How to be an Usher
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church—10:30 A.M. Service
Thank you for serving St. Mary’s Episcopal Church as an Usher! This is a very important ministry and in partnership with the Greeters, you are responsible for the first impression people have when they walk through our doors on Sunday morning. The intent of these guidelines is to be clear about what it means to be an Usher at St. Mary’s and to offer some helpful hints.
*All people are unique and are seeking different things from a church community. Some will enjoy being welcomed enthusiastically and may be immediately willing to jump into a conversation. Others will prefer to stay relatively anonymous and want to quietly check us out. These individuals will probably not want to stay for coffee hour. Use your best judgment when determining who is who. Use your intuition and common sense.
*Guidelines for all Sunday lay ministry responsibilities are located in a notebook on a shelf in the podium cupboard in the Narthex.
BEFORE THE SERVICE
- Please arrive 20 minutes before the service begins. Please wear your name tag. Check in with the Verger.
- Sunday Bulletins: Move 9:00 bulletins from the table to the right of the guest book to the top of the blue bin under the children’s clipboards. Put 10:30 bulletins on the little table. When people enter the narthex area (area just outside sanctuary), distribute the bulletin. Be friendly! Greet kids!
- Children’s Clipboards: Check to be sure clipboards have fresh paper, crayons & stuffed animals. If not, ready the clipboards for the kids. Supplies are in the blue bin under the clipboards.
- Visitors with Children: Pay particular attention to visitors with children. If they ask for the nursery or appear hesitant to bring children into the sanctuary, let them know that we are a kid friendly church and their children are very welcome in the service or the nursery. Encourage them to sit near the front so the children can be more engaged in what is going on. Tell them about the children’s rug in front with stuffed animals & quiet toys. Offer to show them where the nursery is located if they’re interested.
- Doors: Keep the sanctuary doors clear so worshippers have easy access to the church and to help keep noise level right outside the sanctuary to a minimum. On nice days, open the doors to the balcony.
- Starting the Service: 5 minutes before the service start time, invite everyone into the church so that the service can begin on time.
DURING THE SERVICE
- VERY IMPORTANT: Stay in the narthex 10 minutes into the service to welcome and be helpful to late arrivals.
- Count the People: About 10 minutes into the service, count the number of people (include the choir, clergy, children & those in the nursery). Record the date, service time & number of people on a “Counters Slip” (located in the podium cupboard under the Guest Book). Place it in the bread bowl on top of the bread.
- Pass the Offering Plates: At offertory time, take the offering plates and follow the greeters up the main aisle. Stop at the front pews. When the greeters return down the aisle, pass the plates down each pew. As soon as you have passed to all pews, take the plates to the altar and give them to the acolyte (if there is one) or to the deacon (Rex).
- Eucharist: When you hear, “The gifts of God for the people of God”, go down the aisle and stand next to the first set of pews. While the acolytes & chalice bearers are receiving communion, start ushering people to the communion line so they are ready to receive as soon as that group has finished. Keep moving along the pews “releasing” people from their pews so there are people ready to receive at all times.
- Be alert to anyone who doesn’t go forward for communion: Ask if they would like to receive communion in their pew. If so, let the priest or deacon know and communion will be brought to them in their pew at the end of communion.
- Be on hand for emergencies: Call 911 if an ambulance is needed & be helpful to first responders when they arrive.
AFTER THE SERVICE
- Collect bulletins & announcements from parishioners, pews, chairs, narthex area. Place announcements in recycling box outside tea kitchen. Place bulletins in the recycling box OR put them back in bulletin box if they are to be reused.
- Tidy up the pews. Pick up used Kleenex, stuffed toys, etc.
- Ready children’s clipboards: Recycle used paper. Organize and restock the clipboards (2-3 pieces of paper/clipboard). Paper & crayons are in the big blue tub under the shelves. Stuffed animals are in a basket under the shelves.
- Be extra alert to visitors. Chat with them. Invite them to sign the Guest book. After you’ve finished your post-service duties, take them to the St Mary’s Room if they’re still standing around. Introduce them to others. Stay & chat with them so they’re not left standing by themselves!
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 a 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!
You’ll receive an email each month from the Pro scheduler (looks like it comes from Anne) if you’re scheduled to serve. 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 subbing 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.