General Guidelines for All Ranks of Deaconship

  1. All ranks of deaconship should study the Coptic Language, because it is connected to all the rites, readings, praises and tunes of the church, so that they might read the Coptic Language, not Coptic written in Arabic or English.
  2. They should learn, study and repeat the praises and hymns as a chorus and in hymns classes.
  3. They should know the rites of the church and the services of the different church seasons.
  4. They should be aware of the saints’ feasts and recite the appropriate glorification hymns.
  5. They should follow the general rules and guidelines of deaconship service, not looking for authority and avoid disputes especially during the services.
  6. They should be true partakers of the liturgy and other praises.

Church Attendance Guidelines

  1. The deacon should be prepared to attend the liturgy by repentance and confession.
  2. He should shower (symbolizing repentance and confession) and wear proper clothing worthy of visiting the Lord’s house.
  3. The deacon prays the Lord’s Prayer upon awakening and prays the Matins prayer.
  4. On the way to church he prays: Psalms 26, 46, and 121.
  5. The deacon should arrive early (15 minutes before the start of the Matins Raising of Incense) to pray the Doxology of Matins.
  6. He crosses himself at the entrance of the church, reminding himself that he is entering heaven as he is entering the church.
  7. He walks quietly and slowly towards the sanctuary while saying, “But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy; In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple.”
  8. He bows before the sanctuary 3 times while saying, “I worship You O Christ, with your good Father, and the Holy Spirit for You have come and saved us.”
  9. He takes the blessing from the altar curtain, relics of the saints, from the bishop and priest, and then goes to stand in his place.
  10. After he receives the blessings from the priest and the Beshara (the Gospel), at the end of the Matins Raising of Incense, he enters the sanctuary to prepare to dress in his vestments.
  11. Presenting the tunic on the left hand, showing the cross on the front side of the tunic, and uses his right hand to make the sign of the cross during the prayers of the dressing of the deacon vestments. The deacon should bow his head or kneel before the priest to have the priest’s blessing and approval.
  12. They should present their tunics to the priest to sign them, for the following reasons.
  13. While putting on his vestments, he should quietly recite Psalms 29 and 92 from the Agpeya.
  14. After putting on the vestments, he should exit, bow down before the sanctuary, and take his place among the chorus of deacons.
  15. If any deacon is late after the Offertory of the Lamb, he is not allowed to put on his service clothes and serve. If he is late after the reading of the Gospel, he cannot partake of the Holy Communion.
  16. They should always wear the tunic and serve in every Liturgy, either inside the Sanctuary or outside, it is not right to enter the altar without wearing a tunic. Since he is wearing the tunic and is serving, he should partake of the Holy Communion, and if doesn’t partake of the Holy Communion then according to the rites of the church it is a great error.
  17. While distributing the psalms, the deacons must distribute the following psalms to the serving priest or bishop:
    1. In the Third Hour: “May the Lord answer you…”, “I will exalt You…” and, “Oh clap your hands all you ..”.
    2. In the Sixth Hour: “Save me O God by Your name…”, “Lord You have been favorable to Your land…”, and, “The Lord …”
    3. In the Ninth Hour: “Oh sing to the Lord a new song…”, “The Lord said to my Lord…”, and, “I believed, therefore I spoke…”.
  18. During the liturgy, he must keep himself from excessive movement, from entering and exiting the sanctuary needlessly, and to keep his conversation only to matters regarding the service with a quiet voice.
  19. The deacon should always look towards the sanctuary during the liturgy except during the liturgy of the word (the readings) during which, each chorus should look towards the opposite chorus.
  20. He bows down in the known times for bowing during the liturgy and does not sit down during prayer except for the times when sitting is allowed or by exemption from the lead deacon (certain cases only).
  21. He faces the altar while bowing down and praying as Christ (the Body and Blood) is present on the altar.
  22. He should enter and exit the sanctuary through the side entrances (if available) except while responding to the Litany of the Gospel and the Processions of the Feasts.
  23. After every reading, the reader shall bow down before the right-hand side of the main sanctuary entrance then proceed to the priest to receive his blessing, while making sure to follow the proper discipline of entering and exiting the sanctuary (see previous).
  24. He participates in all the responses and hymns for the congregation and deacons in one spirit and one voice, all responses in accordance to the voice level and following the language in which the priest is praying.
  25. He should not raise his voice in prayers, except specifically the prayers of the congregation and the deacons. However, it is not wrong that his heart should rise (and not his voice) as he participates in every prayer.
  26. He follows the deacon in charge in all the responses and does not raise his voice above the lead deacon.
  27. All deacons, without exception, receive Holy Communion before the congregation.
  28. He does not use the cymbals or the triangle except by permission from the deacon in charge and he is aware that the cymbals and triangle are meant to keep the beat in a quiet manner and away from the microphone.
  29. Deacons should not go out of the church with the tunic, because these are clothes for service only inside the church.
  30. He takes off the tunic at the end of the Liturgy, after releasing the angel of sacrifice, and not before.
  31. Deacons should observe their behavior and maintain silence in the church at all times.

Roles & Instructions for Deacons Serving in the Sanctuary

  1. Be present in the church from the beginning of the Matins Raising of Incense and assist in organizing the altar and prepare for the service of the liturgy with the priest.
  2. Responsible (with the permission of the lead deacon in the Sanctuary) for arranging the Eprosphareen upon the altar, carrying the wine (during the Offertory), laying the Eprosphareen after the Prayer of Thanksgiving (except in the presence of another priest), rounding the altar during the Pauline, reading the Gospel (with permission of the priest), and removing the Eprosphareen after the Prayer of Reconciliation (except in the presence of another priest).
  3. Say the responses of the Litanies of Peace, Fathers, and Congregation during the Pauline and the Acts (Praxis) processions.
  4. Stands at the north side of the altar (with the permission of the lead deacon in the Sanctuary) and assist the priest with the pages of the liturgy book and distributing the responses amongst the deacons of the sanctuary in a discreet manner.
  5. Not permitted to rest his hands on the altar. Only the priest’s liturgical book, the Eprosphareen, the Cross and the Gospel and other altar linens are allowed on the altar. It is recommended that the deacons carry their own books in their hands.
  6. Should be knowledgeable in the manner of presenting the censer in a ready state, emptying it of ashes and presenting it to the priest in the appropriate manner (with the permission of the lead deacon in the Sanctuary) for the service of the censer from the beginning of the liturgy.
  7. Movement in the sanctuary proceeds counter-clockwise around the altar (from the right to the left).
  8. Should be knowledgeable of the rites of the procession inside the altar and around the church.
  9. Stands during times of bowing down (with humility in his heart) to observe the Body and Blood, shielding them from anything that may fall into or upon them (if necessary).
  10. Hold a candle during the consecration prayer and the fraction prayer.
  11. Maintains silence and conservation of movement in the main sanctuary and the side sanctuaries.
  12. After the liturgy, reorganizes the altar and returns it to its original state (e.g. wrapping the vessels, disposing of the water and the contents of the censer, the lights, etc.)
  13. Limits access to the sanctuary to those who serve in the altar. Only deacons dressed in service vestments are permitted to enter the altar.
  14. Focuses only on the sanctuary deacons’ responses and does not raise his voice during congregation responses.
  15. Keeps his eyes on the Body and Blood.
  16. Abstains from excessive movement, laughing, talking, or signaling. He should stand with respect, meekness, and Movements in the altar should only pertain to the service of the sanctuary and always with the knowledge of the lead sanctuary deacon.