Why Serve in the Liturgy?
The liturgy of the Church is the ministry of all the baptised. The Greek word “liturgy” literally means “the work of the people.”
When we gather to celebrate the Eucharist or sing or say the divine office (Morning and Evening Prayer), everyone present is a “celebrant,” not a spectator. Within the liturgy specific roles are taken by members of the community after suitable training.
Bishops and priests preside and preach.
Deacons read or sing the gospel, prepare the altar and lead the prayers.
Lay people serve as readers, intercessors, altar servers, communion ministers, musicians and ministers of hospitality (greeters, stewards and sidespersons) and sextons.
The work of preparing linens and vessels and decorating the church is carried out by members of the Altar and Flower Guilds.
The Dean oversees the Cathedral’s liturgies and appoints all ordained and lay ministers who serve in them. (Some are licensed by the bishop on the recommendation of the Dean.) Much of the day to day liturgical administration of the Cathedral is delegated to the Sub-Dean.
Ways for Lay People to Serve in the Liturgy
(Unless otherwise noted, prospective volunteers should contact the Sub-Dean regarding any of the ministries listed below. Training is provided in all cases as needed.):
Readers: Readers proclaim scripture at 9:00am, 11:00am and 4:30pm on Sundays and on Holy Days as announced. An audition is normally required.
Altar Servers: The Cathedral Servers Guild consists of acolytes, servers, sacristans, subdeacons and thurifers who assist in the conduct of the Cathedral’s liturgies in “beauty and holiness.” There are roles in the guild for children, teenagers and adults. Please speak to the Sub-Dean for further information.
Intercessors: Lay people at the Cathedral share with deacons the ministry of leading the Prayers of the People (also called the General Intercession or the Prayers of the Faithful) at the Eucharist. Intercessors at 9:00am on Sundays compose the prayers with the assistance of the Sub-Dean. At other liturgies intercessors read prayers prepared by the Sub-Dean.
Sidespersons: The word “sidesman” originally referred to a lay church official who stood “at the side of” the church wardens, assisting them in gathering the collection. Today, in addition to collecting the offering, sidespeople act as ushers: greeting people, handing out liturgical leaflets and books and organizing the seating of the congregation. This ministry is critically important in helping people to form their first impressions of the Cathedral community.
Sunday 9:00am Stewards: As regular members of the 9:00am congregation, stewards have an opportunity to assist at the Eucharist as chalice bearers, intercessors, readers and sidespersons.
Greeters: At many of the Cathedral’s liturgies, greeters are assigned to desks located in the narthex and the south-west porch. They focus particularly on making newcomers and visitors feel welcome at the Cathedral.
Chalice Bearers: These communion ministers are licensed by the Bishop of Toronto to administer the chalice at Holy Communion.
Altar Guild: Members of the guild clean and maintain the linens (altar cloths, purificators, corporals and lavabo towels), vessels (chalices, patens, cruets, ciboria and alms basins) and other objects used in the worship of the church.
Flower Guild: Members of this group assist in the decoration of the church at Christmas, Easter and other major festivals throughout the church year.
Choirs: Please visit the Music page for more information about this ministry.
To make further inquiries about serving in Cathedral liturgies, contact the Sub-Dean.