St. Paul talks about the church as body where each part needs the other, and the whole only functions well when each part is being what it is called to be. It is the critical responsibility of every baptized Christian to be learning and growing and open to who God is asking them to become. Serving through and worshiping with your local church is an integral part of this discernment journey. Start by prayerfully asking:
What are you passionate about; what opens you to love the world?
Where is there a need in your parish? Is there a need in your community that the church could help meet through you? What would challenge you to grow as a disciple?
Parish churches differ in the ways that they are set up and the offices that they have. There are some standard ones, such as Wardens, who appear in every Anglican church, but there are also some that vary, such as membership in a Pastoral Care Team, which some parishes have and some don’t.
The following is a list of common jobs, but remember that your church may not look like this. If you’re interested in being involved in lay leadership in the church, please have a chat with your Priest.
Every parish has at least two wardens: an Incumbent’s Warden and a People’s Warden. Wardens are official officers of the church, with legal responsibility for some property and financial matters. Wardens are also concerned with the pastoral and spiritual life of the church, priorities that they share with the Priest.
Medium-sized and larger parishes ordinarily have a Church Council, which includes the Priest, Wardens, Treasurer, and other people from the parish. The Church Council makes many important decisions in the life of the church community, attending to practical matters of administration and to many details of the church’s ministry.
Musicians and Choir Members
Most parishes have at least one musician. Different parishes have different musical styles. Sometimes, one parish has two or more services, with some musical variety. If you play organ, piano, guitar, drums, or a brass or wind instrument, your parish would like to hear about it. Some parish musicians are paid, but many volunteer. Many parishes also have choirs, who support the congregation’s singing by preparing hymns ahead of time, and may sing anthems or other choir-only pieces during services.
Every parish has financial officers, though the arrangement may vary. Usually, there is a Treasurer, who prepares and administers the budget. Commonly, there is also an Envelope Secretary; in Anglican churches, donations are ordinarily made in envelopes from a set with an assigned number for each contributor. The Envelope Secretary administers this system, ensuring that people get their envelopes and receive appropriate tax receipts.
Pastoral Care Team
Some parishes have pastoral care teams. These are groups of laypeople who visit people in hospitals, care homes, and houses. Pastoral care, which includes praying with people, is a responsibility of all baptized Christians. Pastoral care teams help to share the load around the parish.
At communion services in the church, you may have noticed that the people who distribute the wafers and wine are not only clergy. Most churches have teams of people who have been trained for this task and who share it, usually on a rotating basis. Some churches have a co-ordinator who makes sure that Administrants are available for every service, while other churches leave that task to the Priest.
Servers are people who assist in the tasks at the altar, during Communion services. Often, they are young people, commonly starting as young as nine or ten. However, many Servers are adults and even older people.
The Altar Guild takes care of equipment and supplies for church services. Altar Guild members: prepare and install hangings and banners; purchase, clean, and prepare communion hardware; make sure that the wafers and wine are supplied and ready for communion; and look after a myriad of other details related to services.
KAIROS is an ecumenical group concerned about issues of social justice, supported by the Anglican Church of Canada. Many parishes have chapters of KAIROS, organizing information events, conferences, and discussions, and raising money for Justice-oriented causes.
The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) is part of the Anglican Church of Canada. PWRDF does international work on sustainable development, relief, and global justice, and helps refugees. Some parishes have Parish Representatives, who help inform people about the work of PWRDF and encourage parishes to become involved in projects with the Fund.