As many of you might already know, I have been an acolyte here for about seven years. I witnessed my older brother Garrett acolyte plenty of times, and he always made it look so easy, so I was excited to learn for myself. At my first ever service as an acolyte, I was given the assignment of carrying the flags in, which unfortunately is no longer a position at the church. On that day, I remember getting nervous because I had no idea what to expect. My first hurdle was figuring out what to wear. For the first few services, I didn’t know which color robes to wear on which days, so I would always wait and see what other acolytes had on and mirror them. Then came the actual acolyting duties. I was glad to find out that first day that really all the flag carrier had to do was to process in with the flag and just sit at the altar all service long and then take the flag back out during the recession hymn.
It wasn’t until about a year later that I really had to face my first real challenge as an acolyte. I was given the task of being a server for the first time, which included many more jobs than being a flag carrier. I and another server accepted the responsibility of carrying the torches in, moving the book before the gospel reading, bringing the torches out to the middle of the pews for the gospel reading, setting out and cleaning up the bread and wine for the communion and carrying the torches back out during the recession. While these duties may sound easy now looking back, it was very intimidating for a shy eleven year old like me. My first couple of times were not perfect, but I continued to serve at the altar because I felt a certain responsibility toward my church.
Eventually I was assigned to carry the cross and to perform as Master of Ceremonies, MC for short. Both included completely new tasks that I had to learn and master every Sunday, and the latter role also required me to know all the tasks of the other acolytes because, as MC, I was tasked with being their leader. Learning to accept leadership responsibilities through my church service eventually translated well into my leadership roles as a class officer at Central High School and as a swim team captain.
There have been many bumps in the road during this long seven-year journey, but freely accepting the duties of an acolyte here at Emmanuel has been the greatest decision I ever made in my life. Acolyting has taught me so many important qualities such as leadership, character, and responsibility just to name a few; in addition, serving at the altar has made me feel closer to God than any other experience at Emmanuel. I believe that Emmanuel has been one of the biggest factors for my success in life so far, and I would just like to thank Deacon Chris, the late Larry Bouton, and all the priests I’ve ever worked with for giving me the opportunity to come many Sundays and learn something new about myself; moreover, I owe each of them a debt of gratitude for their patience with, compassion toward, and care for me. I will forever cherish the help everyone at Emmanuel has given me along the way, and I look forward to taking all that I have learned here and continuing to better myself as both an Episcopalian and a college student in the next chapter of my life.