The purpose of the Worship Associates Program is to ensure that all Sunday morning worship services serve the spiritual needs of the congregation and run smoothly on a practical level, whether or not the minister is presen. The Worship Associates work closely with the settled minister and coordinate with other church staff and volunteers to ensure all aspects of each service for which they are responsible are organized and carried out effectively as required.
The Worship Associates Program has three primary objectives:
- To advise and support the ordained minister in any aspect of worship that the minister and/or the Worship Associates wish to discuss, including feedback on services, input on future services, and composing liturgical texts.
- To assist with Sunday morning and holiday services, including when the settled minister is not the main speaker or is absent.
- To plan and organize the summer services, so that First Parish members and guests are offered meaningful worship experiences year-round.
Duties of Worship Associates
The Worship Associates commit to support the settled minister and congregation as a team in the following ways:
- Meet monthly or more often as needed with the settled minister. Provide candid and constructive feedback on worship services and on ideas for future worship services. Advise the settled minister on any worship-related issue she wishes to discuss. Bring to the settled minister any worship-related concerns the Worship Associate may have.
- 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:
- Organize summer services (June-August), including recruiting and organizing people to handle all the needed worship service tasks. Work with the settled minister to make sure that the people leading and assisting with the summer services receive adequate support and training. Duties include:
- Attending to the physical space of the sanctuary, including arranging the chancel furniture, making sure the chancel table is attractively arranged, flowers are present, and candles are replaced as needed and lit, stones are available, sound system is adjusted, banners are changed as needed, etc.
- Coordinating with other participants in the service, including recruiting chalice lighters and bell ringers, checking in with the Music Director and guest musicians to be sure they have whatever they need, consulting with other speakers to be sure they know how to use the microphones effectively and are aware of how they will be signaled for their section of worship, and checking in with the settled minister to confirm that all is in order.
- Participating in worship by offering readings, welcoming the congregation, introducing hymns, conducting or arranging an intergenerational part of the service, introducing the offering, giving testimonials related to the sermon or service topic, leading the final benediction, and/or leading other elements of the service as requested by the worship leader or settled minister.
- 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.
- Ensure that a Sunday service takes place in the event of an emergency if the settled 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 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 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.
If you are interested in becoming a Worship Associate, please submit an online application by the end of April.