Posted on Tue, Mar 8, 2011
The Ministry of Ushers
Along with all other lay ministries in the Church today, the role of ushers at the Eucharist assembly is being cast in new light. They are not mere stagehands or money-collectors but exercise a true liturgical ministry of hospitality that helps to build community. Ushers can effectively serve the worshiping assembly with joy, dependability, kindness, and reverence, and thus prepare their brothers and sisters for joyous participation in the sacrament of unity.
During liturgy, there will be only one collection taken up at the time of offertory.
This is a new procedure. On the first of the month or whenever there is any special second collection all the envelopes will be placed in the regular single offertory collection. These special envelopes will be separated from the regular collection by the counters and the donation will be credited for that intention. If a special collection is called for without envelopes, only then will a second collection be announced. This single collection will reduce the time required to accomplish the task so as not to interfere with our Eucharist celebration.
After the collection has been gathered, one of the ushers should coordinate the gathering of the collection into the temper proof bag and place it in the basket. Meanwhile another one of the ushers should prepare the gift-bearers handing them the wine and host so they are ready for the procession. One usher should walk behind the offertory procession with the collection basket, walking with simple dignity and not too quickly. Once the offertory gifts of bread and wine are presented by the faithful, the usher offers the collection to the presider.
Actual need should be the criterion for the ushers’ involvement in the communion procession. After the priest receives communion and the music for communion begins the communion procession should form immediately. This means the usher should be forming the communion line while the presider is distributing communion to the Eucharistic ministers. This movement should be done with warmth and gentleness as ministers of hospitality. Once the Eucharistic
Ministers arrive at their positions the faithful should be ready to receive.
After communion the ushers should pickup bulletins on the windowsill in the sacristy or the bottom drawer of the bookrack in the vestibule and return to their seats.
Remain in your place during your prayer time after communion and any announcements. With the beginning of the final hymn, go to the doors. In good weather, see that they are propped open to provide easy exit for the assembly. Be available at each door to place bulletins in the hands of those departing; to provide needed assistance for anyone disabled; and to wish all a pleasant good-bye. Remember this is your final opportunity to bring pleasure to their Sunday experience.
Make sure all windows are closed and secure, also check the church for articles left behind and for litter in the seats or on the floor. In general, see that all in is good order for the next service.
Procedures in case of physical sickness or even sudden death, fire, power failure, and other emergencies should be known and planned in advance.
Acutely aware of past shortcomings, the Church today is striving earnestly to improve the quality of Sunday worship. This is a matter of responding to the mind of Christ and flowing where his spirit is leading. The Spirit functions through concrete factors such as acoustics, seating arrangements and temperature. But because the Church is people, the Spirit works through them with their attitudes and feelings and postures. Most especially the Spirit works through those who minister to the congregation in the role of preacher, lector, musician, Eucharistic minister, or usher. No one is exempt! In the power of the Spirit, all ministers should strive constantly for higher standards of excellence in their ministry; none should strive more assiduously than those engaged in the ministry of hospitality, the ushers. At stake here is the greater glory of God and the greater holiness of his people.
Lord, you make all kinds of people, even people like me. In your love you gather them all into your Church. As you gather your people this day, help me to serve them in a Christ-like manner, even as your Son served those who gathered about him. Make me prayerful and patient, helpful and understanding, and may I radiate the joy that faith brings as strength to support my fellow ministers. May all who assemble to celebrate our common faith in the risen Savior be glad of heart for being here and for having encountered your Son in one another, in our priest, at the tables of the word and Eucharist, and through the ministry of ushers like me. I ask this through Jesus’ name. Amen.