Conduct During Services

Attire

A white dress shirt, dark pants or skirt, black shoes are required of all servers. All cassocks should be ankle-length, just covering the tops of the shoes. Surplices should be cathedral length, stopping just below the knee. See the notes above regarding acquisition of vestments.

Unless otherwise specified in advance, all servers should be attired in black cassock. Where the cassock is a side-fastening, Anglican-style vestment, it can be secured with a black rope cincture fastened at the left side.

Decorum

Silence should be maintained in the hallway and sacristies during preparation for the service as well as during all parts of the service. Any necessary conversation should be limited to the purpose of preparing for or executing the liturgy. The clergy need time to prepare for worship as well, and unless a server’s presence is specifically requested by the minister of ceremonies or one of the priests, servers should respect the privacy of the priests’ vesting area until summoned for the prayer of preparation.

Cell phone usage of any kind during the service will not be tolerated. All servers are requested to leave their cell phones in the vesting cupboards or in their vehicles.

Water bottles or other beverage containers are not permitted in the quire or the ambit of the altar. Please leave these items in the vesting area.

Preparation Prayers

All servers are expected to be in the vesting area no later than 10 minutes before the start of the service, fully vested and readied for the service. During this time, the celebrant will lead the servers in prayers of preparation.

Sedilia

The sedilia is the built-in, canopied stone seating on the epistle side of the sanctuary. Seating in the sedilia is assigned, with the celebrant in the center, the deacon on the celebrant’s right, and the subdeacon on the celebrant’s left. No other servers, unless filling one of the aforementioned roles, are to occupy the sedilia at any time.

Cathedra

The cathedra is the large wooden “throne” on the gospel side of the sanctuary. Seating in the cathedra is reserved for the Bishop of the Diocese of Newark or a visiting bishop serving in an episcopal capacity in the context of the liturgy. It is not appropriate to lean on or store hymnals or leaflets in or on the cathedra.

Posture

Display a posture of attentiveness when serving, whether seated or standing, focusing on the liturgy.

While seated, do not slouch, cross your legs,or fold your arms over your chest. Sit with your back relatively straight but relaxed, placing your hands flat upon your knees or folded in your lap.

When walking, stand upright with your shoulders back and head up, refraining from slouching. Move with intention at a calm and deliberate pace. If you are not carrying a hymnal or ceremonial item while walking, your hands should be clasped in front of you – either palm to palm in a prayer-like manner or with fingers knit –  rather than at your sides.

In the Presence of the Sacrament

When the consecrated Elements are exposed on the altar (e.g., during Communion or at Benediction), servers should never turn their backs toward the Elements. In practical terms, this means that if a server approaches the mensa for any reason (e.g., to bring up chalices), when leaving the server “crab walks” sideways down the stairs. Under no circumstances should a server ever walk backward down the steps.

Bowing

The table below describes the three types of bows and the circumstances under which each one is made.

Type of Bow Description When Used
Simple Bending of the head only
  • To the cross and altar (in place of genuflection when the Blessed Sacrament is not there)
  • Each time “Let us pray” is said
  • At the mention of the Blessed Trinity
  • At the name of Jesus
  • At the name of Mary and the the saint of the day when mentioned in prayer
Moderate Bending of the head and shoulders, so you can just see your feet
  • At “Holy, Holy, Holy” in the Sanctus
  • At the consecration of each species (except when kneeling)
  • When reverencing the processional cross as it passes in procession
Profound Bending the body at the waist so you could touch your hands to your knees
  • When ceremonially arriving at the altar (in place of genuflection if the Blessed Sacrament is not present)
  • At the foot of the altar before beginning the preparation
  • By the sacred ministers only at the confession

The Sign of the Cross

The sign of the cross is made with your right hand, touching your forehead with the tips of your three longest fingers fully extended and held close together, then touching the center of your chest, then your left shoulder, and then your right shoulder. This should be done without bowing. Servers who are holding ceremonial items do not cross themselves.

It is appropriate to cross oneself in the following places in the liturgy:

Location in the service At the following words
The Preparation In the name of the Father …
Our help is in the name of the Lord …
May Almighty God have mercy upon us …
But deliver us from evil … (in the Lord’s Prayer)
Opening Acclamation Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Gloria … in the glory of God the Father
Homily Introduction … in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Creed ... and the life of the world to come
Prayers of the People Rest eternal grant unto them …
for all thy servants departed this life …
Absolution … have mercy upon you, pardon and deliver you …
Eucharistic Prayer At the elevations of the elements
… be filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction ...
The Lord’s Prayer … But deliver us from evil …
The Communion Behold the Lamb of God …
At the reception of Communion
The Blessing … the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit …