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The ministry of acolytes comes from ancient times, beginning as early as 250 CE. When an acolyte today lights a candle or carries the cross, they enter the tradition of people who have loved and served God and the church for more than 17 centuries.
Acolytes are mentioned as a minor order as early as a letter of Pope Cornelius to Fabius of Antioch in 252. They were also mentioned in Cyprian’s writings. They assisted deacons or subdeacons at the preparation of the table. Later they carried candles in processions. In Rome, they carried fragments of the bread consecrated at the papal Mass to other churches. In the late middle ages, when candles began to appear upon altars, they lighted the altar candles. Eventually, lay servers or sacristans performed duties earlier associated with acolytes, and the order of acolyte was normally conferred upon a candidate for priesthood in the course of his training. The minor orders were not perpetuated in Anglicanism. Some of the duties earlier performed by persons in the minor order of acolyte were taken over by lay clerks. In the later nineteenth century, the clerks were suppressed and their duties were largely taken over by lay “acolytes” and sacristans or altar guilds.
Adult Acolytes - Sundays 9:00am & 11:15am
Acolytes at St. Mary’s support worship on Sundays at the 9:00 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. services as well as special services by serving as crucifers, torchbearers, thurifers, book bearers, banner bearers, and clergy assistants.
Youth Acolytes - 9:00am Once a Month
Youth acolytes are assigned to teams of 6-8 that serve once a month at the 9:00 a.m. service.
Adult and youth acolytes sign up monthly serve at the 11:15 service.
Youth age 6th grade and up and adults are invited to serve.
Adult acolytes are particularly needed to support the 11:15 a.m. service.
Contact email@example.com to learn more.
Did you know there is a ministry dedicated to the care of the altar, vestments, vessels, and altar linens?
For those who prefer to work in quiet, alone, or with a few others, the Altar Guild is a lovely way to participate in the services. Members generally commit to one week each month, helping to set up for and clean up after the services — arranging chalices and linens, setting them out for worship, then cleaning and putting them away.
For some, this is a meditative time; others enjoy working around the sacred objects; still, others participate as a team, serving with a friend. Training is provided.
Worship at St. Mary’s involves the participation of not only the clergy and the assembled congregation, but also the support, assistance, and coordination of several dedicated groups. These people work behind the scenes to prepare items needed for worship, and they participate in the service itself.
Ushers welcome visitors and congregation members, pass out service leaflets, take up the collection, guide people during communion and clean up after each service. They must be helpful and friendly, with the strength to stand for several hours. Most ushers sign up for a monthly rotation and all are asked to be on hand for major services such as All Saints’, Christmas and Easter.
All of St. Mary’s flower arrangements seen at worship services including weddings, funerals, and Church festival days are done in-house by the Flower Guild.
As you can see from this past year’s Christmas preparations, arrangements begin with the barest of concepts and the full idea gradually comes into full focus after a section is completed. While many volunteers are needed at Christmas and other major feast days to arrange and hang flowers and greens, typically small teams from the Flower Guild rotate throughout the year create our Sunday arrangements in the Nave.
How to Get Involved
Contact St. Mary’s Flower Guild Lay Leader Nancy Murphy at (703) 532‐4266 or Nancy.B.Murphy@gmail.com to let her know your interest in joining the Flower Guild.
Consider attending the Washington National Cathedral’s annual flower seminar on church floral arranging.
St. Mary’s depends on parishioner donations to pay for flower arrangements throughout the year. We welcome individuals to remember a loved one or commemorate a birth, birthday or a special anniversary with a flower donation. If you include the person or event you are recognizing on the memo line of your check or online Tithe.ly gift, we can include your text in the Worship Bulletin.