Ministry in the Spotlight:
by Kate Brigham
Decorating with flowers has been a long and steady custom that dates back to ancient times. Why do we love flowers? For the same reason why we love the brilliant stars, the breathtaking sunsets or sunrises, the magnificent mountains or the soothing oceans; because flowers reflect the true understanding of God’s beauty and perfection and mostly because within the fragility of flowers exists a here-and-now that says, “I love you”.
Like an artist who paints a splendid portrait, a composer completing a masterpiece or a poet who touches the soul, the Flower Guild beautifies its church. The roots of the St. Paul’s Church Flower Guild started off as an appendage of the Altar Guild many years ago. The “founding mother," Bev Zacharias, brought her passion and experience for liturgical flower arrangements into what has now become one of the church’s beloved ministries for over 25 years. At the encouragement from another member, Susan McDermott joined the Guild in 2009 and currently serves as the chairman. She manages the budget, organizes the scheduling and oversees and helps the group in all their efforts. Susan says, “Flowers sing to me, they sing to my soul.”
There are 16 members, women and men, who work in teams. Each week, a different 2 person team is responsible for purchasing, prepping, arranging, decorating and adorning the church for Sunday services with gorgeous flower arrangements. In addition to the High Altar and Mary Altar, we often find these floral gems in the Great Hall, the Reception and even in the restrooms. All who have attended services on Christmas or Easter can attest to the stunningly beautiful flowers that embellish the church.
The Flower Guild members do more than arrange flowers though. They are stewards of their guild funds. At Christmas and Easter, a tribute is offered for parishioners to honor their loved ones. Congregation members can give a monetary donation to the Guild where the names of our dearly departed are remembered and published in the bulletin. They also interface with families who have lost loved ones concerning funerals and services.
During the summer months, gardeners generously share and allow us to make use of their seasonal floral abundance. The Guild members are a savvy bunch; they are efficient with their resources, good at reusing existing materials and always keep an economical mind frame on their budget, all the while esteeming their creative freedom for the art of liturgical flower arranging. The flowers are a form of worship and praise in themselves!
Lastly, the arrangements don’t stop serving at the altar. After the services, they are often delivered to places such as Hospice, various retirement communities and the homebound. Susan McDermott explains, “The recipients don’t care if the flowers are not in the best condition. They are just happy to get flowers.” Perhaps this is because flowers are an expression of comfort and consideration. They make us still and gladden people’s hearts.
When we want to show our Lord God the Almighty our reverence and adulation, and our love and affection, flowers can express what words fall short of. They exemplify and reflect both the fragility and beauty of precious life. Flowers are God’s perfect creation and the Flower Guild is a ministry that helps us to praise, worship and give thanks to the glory of God.
Anyone is welcome to join the Flower Guild and basic training is offered. This work can be challenging in a fun way. Our guild florists have the freedom to allow their spiritual inspirations and inner creativity combined with their love for God and for people to be shown through the expression of flowers.
For more information, contact Chairman Susan McDermott. Members of the Flower Guild include: Susan McDermott, Karen Duddleston, Julia Findley, Sally Gibbs, Tina Loudon, Marilyn Mastor, Alisa McHarness, Susan Sandell, Janet Sharp, Erica Steele, Martina Schoepe, Sue Stremler, Kay Redell. Thank you for your inspiring, beautiful ministry!