peachtree road storybook

Write down for the coming generation what the Lord has done, so that people not yet born will praise him. – Psalms 102:18

The Betty Lee Kennedy Acolyte Guild

Compiled by
Pam Young, Mary Timberlake,
Beth Ahrenhold, Leslie Littleton,
and Betty Lee Kennedy

Acolytes have always been a very important part of our church services. They set the tone for the service by bringing in the Light of Christ candle for worship and assisting the clergy with the reading of scripture and baptisms.

When the acolyte program started in the first sanctuary (now Moore Chapel), it was a small team of youth volunteers. This program was under the leadership of Dottie Smith and Betty Lee Kennedy. The acolytes assisted with communion, offerings, baptisms, and extinguishing the candles at the conclusion of the service.

When the music leadership changed, there was a need for more acolytes. There was a desire to have more processing with lighting of candles before and after the services, including assisting with weddings. Teams grew and there was a great interest in being part of this group.

When the new sanctuary opened in 2002, Betty Lee recruited the help of Beth Ahrenhold, Leslee Littleton, and Mary Timberlake. Pam Young and Fran Intreken helped with the teams. The 8 teams grew rapidly with approximately 10-12 youth participating at the 8:45 services and 15-18 at the 11:15 services. More parents volunteered to become Team Captains to help assist with the dressing of the acolytes and instructing them in their role in the service.

Betty Lee Kennedy Acolytes

Even though the new sanctuary was much bigger, adjustment to the new space happened rather quickly. Scott Atchison had an assistant who instructed and helped Betty Lee in directing and even practicing on Saturdays. According to Betty Lee, had it not been for the years of steady growth in the first sanctuary, it would have been very hard to adjust to the new sanctuary.

As in today’s services, the Lead Crucifer is flanked by two acolytes, each carrying a torch to set the tone of the service. They are followed by the choir and more acolytes carrying crosses, torches and banners and ending with the clergy. Besides the Sunday services, they volunteer for special services including Christmas Eve, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Easter, Blessing of the Animals, etc. They also volunteer to process in weddings when requested.

At the beginning of each new promotion year, the Leading Captains send out a letter to each rising 6th graders inviting them to join the Acolyte Program. A detailed training is scheduled to show them the procedures and explain to them the important significance of what takes place in our services. It is a very special honor to be an acolyte.

Douglas Forsyth has captured these special Acolytes in his wonderful poem, Bearers of the Message.

Bearers of the Message

Garbed in white,
Crosses on their chests
Hoods hanging loosely on their backs,
And waists sashed with rope.
Cuffed khakis and penny loafers undisguised below their vestments,
Acolytes now gather at the rear of the nave,
Gentle sparring, smiling, being themselves,
Until the marshal signals to line up.
Hold up the candles, raise high the Cross, lift the Sacred Scripture.
Now, as if ennobled, they step on the first soaring note of the processional
Invested suddenly with a ceremonial air beyond their years

Eyes cast down to measure their pace,
Bearing hope and joy with the message they carry
They advance with reverence and precision so natural
That when they pass…….
We catch our breath.