FRANCISCO-fact: What is a Lay Eucharistic Minister (LEM)?

The above is really two questions rolled into one. At St. Francis, we have had the tradition of combining the offices of Chalice Bearer and Lay Reader into one office– LEM. Both roles are noted in the rubrics, although neither the Chalice Bearer nor the Lay Reader is designated in the way we have just stated them. Next, we will cover the Lay Reader section of this local office and talk about its future.

In regards to chalice bearing, here are the parts of the rubrics that effect this ministry:

In the absence of sufficient deacons and priests, lay persons licensed by the bishop according to the canon may administer the chalice.

BCP Page 408

As this section indicates, the ordained ministries are still given some privilege when it comes to distributing communion. Priests developed as an order of ministry specifically to assist the bishops in certain appointed sacraments as the number of congregations grew beyond the size that allowed the bishop to commune all the Christians of his cure every Sunday and feast day. The sacraments appointed to the elders (i.e., Presbyters, aka Priests) when the bishop is not present are Baptism, Communion, Marriage, Reconciliation, and Unction—more about these Sacraments in future FRANCISCO-facts.

Deacons are also important to the Eucharist as the order which carries the Gospel book; proclaims the Gospel; initiates the Prayers of the People, and when appropriate reads the prayers; and sets the table for the blessing of the bread and wine. Therefore, deacons, also assist in the distribution of communion, specifically the blessed wine before lay ministers join in the chalice.

Before the COVID lockdown, Tracey Kelly was assisting the rector in priestly duties, she and the rector distributed the bread. Because St. Francis was not blessed with a deacon, lay ministers were part of the altar party and handled the distribution of the wine. Now with one priest in the parish, St. Francis still needs two chalice bearers per week at the 10:00 AM service to distribute the wine, as well as needing one chalice bearer for the 8:00 AM Eucharist. One will do at 10:00 AM but two is much better.

We do need to get chalice bearers licensed according to the BCP and diocesan standards. But the diocese will respond to our requests reasonably quickly and the rector does the training at the chalice bearers’ convenience in our very own church.

To be licensed one need only ask either the rector at rector@stfrancisgreatfalls.org, the Parish Administrator at admin@stfrancisgreatfalls.org, who will communicate your interest to the rector, or Pam Cooper, coordinator for LEMs at cooperlaw@gmail.com. Each of these folks will be delighted to introduce you to the process and make certain that you become a minister of the table.

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