“If the people are unable to come to the church, then the church needs to go out to the people. This is the ministry that the Lay Eucharistic Ministers fulfill,” according to Pastor Bradley Gow of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Riegelsville, Pa.
“A Pastor cannot serve everyone in the Congregation alone and perform the myriad administrative duties that are required all at the same time. Lay Eucharistic Ministers are an invaluable resource in this regard. Barbara Yob, for example, has been a Lay Eucharistic Minister for the last 14 years through St. Peter’s, and she has been so helpful to church members who cannot attend regular church, due to illness, or other reasons,” explains Pastor Bradley.
One St. Peter’s member who trained recently for the Lay Eucharistic Ministry is Natalie Wriker, who was baptized there and has been a member all her life. “I was initially called to serve in this way because I wanted to help my grandparents, who were getting older and were unable to attend their regular church,” she explains.
“The training consisted of one full 8 hour day at Trinity Lutheran Church in Pleasant Valley, which was convenient since it was not far from my home. It was very informative, but what really expanded my confidence was going out on an observational visitation with Barbara Yob, when she called on a congregant in Assisted Living. I saw the book of prayers she had, which suggested specific prayers for different life circumstances and that made me feel comfortable to do a visit on my own.”
Shortly after the training, Natalie realized that younger people, not only elderly or sick church members, can benefit from Lay Eucharistic Ministry. “Some friends my age have not been to church in years, or they received no religious training in their upbringing, so they haven’t known where to begin to provide that for their children,” she explains.
“For those people, or for others who have work schedules that conflict with traditional church services, Lay Eucharistic Ministry provides a way to be involved with church,” claims Natalie. Not everyone receives Communion with every visit. She elaborates, “One friend wanted to teach her young children about morality and religion, but she didn’t know where to begin, so as a way to introduce them to religion, I visited her, read Bible Stories, and her kids colored pictures of Jesus.”
The key, according to both Natalie and Pastor Bradley, is “to listen to people and to serve their needs accordingly.”