- Written by Alison Woodward Alison Woodward
- Created: 25 May 2011 25 May 2011
The Acolyte ministry has its roots in the Old Testament, where young Samuel is seen assisting Eli in the temple, and Elisha is seen assisting Elijah the Prophet. The word “acolyte” is derived from the Greek word acolytos, meaning companion, attendant or helper. Acolytes serve as a companion to the pastor, performing a number of important duties before, during and at the close of the worship service.
The responsibilities of an acolyte include leading the entrance, or processional, and exit, or recessional, helping to prepare and distribute the Eucharist, helping during special services throughout the year and preparing the church for worship as they light the altar candles.
Acolytes will find their perspective on worship altered dramatically. For example, did you know that the altar is the symbol of the meeting between God and His people and a place of God’s action? Bowing before the altar is an act of reverence and respect for the Lord. The altar candles are also symbolic. The right side is the “Epistle” side, and is lit first. The left side of the altar is the “Gospel” side. The Paschal candle is the large decorative candle used during Easter to show the presence of the risen Christ among His people. It is also, therefore, used at baptisms and funerals as a sign of the Christian’s dying and rising with Christ.
Together with the clergy, choir, band, lay ministers and lay readers, acolytes are leaders of the liturgy. The acolyte’s role is to create the right space and mood for worship. They are visible leaders and, as such, can help other people to follow along with the service. The congregation depends on acolytes and appreciates this special ministry. This is why acolytes take their responsibility seriously and dress and act accordingly.
But while being an acolyte is a big responsibility, it’s also a joyous experience. At Saint John’s, acolyting is a ministry that is especially suitable for young people. As youth begin to transition from childhood into adulthood, the church asks them to begin taking on new and greater responsibilities in the life of the congregation. Acolyting is a very spiritually-fulfilling opportunity, and all eligible youth are encouraged to participate. The acolytes serve based on a rotation from a list of active acolytes and depending on the number of youth available to acolyte for each style of service they serve once a month or so. The acolytes serve during the service time their family prefers.
I am thankful for each of the acolytes who serve the church so willingly. I also encourage you to please take time on Sundays to thank them for their service.
Christ is our greatest example of being a servant to others, from what He taught and how He lived. Developing a servant heart is one way each of us can work on being more Christ-like. God gives believers of every age the means to accomplish his or her called upon duty by filling them with the Holy Spirit.
Saint John’s Board of Worship and the Arts oversees the details of the congregation’s worship life.