St. James is a liturgical congregation. The word liturgy means “work of the people”. Leading and assisting worship is the work of many, not just pastors. The reason we have acolytes, assisting ministers, communion assistants, greeters, lectors, ushers and choirs is to help us offer to God the most complete worship.
Altar Guild Members prepare the sanctuary for worship before the service begins. The tasks include putting in place the correct paraments on the altar and pulpit, filling altar candles and the Sanctuary lamp, preparing the Communion elements and cleaning of the Communion ware and washing the linens after the service. Altar Guild members serve in teams on a monthly rotating basis.
Greeters welcome fellow worshipers at the front door. They need to be in place 15-20 minutes before the start of the service to greet worshipers as they enter the building. Greeters wait to welcome latecomers during the announcement period.
Assisting Ministers are non-ordained members of the congregation who serve at the altar, leading parts of the liturgy and offering prayers. They also assist in distribution of the communion elements. Any adult member may be an assisting minister; the ability to chant is appreciated but not required.
Lectors read the first and second lessons and may lead the chanting or responsive reading of the Psalm. This post is open to anyone who can read smoothly, clearly and confidently before a group.
During Communion, it is usual to employ two additional people besides the pastor and the Assisting Minister for the distribution of the elements. Any adult member of the congregation may serve in this capacity.
Acolytes & Crucifers process in to light the altar candles at the start of the service to bear witness to Jesus Christ as the “Light of the World”. They present the offering plates to the ushers and retrieve them after the offering has been taken. At the end of the service, the acolytes bring the light out into the world, after extinguishing the altar candles. The crucifer carries the cross in the procession and recession during festival services. Acolytes and Crucifers are generally 7th to 12th grade students.
Ushers ensure that worshipers are provided a bulletin as they enter and are seated comfortably, especially if there are any special needs. They collect the offering, distribute communion cups, make sure the sanctuary is neat after the close of a service and may occasionally have additional special duties.