Liturgical Ministries

Worship is at the heart of what the Church does. It is where we as a community make our boldest claims: who God is, how God interacts with creation, and what it ultimately means to be the body of Christ in the world. If leading worship is of interest to you, there’s a way to get involved! Members of the parish serve as readers, ushers, prayer leaders, and help set up for and clean up after worship. A description of each of these ministries is found below, including a contact person. For more general questions about Worship, please Natalie Hala,

Altar Guild
altarguildThe Altar Guild is a ministry of anticipation and celebration. Each week, we ready the sanctuary with flowers and greens, fresh candles, and clean linens to welcome God’s people into a sacred time and place. We are community builders, a vital part of the St. Mary’s welcome team. We specialize in improvisation, spotting needs and lending a hand, ear or shoulder during Sunday services, weddings and funerals. We also laugh a lot at the backstage fumbles that keep us all humble. Contact: Deborah Franklin at


Chalice Bearers

chaliceChalice Bearers assist the clergy at the altar during each service, and administer the chalice during Holy Communion.  At the 11:00 am service, they carry the cross and torches during the processional, at the reading of the Gospel, and during the recessional. As well as serving on Sundays, the Chalice Bearers serve during Holy Week and during the Easter and the Christmas services. Contact: Pam and Bob Bledsoe at

See comments by Chalice Bearers below:

I am over shaking like a leaf every time I’m a Chalice Bearer, but occasionally I still do quake at the awesome privilege of serving in the altar party. The intimacy of offering the blessed wine to my fellow parishioners makes me feel right at the heart of sharing our faith at that moment.
–Roulhac Austin

I would say that there are two particular highlights for me as a Chalice Bearer: working alongside the ladies of the Altar Guild (they really make the church run smoothly on Saturdays and Sundays!) and viewing baptisms up close!
–Tom Austin

As a Chalice Bearer, I have the unique opportunity to serve my spiritual family. For 35 years I have participated in this ministry, and each time I serve at our Lord’s table I feel that I am blessed to have this wonderful family.
— Bob Bledsoe

Growing up in a Roman Catholic family, I didn’t see a lot of lay involvement during services – especially not for little girls. When I married Bob and joined the Episcopal Church, I was pleased to see so much involvement from the congregation at St. Mary’s – and when I was asked to be a Chalice Bearer I was thrilled! It is a very special moment you share when offering the “Blood of Christ” to a communicant.
— Pam Bledsoe

Being a Chalice Bearer is a very spiritual way of serving in the church. I feel very connected to the parishioners when I am serving.
— Sandy Briggs

In a nutshell, the central reason energizing my service as a Chalice Bearer (or any other aspect of my service as a “LEM”) over the past nearly four decades, is experiencing the true “presence” of God and the Holy Spirit as we administer the chalice to communicants. This is not some abstract, intellectual experience, but a true feeling that literally permeates my body every time I offer the cup and repeat those immortal words, “the blood of Christ, the cup of salvation,” to each person receiving communion. It is a true blessing to serve as a lay minister at St. Mary’s in this capacity and feel the true presence of God and the Holy Spirit as we perform our duties. I urge all of our parishioners to pursue the opportunity to serve with us if their circumstances permit, as you will be richly rewarded!
— Rob Carrol

Being a Chalice Bearer is a powerful way to participate in the body of Christ. Not only are the cup and bread transformed during the Eucharist, so are the people distributing and receiving them.
— David Crosson

I became a Chalice Bearer when the Rev. Lin Knight was our interim rector prior to his current service. At an 8:00 a.m. service, Jeanne Lacy asked for volunteers to be Chalice Bearers. In my Catholic days, I was an altar boy for ten years. I have served in many capacities in the Catholic Church and the Episcopal Church including choir, Altar Guild, flower guild, and so on. It was natural for me to be called as a Chalice Bearer for at St. Mary’s — or any other church. I am fulfilled when I am in this task and I am always better served in front of the communion rail than on the other side. Please consider joining this prestigious group.
— Steven Currier

I love to offer the cup of salvation and connect with the communicant. Dip or drink, it is a very personal moment between two people.
— Alisa Quint Fisher

When Richard Fowler recruited me to be a Chalice Bearer in the early 1980s, I was still a relative newcomer to St Mary’s. I have always thought that one of Richard Fowler’s strengths was his ability to integrate people like me into the body of the parish. I would argue that there is no more powerful act to make you feel that you are part of St. Mary’s than to stand face to face with your fellow parishioners and serve them the sacraments. I often think that it is time for me to resign, but the privilege of serving you has been too special.
— Russell Fudge

Sometimes God’s call to us for service comes in unexpected ways. We have always admired the people who are chalice bearers. They do such an important job in connection with the Eucharist and they are so accomplished. It had never occurred to us that we might be qualified to be chalice bearers. But then one day we got a call from Pam and Bob Bledsoe, who have been the leaders of the chalice bearers for many years. They said because of people moving and other circumstances, there was a need for more chalice bearers at the 9:00 a.m. service. Since that is the service we usually attend, they asked if we would consider being chalice bearers. We felt like it was beyond us, but they encouraged us, explaining they would have training sessions. In spite of our trepidation, we agreed to do it. Bob and Pam are wonderful trainers. We learned what we needed to do and also got to know other people better through the training process.

Being a Chalice Bearer has been an incredible experience, one that brings a higher level of spirituality to us in connection with the Eucharist. We are thankful that Pam and Bob reached out to us to make this a possibility. We feel honored and blessed to be able to share the Eucharist with others. Being a chalice bearer brings a greater feeling of closeness to God and with the others involved as we share in the Eucharist with God’s children. The Eucharist is the central part of our Christian faith. Since ancient times the service has included “chalice bearers” — those who accompany the bread, wine and scripture and provide the proper moment of light and service to God’s children.
— Betty and David Gibson

I feel privileged to be “behind the rail.” It is a unique viewpoint to be facing the congregation instead of within the body. In addition, the offering of the cup provides an interesting non-verbal, yet personal connection.
— James Griffith

When Will Long and I arrived and became new members of St. Mary’s in 2014, we were looking for ways to feel more connected to our new church community. Becoming Chalice Bearers was one of the best decisions we’ve made. It’s great to help serve communion with the altar party and be able to feel a spiritual kinship with our new friends!
— Ray Hahn

What we do in worship, and much of what has been done for thousands of years is anamnesis, pronouncing and remembering a past event so that it can be made real and present to us, our faith community, in this time and moment. The Eucharist is perhaps the Christian church’s most profound liturgy of anamnesis. We, as a faith community, are called upon to believe that by remembering the ways in which God has redeemed us through history we can experience and claim anew that same redemption. As a Chalice Bearer, you have the privilege to transport yourself and others into sacred remembering based on profound ritual. Deepen your faith and that of others by becoming a Chalice Bearer.
–Natalie Hala

Unlike at the two larger Sunday morning services, an 8:00 a.m. Chalice Bearer does it all: lighting candles, reading Old and New Testaments, reading the Psalm, leading the Prayers of the People, setting the table, collecting the offertory plate, pouring water over the priest’s fingers (symbolizing clean hands and pure hearts), and being the Chalice Bearer for the Blood of Christ. Whew! Being the personal deliverer of the Word of the Lord and the lynchpin between the clergy and the loyal congregation at an early morning liturgy is the perfect focus to start the week — and so gratifying.
— John Hayashi

Pam and Bob Bledsoe asked me to sign up as a Chalice Bearer several years ago, and – despite my initial uneasiness (I didn’t think I was “churchy” enough) – I am so glad I did. It’s a surprisingly wonderful ministry. Serving someone the “cup of salvation” is a one-on-one experience and it’s fairly intimate. So you have all of these delightful individual moments with people at the communion rail. I feel a real connection with everyone I serve. Essentially, you meet people where they are spiritually. Some are preoccupied and don’t make eye contact. Some are fully present with you and you feel like the cup connects you more deeply. Others – often kids – feel uncomfortable, so I will wink or crack a smile so they know they are welcome (and that despite our white surplices, we are just people, too). I’ve been a parishioner at St. Mary’s for about 20 years now, and I enjoy this way of feeling closer to those in our community. This year, I served at the Easter 9:30 service and it was one of the most joyful church experiences I’ve had this year.
— Fran Hegeler

I have been a Chalice Bearer at the 8:00 a.m. service for over 25 years. It is a profound and deeply spiritual moment when I offer the chalice. I am deeply moved by this experience. I urge others to consider this special ministry.
— Georgene Keeler

I love serving Christ and being an active participant in the worship service. And you cannot beat the front row seat!
— Jeff Landry

I have always felt weekly communion is a way to remember the basics and keep us all connected to each other. When Ray Hahn and I first said yes to Pam and Bob at the parish retreat a few years ago, they took the time to teach us all the ropes and support us along the way. I’ve found this responsibility gives back a feeling of service and closer connection to each person at the altar and to our broader community in a way I hadn’t imagined. Are you looking for a way to feel more connected too?
— Will Long

One Bread, One Body
It is a gift to be a Eucharistic Minister and be in communion with one another with our living, loving and nourishing God. I think of this ministry as serving God and our community and it is a great honor and humble act to be of service.
— Josie McGann

I have been a Chalice Bearer at the 9:00 a.m. service for nearly 30 years, generally on the first Sunday of the month. I can’t think of another activity I have done so consistently for so many years. Serving on a regular basis enhances my connection to St. Mary’s, deepens my experience of the liturgy, and provides enjoyable connections with my fellow Chalice Bearers. I have always been able to find a substitute when I can’t make it . Bonus points: after the initial training, this ministry requires no rehearsals and no homework!
— Kathleen Murray

Under the rigorous guidance of our leader Bob Bledsoe, we Chalice Bearers of St. Mary’s have been taught to move with precision as we perform our services around the altar. I sometimes think of us as being like the small human figures moving around on a Black Forest cuckoo clock. Yet, as we are actual humans, errors may sometimes occur. Even then, we may hope that, at least to those who are half aware, everything going on before the congregation appears exactly as it is supposed to be, like stepping back from the messy surface of an impressionist painting to behold the parts coming together in a vision of beauty and harmony, or, just as we hope that all our human activities might be viewed ‘sub specie aeternitatis.’ Being present, one by one, with each person coming to the rail to receive holy communion, a precious moment of eternity in the passing weeks and years of our lives, is an honor that I have come to feel more deeply each time I serve as a Chalice Bearer.
— Bruce McClatchey

This is my favorite ministry. At first, I was so nervous about forgetting something or setting the altar incorrectly, that I didn’t allow the blessed feeling that now overcomes me every time I serve. And guess what? The priests make mistakes too, so it’s all good! One time I totally forgot to wash the priest’s hands, and the next time I stood ready with my water and bowl and wouldn’t you know, he forgot! My favorite part about being a Chalice Bearer at the 8:00 a.m. service is being able to do the readings and prayers of the people. The Spirit of the Lord comes over me and overwhelms my heart. If there are others who are considering this ministry, I highly recommend it. We are all so supportive of each other — in the event something comes up, we always have someone willing to take our place.
— Sheila Santangelo

I’ve participated in this wonderful ministry for more than 25 years, and I love to experience the special sense of connectedness and unity when serving others of shared faith.
— Linda Sharp

The role of Chalice Bearer offers a rare opportunity to participate in the worship service from the perspective of the altar — to offer our support to the clergy and our fellow parishioners — and it’s a dream team to be part of.
— Ilia Smith

Every service includes at least one moving encounter with someone who at that moment desires the sustenance of communion.
— Sandy Stadtfeld

Each time I have the honor of serving, I marvel that each person has been drawn to God’s table and sought communion with God and God’s people at that moment. I cannot know where they are in their journey, but am joyful that it has brought them to share in the mystery of the simple, but sacred meal. I pray that they receive the blessing of strength for their continued journey through this communion. They have surely blessed me by their presence.
— Debbie Veatch

So, there are the thoughts and feelings of St. Mary’s Chalice Bearers. We are always looking for new members to this ministry so if you are interested, please contact the clergy or Pam or Bob Bledsoe. 707-938-8281 or

Eucharistic Visitors

levsLay Eucharistic Ministry is a vital step in helping embody and emphasize the reality of the church as community. We come forward to the altar immediately before the Eucharist. We receive a commission from the priest and carry consecrated wafers and wine to the folk, many elderly and infirm, some temporarily incapacitated, who are unable to attend services at church and wish to receive visitors and communion at home, in a nursing home, or sometimes at the hospital. Sometimes they are alone-sometimes a caregiver joins us- sometimes a group is assembled. We offer a brief service of worship that usually includes the Gospel and the Lord’s Prayer and features the sacramental bread and wine directly from St Mary’s table. Contact: Natalie Hala at

Lectors and Prayer Leaders

readingThe volunteers to this ministry offer our time and talent to prepare and read scriptural lessons, lead the prayers of the people, and (at 9:00 a.m.) deliver children’s homilies. We are a responsive and dedicated group that brings a congregational presence to the liturgy.  Contact Margaret Stafford at


Ushers present the first face of the parish to newcomers and regular worshipers at St. Mary’s, as welcoming hosts. They guide worshipers to seats and through the service. Ushering is a fantastic way to contribute your time and talent to the SMV community and is a minimal commitment of once per month at the service of your choice. We also ask for volunteers to assist at special services such as Christmas Eve and Easter. Ushering is a great way to meet people as you welcome them in the courtyard and assist in helping to make the services run smoothly to help create a worshipful atmosphere. Contact: David Sullivan at