Presiders at Worship: Bishops, Priests, Deacons and Laity
The Presider’s role is to oversee the whole worship event. The presider supports the whole body in worship, and therefore has authority to delegate responsibilities to the various worship leaders and to direct the congregation.
- Bishops represent the unity of the Church, tracing their leadership heritage directly to the Apostles. In a very concrete way, they represent our connection to our diocese. Therefore they have authority to preside at the service when present.
- Priests are charged with equipping the saints for ministry, and providing pastoral care and spiritual guidance to a congregation, and hence they preside at Eucharist and Baptism when the Bishop is not present.
- Deacons are to bring the concerns of the world to the church and the church to the world. They are to gather and encourage God’s people in their ministries of service to the marginalized. When a deacon is present, their roles include proclaiming the Gospel, setting the table, and dismissing the congregation.
- Lay people as well as clergy may preside at prayer services, such as the Daily Office and Compline.
Leaders in the Eucharist
A verger assists clergy in overseeing the order of the liturgy, allowing clergy to focus on their preaching, pastoral leadership, and other personal responsibilities of presiding . A verger’s duties include making sure worship leaders are present, assisting the procession, overseeing acolytes, and helping at the table when no deacon is present.
Ushers assist the congregation by providing bulletins, assisting those with physical needs to their seats, collecting and presenting the financial offering, counting the assembly, and other duties as assigned.
Greeters keep an eye out for new people to make sure they are welcomed, provided with information about the Church, and have information they may need to participate in the service. They also assist ushers in welcoming folks to church.
Acolytes lead the procession, bearing crosses, candles, banners, and sometimes the Gospel book. They also assist in setting the table, collecting the offering, and other duties as assigned.
The Altar Guild cares for the worship environment, including flowers, linens, candles, paraments, and vestments. Most of their work is done behind the scenes in preparation for and cleaning after worship services.
Readers read the lessons from the Hebrew scriptures and the Epistle, and the Prayers of the People, and may also lead the Psalm.
Chalice Bearers represent the laity at the altar, and offer the wine to communicants. In absence of a deacon or verger, they should also be prepared to lead the acolytes, carry the Gospel Book, help set and clear the Table, and prepare the kits for lay Eucharistic visitors.
Eucharistic Visitors share the Eucharist with those who are hospitalized or homebound.
Clergy and licensed lay preachers proclaim the Word of God at what is commonly known as the sermon, or the homily.
Music leadership is vital and takes many forms: choir, bell choir, children’s choir, guest soloists, piano and organ.