Acolyte Guide

Acolytes - Eileen Hicks   


Acolyte service is easy and fun. There are only two rules. First, worship during the service. Second, arrive on time. It’s that easy! Call Eileen Hicks if you are interested in serving as an acolyte at Trinity.

This Acolyte Guide describes acolyte duties in detail and offers a few pointers to help you remember your responsibilities.


Acolyte Prayer

Lord, you love me deeply and in ways I can never really understand; give me grace to serve You during worship so I can actually worship You while I serve and not worry too much about what I am supposed to do; I ask this prayer in Jesus' name. Amen.

Acolyte Customary

Please be at the church 15 minutes before the service and robe immediately! Check in with either the acolyte warden or the verger for any last minute instructions.

Go into the sanctuary, acknowledge the altar, and light the candles if they are not already lit. Ask the acolyte warden or verger any questions you have about the arrangements.

If you are the crucifer, carry the processional cross out the doors by the sacristy and over to the (middle)liturgical doors.

Nine o’clock service procession (line up is for both processions, at the start of the service and at the end of the service):






Someone carrying the Gospel Book


(Bishop Chaplain)


A "routine" Sunday service will not have all the members listed above but the order stays the same. If you are working alone, ask the acolyte warden or verger to assign someone to carry the Gospel Book.

The priest or the verger will signal the crucifer when to start the procession. Lift the cross high and walk up to the altar. Pause slightly at the altar, turn slowly to your right and lead the choir to their seats. Place the cross in the holder and remain standing until the reading of the lessons. Participate in the service.

On "routine" Sundays, after the psalm, there will be a Gospel procession during the singing of the sequence hymn. Pick up the processional cross, and proceed to stand beside the Celebrant. The celebrant or verger will nod to you when to start. Lift the cross high and walk to the center aisle. Turn right and pause, acknowledging the altar. Turn around and proceed out the center aisle for 4 pews. Stop and turn so you are facing the altar. Rest the cross on the floor while the Gospel is read. When the hymn starts again, either follow everyone else, acknowledging the altar with a pause, or if they step to the side, lead them back to their seats.

After the announcements, birthday prayers, and wedding aniversary prayers it's time for the main acolyte duties-helping to set the table for communion.  First, pick up the offering (silver) plates and give them to the ushers.  The ushers should give you a piece of paper with the attendance on it.  Give this to the deacon or priest at the altar.  Next, get the gold bread box from the oblationers and give that to the deacon or priest at the altar.  Finally, get the wine and water from the oblationers and stand by the deacon/priest at the altar.  They will take the wine first and then the water cruet.  Stay there-they will hand you back the water.  Take it to the credence table, pick up the silver lavabo bowl and towel and prepare to "wash" the priest's hands.  After that it's time to go to the front of the altar and retrieve the offering plates from the ushers.  Hand these to the priest and stand there until they are returned to you.  Place them back where you got them from and go take your place in the pew.  Good job!

Take communion with the rest of the altar party if you are baptized, otherwise you will receive a blessing.  Return to your seat until time to leave the church at the recessional song.  Retrieve the processional cross and lead the deacons and priest down the center aisle.Bring the processional cross over to the sacristy doors. Return the cross to its holder and you are done. Hang up your robe carefully and thank you for serving. At the 11:00am service, the procession in and out of the church is much simpler. Still, walk slowly and hold the cross high. Acknowledge the altar with a slight pause, both entering and exiting the church. There is no Gospel procession. Altar service is the same as noted above.

The verger will be available to help you with any questions before, during, or after the service. If you are acolyting alone, the verger may step forward to help you move the elements to the altar, but the acolyte would still do the offering plates. The verger will try to anticipate anything unusual in the service prior to the start of the service and will talk to you about it. Feel free to ask questions of the verger, and/or ask them to actually walk you through any changes before the service starts. The verger is there to increase everyone's comfort level in knowing and anticipating what needs to be done to have a meaningful worship service for everyone.

Thank you for being an acolyte. You are a significant part of the worship of the Episcopal Church and we hope it is important to you.

Special Acolyte Words

Altar - The big, wooden table in the front of the sanctuary.

Aumbry - A secure receptacle holding the reserve sacrament and the holy oil. Our Aumbry is in the brick wall near the altar.

Celebrant - The priest who leads the service and wears the chasuble.

Chalice - The silver wine cup that holds the communion wine.

Chasuble - The special, colored poncho-like vestment worn by the celebrant.

Ciborium - Covered vessel holding the reserve sacrament. Ours is silver, looks like a silver wine glass with a lid and is kept in the aumbry.

Communion - The sacrament's of the Lord's Supper: bread and wine. Communion also refers to the whole second half of our worship, beginning with the offertory.

Communion Rail - The two rails on either side of the altar.

Communion Set - The vessels needed to celebrate communion: chalice, paten, corporal and purificator.

Corporal - A large white linen napkin which is spread upon the altar, upon which the chalice and paten are placed at the beginning of communion.

Credence Table - Small table near the altar used to hold the communion set before and after communion.

Crucifer - The person who carries the processional cross at the head of the procession.

Cruet of Wine - The small glass flasks used to hold wine that has already been blessed in the aumbry.

Eucharist - From the Greek, meaning "thanksgiving." One of the names for our worship service on Sunday. The Eucharist has two parts; one, liturgy of the Word (when we read scripture and pray) and Communion.

Flagon - The big, pitcher-shaped vessel in which wine is consecrated at the Eucharist.

Font - A ceremonial basin into which water flows or is poured for the use of Baptism. We have a font in back of the sanctuary used for baptisms.

Luminary - The person carrying the torch.

Narthex - The area between the wooden outside doors and the first entry way into the sanctuary where the columbariums are located.

Offertory - The part of the service that begins communion, during which the gifts of bread and wine and money are brought to the altar.

Offertory Anthem - The song that the choir sings during the offertory.

Offertory Sentences - The sentence that the priest says to begin the offertory.

Paten - A shallow silver dish upon which communion bread is placed.

Presentation Hymn - The hymn that the congregation sings while the gifts of bread, wine and money are being brought forward to the altar.

Plates - Big silver plates used to collect the money during the offertory.

Purificator - A small linen napkin used to wipe the lip of the chalice during communion.

Reserve Sacrament - Consecrated bread and wine, set aside in the aumbry to be used to visit the sick.

Sacraments - Outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ, as sure and certain means by which we receive the assurance of that grace.

Torch - Wooden pole with candle on the end. Carried in procession by the Luminary.



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