As Sacristan, Elaine ensures that all things needed for worship in the Cathedral are available and ready for use, and coordinates lay people who assist with the liturgy.
Elaine is one of three unpaid cathedral staff members. (The other two are Malcolm Read, our Animator of Community Life, and Canon Ian Powell, our Priest to the City.)
Elaine’s title “sacristan” is derived from the word “sacristy” – which is the room where we keep vestments, “holy hardware” such as chalices and patens, as well as candles, altar linens, bread, wine, and so on. Here at Christ Church Cathedral, there is an “annex” to the sacristy, which tends to be devoted to the collection and arrangement of flowers and the polishing of brass and silver. Working with the Chancel Guild, the sacristan ensures that we have ample supplies for worship, and that all our appurtenances are maintained in good working order, and in good enough shape to be worthy vessels for the worship of God.
In practice, this means that Elaine is often the first in and the last out on a Sunday, or any other occasion when there is an important service. Clergy arrive to find the microphone of their choice set out, its batteries tested, and their preferred vestments laid out and ready to go. Everything required for the liturgy is in place: scripture readings, intercessions (which Elaine prepares using a half dozen different lists), linens, hardware, reserved sacrament, leaflets, and so on. And after it is all over, Elaine oversees the tidying up.
More than this, however, it is Elaine who recruits and trains servers, readers, intercessors and eucharistic ministers. In addition, she schedules these volunteers and manages countless changes to their schedules. Her close knowledge of nearly everyone’s role in the liturgy means that she is also a sought-after MC for “big” services – sorting out seating arrangements, the order of entrance and exit, and rehearsing the principals in a space which is often unfamiliar to them. Because we are a Cathedral, this includes both diocesan and state occasions.
Elaine attends both the weekly staff meeting, and the weekly liturgy meeting. At the latter, she is almost always the one who asks the questions that no one else does. She keeps us from going off the rails more than anyone knows!
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