A server at HT sets up the altar for Holy Communion services and processes the cross, book and candles and sometimes incense to and from those services. We also support and keep an eye on the vicar during services in case he overlooks something so we can remind him (not common). We also carry out other duties that revolve around the smooth running of the services. We call ourselves 'The East End Mob' (think about it!). Roger keeps us amused with his jokes - all very clean and wholsome.
Our collars are coloured according to the church season with red being reserved for saints days. Occasionally there is a choice of colour for one service and so we follow whatever colour the alter has been set up with, as the vicar makes the final decision on these days. We prefer to have a team of four servers for the majority of services, increasing to five or six when incense is used (Saint's and Holy days). The Sunday 8 am service is looked after by just two servers who alternate between themselves - Roger and Derek. The rest of us are Peter, John, Roger, Alan, Rod and Aaron. Then additionally Katrina and Sarah pop in on rare occasions caused by their other responsibilities or the long distance involved in getting to our church. We rotate the duties of Crucifer - carrying the cross, Book - carrying the book and Acolytes - carrying the candles of which we have two pairs - one pair for indoors and one pair for outdoors). Roger does not carry the cross as it is too heavy for him to hold in position for more than a few seconds, Aaron, our youngest member, also does not carry the cross as it is far too much for him to manage yet. Peter is the senior server and has been doing the job since 1985. John is the second senior. When decisions about protocol need making it falls on one of those two to decide what is the correct way. Consequently we try and ensure one of those two are at every service that involves servers.
When a service contains a part that is not usual we discuss this before the service, involving whoever is appropriate such as the vicar, Jean and, quite often, George (the choirmaster) so we don't move at the wrong time. Errors do creep in despite our best planning. Then we make things up as we go along! These errors allow us to sometimes have a little chuckle about them; sometimes they can be annoying and apologies become due.
We also count the numbers of persons in church with the numbers being split between those under 16 and those of 16 and over for the records. A count is also taken on the number of bread wafers put out and how many are left over at the end to see how many communicants there were in the relevant services. The count is also done by others in the church and they send up a total number to Crucifer part way through the service. Generally we take the largest number, as being the safest, to work out how many wafers Crucifer needs to put in the holy vessels during communion services. Any left over, along with wine left over is consumed by Crucifer, with others to assist when we've got a lot left over. This tends to happen in communion services that include a baptism as judging how many will receive is sometimes 'best guess' in these services. Otherwise we find that experience gives us a fairly accurate count. I can count on one hand the number of times we have put too few wafers out since 1985. When this happens we try and figure out where we got it wrong to try and avoids a repeat of this mistake.
Whilst communion is being received Roger is counting how many children and adults receive blessings only. Occasionally the numbers who receive communion and blessings, added together, is larger than the count anyone did of the total number of persons in the service. We have come to the conclusion, in these rare occassions, that people sneak into services in their cloaks of invisibility.
We are always looking for younger members of the church to join our small band as two of us are in our sixties and one in the seventies and we would like enough servers to take over when we are no longer fit or around any more!