Why Orthodox Churches Have Altar Boys

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While Orthodox Church services are going on, you may notice that there are often several people performing various duties. Someone might be lighting a candle or holding a cross. Another might be preparing the charcoal for the incense. Still others might be called on to hold the basket of bread at the end of the service or during Holy Communion. In other words, there might be several altar boys serving during church.

Have you ever wondered why Orthodox services have altar boys, also known as Acolytes, in the first place? Here’s more information about them:

What Are Altar Boys?

Altar boys, also known as acolytes, are unordained males whose purpose it is to assist the priests and deacons during the service. Although the priest could technically perform most of the duties needed for the service himself, it makes things a lot easier to have the altar boys take on some of the tasks.

For example, the altar boys could prepare the charcoal and incense prior to when the priest needs to cense during the service. They could also light candles, hold crosses,, hold the bread, and walk in processions around the church. Their main function is to assist the priest during the service.

Honoring the Tradition of Altar Boys

Having altar boys to participate in the church services isn’t necessary. It is a nice tradition, but the services could be performed without them. In fact, there are those who believe that using altar boys is a somewhat outdated practice that is falling out of favor. In many Greek Orthodox Churches in the United States, however, this tradition is still alive and well. It is up to the individual churches whether or not acolytes will be utilized.

If a church does have altar boys, they need to follow a certain code that has been adopted by the church. These rules insure that the altar boys are performing their duties well and are respectful of the traditions they uphold. For example, the church has standards concerning how thy will act, what they will wear, and the types of duties that are being performed.

It’s true that the Greek Orthodox Church uses altar boys. This tradition is an ancient one dating back to the early days of Christianity and it still continues today.


Acolyte – OrthodoxWiki

The Religion section on GreekBoston.com was written by Greeks to help people understand some of the traditions of the Orthodox Christian religion, which is a religion practiced by people in countries such as Greece, Russia, United States, and other nations throughout the world. This article is not a substitute for information found in the Holy Bible or by our church fathers, priests, and other clergy members.

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