Acolyte Order of St. Peter

We present the guide for the Acolyte Order of St. Peter at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church for three reasons:

  1. To give a historical view of acolytes in Episcopal churches in the era it was written (around 1968.)
  2. To help Anglican churches today in training their acolytes.
  3. To show how the “rich and famous” (or infamous) served at the altar.

If you use this in your own church, keep the following in mind:

  1. If you have problems visualising how this worked in its original setting, you can go to our video slide show on Bethesda-by-the-Sea for help.
  2. Keep in mind that this routine was for services conducted under the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. If you use another prayer book or liturgy, you will need to modify the instructions accordingly.
  3. Except for corrections in grammar and spelling (which were numerous,) these instructions are as they were written. They assume an all-male acolyte order, which is seldom the case today.

pmw-bethesda-jun-68The photo at the right shows some original members of the Order at their duties. If you see this photo elsewhere rest assured that it came from here first.


ACOLYTE ORDER OF SAINT PETER
Bethesda-by-the-Sea
Palm Beach, Florida

  1. Instruction for Acolytes
    1. Rise early in order to have plenty of time to prepare yourself both physically and spiritually for the duties you will perform. Always try to enter the Church aware of the fact that you are being given the privilege of serving God at His altar. Pray that you nay be worthy of this honor.
    2. Remember! A good Acolyte:
      1. Stands, kneels, sits, as appropriate, in an erect position and carries himself with dignity.
      2. Avoids nervous habits, such as squirming, kicking, playing with his hands or cross, folding or rustling paper, shifting weight from one foot to the other while standing.
      3. When not holding an object during the service, keeps his right fist held in his left hand, just above waist level.
      4. Follows the service in the Prayer Book and Hymnal.
      5. Pays attention to everything the Priest says – including the Sermon.
      6. Except when giving the Alms Basin to (or receiving them from) the Ushers, and lighting or extinguishing Altar Candles, never side-steps when moving from place to place, but turns and walks wherever he goes.
      7. Performs his duties naturally and easily: avoids stiffness and uneasiness.
      8. Is alert and sure of himself; knows his job.
      9. Behaves himself and avoids unnecessary talking and whispering.
    3. Dress:
      • If possible wear black -shoes (well polished), white shirt and dark tie – be sure that your hands and fingernails are clean.
    4. Before the Service:
      • Arrive twenty minutes before the service. This gives ample time to vest, receive special instructions and to light the Altar Candles.
    5. Lighting the Altar Candles:
      1. Proceed to the Chancel, with your Taper lighted, by the shortest route, advance into the Sanctuary, pause before the altar and reverence the Altar (Bow), then ascend the Altar steps.
      2. Light the Epistle Side (right) candle first, then the Gospel Side (left).
      3. Descend the Altar steps facing the congregation, turn, reverence the Altar (bow) and return to the Sacristy by the shortest route.
      4. Extinguish your taper and return it to its holder.
    6. Entrance and Service through the Epistle:
      1. Crucifers, flag bearers and torch bearers will precede the choir in entering the Church. Acolytes will follow the choir but precede the Clergy. All will halt at the Altar rail and step aside to allow the Clergy to enter the Sanctuary. All will then proceed to their appointed places – the Acolyte who will serve the Priest kneeling in the end stall on the Epistle Side inside the Sanctuary.
      2. Kneel to the reading of the Epistle.
    7. The Gospel and the Creed.
      1. At the words “Here endeth the Epistle” the Acolyte serving the Priest will rise, go to the center of the Altar, bow, and ascend the Altar steps on the Epistle Side.
      2. 8 a.m. Take the missal and missal stand – holding them firmly – descend the Altar stair and place missal and missal stand on the Gospel side of the Altar at a 45° angle, facing the Priest and return to your place.
      3. 10 a.m. In the event another member of the Clergy reads the Gospel, you will carry the missal and missal stand to him and re-gain holding the missal stand during the reading of the Gospel. After the reading of the Gospel you will return the missal find missal stand to the Gospel side of the Altar. Return to your place.
    8. The Offertory
      1. At the end of the Creed the Priest will read, one or more Offertory sentences (Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, etc.)
      2. When the Priest uncovers the Chalice you will rise and. go directly to the Credence table – if there are cruets (bottles) on the Credence table you will remove the tops.
      3. Pick up the Ciboriun (wafer box) and carry it to the Priest -remove the cover with your right hand – the Priest will remove the necessary number of wafers. Replace the cover and return the Ciborium to the Credence table.
      4. You will now take the wine cruet in your right hand and the water cruet in your left hand – if you are using the silver pitchers, be sure the handles face the Priest. Return to your place at the Epistle Side of the Altar.
      5. Bow and present the wine cruet to the Priest – as he takes it, move the writer cruet from your left hand to your right hand – receive bock the wine cruet in your left hand – after the priest has taken the water cruet move the nine cruet to your right hand – receive the water cruet in your left hand and return both cruets to their place on the Credence table. The Lavabo – Father Cary does not normally use the Lavabo but will tell you in advance if he intends to. When the Lavabo is being used – place the Lavabo in your left hand, and take the water cruet in your right hand – go to the Altar where the Priest will hold his fingers over the Lavabo – pour a little water over his finders -wait for the priest to dry his fingers on the towel – return his bow – go to the Credence table and return cruet, Lavabo and towel to their places,
      6. At this point the Alms Basins are presented to the ushers from the Chancel steps.
  2. The Communion
    1. You will kneel or sit during the administration of the Communion. Do not stare at the people receiving.
    2. When the Priest finishes administering Communion rise up and go to the Credence table.
    3. Remove the tops from the cruets – take the wine in your right hand and the water in your left.
    4. Go to the Altar – the Priest will hold the Chalice towards you and you will pour first a small amount of wine in the Chalice and then a small amount of water – Father Cary normally will use only the water; therefore, when assisting Father Cary you will only carry the water cruet for him – return the cruets to the Credence table and return to your place,
    5. After prayers you will stand when the Priest stands and leave the Sanctuary, preceding him in the Recessional.
  3. Duties of Crucifer
    1. A Crucifer may be used at all services. His primary duty is to lead processions and recessions. Two crucifers may be used at special services such as Christmas and Easter.
    2. Getting ready for Services
      1. Arrive at least twenty minutes before the time of the service and vest in your alb, sash and white gloves. Obtain the cross from its permanent holder and proceed to the point where the procession will form.
      2. The Crucifer will lead the processional – walking in a natural manner and as near in time with the Hymn as possible – hold the cross in a vertical position – the left hand should be around the staff just below the ball – the right hand a foot lower on the staff to steady the cross.
      3. Proceed with dignity into the Chancel and. halt before the Sanctuary steps, holding the cross without wavering
      4. At the conclusion of the processional hymn turn and place the cross in its holder, making sure it is properly placed and securely fastened.
      5. Move directly to your assigned seat,
    3. It is the responsibility of the Crucifer to coordinate the duties of the Flag and Torch Bearers. He will select the Acolyte to handle the Alms Basins.
    4. Closing Prayers and Recession:
      1. Upon announcement by the Priest of the recessional Hymn you will take the cross from its holder -make sure that the torches and flags are ready- and in position – walk to the center of the Chancel Aisle and, holding the cross in proper vertical position, stand facing the Altar at the Sanctuary step.
      2. Upon completion of the second stanza of the recessional Hymn, turn and lead the recession slowly down the center aisle.
      3. Walk with a natural gait reasonably adapted to the Hymn – proceed with dignity to the rear of the Church.
      4. Guide the recession to its “break up” point, then return to the Acolyte’s room – place the cross in its permanent holder – remove your vestments and hang them neatly on the hangers provided.
  4. Duties of the Torch Bearers
    1. Getting ready for Service
      1. Arrive twenty minutes ahead of the service time.
      2. Robe in cassock and cotta.
      3. Obtain your torch and matches – do not light torch until procession is ready to move.
    2. Entrance
      1. Hold your left hand above your right on the torch staff with the torch base on a level with your eyes. Take places either side of the Crucifer and about a half step in back of him.
      2. At the Sanctuary step, step to either side and face each other so that the Clergy may enter the Sanctuary – return to position facing the Altar after the Clergy has entered.
      3. At the conclusion of the processional Hymn extinguish the torches, place them in their holders and take your assigned seat.
      4. Following service, relight torches and join the Crucifer at the Sanctuary steps.
      5. When the Crucifer turns and faces the congregation, you will turn towards each other and accompany the Crucifer in the Recessional.
    3. C. After the Service
      1. Extinguish torches and place them securely in holders.
      2. Remove vestments and hang them neatly on hangers provided.
  5. Duties of the Flag Bearers
    1. Getting ready for Service
      1. Arrive twenty minutes before service tire,
      2. Robe in cassock and cotta.
      3. Obtain flags and go to the formation point.
    2. Entrance
      1. Flag Bearers follow the Crucifer and Torch Bearers, keeping a distance of about four feet between them. The American Flag is carried to the right of the Church Flag and the State Flag follows, in the center of the aisle.
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Remembering the Anti-Moon Luddites

Today, of course, is the fiftieth anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon–“one giant leap for mankind,” to be sure.  It was a great accomplishment and deserves to be remembered.

It’s easy to forget, however, that at the time there were many–especially on the left–who believed that the whole enterprise was a mistake, that the money we spent to put Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin (and of course, Michael Collins, commemorated the following year by Jethro Tull in their album Benefit) would have been better spent on feeding the poor and rectifying social injustices.

And in a sense the years that followed this achievement were the time when real science died in this country.  As I noted earlier this year:

But by the time Armstrong and Aldrin set foot on the moon, the mood had changed. The 1960’s were a decidedly Luddite time; technology was blamed for despoiling the environment and creating the “few minutes to midnight” atmosphere of the Cold War. Those who plied their trade in technology were “nerds.” The space program collapsed and the aerospace industry went with it. A new generation turned away from technology to more “relevant” (and easier way up) professions such as law and finance. Instead of landing on Mars in 1986, we were in angst (something we’ve gotten good at) over the explosion of the Challenger.

bahama-lane-front

Our home in Palm Beach. It was located on the old “Dodge Estate,” one of the last of the large estates to be broken up (Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago is an example of one that is still intact.) Built in the late 1950’s, it survived the hurricanes that were reasonably frequent during the years we lived in Palm Beach (we experienced two the first summer we lived there.) All of the windows were fitted with shutters (as shown here) or had a metal shield that could be fitted for a blow. This obviated the need to strip forests for plywood every time a hurricane arrived. Note also the ficus hedge running along the street. Using a hedge to both close in the yard and to obscure the view of the property (they’re generally higher now than they were then) is fairly common in Palm Beach. After living with this, being forced into the “open yard” mould so common in the U.S. (especially in the South) just doesn’t quite cut it.

The space program had many technological spinoffs that enhanced life here on earth.  But when we have the same old “zero-sum” mentality about this, we’ll end up getting nowhere, and in the long run shortchanging those we profess to help.

And where was I when the first step was taken?  In Palm Beach, of course.  Behind the balcony of our house (right) was my brother’s room, where we witnessed history on his black and white television.

A State of Being

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Helene Tuchbreiter Portrait by Antonio Sereix Photo Reproduction by John Haynesworth

Helene Tuchbreiter was one of Palm Beach’s most prominent socialites in her time.  She made an impact both on the social scene and on the people immediately around her.

My own recollection of her, however, was more prosaic: she was one of my mother’s best friends during the years we lived in Palm Beach.  This was made more real by an experience they both shared: the founding of the Church Mouse thrift shop.

Both of them were members at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church and also members of the St. Mary’s Ladies’ Guild. (or circle, as it’s called in some churches.)  Each year the guild had a “Rummage Mart” at the church to raise money for its charitable activities.  Helene was the Guild’s president. In the Spring of 1968 the Vestry of the church informed the Guild that it wasn’t right to have the sale on church property.  In support of their position they cited such Bible verses as “Jesus went into the Temple Courts and began to drive out those who were selling, Saying as he did so: “Scripture says–‘My House shall be a House of Prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” (Luke 19:45-46)  This didn’t sit well with the ladies of the Guild, who thought all along they were doing something good.  The Vestry, flush with its new found knowledge of the Scriptures (they probably really wanted to keep the riff-raff off of the church grounds) stuck to its guns.  So the Guild had to find an alternative.

Helene, unwilling to be sidetracked in the mission to do good (and probably unwilling to be outdone by sellers of shirts), took the initiative and led the Guild to start a thrift shop off of the church grounds.  The Rector, Dr. Hunsdon Cary, was sceptical about the concept; he told Helene that they would probably end up poor as church mice. Beyond the absurdity of anything in Palm Beach experiencing such poverty, this doubtless spurred Helene and the others to make it work.

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Left to right: Roy Tuchbreiter, my mother, father, and Helene, at a Christmas fête in Palm Beach in the late 1960’s. (Photo courtesy Bert and Richard Morgan, Palm Beach) Note: Some of the information for this article was taken from Helene Tuchbreither’s own copy of The Bulletin of Bethesda-by-the-Sea, 9 April 1991, complete with her own tart comments.

Dr. Cary’s quip also gave the enterprise its name; in March 1970 the Church Mouse thrift shop opened. It was soon forced to move because the building was being torn down for the Publix market in Palm Beach (that was another great controversy as well.) It moved to its second location at 101 North County Road. My mother kept the books for the Church Mouse during its early days.

In 1987 it moved to two locations, one at 374 South County Road and the other in West Palm Beach. The store was and is to this day a success, as good example of any of taking lemons and making lemonade.

Years later, while we were preparing for my mother’s estate sale, the portrait reproduction above was found in my mother’s things.  The individual who was organising the sale asked me the question, “What did she do?”  My response to him was, “In Palm Beach, it isn’t a matter of what you do, it’s what you are,” and went through the story you have here.

This state of affairs, however, is not unique to socialites.  When God called Moses to lead his people out of bondage, Moses asked the obvious question:

“Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I shall say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” And God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.” (Exod 3:13-15 NAS)

This abstract sounding answer had then and has now an important point.  We as human beings have a habit of defining everyone and everything by what they do.  The gods of ancient peoples were a reflection of that; every one of them had a speciality task.  But the God who commissioned Moses and later sent his own Son is beyond that: he is not defined by what he does, but by what he is and moreover that he exists: “For in him was created all that is in Heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible–Angels and Archangels and all the Powers of Heaven. ”  (Col 1:16)  Jesus himself underscored his own nature and that of his Father when “Jesus said to them, ““In truth I tell you,” replied Jesus, “before Abraham existed I was.”” (John 8:58 NAS)

Our habit of defining ourselves and others by what we do is worse than ever in this performance based world we live in.  Helene Tuchbreiter — the preacher’s kid from Montgomery, Alabama, who went on to Palm Beach — has gone on for the last time to meet the great “I Am.”  Of the results of this encounter, we do not know, but we do know that before we do anything else we must follow God through his Son Jesus Christ, and then what we are will far surpass anything we can do — in this life and the life to come.

For more information click here.

Youth Choir Contract, Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church

 

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Bethesda, looking towards the bell tower.

When it comes to Palm Beach, as Kendall Harmon would say, you just cannot make this stuff up…


BETHEDSA-BY-THE-SEA
Palm Beach, Florida
1967-1968

YOUTH CHOIR CONTRACT

THIS AGREEMENT, made and entered into between the CHURCH OF BETHESDA-BY-THE-SEA, Palm Beach, Florida, and __________________________.

WITNESSETH: That the Second Party named above, agrees to sing in the YOUTH CHOIR of Bethesda-by-the-Sea Church and take an ACTIVE part in the services when held at the following times during the season Of 1967-1968:

35 Sundays at nine o'clock service from October 1, 1967 to May 26, 1968 with the exception of Easter when the Family Service will be at 4:00 P. M., and January 7th at Evening Prayer. Also, Thanksgiving Day at 10:00 A. M., Christmas morning at 10:00 A. M., and Good; Friday, March 22nd at 10:00 A. M. - Also for "The Glory of God," Sunday afternoon, December 17th at 4:00 P.M. - with the Adult choir in Bach's Christmas Oratorio.

IT IS UNDERSTOOD AND AGREED that the Second Party shall attend rehearsals on Thursday and Friday from 4:15 to 5:00 P. M., with the exception of Thanksgiving week and Holy Week, when the rehearsals will be on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. Also, if one of these rehearsals is missed, the time will be made up on Saturday at 8:30 A. M. Members of the 8th grade and above will be required one rehearsal each week. It is also agreed that the Second Party shall attend all warm-up rehearsals, from 8:25 A.M. until 8:40 A.M. each Sunday. It is further agreed that the first party will withhold a fine of 10% of the Sunday fee for each tardiness at rehearsals. REHEARSALS BEGIN PROMPTLY AS SCHEDULED. The Second Party must participate in at least one weekly rehearsal and the warm-up on Sunday in order to sing at the 9:00 A.M. service. A fine of 30% is withheld for each rehearsal absence. Members are required to attend more than a total of half of the rehearsals and services each month in order to receive compensation. A bonus of $2.00 is awarded each month for perfect attendance at rehearsals and services.

IT IS FURTHER AGREED that each boy shall be responsible for his choir jacket, wear it to and from Church each Sunday (and only for Choir functions), also to wear a white dress shirt, black four-hand tie, dark trousers, black socks and black shoes (shined). It is further agreed that the jacket will be returned at the termination of his service or at the last Sunday service in May (whichever occurs first.) Members will also be subject to a 10%-30% fine for untidiness or deportment on Church property. It is also understood and agreed that any suggestions made by your Rector, Choirmaster, Assistant of Choirmothers for the musical betterment or deportment of the Choir, shall be accept in good faith and spirit.

Bethesda-by-the-Sea, the First Party above named, agreed to pay the sum of $1.50 per week for each service.

Dated this 6th day of October, 1967.

Telephone_____________________

Choir Boy's Signature____________________________________

Address______________________________________

Parent's or Guardian's Signature___________________________________

BETHESDA-BY-THE-SEA

By:________________________________
ADAM L. DECKER, M.A.
Choirmaster

Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church: The Unauthorised Tour

When it came to church, my family was made up of interesting people, especially when it came to going to church.  We didn’t go to church very often (at least until my mother came along,) but when we did, and when we were in Palm Beach, this is where we went: Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Palm Beach, FL.

Although these shots (with one exception) were taken many years after my departure, the church is on the National Register of Historical places, so there have been few changes (although they have messed around with a few things since this millennium began…)

Other Bethesda Related Links

Reflections on Bethesda

Do not love the world or what the world can offer. When any one loves the world, there is no love for the Father in him; for all that the world can offer–the gratification of the earthly nature, the gratification of the eye, the pretentious life–belongs, not to the Father, but to the world. (1 John 2:15-16)

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Bethesda, looking towards the bell tower.

Today the Anglican Communion in the U.S. is in dire straits. But the forces that have brought things to their present state are nothing new; almost all of them were present in the Bethesda I grew up in. Bethesda is, in some ways, an outsized example of how we got where we are.

As we note elsewhere, people can come to church primarily because they agree with what the church teaches, or they can come for other reasons: social, aesthetic, etc. Episcopal churches in general and Bethesda in particular simply have too many of the latter in their pews. This makes it easy for liberals to come in and take command; if they can keep up appearances, they can keep things going even when the church’s core message has totally changed. This is not to say that everyone went along with this; the Episcopal church lost a million members in the 1960’s and 1970’s in the process of its radicalisation, and is in the process of repeating that feat again.

Coupled with the social membership are demographics. The Episcopal church’s membership income distribution is simply too skewed into the upper reaches of our society. This wasn’t the original intent; when Henry VIII took charge of the church in England, his idea was that the Church of England be the church of every Englishman, from himself to the ploughboy. The Nonconformists chipped away at that in the mother country, but in the American colonies they proceeded to blow Anglican churches out of the water for the bulk of the populace. They were so successful that they were able to oust the Episcopal church as the state church in the Southern colonies in the wake of the American Revolution.

This brings me to an important point–people talk about an “inclusive” vs. “exclusive” church but with churches like Bethesda we have to ask: inclusive or exclusive of what? Or whom? Bethesda, like most Episcopal churches, prides itself in being “inclusive” but the reality is that the church was built and is sustained on being “exclusive” in a socio-economic way, much like a country club. This situation is an opportunity to reach a difficult group with the Gospel, but as long as the liberals are in dominance the church will lack a message worth bringing.

But everything isn’t negative here. Bethesda is a beautiful church, and it’s hard to be impressed with anything else. Ultimately, though, the chief objective is, as it always really was, to carry out the main mission: “The Son of Man has come to ‘search for those who are lost’ and to save them.” (Luke 19:10)