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In many Christian denominations, the term acolyte refers to a person, other than the officiant, who performs ceremonial duties at or near the altar during corporate worship. In Western Christianity, the role is normally performed by an unordained person, most often a youth.

Anglicanism and Methodism

In the Anglican and Methodist traditions, acolytes participate in the worship service by lighting and extinguishing the altar candles, ringing the church bells, and otherwise assisting the minister during worship.

In the Methodist tradition, the lighting of the altar candles in the worship service is a symbol of Jesus’ coming into the presence of the worshiping community. Before the extinguishing of the last altar candles, the acolytes relight their "candle lighter" and then process out into the narthex. This symbolizes that Jesus Christ is for all people everywhere. It also symbolizes the light of Jesus Christ going out into the world where believers are called to serve.[1] Acolytes in the Methodist tradition wear white robes called albs and belted with a cincture.

In Anglican churches, the candles (properly called "lights") represent Christ himself, the light of the world, and there is no particular symbolism attached to the extinguishing of them. Acolytes customarily wear a white cotta over a black cassock, similar to the attire of choir members.