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Serving in CofE Church

(13 Posts)
user1479731162 Wed 23-Nov-16 11:47:20

I've recently started serving in Church - as Acolyte or Crucifer - and I'm finding it all rather terrifiying. I'm so nervous about making mistakes and sometimes find myself saying, over and over in my head, things like "Don't drop the candle". I worry that I'm doing things wrong and our Vicar is far too polite and kind to say anything about it. Our Church is Anglo-Catholic and the services are very formal.
There are, of course, parts of serving that I love: standing so close to the Altar while the Communion is being prepared feels like such a privilege: sitting next to the wonderful choir and being able to sing as loud as I like without feeling self conscious; being one of the 1st to receive Communion and enjoying 10 minutes of peace while the rest of the congregation are queuing up.
Can anyone share their experience of serving and give me any tips to calm me down?

Seeline Wed 23-Nov-16 11:53:16

I served during my youth as acolyte, crucifer and the one above that whose name I have forgotten (it was a while ago, and my church life since then has been rather 'lower' with no servers etc).
The best advice I got from the person who trained me was to do everything with utter purpose and conviction, with your hands together, and no one will ever notice if anything goes wrong.
I think it was the right advice. During my time we had all sorts of things go wrong - things in the wrong place, visiting clergy doing things 'differently', the wine being spilt whilst being brought up to the alter, the vessels not being taken to the back of the church to be returned during the service to name a few. I can honestly say that all events were rectified without the vast majority of the congregation being aware of anything going wrong. Most are only vaguely aware of your being there, and don't really know whether something is right or wrong.

user1479731162 Wed 23-Nov-16 12:41:14

Thank you Seeline. I'm sure you're right about the congregation not noticing anything. I think I'm more concerned about letting down the Vicar!
My 10 year old son also serves as an acolyte and seems very relaxed about it all.

I've worked with rookie servers and those who have been doing it for 100 years and I can say with 100% confidence that the congregation will not notice what you are doing. I work on the basis that if something is missing I can ask for it and if I've had a senior moment and gone off piste the senior server will tell me. If you look attentive and bow at everything it covers most things. Enjoy.

Tomorrowillbeachicken Thu 24-Nov-16 12:51:47

I used to serve at church when I was younger and TBH even though our church was formal they took the odd mishap in their stride.
As an adult I don't think I ever really noticed the servers.

user1479731162 Thu 24-Nov-16 21:51:23

Thanks Greenheart. I guess you're a vicar? It's good to hear things from your point of view. I'll try to enjoy more and worry less! We have a few children but mostly adults on the serving team. Is that unusual?

Seeline Fri 25-Nov-16 08:12:02

30 years ago, when I used to serve, you had to be confirmed. That generally didn't happen until you were 13/14 or older then, so not young children. Things have probably changed over the years though.....

redfairy Fri 25-Nov-16 08:27:12

My DD age 15 has been serving in various roles for the last seven years. Our previous vicar liked to get the older children to do it as it kept them involved in the service.
DD has had many mishaps over the years...ringing the bells at the wrong time, dropping the incense, candle going out and not being able to relight it with the clicky thing. Most of passes the congregation by so I wouldn't worry. We're human aren't we? God bless your son for taking it all in his stride and to you for being brave enough to serve.

IrenetheQuaint Fri 25-Nov-16 08:33:12

As long as you don't puke over the communion vessels when the Bishop is visiting you'll be FINE.

Most of the congregation are so baffled/impressed by the purposeful to-ing and fro-ing of the servers with their various objects and the bowing, kneeling, tinkly-bell-ringing, incense-swinging etc that they wouldn't have a clue if something went wrong. As someone who's sung in various church choirs I can assure you that it's amazing what one can get away with.

MerryMarigold Fri 25-Nov-16 08:36:35

I think the attitude should be of doing everything as if 'doing it for the Lord'. You shouldn't be worrying what people are thinking, the congregation or the vicar. Who is the most important? Why are you there? It is God. If you do it with an attitude of serving God, it really doesn't matter about anything else or any 'mistakes', and to be honest, it will show. If you are there for the 'position' or to get close to the altar, that will also show.

BigginsforPope Fri 25-Nov-16 08:39:29

I would also encourage you to relax and enjoy being part of the service. I served as a teenager and we did make mistakes ( be in the wrong place, stand at the wrong time etc) but everything was smoothed over as we worked as a team.
Although I will never forget the day another acolyte set the vicars sleeve on fire . . grin

Toddlerteaplease Fri 25-Nov-16 20:34:16

I'm an RC altar server in our cathedral. The best advice I had was if you make a mistake "bow to the altar and everyone will think it is part of the liturgy" if something goes wrong sort it out with dignity and no one will notice. My mum (Anglican altar server) thinks you could be dressed in s gorilla suit and no one would notice. I think she's right.

Toddlerteaplease Fri 25-Nov-16 20:37:33

I've broken the bell while ringing it. Broken the thurible doing 360's and narrowly escaped being harpooned by the processional cross. I'm always more worried about letting the parish priest down as he's quite particular. Our previous bishop was the easiest priest ever to serve for. If you made a mistake he would pretend not to notice and would never say a word as he knows we were doing our best.

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