How to be an Intercessor
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church—10:30 a.m. services
Thank you for serving as an intercessor! As the leader of the prayers of the people, this is a very important ministry and we are grateful for your calm and gentle presence. These guidelines are just to be clear about how the role of intercessor works.
WEEK PRIOR TO SERVICE
- Your ministry as intercessor actually begins the week prior to your Sunday. Please keep your eyes and hearts open to the news events of the week that might be good to add to the prayers of the church. Pay attention to what things tug at your heart consistently, as that can be a sign of the Spirit guiding you. You have the authority to add such prayers in the appropriate places. Please take special care not to in any way favor a political candidate or political party.
BEFORE THE SERVICE
- Please arrive 10 minutes prior to the service. Please wear your name tag. Check in with the Verger.
- Connect with the verger to see if there are special intercessions for you to add, depending on the news headlines that week or things happening around St. Mary’s.
DURING THE SERVICE
- Make your way to the pulpit as soon as the sermon is finished. The microphone is always turned on. There is nothing you have to do to it and it’s safer if you don’t even touch it! There will usually be someone in the back at the soundboard to adjust volume for you. If you feel like you are too short for the microphone, there is a stool to stand on.
- Begin by leading the Baptismal Covenant (which consists of a creedal statement and the five baptismal questions). A printed copy of this is in the notebook on the pulpit.
- Follow this with Prayers of the People. You don’t need to preface with “The Prayers of the People are found in your bulletin”. Our service is always printed in the bulletin. A printed copy of the prayers is in the notebook on the pulpit.
- At the right time, give enough time for people to settle in to their own physical prayer stance, whether it is standing or sitting or kneeling. Each prayer form is different, but you can tell when the intro ends and the time for prayer begins (often the tip-off is the line ‘let us pray’). Begin the biddings after the shuffling has quieted and you can sense that people have their hearts and minds and bodies open for prayer.
- Pacing might just very well be the most important part of being an intercessor. Your task is to invoke or bid images in the minds of the people praying so they can offer them up to God. When there are lists of things for which people will pray (i.e. the lonely, the hungry, the oppressed, etc.), please pause between each item for people to conjure in their minds someone they know who is lonely, etc. If you speed on, it’s like a slide show when the pictures go by too fast to see them or feel anything about them. Set a calm, steady pace that people can relax into. You are the vessel through which the congregation receives the Good News. Please be prepared to read with enthusiasm and emphasize the spirituality of the prayers.
- When pauses exist for people to add their own intercessions silently or aloud, please give them enough time to do so. After 5-10 seconds have elapsed since the last prayer you heard voiced from the congregation, continue reading.
- Stay at or near the pulpit for the confession, so that you too have an opportunity to pray the confession.
- During the passing of the peace, please return to your seats.
We are using a database called Ministry Pro Scheduler for our lay ministry scheduling. Anne Hanson coordinates this for us and you will see emails coming from her at firstname.lastname@example.org . When you sign up to be a lay minister, Anne will send you a login & password for the Pro Scheduler, along with some other basic info. There will be link to a short video about how to use the scheduler. It lets you do things like select the services you want to serve at & what lay ministry positions you’re interested in, put in blackout dates, delete a ministry you no longer want to serve on, etc. It’s flexible & user friendly!
Every month you’ll receive an email from the Pro scheduler (that looks like it comes from Anne). It tells you the next month’s schedule is ready. You can then login and go to MY SCHEDULE (to see what service(s) you’re assigned to) or FULL SCHEDULE (to see what the whole monthly schedule looks like.
If you’ve been assigned to a service and you can’t serve then, go to the MY SCHEDULE tab and click on REQUEST SUB button next to the date/time you can’t serve. The system will send an email to everyone who does the same ministry at the same time. (For example, if you’re a reader for the 10:30 service and click that you need a sub on a specific date, the Pro Scheduler will send an email to all other readers who can possibly read at that service on that date.) If one of those people can serve for you, they will click a link on the email that they receive and, voila, you’ll get an email back, the person subing for you will also get a confirming email and the schedule will automatically update so that the schedule everyone looks at will be the most recent one.
Sometimes there are some slots that didn’t fill in the schedule. If you’d like to fill any of them, please look at the FULL SCHEDULE tab & click on any of the VOLUNTEER NOW spots that you’d like to sign up for.
Anne Hanson will be happy to answer any questions, so please don’t hesitate to contact her at email@example.com.