By Kevin Kindelin
A lot of the “goings-on” at Immanuel are fairly obvious. At service, you see the pastor, or pastors as it were, delivering the sermon, offering up prayers, administering communion, baptizing babies, etc. It’s not hard to spot an elder bustling about clearly appearing as if whatever he’s doing is of the utmost importance. Just kidding, I don’t think we come off that badly. The ushers and greeters are obvious as you enter the narthex, but what about what’s going on behind the scenes? Recently, I started thinking about the Altar Guild and what it is that they do. The Altar Guild is one of those ministries that many of us don’t ever think about. I always used to think of it as the women who prepared communion. I’ve since learned they do that and much more.
Sure, they still make sure communion is prepared properly. They’re responsible for getting the wine poured into the little cups, having the right amount of wafers available, and making sure that we don’t run out! Of course, there’s much more to it than that. Altar Guild Directress Laverne Ollhoff stated that, “Altar Guild’s mission is to prepare the Sanctuary for the preaching of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments. We do whatever is requested by the ministry staff to enable them to fulfill their calling to Immanuel.” This includes more duties and responsibilities than can be named here. What the members of Altar Guild do is give of themselves to provide a presentable, functional environment that allows us to worship according to our beliefs and traditions.
They make sure the pastors’ and communion assistants’ albs are clean and presentable. You might be wondering what “albs” are. They’re the long white robes that make pastors and communion assistants look really uncomfortable on hot summer days. How do you think those things get clean? Last time I checked, Immanuel didn’t have a washing machine and dryer. That’s right, Altar Guild members take them home and wash them themselves as well as any other linens or towels used in the service.
They also water and maintain the plants in the church and elsewhere around the building. The list of duties and responsibilities goes on and on. I haven’t even mentioned what needs to be prepared and displayed for the various holidays. To accomplish all that needs to be done, Altar Guild is divided into three groups with 10-13 members in each group. Each group has a leader whose responsibility is to “staff” her group if they’re on duty that weekend. Since each group rotates every 3rd weekend, not everyone in a group is needed each time.
What impresses me most about this group is that they embody the very essence of Christian volunteerism that is so crucial to the survival of our church. A church is its members. We should have a vested interest in our church and its mission. Altar Guild members serve behind the scenes and truly give of themselves. Each member pays $15 a year in dues to cover some items not covered by the church budget. They’re actually paying to serve! Of course, this is voluntary.
If you are interested in joining Altar Guild, you are needed. Men as well as women are welcome to join. Call Laverne Ollhoff at the church office – 847 359 1549 or send her an email - lollhoff@ILCP.org.