Worship Associates

What is the Worship Associates Program?

Click here for a PDF of the Worship Associates Brochure

The purpose of the Worship Associates Program is to ensure that all Sunday morning worship services, whether or not the minister is present, serve the spiritual needs of the congregation and run smoothly on a practical level. The Worship Associates work closely with the ordained minister and coordinate with other church staff and volunteers as needed.

The Worship Associates Program has three primary objectives:

1. To advise and support the ordained minister in any aspect of worship that the minister and/or the Worship Associates wish to discuss.  This may include giving feedback on services, offering input on future services, and helping to compose liturgical texts, especially portions that are spoken by lay people.

2. To assist with Sunday morning services, especially when we have a guest speaker.

3. To plan and organize the summer services, so that First Parish members and guests are offered good worship experiences year-round.

Duties of Worship Associates

The Worship Associates are expected to support the minister and congregation in the following ways:

1. Meet monthly with the minister.  Provide candid and constructive feedback on worship services and on ideas for future worship services.  Advise the minister on any worship-related issue she wishes to discuss.  Bring to the minister any worship-related concerns the Worship Associate may have.

2. Assist with Sunday services.  Each Worship Associate will assist at services for one or two months during the program year.  This assistance may vary greatly on different Sundays, depending on the needs of the worship leader, but will need to include arriving early and staying late. Roles may include:

  • Participating in worship by offering readings, welcoming the congregation, introducing hymns, conducting an intergenerational part of the service, introducing candles of celebration and concern, introducing the offering, giving testimonials related to the sermons, leading the final benediction, or leading other elements of the service as requested by the minister.
  • Serving as host for guest speakers. This may include contacting them in advance and giving them a chance to ask questions, greeting them when they arrive and orienting them to the building and sound system, and helping them feel comfortable and welcome.
  • Knowing about the logistics of the service and filling in gaps if necessary.
  • Attending to the physical space.

3. Organize summer services, including recruiting people to handle all the needed tasks.  Work with the minister to make sure that the people leading and assisting with the summer services receive adequate support and training. Duties include:

  • Locating a worship leader, a host in charge of logistics, a head usher, and two child care providers (paid) for each service. While providing food and drink during the social hour are optional, water is essential.  Using Sexton service (paid) when needed, especially if food and drink are provided.

4. Ensure that a Sunday service takes place in the event of an emergency when the minister is not available to make other plans. Coordinate with the other staff, ParCom co-chairs, and the Committee on Ministry to create a meaningful service.

Becoming a Worship Associate

Every Worship Associate should have a deep interest in worship, organizational skills, the ability to speak candidly but kindly and constructively, and a good intuitive sense of what makes a worship service effective.  Public speaking skills are highly desirable.  Worship Associates are expected to be First Parish members and to have regularly attended services at First Parish for at least two years.

Worship Associates begin their terms in the fall after a mandatory one-day Saturday training and meet once a month on a Thursday from 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm.

Worship Associates typically serve for two-year terms and may serve for up to three consecutive terms. After a two-year hiatus an individual may reapply.

Application Process


Worship Associates

Mary-Beth Landy
Cindy Tavilla
Dawn Albright
Lynne Jacoby
Pamela Powell

Shared Ministry Committee
Chair: Barbara Tosti
Gwen Hooper
Ruben Hopwood
Elizabeth Hunter
Kathy Kemp
Dorothy May
Associated Staff: Rev. Marta Morris Flanagan, Minister


Copyright 2017 First Parish Unitarian Universalist of Arlington

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