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Lay Eucharistic Ministers (LEMs)


Instructions for LEM I:

  • Join the ushers at the back of the church as the offertory (collection) is being completed. Follow them to the altar for the presentation of the gifts, which include the bread and wine for Communion.

  • After the ushers leave the front of the church, join the celebrant in the sanctuary (the raised platform on which the altar stands). The choir and one or two acolytes are usually there as well. Take a position at the immediate right or left of the celebrant.

  • After the Lord's Prayer, you'll be handed one or more of the elements--a chalice, a cruet (flask) of wine, or a pyx (small box) containing Communion wafers. Join the celebrant in holding these up during the words of invitation, "The Gifts of God for the People of God; Holy Things for Holy People."

  • You'll be one of the first to receive the bread from the celebrant, followed by the chalice. You may be handed the paten (plate) with bread or wafers to administer the bread to the celebrant. Just give him or a her a piece of bread or a wafer with the words, "The Body of Christ," or "The Body of Christ, the bread of heaven." Then return the paten to the celebrant.

  • You'll then be given a chalice and a purificator (linen "napkin"). Your first job is usually to administer the chalice to the acolytes and then to members of the choir.

  • As members of the congregation form a semicircle below the sanctuary, follow the celebrant, administering the chalice to each worshiper. If there are two LEM I's, each usually serves half the semicircle. Watch your footing as you descend! There are several levels to the sanctuary at St. Mary's, and the steps are easy to miss.

  • Recommended technique: hold the chalice by the knob in the middle of the stem, grasping it in your right hand (if you are a righty). Hold the purificator in your other hand. Offer the chalice to the recipient by extending it toward her, saying "The Blood of Christ," or "The Blood of Christ, the cup of salvation."

  • The recipient will usually help you by grasping the base of the chalice and tipping it toward her mouth until she has received. If she does not help in this way, you'll have the challenge of tilting the cup yourself and estimating when a sip of wine has been received.

  • After each person receives the wine, wipe the edge of the chalice with the purificator and turn the cup about one-quarter turn. With practice, you'll be able to do both in a single motion. Wipe hard! Lipstick occasionally adheres to the rim, creating an unpleasing prospect for the next recipient. If your purificator becomes stained, pause at the altar for a moment and refold it to provide a clean surface.

  • If your chalice runs low on wine, return to the altar and pour more from the cruet. Touching the spout of the cruet to the rim of the chalice as you finish pouring helps prevent spills. If the supply of wine is completely used up, tell the celebrant. He or she will consecrate more.

  • Mishaps, such as falls or spills, are quite rare and usually invisible to the congregation. If anything goes amiss, take it in stride. Quietly wipe up any spills and continue with the service.

  • When all have received, return the chalice and purificator to the celebrant. If all of the elements have not been consumed, you may be asked to help by eating the last few pieces of bread or draining the last drops of wine. You may then return to your seat in the congregation.


Instructions for LEM II:

Sometimes parishioners request Communion at home or in the hospital. If you're scheduled to serve as LEM II on a particular Sunday, check with the rector before the service. He can tell you where you are scheduled to visit. Virtually all of the appointments will be in or around Chappaqua, and the total amount of time required to complete all the visits usually varies between twenty minutes and one hour.


The work of the LEM II helps to bring the spirit of St. Mary's and the fellowship of the Christian family out into our community. By bringing Communion to those who can't join us in church, you help them maintain and deepen their ties to faith and so strengthen the bonds that unite the whole Body of Christ.

The LEM II uses a traveling communion kit that includes a small cruet (wine flask), pyx (box of wafers), paten (plate), chalice, corporal (linen "tablecloth"), purificator ("napkin"), and intinction spoon (to serve a drop of wine to those incapable of drinking from a cup). Before you undertake your duties, ask the rector or any of the other LEM II's for a lesson in using, cleaning, and storing these items. It's not complicated.

On the Sunday you are scheduled to serve, step up to the altar after the congregation has received Communion (usually after the post-Communion hymn). The celebrant will give you the traveling kit and send you off with a special prayer. You may leave immediately to make your visit(s).


Besides the traveling kit, you'll need a prayer book and small table on which to arrange the elements. Any family member or friend who is present may join the Communion service if they wish. You should receive, too. You can ask one of the participants to read the gospel appointed for the day (bring the service sheet with you from church).

A LEM II uses the service "Communion under Special Circumstances" on pages 396-399 of the Book of Common Prayer. It's a short version of the Communion service specially designed for a priest or lay person using bread and wine that have previously been consecrated.


When you've completed your visit, bring the traveling kit back to the church, clean the used items as instructed, and store the kit in the sacristy. Finally, enter the data for the service(s) you conducted in the parish registry, a large cloth-bound book kept in the sacristy.


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