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The recruitment and retention of new altar guild members is always a challenge. We are pleased to offer some suggestions, thanks to Province VII, that may prove helpful.

Be Welcoming: Welcome everyone who shows an interest, including men. This should go without saying, but unfortunately is not always the case. “Demystify” the altar guild and its work.

• New Member Packets: Include information on altar guild membership in the new member packets distributed by your parish.

• Weekly Service Bulletins: List the altar guild members on duty that week in your weekly service bulletins.

• Personal Contact: Recruit in person. Don’t just rely on bulletins or newsletter notices. Remember, people need to be needed.

• Utilize Particular Skills: Is there someone who likes to polish silver/brass? Someone who enjoys decorating? Ask her/him to come in only when that activity is going on. Once they get to know you and see what else goes on, they may sign on for regular duty. Until then, there’s extra help.

• Encourage New Ideas: “We’ve always done it that way,” is merely a statement of fact. Why search for new, younger members and then fail to take advantage of their ideas?

• Trial Periods for New Members: Like anything else, altar guild service is not for everyone. Invite new people to a meeting, schedule them for two or three months before asking them to make a commitment.

• Prayerfulness and Liturgical Knowledge: Altar guild ministry IS first and foremost a ministry of prayerfulness. Emphasize the liturgical knowledge that comes from altar guild service. Don’t let the busyness get in the way.

• Keep It Simple for New Members: Utilize checklists, post photographs or diagrams of sacristy and altar setups, and provide individual manuals. (This helps the older and forgetful, too!)

• Flexible Scheduling: Allow for flexible schedules. New members might be more apt to join if schedules are more accommodating.

• Family Service: Consider inviting families to join. Ask a different family to sign up to provide altar guild service each week of the calendar year.

• Promote the Altar Guild (just a little): Have a yearly installation ceremony at the main service so that the congregation can see who’s on the altar guild. Have each altar guild member wear an altar guild pin when on duty.

• Be Positive: We tend to grumble about our ministry even though most of us love it dearly. Think about how it sounds to nonmembers. Spread the altar guild spirit. Think about placing a sign on the sacristy door that reads, “Kindness spoken here.”

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