Today we have had a frantic note from a new guild which has to set up for Holy Communion on Sunday. Every sacristy should have an altar guild manual in plain view, – and always consult your rector, deacon, vicar, or head acolyte if there is an answer you need to know about how to set up for any type of service. Every single member of your altar guild should be trained to set up for any kind of service held at your church: weddings, baptisms, confirmations, Holy Communion, funerals, healing, etc.
Both the Gent/Sturges and Dorothy Diggs altar guild manuals are recommended for Episcopal church use. Edith Weir Perry is also a favorite, but hard to find as it is currently out of print. Here is an online altar guild manual which may be very helpful-and it covers most questions you may have. Click on this link below from the Diocesan Altar Guild, Episcopal Diocese of Texas.
Usually two purificators are tucked into the burse with the corporal. One purificator for the use of the celebrant will be already on the vested chalice between the chalice and paten. If your congregation is very large, or it is a special service where a larger-than-usual attendance is expected, sometimes a flagon must be used for the wine, and a second chalice may be needed. Always ask your clergy if there is any doubt. Ushers often keep a count of the number in the congregation, which is helpful. This number can be discreetly sent up to the chancel on a small slip of paper during the presentation of the gifts. It is better to have all supplies which may be needed at the ready rather than to run short. Your celebrant should never have to worry about these details- this is the job of the altar guild. Be prepared. Fresh small linens, wafers, wine, and a spare fair linen must always be in the sacristy without fail. Matches should also be handy in the chancel at all times, along with a hymnal, Bible, and Book of Common Prayer. Real thoughtfulness might also include a glass or bottle of drinking water, tissues and cough drops discreetly tucked away in the pulpit or within easy reach somewhere closeby to the chancel. Your priest may choose such a place to store these emergency items. You may just enjoy the everlasting gratitude of your priest! Anticipate probable and possible need before it becomes a crisis and things will run smoothly.