for setting up and caring for the sacred vessels used in the sacraments of the church as well as preparing the altar for worship. Even more than that, members of the guild support each other, pray for each other, and celebrate all of life's special moments with each other.
The Altar Guild is responsible for these tasks:
- Preparing the altar
- Laying out the vestments and vessels for worship
- Setting the credence table with the elements (bread and wine) to be administered during communion
- Ordering and arranging the flowers for weekly Sunday worship, Christmas, Easter, and special events.
- Laundering and ironing altar and worship linens, polishing brass and silver, filling candles, and various other tasks.
- Ensuring the altar is dressed in the proper color of the day (frontal hanging, burse, etc.)
- Cleaning up after services and either preparing for another service or “closing down” for the day
A prayer used by many Episcopal Churches for Altar Guilds states the commitment this ministry makes to the church: “Almighty God, grant we beseech thee, that we may handle holy things with reverence, and perform our work with such faithfulness and devotion that it may rise with acceptance before thee and obtain thy blessing; through Christ our Lord. Amen".