Altar guilds are an important ministry, helping to prepare for worship, beautifying the church and caring for holy items with reverence. Local parishes depend on faithful Altar Guild members, many of whom work alone or in small teams. But, did you know that there is a National Altar Guild Association?

The Diocese of Pittsburgh has recently become a member of the National Altar Guild Association (NAGA), which provides information and resources to parish, diocesan and provincial altar guilds. (Parishes and individual members are also encouraged to become members.)

NAGA is the center of an altar guild network, helping local groups to stay abreast of liturgical changes and solve contemporary altar guild problems by serving as a clearinghouse for information. NAGA sponsors many interesting workshops and publishes a quarterly newsletter offering helpful information and hints, as well as interpretations and guidelines for services, seasons and specific ceremonies.

Local altar guilds assist NAGA with on-going projects such as making stoles and chasubles for chaplains of the armed forces and rounding up items for the Ecclesiastical Art Collection at General Convention. Members represent a wide range of gifts and talents, including needle arts, flower arranging, writing, speaking and teaching.

Learn more about NAGA by visiting www.episcopalchurch.org/altarguild. Of particular interest on the website are back issues of the newsletter, Epistle, as well as items for sale in the Sacristy Shop.

To help connect local altar guilds with NAGA (and with each other), the diocese is seeking one or more altar guild contacts within each parish. If you are involved with your parish’s altar guild, please email your contact information to Joan Gundersen at treasurer@episcopalpgh.org or call 412-721-0853.