Documents for Altar Servers

Server Instructions

Procedures and Duties for 10:00 Servers


  1. Servers who perform their duties with dignity, reverence, respect and attention to all that transpires during the service greatly enhance the quality of worship for everyone present.
  2. Get your serving times from Ministry Scheduler Pro. Use an app on your phone or the website at 
  3. If you cannot serve when scheduled, you are to find your own replacement. Use the "Request Sub" feature of the app or contact other servers directly

Before the Service


The crucifer must be at the church by 9:30 am. (A tardy crucifer stresses others, including clergy.)

Other Servers

Other servers must be at the church no later than 9:40 am. (Tardy servers stress the crucifer.)

All Servers

  • Robe in the vestry. Wear a blue cross if you have served for one year or more. Ask another person to check if your robes are straight. 
  • Collect torches, crosses and the gospel book from the sanctuary. Take them to the gathering place outside the office door. Put ribbons in the gospel book at the reading for the day; ask clergy for help if needed.
  • Place a leaflet on each seat in the sanctuary (usually five).
  • On feast days when the St. John’s banners are to be used in the procession, collect them from the chapel and nave and take to the gathering place outside the office door.
  • All servers gather at the office door by 9:50. 

Crucifer or Server Appointed by Crucifer

  • At about 9:45 a.m. light candles on the
    • high altar
    • chapel altar

Note: Epistle candles (right side facing the altar) are lit first, followed by the gospel candles (on the left side). The gospel candle never burns alone.

  • Depending on season, light the Pascal candle and designated advent candles. (Ask clergy.) If the paschal candle is to be lit, it gets lit first and extinguished last.
  • Find out if any speakers want a glass of water and place it somewhere convenient for them.
  • Take bread (leave wrapped in plastic and in basket) and cruet of wine from sacristy to table at back of church. (If bread is not in sacristy by 9:50 am, it is notyour responsibility.)
  • Check that the ribbons in the Gospel Book are at the reading for the day.
  • Make assignments for serving duties during the service.

There is then a short period of silence and a prayer led by a clergy person or the crucifer. A guest presider is always asked if he or she would like to lead the prayer.

Move in silence to the back of the church at about 9:55 to be ready for the procession.          

Light the torches when the crucifer gives the word.

During the Service

The Procession 

Start as soon as the processional hymn begins, if short, or as soon as singing begins, if hymn is longer. Give the presider time to put on a chasuble.

This is the order of the full procession. Most Sundays do not have a full procession.

  • Crucifer flanked by two acolytes
  • Choir
  • Banner (if two banners)
  • Small cross
  • Book
  • Banner (if any banners)
  • Sacristan
  • Clergy with presider last

In the procession,

  • The crucifer, carrying the cross about a foot above the crucifer’s head, or as high as is comfortable, leads the procession.
  • The torch bearers walk behind the crucifer only when there is not enough room for all three to walk abreast (in line).
  • Those carrying crosses or torches walk as if they were an extension of what they are carrying: standing straight and tall, looking straight forward and without singing or responding with the rest of the congregation.
  • The small cross, or, if none, the book bearer leaves a space of three pews after the choir.
  • The book bearer carries the gospel book facing the front of the procession.
  • The banner bearer, for special feast days, usually follows the book bearer. If there are two banners, the other follows the choir.
  • The clergy follow at the end, the presider last.
  • The crucifer mounts the chancel steps first using the stairs on the left (the pulpit side).
  • The crucifer always uses the pulpit side of the nave altar.
  • The crucifer continues ahead to place the cross in its bracket on the gospel (pulpit) side of the altar.
  • The torch bearers put their torches in the holders in unison.
  • The torch bearers mount the chancel steps in unison with the left foot first.
  • The torch bearers, mirroring each other’s movements, continue to the high altar and find their seats on opposite sides of the sanctuary.
  • The book bearer places the gospel book on the high altar.



After the Procession or After the Gospel Reading

Depending on the assignments of the servers, the crucifer might allow servers to leave for Sunday school at an appropriate time. 

Servers who attend Sunday school must return before the preparation of the gifts. 

Gospel Procession

  • Crucifer: Allow an appropriate amount of time for the procession. If the gospeller is going to use the nave microphone, allow extra time for hook-up.
  • The book bearer, taking a cue from the crucifer, stands in front of the high altar presenting the book to the people.
  • Torch bearers, taking their cue from the crucifer, gather at the nave alter. Mirroring each other, the torch bearers lift the torches from their stands and turn to the outside to face the back of the church. As the torch bearers wait for the crucifer, stand between the chancel steps and the front pews facing the back of the church.
  • Proceed to the center of the nave, crucifer leading.
  • Book bearer carries the book with two hands. The gospeller follows.
  • Crucifer leads procession to the wardens’ wands, but the crucifer walks past the wardens wands about two steps. The torch bearers and book bearer stop at the wardens’ wands. 

During the Gospel Reading

  • Stand as still as possible looking at the gospel book.
  • Torch bearers stand facing the Gospel Book and each other and with their backs at the wands.
  • Torches are held with their flames at same height just above book.
  • Book bearer holds book at height comfortable for the gospeller.

After the Gospel Reading

  • After the reading, gospeller and book bearer step to the side, allowing crucifer and torch bearers to pass. The book bearer and gospeller join them to return to the sanctuary.
  • The torch bearers allow the crucifer and book bearer to mount chancel steps first.
  • The book bearer takes the gospel book to the high altar.

Just before the Preparation of the Gifts

All servers use sanitary washing gel provided near the chapel door table.     

At the Offertory Hymn

  • Note that the lay Eucharistic ministers (LEM) gather at the chapel door during the offertory hymn.
  • Two servers appointed by the crucifer wait with the brass plates by the chapel door. 
  • The crucifer and a server appointed by the crucifer move to the credence table beside the pulpit.
  • At the command of the crucifer, a server brings anything on the credence table that needs to be consecrated to the altar.
  • After the gifts have been received from the congregation, at command of the crucifer, a server brings a cruet of water for the wine to the nave altar. After the deacon or sacristan has put some water in the wine, the server receives the water cruet, bows, waits and then replaces the cruet to the credence table.
  • A server watches in case the deacon or sacristan needs assistance.
  • At command of the crucifer (before sidespeople are waiting at back of church), two servers take the brass plates, and move to nave altar together, carrying plates vertically to the chancel steps. The LEMs follow the servers from the chapel door to their places behind the nave altar.
  • The servers stop on the chancel steps and hold the plates horizontally to receive the collection. 
  • When they have the collection, they stay on the step, but turn to face the altar with the brass plates slightly higher than the altar mirroring each other.
  • At the end of the prayer, the two servers take the collection to the chair beside the crucifer’s prayer seat and place the collection under it for a sidesperson to collect. The servers leave the brass plates near the crucifer’s prayer seat. 
  • One designated server (usually the acolyte on the lecturn side) goes to the chapel and closes the altar rail and then returns to the semi-circle to receive communion.
  • While the brass collection plates are being taken to the crucifer’s prayer seat, the crucifer or a server takes a pitcher of water, bowl and towel to the presider to wash hands. The server pours water on presider’s hands and bows to the presider when the presider has finished wiping hands and has put the towel on the server’s arm. 

During the Eucharistic Prayer

Servers stand in semi-circle with administrants around the nave altar. The crucifers and servers stand at the end near the credence table by the pulpit. 

Receiving Communion

Immediatly after the presiding priest gives communion to the deacon, one server will bring the remaining bread baskets to the deacon.

Servers, as do all worshippers, place one open hand over the other for the bread, and they guide the chalice to their lips for the wine. Say “Amen” after receiving the bread, and after receiving the wine. (Hands are crossed over chest if a blessing is desired instead.)

After Receiving Communion

After the crucifer and servers have received communion, servers take the chalices to the deacon or sacristan. The chalices must be carried one at a time reverently with two hands. When the deacon or sacristan receives each item, bow, and return to your place in the semi-circle.

One designated server (usually the acolyte on the pulpit side) quietly leaves the semi-circle, goes to the high altar rail to take charge of the cushion and altar rail. This server closes the rail and moves the cushion after all the servers and Eucharistic ministers are all inside the altar rail.

Another designated server (usually the acolyte on the lecturn side) sits in the chapel.

The crucifer folds the corporal correctly and takes it to the credence table then goes to sacristan by the high altar. 

The crucifer (or sacristan), carries wine to chalice bearers, pouring from the flagon or reserved sacrament when their chalices are low.

The appointed acolyte on the pulpit side guards the collection and hands it to the sidesperson who comes for it. The appointed acolyte on the chapel side sits in the chapel. Servers with no communion duties sit away from the altar rail in the chairs on the pulpit side.

Just before the Last Member of the Congregation Has Received Communion

The appointed acolyte on the chapel side stands in place ready to open chapel altar rail and pull back the kneeler.

The appointed acolyte on the pulpit side stands in place ready to open altar rail at the high altar and pull back the kneeler.

After the Congregation Has Received Communion

The crucifer brings a cruet of water to the chapel altar for the ablutions done by the sacristan.

The servers open the altar rails and pull back the kneelers.

There is no movement in front of the high altar during the prayer after communion.

The Recession

The recession usually begins after verse one of the recessional hymn.

  • The book bearer, taking a cue from the crucifer, stands in front of the high altar presenting the book to the people. If there is a small cross, the cross bearer stands in front of the book bearer.
  • Torch bearers, taking their cue from the crucifer, gather at the nave alter. Mirroring each other, the torch bearers lift the torches from their stands and turn to the outside to face the back of the church. As the torch bearers wait for the crucifer, stand between the nave altar and the first pews facing the back of the church.
  • If there is a choir
    • The choir follows the crucifer.
    • The small cross, if there is one, follows the choir.
    • The book follows the choir (or small cross).
  • The crucifer walks down the chancel steps on the pulpit side and continues down the center aisle. The torches join the crucifer. 
  • With torch bearers in step with the crucifer, they lead the procession to the back of the church.
  • The torches are extinguished after being dismissed.

After the Service

Servers may move reverently and quietly in the sanctuary during the voluntary. Carry items one at a time holding each item with two hands. 

  • Servers return gospel book, banners, torches and crosses to positions in sanctuary.
  • Servers return collection plates to positions on and under the table by the chapel door.
  • Without touching the candles, the crucifer or appointed server extinguishes all candles, gospel candle (pulpit side of altar) before epistle candle. The paschal candle, if used, is extinguished last.
  • Servers collect all communion vessels and carry them into the sacristy. To preserve their finish, do not let silver objects touch each other. Carry the one at a time with two hands.
  • Servers tidy up the sanctuary.
    • Collect leaflets and loose copies of the readings and take to recycle bin.
    • Take any glasses of water to the sacristy.
    • Do not touch any papers or notes left by clergy unless otherwise instructed.       

Thank You! Service well done! Know that you have served not only all the worshippers and the clergy, but also God.