St. Brendan's Episcopal Church
3rd Grade - 12th Grade Acolyte Program
The word "acolyte" is derived from the word "akolouthos," which is the ancient Greek word for an attendant or helper. Acolyte duties may differ from church to church, but the most important duty of an Episcopalian acolyte is to be an attentive worshipper and leader during church services. During the course of the program year, new acolytes must attend a training program prior to taking on full acolyte duties.
Acolytes are responsible for lighting the candles prior to the start of church services. Candles can be lit in any order from right to left or vice-versa. Candles are typically lit by acolytes approximately 15 minutes before the start of services. During some periods of religious observance, such as Advent, Christmas, and Lent, special candles may join those normally on the altar. For weddings, baptisms and funerals, as well as the entire Easter season, acolytes will light the Paschal candle. This candle must be lit before all other candles and extinguished after the rest of the altar candles have been snuffed.
When beginning and ending Episcopal services, acolytes have several significant duties. The first acolyte, known as the crucifier, carries a long staff topped with a cross. Two acolytes known as torchbearers walk two steps behind the crucifier and carry mounted candles. Depending on the liturgical traditions of the church, torchbearers may also be asked to carry Episcopal church banners or the American flag. If the American flag is carried in the procession, it must always be to the right of any other flag. After proceeding down the aisle, acolytes will place these objects in their proper stands, retrieving them and exiting in the same order during the Gospel reading and the recessional. A fourth acolyte, known as the server, carries a bible or order of services book, which he or she places on the altar.
For more information on our Acolyte Program, please contact the church office.