The Service of Acolyting

The following is a weekly Rector’s Notes article for October 1, 2018

“The first time I acolyted, the priest told me the following, and I’m going to tell it to you too: if everyone gets everything correct today without a single mistake, we will all drop dead and go straight to heaven. Well, I’ve been doing this for over 20 years and I haven’t seen it happen yet!”

This is my first memory of acolyting. Fr. Bosley told me this little tidbit in his office on my first Sunday as an acolyte as the other acolytes and servers gathered together before the service. I’ve always remembered this because it did exactly what he intended, it took just a bit of the nerves off and I was able to enjoy my experience as an acolyte for the very first time. It also stood as a bit of a mythical challenge, not one to ever reach, but an ideal to which I could try and live up to (much like being a follower of Christ in general).

To me, serving as an acolyte was one of the greatest joys I had in church as a child and a youth. I was roped into serving in the most minor ways at my grandparent’s church in Ephrata, WA, where the only memories I have of those experiences are the pictures because I was so young. Once I reached “appropriate acolyte age” at St. Martin’s in Moses Lake, I was very excited to have the responsibility of service that came with being a very visual and present part of the ceremony we celebrate every week.

I continued to serve as an acolyte even as our parish got even smaller than it already was and I became one of a handful, often serving multiple weeks in a row as the only acolyte. But I didn’t mind for a couple of reasons: 1) I was a weird kid who really liked church but also 2) serving as an acolyte was an opportunity for me to be responsible for a part of the service, and that is a powerful experience for anyone of any age, and that’s what acolyting is really all about.

Acolyting, to me at least, is about having the responsibility to present our liturgy and service to all of those who come to church every Sunday. Acolytes are more than the helpers of the clergy, or the leaders of the procession, they are an integral part of welcoming all into the worship experience each week. Acolytes serve the congregation as much as they serve the clergy, creating the visual worship experience that is such an important part of the Episcopal Church liturgy.

This is where you come in. If you, or your child, or a good friend of yours, might be a great fit for this ministry, then please sign up for one of our two upcoming acolyte trainings on either Saturday November 3 or Saturday November 17 from 10am-Noon with lunch provided afterwards. Anyone from age 7 to 77+ is welcome to join us, as this ministry of service is one that we can all take part in and share a gift to the rest of the congregation. I look forward to seeing our acolyte corp grow stronger and even begin to implement more complexity and responsibility into our weekly liturgy (I’m currently on the hunt for an experienced thurifer or at least someone who is willing to learn!).

I hope you may find a calling to serve our church in this way, and I look forward to seeing you at one of the trainings!

Please RSVP to me, Fr. Nic, at nic@sslv.org so I can have an accurate count for lunch!

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