Diocesan Altar Guild Report 2018

Our mission is to serve our bishop and to support altar guild ministries serving congregations in our diocese. The Diocesan Altar Guild of the Diocese of California was established in 1938. We are working, in the words of one bishop “to prepare, keep and transmit the timeless worship and ancient traditions of our Episcopal Church in a new Century.” The Diocesan Altar Guild website is altarguild.org.

We have about 300 members representing congregations from all six deaneries of our diocese. We hold one annual meeting per year with a guest speaker to inform and inspire our work. We hold smaller, more local meetings within deaneries to explore in-greater-depth issues, such as recruitment, clergy altar guild relations, and to nurture community among altar guild members in a given deanery.

In this new century our members requested that we make greater use of digital communications. DAG (Diocesan Altar Guild) created a website to collect information about suppliers, vendors and other resources, for example good cleaners for vestments; craftspeople to repair items used in services etc. We communicate with our members digitally using the large group email platform of MailChimp.

The Ministry of the Altar Guild is to work collaboratively with clergy, to prepare the sanctuary for regular worship services, baptisms, weddings and funerals and to set the altar for the Lord’s Supper. The ministry includes caring for the vestments, vessels and altar linens of a parish, and cleaning up after services.

DAG members often supervise the decoration of the sanctuary with flowers for services and for special occasions such as Easter, Advent, Christmas, weddings, baptisms and funerals.

In 2018 our emphasis has been on bread for Eucharist. In some congregations the altar guild bakes bread for Eucharist while in others, a group or guild separate from the altar guild bakes bread. Our annual meeting this year featured the work of The Rev. Elizabeth DeRuff and Honore Mill and Farm. They grow heirloom wheat organically without irrigation, stone mill it fresh according to demand, and ship flour or wafers made with their flour by express mail. It is whole wheat in the most literal sense and provides fiber, vitamins and healthy fats. It is easily digestible and nourishing. One rector in our diocese wrote that using baked bread harkens back to the practices of the early church, where members of each faith community brought from their homes what was needed for services and using this flour is an even stronger connection with ancient Christian tradition. Our website has bread recipes from three congregations.

We are allied with the Diocesan Sewing Room where vestments are designed and made, altar linens hand hemmed and embroidered and much loved and worn vestments and paraments can be refurbished and restored.