There are several ways to participate in the ministry at St. Paul. These are:
The word acolyte means a “companion” or “one who helps”. If you would like to serve as a companion or helper to your Pastor: performing a number of important functions before, during and after worship please contact the church office at firstname.lastname@example.org. You could be an important participant in the worship service.
The main role of the Assisting Minister in worship is that of intercessor, they lead the congregation in prayer. They are the person who prays for the concerns of the whole world, the Church on earth, and the people gathered for worship.
The Assisting Minister assists with the celebration of the Sacraments. They set the table with the bread and wine, hold the book for the presider and distribute the sacrament to the people. They participate in the celebration of Baptism by acting as the representative of the congregation, connecting the newly baptized person with the ministry of the congregation.
Altar guild members, along with lectors, communion assistants, acolytes, ushers, musicians, and worship planners are “assisting ministers” in the broad sense of the term. In a narrow sense an assisting minister serves with the pastor (presiding minister) in leading the liturgy of the congregation, but all who serve the people gathered for worship are such assistants.
All Christians who serve each other are exercising a ministry. The altar guild has a very specific ministry requiring knowledge and skill, and on its faithful service the congregation relies. The congregation’s joyful response to God’s presence in Word and sacrament simultaneously thanks those “assisting ministers” who make worship possible, including the altar guild.
The ministry of the altar guild is nothing new. It dates to the earliest Christian times. Today, we are in a transitional time because only recently have we grasped the historic factors which too often have led us to regard the altar guild as one of the women’s organizations of the church. Altar guild work has also been regarded in recent history as adjunct to the pastoral ministry and separate from it rather than partner with it.
Developments in liturgical studies and church history, however, now make it possible to regard altar guild work as a ministry somewhat in the pattern found in the early church. Already in the New Testament it is clear that women and men together “served” the Christian communities in a variety of functions. See Romans 16:1; 1 Timothy 3:8-13; or Acts 6 for examples of service. Often such persons were called deacons or deaconesses. Originally they helped the community proclaim the gospel by freeing the apostles for proclamation. The deacons and deaconesses assumed part of the time-consuming work of the church by becoming administrators, custodians, doorkeepers, even teachers and preachers.
The minister who reads the First and Second Lessons is called the lector. Along with the preacher, you will proclaim the Word of God to the gathered people. This is a major part of our worship. Hearing God’s Word is one of the major reasons for gathering to worship. Without God’s Word, we would be deprived of the counsel and consolation we all need. When the lector stands before the worshiping assembly to speak the words of Holy Scripture, God’s voice is being heard and God’s will is being revealed. These are “the words of eternal life,” and it is the lector’s job to deliver such words to the gathered assembly in such a way that God’s voice can be heard and understood.
How the lector proclaims the Word is a witness to what the church thinks about God’s Word. If a lector reads thoughtlessly, carelessly or irreverently, some people may think that our church holds the Bible in low esteem. If you visited a Jewish synagogue service or attended the Divine Liturgy of the Greek Orthodox Church, you would be impressed with the reverence that surrounds the reading of the Word. It is always done with such a sense of caring and devotion; even a stranger can detect that something profound is happening.
Although the Lutheran church is known as the church of the Bible and has a high doctrine of the Word, our worship practices have not always reflected such a tradition. This is especially true when lectors read from a bulletin or use a paraphrase of the Bible. The church and the Word of God deserve better treatment. This is why we have a Lectionary. This is a symbol to everyone that the Bible has a central place in Lutheran worship. Because of the lectors’ important specialized ministry, lectors need adequate training to fulfill their ministry – to proclaim the written Word of God. This handbook along with regular training sessions will enable the lectors of our church to fulfill their calling.
The persons who assist the Pastor and Assisting Minister at the sharing of Holy Communion are called the Communion Assistants. A Communion Assistant is charged with one of the most important assignments of the liturgy – the distribution of Holy Communion to the congregation. At Saint Paul Lutheran Church, the acolyte is often also a Communion Assistant.