Worship. Serve. Grow.

Altar Guild Instructions

Weekly Duties and Setup Directions

Saturday Morning To Do List

  1. Dry dust granite surfaces (baptismal font, altar, ambo, and Gospel/Tabernacle stand)
  2. Empty, wash and refill baptism font
  3. Polish torches and processional cross handle with Never Dull
  4. Fill candles and torches
  5. Polish alms basins with Never Dull
  6. Polish processional cross with soft cloth (do NOT use Never Dull)
  7. Set-up altar
  8. Place linen on credence table
  9. Check bulletin for baptism and set-up if needed
  10. Check bulletin for birth announcement, notify floral team member
  11. Set-up for 7:30 service
  12. Set-up for other services (as much as possible)
  13. Pull and put up Sunday name (liturgical season) on hymnboard
  14. Sign up for services (including Wednesday if necessary) and linens/rags washing
  15. Check tabernacle, adjust wafer & wine amounts as necessary

Weekly Church Maintenance

  1. Inspect candles and change as necessary (see Sacristy for size guidelines)
  2. Change altar and lectern hangings as necessary (check liturgical calendar in Sacristy)
  3. Replenish wine, wafers (large and small), purificators, and corporals as necessary
  4. Inspect fair linen and dust cover for spots, clean as necessary
    When not set up for a service, the dust cover should be on the altar

Team One
Polish Candelabras

Team Two
Polish Eucharist Candles
Polish Altar Rail Nameplate

Team Three
De-wax Bobeches and Candle Followers
Polish Candle Followers

Team Four
Clean Altar Cross (polish with soft cloth)
Clean Altar Shelf

Basic Altar Setup

Fair linen
Blotter pad
2 Candles in candleholders
Baby flower, if needed


  1. Cover altar with fair linen, centering as needed
  2. Blotter pad is next, centered and along “back” edge
  3. Corporal is next, placed over blotter and fair linen
  4. Candles: Congregation side, approx. 6″ from both side & front edges
  5. Baby flower – near one of candles

Baptism Setup

All supplies, except the Pascal candle, are stored in the drawer in the side of the font.
Place the following on the credence table:
1 candle with drip shield for each candidate
1 baptismal towel for each candidate (they have an embroidered shell on them)
Chrism oil vial
Place the Pascal candle on altar side of font
Put a little extra water in the font

7:30 Service Set-up

**Sacristy is to remain locked during & between services**

2 chalices
1 Paten with approx. 40 wafers and Host on top
Water cruet – small pitcher, with water
Wine cruet – large pitcher
Filled to 7:30 level as marked on plastic pitcher
Lavabo bowl
Lavabo towel
2 purificators
Extra roll of wafers
Polished alms basins

Arrangement Under Tabernacle
1. Place all Eucharist items on top shelf
2. Chalices to the back left
3. Other items in front of chalices
4. Place Alms basins and service book on bottom shelf:

9:00 and 11:15 Service Setup

**Sacristy is to remain locked during & between services**

4 Chalices
2 Patens with approx. 100 wafers (1 roll) on each
Host on top of one
Water cruet – small pitcher, with water
Wine cruet – large pitcher
Filled to service level as marked on plastic pitcher
Glass carafe
Lavabo bowl
Lavabo towel
6 purificators
Extra roll of wafers
Alms basins
Heifer project ark

Credence Table (at back of Nave):

  1. One Chalice
  2. Bread plate with host
  3. Water pitcher
  4. Wine pitcher
  5. Heifer ark

Under Tabernacle:

  1. 1. Place all Eucharist items on top shelf
  2. Chalices to the back left
  3. Other items in front of chalices
  4. Place Alms basins and service book on bottom shelf

Between Service Duties

  1. Fill torches
  2. Put up hymn board numbers
  3. Put bulletins in narthex
  4. Put offering in bank bags (keep regular and Heifer offerings separate)


Last Service Clean Up

Altar Clean Up

  1. Candles and holders go in large closet
  2. Shake corporal over piscina, if not stained, refold and return to drawer
  3. Return blotter to drawer
  4. Check Fair Linen for stains, if none hang in closet

Eucharist Clean Up
1. All blessed wine and wafers must be disposed of properly:
Drunk or eaten
Poured back to the earth (via the piscina)
Reserved in the tabernacle
2. Check the tabernacle.
The priests put leftover consecrated wine (in carafe) & wafers in the tabernacle.
3. Pour wine from carafe into glass cruet from tabernacle.
If cruet is full pour carafe wine down piscina
4. Wine in the chalices is consecrated.
Pour it down the piscina
5. Fill the chalice with water and pour it down the piscina also
6. Rinse patens, pour water down piscina
7. Wine in the pottery cruets is not blessed and can be returned to the wine bottle
8. Wash and dry all pottery and glass dishes
Return to large closet
Use paper towels between wet pottery to absorb remaining moisture

Other Clean Up

  1. Put offering in bank bags (keep regular and Heifer offerings separate)
  2. Take down and file hymnboard words and numbers
  3. Spray soiled linens, (purificatiors, corporals, blotters), with stain remover and place in plastic container near piscina for laundering
  4. Take linens and rags for laundering (sign out appropriate quantities on Linen Check-Out Sheet)
  5. Wipe Alms basins with vinegar, dry and place in flannel bags.
  6. Return to 2nd shelf of tabernacle stand.
  7. Return Gospel to 2nd shelf of tabernacle stand
  8. Put away all supplies, wipe counter tops and sink
  9. Turn out the lights and lock door when leaving
  10. Move flowers to the narthex

New Member Information

Below is information to guide new members as they begin their service with St Paul’s Altar Guild. It is an introduction to our processes and procedures as well as a glossary of terms that we use, as they pertain to our Guild.

Parishioners interested in Altar Guild can also use the information to help them determine if the ministry is a good fit for their talent and time.


The Altar Guild at St Paul’s schedules in 4-month blocks.
Spring: February, March, April, May
Summer: June, July, August, September
Fall: October, November, December, January

The schedule is made by assigning each team to cover a week, starting Saturday.
Team One covers the first week of each month on the schedule
Team Two covers the second week of each month on the schedule
Team Three covers the third week of each month on the schedule
Team Four covers the fourth week of each month on the schedule
In addition, there are will occasionally be a Fifth Saturday in a month and it will have its own team.


Each team will have at least 4 members and covers its week from Saturday through Sunday. There are also extra members added to the teams working holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, to ensure that all services are covered without undue burden on any one member.

Each team has a Captain who is responsible for ensuring that the week’s activities are properly staffed, including, but not limited to Sunday Eucharists, mid-week services, cleaning linens, and other special events that require Eucharist setup in either the Sanctuary or the Chapel.

Each team also has a member to arrange the flowers to decorate the altar. Flower arrangers are full members of the Altar Guild and their team. Typically, their main Saturday duty is to arrange the flowers. Sunday (and other weekly) duties are shared among all the team members.


If, for whatever reason, you are unable to work your scheduled week, please find a substitute. Each schedule has a list of all the team members and their phone numbers and email addresses. Usually, finding a substitute means switching weeks with another Guild member.

Once you have a substitute, please notify: your team Captain, your “new” team Captain, and the Guild Director.

If you are unable to find a substitute, please notify your team Captain and the Guild Director.

Other Events

Throughout the year, there are a few events that Altar Guild members are asked to attend. They include:

Spring Clean Up
Annual Brunch and Meeting
Occasional Fellowship Hours
Annual Ministry Fair


The Altar Guild has fairly specific setup and clean up procedures. A copy of the procedures is posted on the bulletin board in the Sacristy of both the Chapel and the main Sanctuary.

In addition to weekly procedures, there are also instructions for special event setup, such as Baptisms, mid-week Eucharists, and holidays. Specific holiday instructions are variable each year and will be posted in the Sacristy as the date approaches.

Special Occasions

Holidays and other special occasions require different or additional setup. These occasions include:

Palm Sunday
Advent (1st Day)
Ash Wednesday & Lent
Holy Week (each day is a different setup)

Weddings are handled by special coordinators who are part of Altar Guild, but do not serve on the regular schedule. If there is a wedding on a Saturday that you are scheduled to serve, clean up as normal and set up for Sunday Eucharists, keeping all the setup in the Sacristy, instead of putting it out in the Sanctuary. The coordinator will cleanup after the wedding and move the 7:30 service setup into the Sanctuary.

Funerals are handled on a case-by-case basis, as they are often on short notice and each has its own particular requirements. If a funeral happens during your week, you may be asked to setup for or clean up after a Eucharist.


The Altar Guild is responsible for the care and maintenance of the altar coverings and Eucharistic linens. It is not responsible for priests’, acolytes’, or crucifers’ vestments.

There are four basic linens that the Altar Guild cares for on a weekly basis:

Fair linen
Lavabo towel

There are detailed instructions (with pictures) on how to pre-treat, wash, iron, and fold each of the linens. In addition to the linens, we also use“ blotters,” which are water-proof pads, under the corporal to protect the fair linen from wine stains. Linens and cleaning cloths are washed each week.


  • Alms basins – the money collection plates.
  • Altar/Eucharist candles –large pillar (oil) candles placed on the altar for the Eucharist.
  • Ambry – a small recess near the altar where the blessed elements (wine, host (wafers), and oil) are stored. We have one in the Chapel.
  • Baptismal font – pottery basin at “rear” of sanctuary. It contains Holy Water.
  • Carafe – tall glass vessel, with flower etchings, used during Eucharist
  • Chalice – wine cups used during Eucharist.
  • Chapel – St Paul’s former sanctuary.
  • Chrismal set – 3 glass vessels used to hold Holy Oils: Oil of the Infirm, Sacred Chrism, Oil of Catechumens
  • Ciborium – lidded container used to hold blessed hosts (wafers)
  • Corporal – the “placemat” over which the priest blesses the elements and breaks the bread
  • Credence table/cover –small table at “rear” of nave used to hold the Eucharistic elements prior to blessing. In the Chapel, the credence table is on the right side of the altar.
  • Cross (processional) – the cross used during procession and recession
  • Cruet – glass vessel used to hold wine or water. Ours have glass cross stoppers.
  • Fair linen – the large cloth that covers the altar
  • Gospel – book containing the 4 books of the Gospel. It usually stays on the stand in front of the tabernacle.
  • Heifer ark – brown plastic, ark-shaped box used to collect offerings for the Heifer Project International.
  • Host – refers to all wafers, but usually used to refer to larger (Priest’s) wafer.
  • Lavabo bowl – bowl used by the priest to wash hands prior to preparing Eucharist
  • Lavabo towel – used by the priest to dray hands, after washing prior to preparing Eucharist
  • LEM kits – stands for Lay Eucharistic Minister. These are the travel kits used to take Eucharist to those who cannot come to church.
  • Missal – book used by the priest to guide through the Eucharist.
  • Narthex – entryway to the church. Ours doubles as a lobby for various activities.
  • Nave – the main room of worship in a church (ceiling usually looks like the inside bottom of a boat).
  • Oil stocks – small metal containers with rings that hold cotton soaked with Holy Oils. Used by priests for Holy Unction (OI) and Holy Baptism (SC)
  • Pascal candle – large, tall candle used during times of celebration (Easter, Baptisms, etc.).
  • Paten – plate used to hold the host (wafers). We use ours to hold blessed and unblessed host.
  • Piscine – special sink which empties directly into the earth. Blessed wine (that is not kept in reserve) and blessed host crumbs (on corporal) are poured down the piscine.
  • Pitchers (water & wine)– pottery vessels. Larger pitchers hold wine and smaller ones are for water.
  • Purificator – the small napkin-like cloth used to wipe the wine cup after each person.
  • Pyx – small round container used to carry blessed host in LEM kits. We also have a larger, brass pyx used during the Eucharist in the church.
  • Sacristy – the room in which the Altar Guild prepares for and cleans up after the Eucharist.
  • Sanctuary – our new worship space.
  • Tabernacle – box in which blessed elements (wine, host (wafers), and oil) are stored.
  • Torches – tall (oil)candlesticks which are used during procession and recession

Talented Floral Artists

Each week members of the Altar Guild make beautiful arrangements to decorate the altar. On special holidays they arrange magnificent designs of flowers, potted plants, fruits, vegetables, and greenery. If you arrange, or have arranged, flowers and would like more information on decorating the altar and church for worship, please contact Heather Gates.

Memorial and Thanksgiving Flower Donations

The Altar Guild requests $45 for memorial and thanksgiving flower arrangements. Please make checks payable to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, with Altar Guild Flowers in the memo. Donations can be placed in the offering plate or sent to the church office. In order for the names to appear in the appropriate bulletin, requests must be made at least 4-weeks in advance.

During the Lenten season, only greenery is used.

Flower (or greenery) arrangements are to remain in the church.

During Thanksgiving, Christmas, Palm Sunday, and Easter, the Altar Guild will decorate the church with special plants and flowers. Parishioners are invited to make donations of $15 for poinsettias (during Advent) and lilies (during Lent). Special envelopes can be found in the pews during those seasons. The flowers may be taken home after the holiday (please see service bulletin for specific times).