Wednesday, August 3, 2016


You think it's easy to run a church? At SS Cyril & Methodius in Fort Pierce FL they did. They thought I would do everything since I did it so good. But when I decided to procure someone for the job of Head Sacristan I created this handbook. Probably after reading it no one came forward!

Head Sacristan
The Head Sacristan is an honorable position in the parish, since he is responsible for maintaining the proper liturgical atmosphere throughout the year based upon the
Liturgical Schedule.
He is to be a person of high moral regard by the members of the parish, as well as well organized, and meticulous in keeping all liturgical vestments, sacred vessels, and all other items used in the celebration of the Divine Services clean and in proper order.

General Responsibilities:

1. Opening the church prior to all services, and closing the church.
2. Setting the lights for Dropcam viewing.
3. Maintaining all proper Liturgical colors for Feast Days.
4. Setting out the proper vestments.
5. Changing incense as per the Holy Day
6. Having the proper Icons for all Holy Days
7. Setting up for special occasions (baptisms, funerals, weddings, etc.)
8. Organizing and maintaining proper storage areas for liturgical items in the church building or at the rectory/shed.
9. Cleaning and refilling all liquid containers.
10. Maintaining and cleaning all Liturgical vessels.
11. Setting up for all Divine Services in the Altar.
12. Taking inventory of all church supplies including votive candles, tapers, 3 and 6 day candle inserts, and requesting orders be placed as needed.
13. Requesting flowers to be ordered as well as other items as needed for major Holy Days.
14. Directing the placement of weekly flowers and special occasion floral arrangements as the feast may require.
15. Following the Liturgical Calendar notations regarding post and pre festive times for all Holy Days for the changing of the colors.
16. Acquiring knowledge of all liturgical services so as to be able to properly appoint the church for the services being celebrated.

Liturgical Vestment Colors:

Bright White: Easter
White/Gold  :
Sundays after Pentecost
Feast days of the Theotokos
Requiem Liturgies,
All Souls,
Exaltation of the Cross,
Weekdays in the Great Fast.
Requiem Liturgies celebrated during the week.
Green: Pentecost

Votive Glass Colors:
Sundays of Pentecost & Christmas
Milk Glass:
Feast days of the Theotokos
Requiem Liturgies, Funerals, All Souls, Exaltation of the Cross,  Great Fast.

I - Preparing the church:

1. Sundays throughout the year:
a. Wine and Water Cruets need to be filled.
b. Altar of Preparation needs to be readied by placing the chalice and chalice covers in their proper place.
c. The vesting table(on the right) needs to have the proper color vestments laid out in a specific way.
d. The priest’s books need to be placed on the Holy Table along with a copy of the handout of the Sunday.

2. Holy Days: (Depending on the day the Holy Day falls on, the church should be ready at least one day before. If Vespers is scheduled, then the church should be ready no later than the morning of the eve of the feast.)
a. Note: If “Litia” is being celebrated (usually for Major Feast Days) the Litia Tray needs to be cleaned and readied and placed just in front of the Tetrapod.
i. To ready the tray, the  shot glass is to be filled with wine and placed in the receptacle and all three (wheat, wine, and oil receptacles) need to be opened prior to the start of the service.
ii. The five small loaves of bread to be blessed, will be brought to church by Father for placement on the tray.
b. Proper color votive candle glass needs to be placed throughout the church. (With 2 hour candles for weekday holy days)
c. The lighting of the wall sconces are reserved for Major Holy Days, and special occasions such as Baptisms, Weddings, etc.

Lighting the church for various services:
1. Sundays:
a. Medium power all lights in Altar and church by 9:30AM. Full power in the church no later than 9:50AM for the Hours Service.
b. Festive rope lights to be on only for Holy Days.
2. Vespers:
a. Medium power all lights in the church until the singing of “O Joyful Light” in the Vesper Service. Then all lights to full power.
b. Half power in the church incl.chandelier (except the two can lights) when closing hymn is sung.
3. Evening Divine Liturgy/ Other Services/Funerals:
a. Half power 30 minutes before services.
b. Full power 15 minutes before services.
c. Half power in the church including chandelier (except the two can lights) when singing closing hymn (Except Funerals).

If you are first to arrive at the church and find the AC is not operational, you are to lower both thermostats to 74 degrees and press the  “HOLD” button.  After the services are completed you are to press the “RUN PROGRAM” button to reset the system to normal operation.

4. Funerals:
a. EVENING SERVICE AT THE FUNERAL HOME: To be readied for transport:
i. The people’s Parastas books.
ii. Red Dalmatics and cassocks for Altar Servers (2)
iii. Red Priest’s Felon and Stole
iv. Plastic Bin which contains mini-censer, charcoal, incense, hand cross, lighter, and container for soil.

i. The two floor candle stands need to be placed at the front of the altar area with candles lit.
ii. The Tetrapod is to be rolled to the left side of the church as the hearse arrives.
iii. Make sure:
(1) Funeral Liturgy Books are available
(2) double doors are opened just as hearse arrives.
i. Usually the priest will go alone to the cemetery if it is a distance from the church. The altar servers may also accompany the priest if the deceased is being locally interred. The following should readied:
(1) Plastic bin which contains mini-censer, charcoal, incense, hand cross, lighter.

(a) Make sure container is filled with soil from the church grounds to be used at the gravesite.
(2) Altar Servers should remain vested if they are going to the cemetery.
(3) the priest will un-vest, and attend the service at the cemetery with the red Stole only over his cassock.
(4) You as sacristan will not be obligated to attend the interment service.
(a) instead, once everyone vacates the church, you will return the church to the normal condition prior to the preparing for the funeral, relocating all items moved for the service, shut off all lights except those used for Dropcam, insuring the music is on as is the usual protocol.

(b) If you will not be remaining in the church until the priest returns from the interment, insure the priest knows that the church will be locked so that he knows to have keys to enter with the altar servers to un-vest.

Exposition of the Cross (Feast of Exaltation and Veneration of the Cross in Lent):
d. 100 Red carnations need to be ordered from, and Baby’s Breath purchased locally.
e. The special tray which holds the cross needs to be readied by attaching Floral Wet Foam to the tray with floral tape, then the eve of the feast carnations need to be placed around the cross, along with Baby’s Breath. The remainder of carnations need to be readied for distribution for the procession to the Great Cross at the end of the liturgy, by cutting the stems to about 6" in length, placed in two baskets and placed at the foot of the Icon of Christ at the Icon Screen.

5. Christmas:
a. Ordering Poinsettias from the church supplier.
b. Taking inventory of items needed for decorating the church, including lights, extension cords, garland, etc.
c. Scheduling a decorating crew for:
i. Exterior Church and Emmaus Hall decorating (usually two weeks before Christmas)
ii. Church decorating based upon the day on which Christmas falls.

d. Transporting  proper containers with church decorations from the storage shed at the rectory.
6. Theophany:
a. On Theophany eve, or whenever the Solemn Blessing of Water is to be celebrated, the Holy Water container in the church should be emptied outside of the church at the foundation including the dist at the entry, which is placed on the stand at the place of blessing.
b. Taking the roll out table from the ktchen, it needs to be covered with a white table cloth, and placed behind the Tetrapod (between the Tetrapod and the Solea).

c. There is a spare stainless steel container in the back room which needs to be cleaned along with the Holy Water container usually in church and both placed side by side on the table. They need to be filled to the brim with bottled water for blessing.

d. A three branched candle made up of three 7/8th inch candles bound together is to be near the table on a small stand, along with a metal hand cross, white towel (purificator) and holy water bucket for blessing. The proper Herb for blessing is Hyssop, however due to unavailability, dried Basil stalks can be substituted.
e. At the conclusion of the Pentecost Sunday Divine Liturgy all cut branches decorating the church are to be removed from the church and placed in the black “grass cuttings” receptacle near the garbage cans before the church is secured.
i. The exterior branches can remain however should be taken down once the branches dry out.

7. Great Fast/Easter Decorating:
a. Great Fast:
i. Ready all red altar cloths, icon draping, votive glass, candle glass, etc to be brought over from the storage shed at the rectory. completed for the first Friday Lenten Service.
b. Holy Week:
i. Bring processional items,  with church decorations from the storage shed at the rectory, including the Grave.
ii. Take inventory of processional candles to be used in the processions on Good Friday and Resurrection Matins.

c. Pascha
i. Coordinate ordering Easter flowers, and how they will be arranged at the grave.
ii. Choose a crew for setting up the Grave on Good Friday morning after morning services.
iii. Having helpers (ushers) to remove the grave just prior to Resurrection Matins according to the schedule.

8. Pentecost:
a. The green altar and icon cloths should be out the day before.
b. On Pentecost morning, tree branches will need to be cut down and placed throughout the church as well as outside the doors of the church and canopy posts.
i. It would be advisable to see where you will be cutting branches (preferably love oak varieties not palms) from. It is ok to cut them from your backyard, from the rectory trees or anywhere else you would be allowed to obtain them from.

9. Major Cleaning

1. Twice yearly before Christmas and Pascha, you are to arrange for the polishing of all brass, including:
a. Hanging Icon Lamps
b. All Candelabra,
c. Taper Stands (which should be taken apart for through cleaning)
d. dusting of Chandeliers damp wiping bulbs
e. Wiping icons on the Iconostasis with a damp cloth to remove smoke, as well as the side icons and crosses.

2. General Cleaning as needed of:
a. Fans in the altar area
b. Votive glass once blackened by candle smoke
c. Sanctuary lamp chain
d. All linens, altar coverings
e. Dry clean all soiled cotton albs as needed medium starch.
f. Soiled Sticharion (Rayon/Silk colored albs) dry cleaning only-no starch.
g. Used purificators in the hamper by the water cooler should be given to the person assigned to clean them properly every two months, or check to see if hamper is full more often. If you wish to take on this responsibility you must follow the cleaning protocol:
h. Purificator cleaning protocol:
i. Used purificators are to be soaked in warm water in a large glass bowl then squeeze the excess water from them into the bowl.
ii. Then the bowl of water should be taken and poured into the ground or flower bed, never dumped down the drain. Cloths are to be hand washed with simple soap and water, air dried, then ironed and folded appropriately:
(1) Once ironed take the rectangular cloth and fold both of the long ends to meet in the middle. Then fold to make a crease in the middle. The purificator should then be folded in half long end to long end to create an elongated folded cloth.
Just as the Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament had those who were assigned to be sacristans of the Temple in their own right, you too are to have the same sense of wonder and awe at the
beauty of God’s Dwelling Place on Earth.”
Nothing should ever be “good enough” for God’s House. If you observe items that either are worn, need repair, refurbishing, or replacement, you are to see Father to see what can be done to address our concerns. Remember, the priest will never short change God, and if items need to be addressed in the church proper, they will.
It is your vocation and ministry to maintain the beauty of the House if the Lord so that those who enter it are uplifted and inspired. There may be larger even more beautiful churches in our Eparchy, but that should only want us to maintain, improve, and beautify what we have even more. God will smile upon all of us for how we keep His House of Worship.

“O Lord, sanctify those who love the beauty of Your House!”

Some cleaning tips:
1.  To have Honor Guard candles shine, wipe with alcohol.
2.  Use WD40 to shine processional crosses, fans, as well as fans and cross behind the Holy Table.
3.  Use lighter fluid to remove black scuff marks on the floor.
4.  Votive glass can be cleaned in the dishwasher.
5.  Use the hand held kitchen scraper to remove wax drippings from floor.
6. If wax is difficult to remove from votive glass, place glass in hot tap water for a few minutes and pry out with screw driver.
7.  Never place a new votive candle into a cup which still has the old wick holder still at the bottom. The heat generated by the old and new metal piece may crack the glass which is not tempered glass.
8.  To remove the small metal wick holder from votive glasses, simply push on one end of the holder, which has small dots on the bottom to allow pushing to one side to remove.
9. Metal wick holders placed in uncleaned votive glass will be more difficult to pop up due to built up wax at the bottom of the glass, use a lighter to heat the metal at the bottom of the glass for easy removal.
10.  To remove built up wax from candle followers, use a designated pot filled with water and bring to a boil on the stove. With tongs simple place brass follower in the hot water for a few moments then use paper towels to wipe excess wax off.

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