Have you ever noticed the number of young people and adults who participate in our worship service at St. Francis? An important ministry for our youth and for people of all ages is service as an acolyte. The word “acolyte” means “helper”, and these young people perform a valuable service in helping those in charge of the service with their responsibilities. They may carry candles, banners, or a processional cross as the ministers and choir enter the church at the beginning of the service. They assist with the Gospel Procession when it is read from the center of the church. They also help with receiving the offerings from the congregation, and assist the priest with his or her duties at the Altar.
Any children of the parish who are eight years old or older are eligible to become an acolyte. Our Acolyte Trainer will see that they receive proper instruction and are placed on a rotating list to serve. Those just beginning as acolytes are assigned simple duties, and learn more complex ones as they gain experience. Contact the Rector for more information.
What is an acolyte?
A long time ago, the church decided that priests should be assisted by specially trained persons when Christians gathered to worship. As early as the fourth century, priests were being assisted by persons who had such titles as deacons, subdeacons, cantors, readers, and doorkeepers. Not long after that came acolytes – persons trained to carry the cross and candles and incense in procession and to assist the other worship leaders during the service. Some say that acolytes have an even longer history – that Samuel, who assisted Eli in the Old Testament temple, was really the first acolyte.
Acolytes are needed as worship assistants. It’s not because priests are overworked every Sunday. It’s because worship is a group event, where all come together offering their gifts and talents and skills and abilities in the praise of God. Acolytes are needed because their training and skills as worship leaders are needed. Acolytes are needed because they have a special ministry to perform at each service. Acolytes are needed to:
- help get the church ready for worship
- know what’s supposed to happen and help it happen
- do their tasks with reverence and care
- make it obvious that worship is a holy event
- let every word and action declare the glory of God
- let a deep love for God and God’s holy church be always apparent during worship
- put everything in place following the service
Acolytes are, therefore, ministers of the church. They are much more than just candle lighters and offering receivers. They are part of a long tradition in the Christian church, bringing to each celebration of the liturgy a necessary, useful and special ministry. That’s a tradition worth protecting and preserving.
At St. Francis’, we welcome anyone ages 8 or older to serve as acolytes. Please contact Susan Reamy or the Rector for more information.