The Company of Servers (CoS) will hold its annual Festival and AGM in the North Yorkshire town, hosted by the eleventh-century Abbey and organised by the Company’s York Diocesan Chapter, with volunteer Servers travelling from all over the country for the all-day event.

Servers are lay people who contribute to the running of Christian church services in many traditions; within the Church of England they are often robed in white or black and white and seen processing and assisting the clergy during a service.

Their duties often include carrying a processional cross, and carrying and using a thurible (a traditional incense burner).

Chair of the York Diocesan Chapter Tony Parker is both a Reader and a Server at Howden Minster. “The Festival will bring people together from across the country to meet their fellow Servers,” he said. “We tend to be committed to one church so this is a good chance to share experiences and make new friends.”

Chapter Secretary David Simpson, a Server at Selby Abbey, adds, “Part of many services is theatre, and the Company exists to encourage good practice and help people make sure that it’s done well.”

The Festival’s principal Act of Worship will be a sung Eucharist at 10.30am on Saturday 5th May in the Abbey, led by its choir, and concelebrated (jointly led) by numerous priests from the Company’s parent body, the Anglican Society of Catholic Priests (SCP), in many cases from parishes in which CoS members serve.

The Company of Servers was formed in 2009 and is open to women and men who want to deepen their understanding of the worship in which they participate, and benefit from the experience of fellow Servers in other places. The York Diocesan Chapter meets quarterly and occasionally runs training sessions on aspects of Servers’ ministry – most recently on the sometimes-challenging management of the thurible with its burning charcoal tablets and potential for injury from hot parts.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming Servers from the whole country to Selby Abbey in 2018,” says Tony Parker.

“Any Servers interested in joining CoS are most welcome at the 5th May service too – and we’ll welcome anyone else who just wants to raise the roof with the praise of God!”