Acolytes are young people who play an integral part in the church services. They learn about the service and its meanings as they learn how to become acolytes. Acolytes are involved in the Processional, the Gospel Reading, the Offertory, the Holy Eucharist (Communion) and the Recessional. Each have duties during the different parts of the service.
During Processionals and Recessionals, acolytes carry...
- The cross (crucifer)
- Candles (torches)
- The Episcopal Church and American flags (flag)
- The Gospel
- The Liturgy
- Bear incense (thurifer) - (usually only during special
"High Mass" ceremonies, such as Easter and Christmas)
During the first half of the Gradual Hymn in the service, four
acolytes (the crucifer, the Gospel and the two "torches") precede
the priest partway down the aisle for the reading of the Gospel.
The congregation stops singing the Gradual Hymn after the second
verse. During the reading, the acolyte holds the gospel while it is
being read by the priest. The "torches" stand on either side, facing
the Gospel. Thecrucifer (cross) stands behind the Gospel during the reading. After the reading, the congregation finishes singing the Gradual Hymn while the acolytes return the cross, torches, and Gospel book to the altar, where they return to their seats for the Sermon and remainder of the service.
"Torches" also light the candles on the altar before the service and pass the offering plates from the priest to the ushers during the Offertory and return them to the priest.
In addition to carrying the cross, the crucifer assists the rector with the preparation of the holy sacraments during communion.