Spotlight on... The Serving Team!
At St Laurence we have a dedicated Serving Team of eight, both men and women. With some variation of members, the current team dates back 32 years.
We cover all our services, from the 8am Book of Common Prayer Communion, our 9.30am Eucharists, Crucifer at Evensong and our Wednesday Midday Communion - and of course other occasions throughout the Church year when we are needed.
Two of us are members of the Guild of Servants of the Sanctuary, so it is not unusual for us to be asked to serve at our Chaplain’s Church when special occasions call for a full team.
Being asked last year by St Mary’s Aylesbury to Thurifer at a Choral Requiem Mass, sung by the Aylesbury Choral Society, was quite an occasion. It was made all the more daunting by working with the St Mary’s team whom we didn’t know and who hadn’t served for a couple of years due to Covid. I think, however, with the Spirit of Holy Fear driving us, we came through and gave fitting service to a very beautiful but sad occasion.
There have been teenagers during this time, but generally they have moved onto universities or moved away or are doing other things in the life of our Church - for example Owen our organist, who was one of our original junior members. Another moved onto training for the priesthood and became a Self-Supporting Minister, and yet another became a Server at Salisbury Cathedral.
It was always hoped of course, when serving as we know it today was set up over about 120 years ago, that servers might then move onto training for the priesthood. After all, working and observing what goes on in the Sanctuary week in and week out was meant to inspire those who might want to enter Holy Orders - and of course be partly trained and entirely comfortable in the Sanctuary when their time came to go to Theological College.
The other reasons probably, as ever, were to encourage youngsters to regularly attend church and who probably couldn’t or wouldn’t sing in a choir.
Another source of recruitment was from choirs as an option when one’s voice broke. I think it true to say that serving in the Sanctuary is in decline country wide.
Maybe there is a connection between not so many people entering the priesthood and fewer and fewer servers in churches. After all, it’s not uncommon to come across Church members who don’t know what a server is or does.
Without even having to ask my colleagues, I know that we all feel very privileged to be chosen to serve in the Sanctuary and we take it all very seriously. We strive for perfection, which is as much an inward spiritual thing as well as an outward physical action.
It true to say that one or two of us have been Servers since we were about 14 years old and served in several churches over such a long period of time. We have also seen a lot of change.
If any of you think you might like to find out more about joining the team, please talk to me.
- Michael Skidmore