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Glossary of Worship Terms

Feeding body, mind and soul.

If any of these sound like something you'd like to do, talk to the rector, or the deacons, or any of our vestry members and they'll be glad to help you learn more, talk to others who are currently involved in these ministries, and learn how you might be involved.

Members of the congregation

When asked last spring what members need from the church, one member replied, "I need the church to be there for me when I need it." At baptism we promised to continue "in the fellowship and the prayers" -- and showing up so that the church will be there when we need it is a part of that.

Musicians and singers

Our choir begins on the Sunday following Labor Day, and leads the congregation in singing most Sundays until Pentecost or Trinity Sunday (depending on when those days fall in the calendar.) Rehearsals are on Sunday mornings at 9:15; all voices are welcome; musicians are welcome to work with our music director, Elena Panchenko.

All of the following serve at the altar at some point during the Eucharistic celebration, and are an important sign of the orders of ministry (lay persons, bishops, priests, deacons) present for worship.

Acolytes and Eucharistic Ministers

Acolytes and Eucharistic Ministers wear a white robe called an alb -- the "uniform" of the baptized Christian, to represent the congregation's role in worship.


Read the lessons at worship, with training available on the use of voice amplification, practicing projection of the voice, studying the passage to give clarity of understanding to the word proclaimed to the people, and leading the people in reciting the psalm appointed for the day.

Eucharistic Ministers

With the same training as lectors, as well as advanced training in the shape of the Eucharistic liturgy, Eucharistic ministers are licensed to read the Epistle, assist at the table, and distribute consecrated elements to the people

Chalice Bearers

Trained the same as Eucharistic Ministers, but usually with the assignment to come to the altar as the elements are being prepared for distribution to assist in the administration of communion.


Lead the procession in from the doors, and assist the Deacon in the setting of the altar, washing the hands of the presider, and helping to replace and cover the vessels after communion. Children as young as 6, and adults of any age serve as acolytes, according to their capabilities and attention spans. They serve under the direction of the Deacons.

Eucharistic Visitors

Are specially trained and licensed to bring communion to shut-ins. They receive a kit prepared with the elements consecrated during the celebration of the Eucharist, are dismissed in the name of the congregation, and usually bring communion to shut-ins immediately following the service.


​Greet arriving worshippers, distribute worship leaflets, make sure that late arrivals, or persons needing specialized assistance have an appropriate place to sit. They also distribute the offering plates during the offertory, and give directions to the people on when to come forward for communion. At Nativity, it is our custom to have one of the ushers, who stand at the door and thus may know the most pressing needs and concerns of the community, come forward to lead the congregation in offering the Prayers of the People. Ushers also appoint people to bring up the bread and wine at the appropriate time.

Oblation Bearers

Bring up the gifts of bread and wine, along with the offering of money, to present them as the people's offering at the communion table.

Behind the scenes

Altar Guild

Work earlier in the week to make sure that the sacred vessels are clean and in order, ready to be set out for worship. They keep the vessels and linens clean, maintain order in the sacristy (the room behind the altar where the ministers put on their vestments) and keep oil in the candles for each worship service. They work in teams of two to prepare the worship space each week, cleaning out the baptismal font in the baptistery, vacuuming, dusting, and making the space ready. They also come after each service to clean and, if needed, re-set the vessels and linens for the next service. Toddlers are often engaged in assisting in this work as soon as they can carry cushions back into the sacristy after each service.

Worship Leader

In older parlance this person was called a "lay reader" but the term refers to a lay person specially trained to lead the Daily Offices (Morning and Evening Prayer, Compline) of the church in public worship. We usually have a public service of Morning Prayer on Sunday mornings only once or twice a year, when there are no priests available to lead the worship. But worship leaders are being trained regularly in our midweek services of Morning Prayer (Wednesdays at 8:30am) so that they can be called on to lead the congregation in prayer. The worship leader officiates at Morning Prayer, appoints lectors to read the lessons, consults with the musician to appoint the chants for the psalm and canticles, and select the hymns appropriate for worship. The worship leader may offer a reflection, or may call on a licensed preacher to preach at the service.

Other ministries


While ordained ministers receive specialized training as preachers, lay persons are also competent to proclaim good news as preachers. Training to be a licensed preacher is available through the diocese.


A person specially trained and licensed to prepare adults seeking baptism.

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