How to be an Acolyte
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
10:30 am service
Thank you for serving as an acolyte! This is a very important ministry and we are grateful for your offering to lead the congregation in this way. You are co-leaders of the service so your cheerful, attentive, prayerful, smiling presence is so appreciated! This is just to be clear about what is expected of you as an acolyte.
- Arrive 5 minutes (really!) before the service. (Stay in Godly Play until 10:25 a.m.) Put on robe (alb) and rope (cincture) and go quickly to the back of the church to lead the procession.
- At the back of the church, pick up the 10:30am cross, and stand in the aisle. When people start singing, walk all the way to the steps and pause for a second or two. Then move up the steps to the right. Put the cross in its holder between the credence table and the rood screen.
- About processing and recessing, take your time. What feels like a good pace to the leader is often way too fast for the end of the line. Don’t leave your followers in the dust.
- If there are two acolytes, the junior one simply follows behind the crucifer.
- If there are three acolytes, 2 acolytes are also Torchbearers (candle carriers). Each gets a torch and processes up the aisle directly behind the crucifer (cross-bearer). Try to keep the torches at the same height. Stop for a moment at the bottom of the steps; then go to the right, put your torches in the stands near the pulpit, and take your seats. Your seats are on the bench by the pulpit.
- You are one of the leaders of the service. Please stand when we stand, sing when we sing, kneel when we kneel, etc.
- During the gradual hymn look to the deacon for directions on when to begin the gospel procession. (He will try to time it so the song is finished when you have arrived in the middle of the church). If there are three of you (yay!) then the most experienced of you will lead the torches and the deacon to the middle of the pews, then hold the gospel book for the deacon to read from. If there are only two of you, then each acolyte gets a torch and moves to the center of the pews for the reading of the gospel. Please make the torches about the same height. If there is only one acolyte, hold the gospel book for the deacon to read from.
- When the gospel is finished, follow the deacon back up the aisle and return the torches to their stands and go to your seat.
- After passing the peace, move to the altar and be attentive to the deacon (or the priest if no deacon is present). He or she will ask for you to hand him the cup (chalice), the plate (paten), and the hand sanitizer. He will accept the bread and wine from whomever brings it to the altar, and hand you the stopper from the top of the wine. None of this is done in any particular order.
- Look to see when the ushers begin to walk toward the altar with the full offering plates. At that time, get the big plate and stand in front of the altar, facing the congregation. The Ushers will put 2 plates in your big plate, and you hand them across the altar to the deacon. Then go around to the side of the altar and the deacon will hand you the plate, which you place on the bottom shelf of the credence table (which is the one behind the altar).
- Get the pumper bottle off of the credence table and give a squirt into the hands of everyone around the altar.
- When the priest asks the congregation to stand, come stand with the chalice bearers in a semi-circle behind her at the altar. Stay there, paying attention to what’s happening, while prayers are said over the bread and wine.
- The priest will give you bread and wine. After you have received communion, the deacon will give you the container with the gluten free crackers in it. You’ll take this and stand at the bottom of the stairs, ready for the bread bearer to ask you for the container if someone in their line would like gluten free.
- Keep an eye on the chalice bearers and bread bearers. When they need more wine or bread, take some to them. Try to make sure the chalices stay at least half full.
- When Eucharist is done, be attentive again to the deacon. He will need your help cleaning up the table.
- The deacon will give you a clue about when to get the cross and candles and begin the recessional. (He’s going to try to time it so the song is finished when the priest reaches the last pew). Once again, as you lead the recessional don’t leave your followers in the dust. Wait for the choir to file out of their pews and catch up with you. At the back of the church put away the cross. If you are carrying candles, do not stop at the back of the church—instead, walk up the side aisle and return your candles to the candle-holders under the pulpit. Go up the side aisle to the sacristy.
- Wait until the music is done and then use the candle-snuffer to put out the candles.
We are using a database called Ministry Pro Scheduler for our lay ministry scheduling. Anne Hanson coordinates this for us and you will see emails coming from her at email@example.com . When you sign up to be a lay minister, Anne will send you a login & password for the Pro Scheduler, along with some other basic info. There will be link to a short video about how to use the scheduler. It lets you do things like select the services you want to serve at & what lay ministry positions you’re interested in, put in blackout dates, delete a ministry you no longer want to serve on, etc. It’s flexible & user friendly!
Every month you’ll receive an email from the Pro scheduler (that looks like it comes from Anne). It tells you the next month’s schedule is ready. You can then login and go to MY SCHEDULE (to see what service(s) you’re assigned to) or FULL SCHEDULE (to see what the whole monthly schedule looks like.
If you’ve been assigned to a service and you can’t serve then, go to the MY SCHEDULE tab and click on REQUEST SUB button next to the date/time you can’t serve. The system will send an email to everyone who does the same ministry at the same time. (For example, if you’re a reader for the 10:30 service and click that you need a sub on a specific date, the Pro Scheduler will send an email to all other readers who can possibly read at that service on that date.) If one of those people can serve for you, they will click a link on the email that they receive and, voila, you’ll get an email back, the person subing for you will also get a confirming email and the schedule will automatically update so that the schedule everyone looks at will be the most recent one.
Sometimes there are some slots that didn’t fill in the schedule. If you’d like to fill any of them, please look at the FULL SCHEDULE tab & click on any of the VOLUNTEER NOW spots that you’d like to sign up for.
Anne Hanson will be happy to answer any questions, so please don’t hesitate to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.