peachtree road storybook

Write down for the coming generation what the Lord has done, so that people not yet born will praise him. – Psalms 102:18

Mary Stewart Altar Guild

By Marcia Gaddis

“We will not neglect the house of our God.”
Nehemiah 10:39

Preparing a sanctuary for worship services does not just happen by itself. Think about the many tasks that have been done early on Sunday morning to prepare for a time of worship.

Between the years 1950 and 1975, one lady did most of the preparations with three or four helpers. Mary Stewart set a high standard caring for the candles, paraments, communion, and the sanctuary. She gathered a few more helpers when the beautiful new sanctuary opened in 1949. They polished brass, trimmed the wicks of the candles, and prepared all the elements for communion. This group wore red smocks and were the very first Altar Guild at PRUMC.

Peachtree Road United Methodist Church History 1953-1978:
Mary Stewart
Peachtree Road United Methodist Church History 1953-1978:
Mrs. Esaias

In 1976 after Mrs. Stewart retired, the Worship Committee set down the objectives of the Altar Guild and assigned them to 16 members of the guild.

  1. To prepare for worship – books/ handouts in place.
  2. To provide suitable furnishing and decorations
  3. To care for the vestments of the ministers
  4. To care for the font
  5. To oversee the proper cleaning of the church

Mrs. John R. Esaias served as the first chairperson of the guild.

According to Betty Lee Kennedy, at one time the Altar Guild placed rosebuds on the altar in honor of the birth of a baby, picked up the altar flower arrangements from the florist, and took turns for Sunday Duty.

Jane Hill, who served on the Altar Guild for 33 years, joining in 1968 and working with Mary Stewart, remembers her Altar Guild duties to be some of her favorite jobs at the church, including the Altar Guild Cleaning Day.

Altar Guild Cleaning
Lighting Candles
Altar Guild Cleaning
Cleaning Day

Through the years and with the tremendous growth of the church, the Altar Guild’s responsibilities changed. With more church employees, some of the work was taken on by the staff, such as preparing the handout materials for church services, general cleaning, and taking care of the ministers’ vestments.

The Altar Guild grew and adjusted, coming to a consistent place of having seven specific committees. From a small, faithful group to a vibrant group of more than 60 women in 2022, the organization is vital for the services of the church. Not only do the members enjoy their specific duties, but there is a bond of friendship which is enhanced by monthly meetings, scheduled pot luck luncheons, and an annual Christmas party.

Committees of The Altar Guild

Altar Flowers – secure donations throughout the year from church members for flowers; given in memory or in honor, the credit is given in the church bulletin.

Altar Flower Ministry – dismantle Sunday arrangements on Mondays and distribute where needed.

Acolyte Support – work with the music staff in training and scheduling.

Baptismal Cloths –sew and embroider cloths; press and store in Sacristy.

Candles and Paraments – keep candles in working order and care for all paraments.

Communion – prepares the elements and serving pieces.

Liturgical – plans and executes draping for the liturgical seasons of Advent, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost.

Sunday Worship – working in small groups of 2-3 every Sunday, guild members light the altar and prayer candles; arrange for baptisms with cloth and pitcher at baptismal font; set Bible on Altar; assist where needed on Communion Sundays.

Thoughts About the Altar Guild

By Betty Lee Kennedy

The Altar Guild has always been dear to my heart, and it gives me great joy to watch church members continue the legacy of dedicated leadership and care for our sanctuary just as the Levites of ancient Israel cared for the tent of meeting and the Ark of the Covenant during the 40 years in the desert.

Mary Stewart set a high standard when she and three or four ladies cared for the candles, paraments, communion, and the sanctuary.   The Altar Guild has been and will always be a gift onto the Lord.
Someone asked me what Peachtree Road has meant to me over the past 67 years, and I will tell you Peachtree Road has been the heart of my faith journey. I came as young adult just out of college and now I am an old woman.  This church and it’s people have become the feeding place for my soul. It has nourished me in times of joy and walked with me in times of sorrow.  In the sanctuary on Sunday mornings when the sunlight shines through the stained-glass windows and reflects on the chancel wall I am close to heaven.

I can almost feel the rush of angel wings. 

My heart is at peace.