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Cathedral Sanctuary Guildsacristan

Talk about a labour of love, that phrase aptly describes the ministry of the Cathedral’s Sanctuary Guild. Perhaps the Martha / Mary analogy is appropriate. The Marys, the clergy and congregation, worship in an environment made beautiful and appropriate by the Marthas. But the Marthas have read the Bible stories and they do not feel diminished by their role, only asking that they be granted “such a love of this holy place that [they] may handle Your holy things with reverence and perform Your work with . . . faithfulness and devotion . . . “(Cathedral Sanctuary Guild Prayer).

Looking back through the records of the Guild provides a fascinating social history. The careful notes and beautiful handwriting provides evidence of a highly responsible, well educated group of women determined to ensure that all in God’s house is in order, for as one of the prayers designated earlier specifically for the All Saints Sanctuary Guild reminds us, God is a “lover not of confusion, but of peace. . .” The same prayer hints at the fear that women might be tempted to gossip as they go about their duties, because it asks that the Sanctuary Guild members be kept “from profaning Thy house by idle or frivolous conduct.”

Despite the changing roles of Sanctuary Guild members in the secular world, the duties inside the church remain the same. The linens, referred to as fair linens, must be kept laundered and ironed each week. The challenge of removing what can be stubborn stains is ever present. Managing the laundering, ironing, and transport on long rods of the large altar cloths can be daunting. The chalices, pattens, candlesticks, and all precious metals must gleam, while being kept secure. Some require only a buffing with a soft cloth, but some of the brass items involve considerable elbow grease. Flowers need to be purchased, arranged, and watered. The floral arrangements need to be large and showy in the Cathedral to be effective. The hangings and altar frontal have to be changed according to the liturgical seasons.

In order to complete the various tasks, there are a number of members and monthly teams (silver, brass, fair linens, flowers, and hangings) comprising the Cathedral’s Sanctuary Guild, but the extensive and regular work of the Guild means that additional members are always welcome. While the ministry role of the Sanctuary Guild has traditionally been carried out by women, it is a ministry that is open to both women and men. A specific area where men can be very helpful is in the changing of the hangings and altar frontals and in the chancel and sanctuary clean up undertaken several times a year. For sure, all are welcome to assist with this task, women and men!

The Sanctuary Guild provides a great support to the work of the Cathedral Sacristan and those licensed Lay Readers charged with setting up for the many Eucharists held on Sunday and throughout the week. The liturgical life of the Cathedral would be significantly compromised were it not for the devoted ministry of the Cathedral Sanctuary Guild members. We owe them a debt of thanks.


Almighty God, our Heavenly Father,
bless the work which this Sanctuary Guild undertakes in Your name for the care of the sanctuaries and altars of this Cathedral Church of All Saints;
Grant us such a love of this holy place that we may handle Your holy things with reverence and perform Your work with such faithfulness and devotion that it may be acceptable to You and a blessing to all who worship here; This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

A Sanctuary Guild Prayer found in an early Cathedral Handbook
for All Saints Sanctuary Guild Members

Oh God, Who has granted to us the privilege of being helpers
in the beautifying of Thy Sanctuary,
keep us from profaning Thy house by idle or frivolous conduct. 
Give us grace to remember that we are in Thy presence,
Who art a lover not of confusion, but of peace,
and that we  are called to work for Thee, our God and King.
Accept this work of our hands offered to Thee in humility and love, for the merits of Thy dear Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. AMEN.



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Worship at a Glance

Regular Sunday Service Schedule

8:00 am Holy Communion (BCP)
9:00 am Holy Eucharist (BAS)
10:30 am Choral Eucharist (BAS)
Special choral services and concerts are held on Sundays at 4 p.m. September through June. Please check our events page for details

Regular Weekday Service Schedule

Tue 12:15 pm HE (BCP)
Wed 7:30 am HE (BAS)
Thu 12:15 pm HE (BAS)
Fri 12:15 pm HE (BCP)

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