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by Jill Bednas
The Acolyte Corps, or AC as we affectionately call it, is home to the largest youth group at CCC and probably the largest in the state; we average around 52 youth ages 12-18. Acolytes have served here since the church was established in 1928.
Youth can begin acolyte training as early as the sixth grade. I think the reason it is so popular with our teens is that they want to be a part of the service. Whenever I ask them why they want to acolyte, the most common response is “to serve God and to serve my church.”
It is not about being the best, although we do love our pomp and circumstance at CCC. Being an acolyte should be something the youth are proud to do, but we also want them to enjoy it and feel respected for the work they do.
There are levels within the Corps. New acolytes start out doing the simplest job, carrying the banner, until they have learned the ropes and made their way up the ranks. The older the acolyte and the longer they serve, the more responsibility they have. Some of our juniors and seniors in school serve as “captains” and assign roles to the others, as well as provide direction and guidance. They typically carry the cross and serve at the high altar.
Leadership within the AC has been pretty consistent for the past two years. Chas Kipp, Elizabeth Witten, Richard Witten and I train the acolytes alongside the clergy.
Elizabeth does the lion’s share of the correspondence, sending out requests and keeping our schedule. Chas Kipp and Richard Witten are both essential to our training, because they are vergers and work closely with the acolytes on Saturday evenings, Sundays and during our training retreats, as does Elizabeth. The vergers lead the procession and queue the acolytes.
During a recent acolyte retreat, the older acolytes paired up and painted canvasses to represent the four tenents of the CCC 2017 strategic plan: Meeting Jesus, Finding Joy, Sharing Beauty and Serving Others. The paintings are hanging in the parlor (where the acolytes robe) to brighten up the space and offer a youthful glow to the serious walls of the parlor.
At the 10:00 AM service today, we are recognizing our high school seniors and celebrating our acolytes to thank them for all their service as we approach the end of the program and school year.