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Preparation of the Table and Presentation of the Offerings 

The deacon's function in preparing the table and placing the bread and wine upon it has been traced from the second century. At times the deacon brought a small table into the room or into the center of the congregation after the catechumens were dismissed and the prayers of the people were concluded. A white cloth was placed on the table. Offerings of bread and wine were brought to the table by the people, or the deacons moved among the people to receive the offerings. Bread and wine in sufficient quantity were put out for the sacrament, with the rest set aside for the clergy and the poor. In subsequent years the altar was prepared before the liturgy in some places. This change has been associated with the development of low Mass, in which the altar served as both pulpit and table. The 1979 BCP states that at the presentation of the offerings, representatives of the congregation will bring the people's offerings of bread and wine, and money or other gifts, to the deacon or celebrant (pp. 333, 361). The BCP also directs that at the ordination of a deacon, the newly ordained deacon prepares the bread, pours sufficient wine (and a little water) into the chalice, and places the vessels on the table before the eucharist (p. 546). The BCP clearly identifies the deacon's function in preparing the table and receiving the offerings at the eucharist. See Corporal; see Deacon; see Offertory, Offertory Procession, Offertory Sentence. 

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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