FRANCISCO-fact: What is an Altar Guild?

One of the things that a reader will notice about this review of Liturgical Ministries is that most of the ministries that set the character, tone, and atmosphere of our worship, as well as doing direct and practical things in the worship, are never referred to in the Book of Common Prayer (BCP). Altar Guilds (Sacristans and Environmental Ministers being other titles for these ministers and ministries) are those wonderful persons who prepare the church for worship.

Listed below are many of the things they do and are responsible for on Sundays, Major Feast Days, and Pastoral Services (i.e., Weddings and Funerals):

  1. Setting the Altar Table to be ready for Eucharistic celebrations.
  2. Setting the Credence table with the Vessels to be used in the Eucharistic celebrations.
  3. Setting the seasonal appurtenances in their proper places for worship:
    • Lectern Tabs
    • Frontals for the Altar Table at Christmas and Easter
    • Altar Flowers for Sundays, Major Feast Days, and Pastoral Celebrations
    • Supervising the greening of the Church for Christmas celebrations
    • Supervising the flowering of the church for Easter
  4. Preparing the vessels to be used for all Eucharistic Worship services.
  5. Preparing the table linens for all worship services
  6. Maintaining the Vestments used by worship leaders

As you can read, the responsibilities of this wonderfully organized and responsible set behind the scenes leaders is vast. But because of their self-directed skills and their energetic coordination with the clergy, things seem to happen seamlessly and effectively. All the work of this group is about attentiveness to details and cooperation with each other and the services celebrants—the People (as designated by the BCP, and the clergy).

This is a great ministry for those who appreciate the meditative quite of an empty church and the same meditative attraction of detail.

Candy Burt is their director and is very approachable. If you wish to be involved, her email is You can also coordinate a meet up with Candice through the rector ( or through the Parish Administrator (

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