Lay Eucharistic Ministers

Within the Episcopal Church, the laity assists the priest and the deacon (if one is present) during the celebration of Holy Eucharist, administering the elements (the wine or the bread). The Book of Common Prayer (1979) states “in all services, the entire Christian assembly participates in such a way that the members of each order with the Church, laypersons, bishops, priests, and deacons, fulfill the functions proper to their respective order, as set forth in the rubrical directions for each service (BCP, p. 13).”

According to Canon III, Ministry, a confirmed adult communicant in good standing (and yes, a mature teen in high school qualifies) may serve as a Lay Eucharistic Minister (LEM). One is licensed as a Lay Eucharistic Minister after receiving training from the deacon in Safe Church, in how to distribute the bread and the wine, and in the service of Holy Eucharist according to the Book of Common Prayer. Further training is also available for those interested in being “Eucharistic Visitors”, who bring the Eucharist to members of the Congregation who by reason of illness or infirmity were unable to be present at the time Holy Eucharist was celebrated. The license for Eucharistic Minister and Eucharistic Visitor is through St. Luke’s, Monrovia, in the Diocese of Los Angeles, and is renewable every three years.

At St. Luke’s, the Eucharistic Minister vests (wears an Alb with cincture), serves at the altar to help administer the chalice, and may act in the capacity of an Acolyte. Acolyte duties include holding the Gospel book for the deacon or priest during its reading, handing the collection plate back to the ushers after the offerings have been blessed, washing the hands of the clergy involved in the celebration of the Eucharist, and assisting with clearing the altar after the distribution of communion. If one is not assigned to serve at the altar, he or she may be assigned to come up from the congregation (without vesting) and help administer the chalice. Eucharistic Visitors go out in pairs. They come up to the altar to be given a communion kit and are commended (prayed over) by the deacon or priest (in the absence of the deacon) and “sent out” by the congregation to those to whom they will bring communion.