Church ushers use a system of hand signals known as the National Silent Uniform System to communicate with each other during church services. The system is taught by the National United Church Ushers Association of America.
The National Silent Uniform System includes a variety of signals for meeting the needs of congregants and facilitating a smooth church service. All signals begin with a base signal, also known as the service position, from which all other signals are made. This entails the usher holding one hand behind his back at his mid-back, and holding one hand in front at the upper chest; for men, the hand should be over the knot of the tie or just below, depending on the congregation. Messages communicated through signals include indicating the number of seats available in a pew, typically communicated by extending a coinciding number of fingers; a request for programs, communicated by extending the thumb upward and extending two fingers across the chest; and a request for envelopes, communicated by extending the thumb upward and extending three fingers across the chest. Some signals are intended for use among all ushers, while some, including requests for programs and envelopes as well as the signal for needing assistance are typically directed at a designated head usher.