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To better understand the many wonderful programs that donations support at St. Philip's - a parishioner will present an outline of a specific ministry each Sunday before the 10 AM service. These presentations started October 16 and will continue for several Sundays. This is part of our 2016 Stewardship campaign.

This weeks presentation focused on the Altar Guild.

The Altar Guild

Good morning,

Have you noticed the quiet placing of communion vessels and wine on the credence table in the Sanctuary before the 10 o’clock service?

Do you enjoy the flowers while listening to Michael play beautiful music every Sunday?

Have you noticed how the colours of the altar frontal and hanging on the pulpit change throughout the church year – and how the banner changes for different festivals?

These are all made possible by the dedicated work of the Altar Guild, a group that is responsible for an important part of preparation for worship at St. Philip’s. There are 21 members of the Altar Guild. We are divided into four teams, each team being responsible for one week a month and we undertake our duties with great care and reverence.

A team meets in the Sacristy every Saturday morning, just around the corner here [from the pulpit], to arrange the flowers for the chapel, the altar and the memorial organ. The Guild takes responsibility for purchasing the flowers every week. Great care is taken in choosing the colours and varieties of flowers, particularly when they have been donated. Also on Saturday, we set out the communion vessels for both Sunday services, change the hangings in accordance with the church calendar, replace the consecrated water in both fonts and also replace the altar and chapel candles when necessary.

On Sundays we wash and put away the communion vessels and take the Eucharist linens home for laundering. Occasionally a few linens might need mending and some of our talented members take care of that.

We prepare for the 10 o’clock Wednesday service every week and put everything away afterwards. We also make sure that the flowers have sufficient water during the week.

The Guild comes together as a group to decorate the church for Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving. We appreciated very much the amount of produce we received at Thanksgiving this year, the church was truly dressed for giving thanks for a bounteous harvest and to remind us of all the blessings we receive. After the service, all the produce was taken to Dunbar House at 17th and Dunbar where the food was used by the chef to create some wonderful dishes for the residents.

Holy Week and Easter are a particularly important time in the church calendar and we work with the clergy to ensure that we have done all that is needed on our part to make the services meaningful. You may have attended a Maundy Thursday service and witnessed the stripping of the altar and Sanctuary. This is a very moving moment in Holy Week and the Altar Guild undertakes its duties at this time with great reverence and care.

Another duty of the Guild is to prepare the church for baptisms, weddings and funerals. This would include changing the colours of the hangings and changing the banner, and sometimes setting for a Eucharist. For a wedding, we might also place bows at the ends of the pews, down the aisle. Additional flower arrangements might also be done.

We have a small budget and welcome donations for flowers. These can be made at any time to celebrate a family occasion such as the birth of a child or grandchild, a wedding or an anniversary, in addition to remembering loved ones. You may have noticed the flower board at the back of the church, which shows when there is space on a Sunday for a gift of flowers. The Guild arranges for the notices of these gifts to appear in the bulletin. We are also responsible for ordering supplies, such as wine, bread, wafers, candles and, when needed, arranging for chalices and other church vessels to be mended or re-plated. All these expenses come from our budget so donations, not just for flowers, are always welcome.

For me, St. Philip’s is family and it is important to me to nurture my family. For the Altar Guild, Stewardship means reverently taking care of God’s house and our church family, now and for the future. The Guild is in an integral part of worship at St. Philip’s and does its work quietly, with devotion and care. We welcome new members or the opportunity to give a behind-the-scenes look at our work. Please keep the Altar Guild in mind when making your pledge, so that we can continue to worship with God’s vessels in beautiful surroundings. Thank you.

Sarah Burns