The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Episcopal
Chappaqua, New York
THE ROLE OF THE LAITY
Lay people at St. Mary’s contribute to the worship service in a variety of ways: as acolytes, Altar Guild members, Lectors, Lay Eucharistic Ministers, ushers, greeters, and choir members. All lay or ordained persons at St. Mary’s are considered ministers of the Eucharist and are thus sent forth as ministers to the world.
As our children become young people, they are invited to participate in Sunday services by serving as acolytes, carrying the cross to lead our processions, assisting at the altar, and otherwise enhancing our worship services. This practice was put on hold due to Covid concerns, but we hope to return to it soon.
The Altar Guild is the priest's partner in making worship services run smoothly. Members ensure that the altar and sanctuary are prepared for services by caring for linens and vestments, arranging flowers and candles, and keeping plates and chalices used in the service cleaned and polished. During the holidays they provide special touches, arranging the many flowers at Easter and greening the church at Christmas. These behind-the-scenes efforts are an important contribution to the beauty of our church and our worship experience.
In a typical Communion service at St. Mary’s, Lectors participate at three points during the service: reading the First Scripture Lesson (Old Testament), Second Lesson (Epistle of St. Paul), and leading the congregation in the Prayers of the People. For the 10 AM service, a separate person does each of these readings. Readings are also usually scheduled in advance, allowing time for Lectors to review and practice the reading. (See Lector instructions under "Parish Life.")
Lay Eucharistic Ministers (LEMs)
There are two types of Lay Eucharistic Ministers (LEMs). LEMs type I offer the chalice during Communion, while LEMs type II bring the consecrated Communion host and wine to members of the parish who cannot attend church due to illness or infirmity. For the time being, neither of these roles is active due to Covid concerns.
Ushers & Greeters
Ushers play a vital role in making the worship service flow smoothly. They extend a cordial welcome to congregants arriving at church, hand out service leaflets, help congregants find seats if necessary, collect the offering, present our gifts of bread and wine at the Offertory, and count and record attendance for parish and Diocesan records.
Greeters provide a welcoming atmosphere in our church by offering a friendly hello to congregants leaving the church. They help to make both old and new St. Maryans feel welcome each Sunday.