As we prepare to enter Holy Week, we're bringing you an interview with the woman who helps to pull it all off: Edie Twomey, chair of the Altar Guild. She along with countless other Altar Guild members work to prepare our spaces for worship each Sunday, and during Lent and Easter, all of the other special services as well. It's a large job!
So, if you see an Altar Guild member in the coming weeks, give them a hug.
How long have you been a member at Glenn and where do you find yourself giving back to the life of the congregation?
I joined Glenn in 1994 when my daughter was five years old and my son was two. Like a lot of members, I came to the church through The Glenn School. My children were comfortable here. They attended Sunday school, sang in the choir, were baptized and confirmed at Glenn. When I first joined Glenn, I participated in the church by teaching children’s Sunday school and serving on Children’s Council.
What is the Altar Guild and where might we see its fingerprints around Glenn?
After taking a break for several years, I returned to Glenn and discovered kindred spirits in the Altar Guild. The duties of Altar Guild run from the mundane to the sublime. We make sure the Sanctuary and Little Chapel are ready for worship every Sunday. Hymnals are facing forward, pens, offering envelopes and attendance pads are in place. Brass is polished, candles are filled with oil and wicks are trimmed. Paraments are in place and the Bible is on the lectern with the readings marked. If there is a Baptism or it is Communion Sunday we are ready with the font in place and a pitcher of water nearby or the communion table is set with a white tablecloth, wine and bread at hand and the kneelers in place. All these simple tasks contribute to the creation of a sacred space that prepares us to receive God’s word.
What is your favorite liturgical season of the church?
Beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending with the Easter Vigil, the season of Lent is my favorite liturgical season. The Altar Guild saves palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday and burns them to make ashes for Ash Wednesday. The Cross is installed on the lawn outside the church school building and draped in purple. As Holy Week approaches the Altar Guild really moves into high gear. Palms are ordered for Palm Sunday and lilies are ordered for Easter. This year for Maundy Thursday, we will repeat the Upper Room service we introduced last year. Altar Guild members bring their china and crystal to the fellowship hall and round tables are set as we reenact the Last Supper and affirm the Holy sacrament of communion. It is a very special service appealing to young and old. On Good Friday we set up for the somber Tenebrae service in the Sanctuary where candles are snuffed and we depart the Sanctuary in silence. The Easter vigil on Saturday evening begins with a bonfire outside the Sanctuary. Light is brought back into the church as a torch lit outside is brought inside to light the Paschal candle.
Most of Altar Guild’s work is done behind the scenes; you seem to be the care-takers of our spaces of worship. How has this informed your faith?
As with many experiences in life, the more you give the more you get back. As we move through Holy Week I have discovered that assembling the elements that go into each of the services has deepened my faith and my understanding of Christ’s message. In addition, I have had the privilege of working with some of the most dedicated and loyal members of Glenn who work quietly behind the scenes to ensure our worship services inspire and enhance our relationship with God.
Thanks, Edie, for sharing your experience with us and giving of your time and passion for Glenn!