Acolyte Volunteer Description

2013 – 2014 Acolyte Handbook

Thank you for your interest in becoming an acolyte at Cross of Christ Lutheran Church!  As a Cross of Christ acolyte, you will be joining the ranks of those who have helped with the worship service since the year 250 A.D. Some say that acolytes have an even longer history—that Samuel, who assisted Eli in the Old Testament Temple was really the first acolyte.

The word acolyte means a “companion” or “one who helps.” If you accept this position you will be serving as a companion or helper to your pastor: performing a number of important functions before, during, and at the close of the worship service. You therefore, will be a minister of Cross of Christ bringing to each worship service a special ministry.  Read the following information carefully and if you are interested in becoming an acolyte please click here to contact Natalie Flowers.

WHAT DO ACOLYTES DO?
Acolytes keep the worship services running smoothly.  As an acolyte, you assist the worship leaders and the congregation in worship.  There are a few duties that are part of virtually every service and that are the same (or similar) every time, but as an acolyte you will occasionally be called upon to do things above and beyond that normal routine.  The important thing is that you learn to be flexible, so that you can be called upon at any time to do something that needs to be done.

HOW SHOULD ACOLYTES BEHAVE?
Since you are assisting the congregation in worshiping God, you should be on your best behavior.  Because you are in front of the congregation most of the time, you will be setting an example for others.  That means that you need to pay attention during worship, participate together with the congregation, sit when everyone sits, stand when everyone stands, etc.  No chewing gum, no playing with your cincture (rope), no fidgeting, slouching, and goofing around.  Remember that you are dealing with holy items during worship.  Treat them properly, with respect and reverence.

WHAT DO ACOLYTES WEAR?
It depends on what type of service for which you will be an acolyte.  For our first two service (8:00 am and 9:00 am), which are more traditional, you will wear an alb (robe), a cincture (rope), and a cross necklace.  For our contemporary service (11:15 am service), wear the clothes that you wear to church.  Either way (with or without the alb) dress nicely.

Remember that you are serving God and God wants to see you at your very best, which includes wearing your good clothes.  You should also try to make sure that your hair is combed, you’ve brushed your teeth, etc.

BEFORE THE SERVICE
1. Arrive 15 minutes before the service.  Put on a robe, a rope, and an acolyte cross found in the Library.  At the 11:15 am service you do not need to Robe.

2. Be sure your hair is combed and NEVER CHEW GUM.  Your shoes are the only piece of clothing that show beneath your robe.  Please wear appropriately nice shoes and clothing.  No Running around, after you are robed!

3. Take a bulletin and a sermon note (if in confirmation) and place them on the acolyte chair. (Last two chairs in row, next to table).  At the 11:15 am service, you may sit with your family.

4. The Candle Lighters are found against the wall by the Sacristy or in the library closet.  Be sure the taper in the candle lighter is long enough.  If it is not, check with Altar Guild or the Pastors for replacement tapers.

5. Check with the Pastors in the Narthex for any special instructions.

6. Meet with Pastors and Assisting Minister in the Narthex for a short prayer (8:00 am service only)

AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SERVICE
1. Hold the candle lighter, slightly tipped, with the bell pointing back toward you and the taper pointing away from you, toward the Altar.  One hand should be near the bottom of the staff and the other where it can adjust the knob that regulates the length of the taper.  If the taper is too long, the flame could grow larger than needed.  If the taper is too short, the flame could go out.  Usually 1” – 2” is a good length.

2.    As the prelude begins.  Walk in a dignified and unhurried manner up the center aisle toward the altar.  Keep your head up and your eyes straight ahead.  (11:15 am service—light candles during the Opening Song)

3.   When you reach the front of the church, before you step up, pause and look reverently at the cross for a moment.  Then, bow your head.

4.   Step up to the altar. Light your Taper from the Eternal Light on the Altar.   Back away from the Eternal Candle and move toward the center of the Altar.  Pause again for a time of reverence.

5.   Light the right candle (sacristy side candle) first by holding the candle lighter so that the taper is horizontal and touches the wick.  Hold the taper on the wick until you are sure the candle is lit.

6. Go to the front of the Altar again and pause for a moment of reverence.  Now light the left candle (pulpit side candle).

7. When there is a Baptism or during the Easter Season, after lighting the candles on the wall, move to the Paschal Candle, and light it.

8.  During Christmas Season, then move to the Advent Wreath and light the outside candles first and then the Christ Candle.

9.  Snuff out the flame of your candle lighter by moving the taper  down.  Turn toward the cross and bow your head.

10. Go to the acolyte’s chair.  Carefully and quietly place the candle lighter under your chair.

OFFERING (All Services)
1. After the sharing of the Peace, the Pastor will have the congregation  sit , and special music begins.

2. Pick up the offering plates.

3. Go to the front of the chancel area in the center.  Stay on the bottom step waiting for the ushers to approach you.

4. Give each usher two plates or let the ushers take the plates from the stack you are holding.  (11:15 am service—take only two plates, one for each usher)

5. Return to the acolyte chair.

6. After the Offering Special Music, when the Offertory begins, join one of the pastors to the front of the chancel and receive the offering plates from the ushers.

7. Turn inward to face the altar, raise plates towards the altar signifying offering our gifts to God.

8.  Go and put plates on the table next to your chair and then sit down.

COMMUNION (8:00 am & 9:00 am)
1. After the Lord’s Prayer, the Pastor will invite the congregation to be seated and the communion assistants forward.

2. Go and pick up a communion basket and come behind the altar with the Pastors and Communion Assistants.

3. After receiving communion or a blessing, go around and collect the glasses in the basket.

4. Return the basket to the stand and then you may be seated.

AT THE CLOSE OF THE SERVICE
1. As the closing hymn is beginning, take the candle lighter from under your seat and point the bell away from you.

2. Wait until the congregation starts singing.  Go to the front of the altar, bow your head and pause for reverence.

3. Extinguish the candles in the reverse order that you lit them.  Begin with the left candle.  Go back to the front of the Altar, pause for reverence, and then extinguish the right candle.

4.  Extinguish the candles with great care.  Hold bell over candles for a few seconds, or until you see smoke.

5.  Turn, walk down the steps from the altar.  Pause, bow your head in reverence to the cross, turn and proceed down the center aisle to the Narthex.

**If the Paschal Candle is lit, extinguish candle before leaving.  Need to hold bell over candle for longer than usual.

**During Advent and Christmas, extinguish Advent wreath as well.

6. At the close of the service, walk up the side aisle and return the candle lighter to its stand.  And return robe to the narthex closet and hang up the acolyte cross on the wall.

11:15 AM SERVICE
1. You do not need to wear an alb (robe).  Please dress in appropriate church clothes.

2. Get candle lighter and sit with parents.

3. During first song, light candles.  Follow earlier instructions.

4. Return to sit with your parents.  Carefully and quietly place the candle lighter under your chair.

5. Please assist with the offering.  Follow earlier instructions.

6.   You do not need to help with Communion.

7.   At the end of the service during the last song.   Follow earlier instructions.

Final “Words of Wisdom”
**  Remember, these are just guidelines to help you figure out what you need to do.  Circumstances change, and so you have to be flexible and ready to improvise if things are not the way they are described here.

**  As long as you try to do the right things, and do everything in a reverent fashion, people will appreciate your help in the service.  We are all only human, so do not worry if you make a little mistake.

Congratulations!
If you have read this entire handbook, you probably know more about being an acolyte than most people in the congregation, and you will be thoroughly prepared to serve as an acolyte.

NOTES FOR THE PARENTS
This handbook was designed to be a tool for parents and youth alike.  Hopefully, it will answer any last minute questions your acolyte may have.    Please use it to refresh your child’s memory.  Often little details are forgotten when an acolyte has not served in several weeks.

Being an acolyte is a special task entrusted to our young people.  Indeed they are ministers of Cross of Christ.  For this reason we hope you and your acolyte will take his or her responsibility seriously.

Parents can help in these ways:
1.      Keep the handbook in a safe place so that it can be readily used.

2.      Carefully check the worship schedule when it first comes out.  If there are scheduling conflicts, you and your youth have the responsibility of finding someone to trade dates with you and letting the church office know of any changes the Wednesday before you are scheduled to serve.

3.      Natalie Flowers, our Congregational Life Coordinator is there to help you if you are having difficulty locating a substitute please click here to contact her.

4.      Last minute emergencies do happen.  When you first realize that your acolyte will not make it to the church on time, please call the church.

5.      Help your acolyte to perform his or her duties by ensuring they are at the church 15 minutes before the service.