Acolytes have been serving churches for a very long time. In the year 251, A.D., there were 42 acolytes serving in the churches of Rome. The word acolyte comes from a Greek word meaning helper. Acolytes assist the ministers in leading worship. It is a very important task.
At Swansboro UMC, our acolyte program begins when our youth are usually in sixth grade. Young people receive training as acolytes as a part of their confirmation training, and serve through high school. Acolytes are trained by Mrs. Jane Cotton.
The most frequent job of an acolyte is to light and extinguish the candles used during worship. Since Old Testament times, fire and light have reminded people that God is with us. When an acolyte brings in the fire, it is a reminder to all of us that God is present with us. At the end of worship, an acolyte relights the candle lighter and carries the fire reverently out of the worship space to remind us that when we scatter out into the world, God will be there with us, too. The light of Christ goes with us as we leave the church building. One acolyte each service serves as a crucifer who leads us into and out from worship with a processional cross.
Acolytes also help with special services at Christmas and Easter.