In contemporary Anglicanism, an acolyte is a general term which covers not only servers, torchbearers, and lighters of candles but also crucifers, thurifers, and banner-bearers. As a brief history, acolytes are 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. In the later nineteenth century duties were largely taken over by lay "acolytes" and sacristans or altar guilds.
Crucifer comes from the Latin term crucifer ("cross-bearer") from crux ("cross") + fero ("I carry, bear").
The server or acolyte who carries and swings the thurible, the incense container which holds the incense that will be used during the eucharist and other liturgies.
The thurifer, the celebrant, the deacon, or other ministers may use the thurible in the ceremonial censing of people or objects such as the gospel book or altar.
If you are interested in learning to become an alcolyte, crucifer or thurifer and serving in this century old ministry,
please contact our Alcolyte Mentor, Robert Bishop.