The purpose of the Worship Associates Program is to ensure that all worship services serve the spiritual needs of the congregation and run smoothly on a practical level. The Worship Associates work closely with the ordained ministers and coordinate with other First Parish staff and volunteers to ensure all aspects of our services are organized and carried out effectively.
The Worship Associates Program has four primary objectives:
- To advise and support the ordained minister in every aspect of worship. This may include giving feedback on services, offering input on future services, evaluating worship elements, and helping to compose liturgical texts.
- To assist with Sunday morning, holiday, and other special services and to recruit and support Guest Preachers and Credo Speakers.
- To plan and organize the summer services, so that First Parish members and guests are offered meaningful worship experiences year-round.
- To coordinate with the Tech Team to provide effective and meaningful worship to online participants, as well as those in our Sanctuary.
Duties of Worship Associates
The Worship Associates commit to support the ordained ministers and congregation as a team in the following ways:
- Meet monthly or more often as needed with one of the ordained ministers. Provide candid and constructive feedback on worship services and on ideas for future worship services. Advise the ordained ministers on any worship-related issues that arise.
- Assist with Sunday services and other special services. Each Worship Associate will assist at 8-12 services throughout the program year (September-June) depending on the size of the team. This assistance may vary greatly on different Sundays, depending on the needs of the worship leader, the season or any special services, and will include arriving early and staying late. Tasks may include:
- Attending to the physical space of the sanctuary, including arranging the chancel furniture, making sure the chancel table is attractively arranged, candles are replaced as needed and lit, stones are available, sound system is adjusted, banners are changed as needed, etc.
- Creating and editing worship materials and instructions for the Tech Team to use in providing access to worship for online participants and coordinating with the Tech Team regarding policies, best practices, equipment and staffing for hybrid or online worship.
- Coordinating with other worship participants to be sure they have whatever equipment they need, know how to use the microphones effectively, and know the cue for their sections of worship; and checking in with the worship leader to confirm that all is in order.
- Participating in worship by welcoming the congregation, introducing hymns, conducting or arranging an intergenerational part of the service, offering readings, introducing the offering, leading the final benediction, and/or leading other elements of the service as requested by the worship leader.
- Serving as host for guest speakers. This may include contacting them in advance and giving them a chance to ask questions, assisting with information for the order of service, greeting them when they arrive and orienting them to the building and using the microphones, and helping them feel comfortable and welcome, as well as assisting the speaker with logistics or worship flow as necessary to ensure the service runs smoothly.
- Organize summer services (June-August) including recruiting and organizing people to handle all the needed worship service tasks. Work with the ordained ministers to make sure that the people leading and assisting with the summer services receive adequate support and training. Duties include:
- Identifying a worship leader for each Sunday service.
- Assisting with the development and conduct of 2-3 services over the summer, depending on the size of the current team. Duties at each summer service vary according to the needs of the lay leader, but include overseeing logistics as above.
- Ensure that a Sunday service takes place in the event of an emergency if the scheduled worship leader is not available. Coordinate with the other staff, ParCom co-chairs, and the Committee on Ministry to create a meaningful service as appropriate in the specific circumstances.
Becoming a Worship Associate
Worship Associates have a deep interest in worship, are comfortable speaking before the congregation, have good organizational and technical skills, and the ability to speak candidly but kindly. They should be motivated to learn what makes an effective worship service for our community of faith. Worship Associates must be First Parish members with regular attendance at services at First Parish for at least two years. Worship Associates serve up to three consecutive two-year terms. After completing the maximum service and taking a minimum of two years’ hiatus, an individual may reapply. Worship Associate terms begin in the fall, following a training session with at least one of the ordained ministers and the other members of the team.
If you are interested in becoming a Worship Associate, please submit an online application. Applicants will be interviewed and selected each spring by the Shared Ministry Committee.