Small Church -- Huge Heart!

“My works will show you my faith.”  James 2:18

Servant ministry is vital to the life of St. Francis of Assisi. Our members prepare the altar for worship, volunteer as lectors and ushers, volunteer at the thrift shop, and much more. In fact, without the service ministry of our members our mission to make our congregation, the people of Chapin and the world better would go unrealized.

No matter what your gift may be, you will be welcomed as a servant at St. Francis of Assisi.

Service opportunities

St. Francis members serve near and far in a wide variety of ways. Some find their greatest satisfaction from serving in the many and varied lay sanctuary roles. Others volunteer on committees or in support roles for church activities. Our engine of positive change is the Thrift Store of St. Francis where volunteers tirelessly work to provide one of the best, cheapest, cleanest, and most efficient thrift stores in South Carolina. After expenses to keep the store open, all these proceeds are used to help people throughout the community and world. Consequently, serving on the St. Francis Outreach Committee is another popular way to help.

Should you want to help in any of these areas, call the church office. They will identify the correct point-of-contact to allow you to get more information and volunteer as you desire.

Serving the Community and World

St. Francis of Assisi Thrift Store

Founded in 1983, the St. Francis of Assisi Thrift Store is a gift to the people of St. Francis and the larger community because funds generated here are used exclusively to help others. None of the proceeds of the Thrift Shop are used to operate St. Francis of Assisi Church. Located at 114 Courtland Road in Chapin, the Thrift Store is open Friday afternoons (1-4 pm) and Saturday mornings (10 am - 1 pm). One could be deceived to think that this endeavor’s impact is as limited as its open hours but that would be a wrong conclusion. In fact, the store does its huge volume of sales because of the hard work of its volunteers who sort and prepare its merchandise for resale every week. Many hours are devoted to receiving donations and selecting and displaying the inventory. Almost anyone is welcome to volunteer to help Monday through Friday, or on Saturday morning. Obviously manning the selling hours is important, but so too are the hours dedicated to the receiving and sorting of goods, especially on Monday mornings after the weekend's donations have occurred.  The shop volunteer corps is a wonderful mix of St. Francis members and people who are not affiliated with the church. Many have years of volunteer service and work their weekly schedules around this volunteer need while other volunteer as they can when they can. All understand the power of this engine of good.

Outreach Committee

The Outreach Committee of St. Francis of Assisi is the church oversight group for the Thrift Store. It is made up of parish members who want to help others or want to make decisions about how the funds generated by Thrift Store sales are used in the best ways possible. Volunteer here and you’ll be putting good works into action. See our website blog for information on some of the many betterment efforts St. Francis is supporting.

St. Francis of Assisi is one of many churches in the Chapin area supporting We Care. We Care serves as the single point of contact for families and individuals in the local community who are facing emergencies trying to meet their basic needs. We Care is not a St. Francis ministry, but the We Care mission dovetails very well with the outreach ministry of St. Francis and it has similar volunteer needs. Consequently, St. Francis (along with other churches, businesses, civic organizations, and individuals) supports We Care with time and treasure. Visit the We Care website to get more information.

St. Francis of Assisi is an active supporter of the school district managing the Chapin area schools. Efforts in the past have included assistance with after school programs, service as reading coaches or tutors, etc. St. Francis has a history of supporting the needs of disadvantaged students with a variety of summer programs.

Cange, Haiti ministry

Our diocese has a 35-year relationship with the people of Cange, Haiti, and the surrounding area of Haiti's Central Plateau where we have been in ministry for some 30 years. Cange is a small rural village in Haiti led by a visionary Episcopal priest, Father Fritz Lafontant. In 1981 our diocese made the first of many medical trips to Cange and much has been accomplished since then. An engineering project brought running water to the village in the mid-1980s. Construction projects have included a medical clinic, eye clinic, dental clinic, and hospital as well as a sewing center that provides employment for local women and a 35-acre farm that is now in operation. Under the auspices of our diocesan "Adopt-a-Village" project, more than 15 schools have been built in the area. St. Francis actively supports this ministry outreach effort.

Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box Ministry

This is one of the many annual ecumenical efforts supported by St. Francis. Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization. The mission is to provide local partners around the world with shoeboxes filled with small toys, hygiene items, and school supplies as a means of reaching out to children in their own communities with the Good News of Jesus Christ. The Shoe Box Ministry ships these simple gifts outside the United States to children affected by war, poverty, natural disaster, famine, and disease; and to children living on Native American reservations in the United States.

The Gideons

Several members of the St. Francis parish are Gideons. The Gideons International is an association of Christian business and professional men. Gideons come from many denominations, live all over the world, and share a desire to see the lost come to Christ.

Scouts in Afghanistan

Afghanistan has benefited from St. Francis efforts to support its scouting programs for boys and girls for almost a decade. Through PARSA and Sisters 4 Sisters, and in partnership with Zardozi, the scouting program seeks to develop the leadership skills and world knowledge of Afghanistan’s youth to better prepare them to deal with the challenges of their country. Presently there are 2000 children in the Afghan Scouts program. 80% of these children are orphans who are all being positively influenced with the assistance of St. Francis Outreach funding.

Serving at the Church

There are many ways to serve the parish needs of St. Francis. For the sake of this web page, they are divided arbitrarily into two groups. The first group covers the needs in the sanctuary during a service. The second grouping captures all of the other functions needed to keep the church running.

You can get information on all the various service possibilities with a visit to the parish hall on "Ministries Sunday." This is an annual event occurring in the September timeframe where people with experience in a ministry of the church provide information one-on-one to those interested is seeing what can be done to help St. Francis and the world around it.  

Serving On Sundays and other Holy Days

Altar Guild: The Altar Guild is responsible for the care of the altar and its furnishings, and for preparations of the sanctuary for worship.

Lectors and lay readers: Lectors and lay readers read the lessons and lead the prayers at public services. This giving individuals participate on a rotating schedule for either the 8:30 or 10:30 service and also cover services on holy days.

Ushers: Ushers help St. Francis maintain a welcoming, safe and meaningful worship environment. This ministry entails greeting parishioners and visitors and helping with the collection, guiding at Communion, and other responsibilities.

Acolytes: Youth interested in learning about the liturgical life of the Episcopal Church are invited to join the Acolyte program. Acolytes learn about all aspects of worship and why it matters and have duties at the 10:30 service which may include carrying crosses and torches in processions, serving at the altar during the Eucharist, receiving gifts during the Offertory, reading lessons during the liturgy, and completing special tasks on feast days and special services.

Flower Guild: Typically the sanctuary is decorated with flowers given in honor or memory of loved ones, etc. The Flower Guild handles these tasks.

Prayer Desk: At both services there is often a trained/experienced person serving at the prayer desk during communion. The purpose is to allow one-on-one intersession through the power of individualized prayer.

Serving at the church

Vestry: In medieval England, the all adult male parishioners of a church annually gathered in a room off the chancel where the vestments were stored to hear the reports of the outgoing church wardens and elect new wardens. Over time, these assembled parishioners came to be known as the vestry. In the Virginia colony, this practice was adjusted to circumstances and the number of vestrymen was set at 12 under the Vestry Act which provided “there be a vestrie held at each parish.” In colonial America, vestry election was for life.

Today, the vestry is the legal representative of the parish with regards to all matters pertaining to its corporate property. At St. Francis, vestry members are elected for 3-year terms and one third of the vestry refreshes with new members every year. Vestry members meet certain qualifications as defined by the bylaws of the parish. The presiding officer of the vestry is the rector. The basic responsibilities of the vestry are to help define and articulate the mission of the parish; to support the church’s mission by word and deed, to select the rector, to ensure effective organization and planning, and to manage resources and finances.

Subcommittees of the Vestry: Typically each vestry officer has an area of responsibility. For example, the vestry financial person manages the finances of the church with the aid and assistance of an elected Treasurer and other volunteers assigned to the finance committee. In some cases, subcommittees can take autonomous action and at other times they require full vestry approval before an action is taken as governed by the bylaws. Responsibilities cover all aspects of parish life so there is a place for anyone in this volunteer subcommittee structure.

Additional Sunday tasks: Volunteers also help with the social and administrative aspects of Sunday worship. These opportunities occur before, during, or after the sanctuary celebration occurs, depending on the nature of the need. Sunday school teaching, nursery supervision, coffee hour hosting and clean up, communion bread baking, and money counting all fall into this list and all require volunteers.

Serving at other times, often on your schedule

Newcomer welcome: St. Francis is a growing church with an expanding influence. If you love to meet people, help us welcome new people and visitors to the parish. You never know when it will be your words and deeds that make a difference for someone else in a positive, caring way.

Sympathy card writing: Volunteers help the clergy to keep those in need in our thoughts and prayers. This is one way you can help do that.

Prayer shawl preparation: This is another way to help those in need. Periodically prayer shawls are blessed during the Eucharist and then given to comfort those in need to let them know that St. Francis is thinking of them.  

prayer shawls

Pastoral Care Teams: Still another way to serve. We reach out to each other in times of need or celebration with gentle words, personal touches, and home-cooked meals. Being on a Pastoral Care Team gives you that opportunity helping those in need.

Funeral receptions:...it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” The end of life happens as surely as the sun rises and falls, and St. Francis is routinely involved in these moments for grieving family and friends. Serve here and you’d make a difference.

Maintenance and cleaning: We always need the routine tasks of building and grounds maintenance done through volunteer help. Perhaps it is deep cleaning that is done. On other times, the need is grounds maintenance or beautification of the cemetery. If you have these talents from God, think about pitching in to help. You'll see these efforts scheduled by the Junior Warden as the needs arise.