Volunteering at Vespers: A Rewarding Holiday Experience


Photo courtesy of Moravian University

On Dec. 3 and 4, I volunteered at the Central Moravian Church for the annual Vespers service. Held at the Moravian Church at W Church St. in Bethlehem, Vespers is a form of worship, including songs and hymns, as well as a candlelit service. The music selected included songs that presented a message about Christmas. Although it is held in a church, the Vespers service is not affiliated with any religion and they do not preach during it. 

As a volunteer, I had a few different jobs to perform. First, all of the volunteers are assigned a vest and our duties for the night. Gabrielle Demchak, who organized the volunteering, assigned the jobs. Since I was volunteering for two nights, I had different jobs on each night. The jobs include greeting guests and handing them their materials for the service; I was also in charge of fire safety and of collecting the tithes — or donations — to the church. 

On night one, I greeted guests and passed out the pamphlets that included the music for the night. For night two, I held the door and greeted people while someone else collected tickets. Other jobs included holding a tray of candles for the candlelit section of the service and passing out masks to those who didn’t have any. After this was the money collection portion. During this, we had six people on each side of the church going with bowls to collect the tithes from the guests. This was fun to experience, as I got to go inside the church and observe the service.

I participated in this on both nights. On the first night, I was also part of the fire safety crew, during which I would stand up in the balcony next to the choir in case anything (or anyone) caught on fire during the candlelit part of the service. The upper balcony includes the choir and some instrumentalists, as well as guests who choose to sit up there. At the very end, all of the volunteers would go and snuff out the candles so nobody would have to pull masks down to blow them out. 

The only issues I came across when it came to the experience were when people kept coming as we were trying to close the doors as well as the fear of something catching on fire.

During night two, there were several times they asked us to shut the doors yet people kept pouring in as soon as we were taking the “last guests” in. I felt bad shutting the door on people so I kept holding it open and the service had already started.

There were also many kids and other people who would try to wave their candle out rather than waiting for the snuffers. Also, when the candlelit section of the service was happening, the lights were down and people would have to use their candles as a light source. People, especially the children, holding their candles close to the pamphlets was quite scary. But all went well at the end of the day.

Volunteering at the Vespers service is a great opportunity for anyone who is interested. It isn’t too long of a service, and you can hear and see the service as well as hear the songs being sung and hear the instrumentalists play. The jobs are not difficult at all; it’s very organized as well as rewarding. I believe I will continue to do this during my time at Moravian and I recommend anyone to do the same.