Welcome to the Vergers Voice, the official news blog of the Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church. Also known as the VGEC, we are located on the web at vergers.org and facebook.com/vergerguild the #1 online resources for vergers world-wide.

For information about submitting news and announcements to the blog, click HERE or contact [email protected].

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Why Camp Allen?

This video was produced by VergerTV on Saturday, May 18, 2019 at the offices of Trinity Church Wall Street in New York. Click the image above to play the video or click HERE.

This is a transcript of the video:

Hello and welcome to VergerTV!

I’m Scott Smith, Head Sacristan at Trinity Church in New York and I’m also President of the Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church.

If you’re new to the vergers guild or wondering just what in the world a verger is, check out vergers.org or the VergerGuild Facebook page for tons of information.

Look below this video for some helpful links and be sure to give this video a thumbs up.

Leave your own comments and suggestions, and also subscribe to VergerTV on Youtube.

So today I wanted to talk a little bit about our Annual Conference this fall.

This year the Vergers Guild will be gathering at Camp Allen, an Episcopal Retreat and Conference Center located in the Piney Woods in Texas.

I’ve had a few emails asking me why we chose Camp Allen this year.

Well, this is the 31st year of our Annual Conferences and EACH one has been really successful and unique.

I’ve personally been going to the conferences for 10 years and I’ve enjoyed each one A LOT.

They’re a great way to learn about being a verger.

And also good time to spend with other people who work in these pretty unique jobs that we do.

But we’ve heard for quite a while that conferences have been pretty expensive, and the high cost has historically prevented some people from attending.

Not just PRETTY expensive, but REALLY REALLY expensive.

The Vergers Guild board has been working really hard over the past year to come up with a solution.

This year we’ve chosen Camp Allen because we can all meet there for a LOT less money and we can spend time together in a more laid back, peaceful,  and beautiful place.

Camp Allen is located in an absolutely beautiful part of Texas, about 80 miles from Houston and 120 miles from Austin.

I’ve been in that area a LOT believe it or not, and it really is amazing.

I’ve even caught a bunch of fish in the area - so much so they were basically jumping in the boat! That’s really true!

Camp Allen is also one of the best Episcopal Conference Centers in the country.

And the cost of Camp Allen is DRAMATICALLY less expensive

For one person sharing a double room, it’s $400 for the room, all meals, conference registration, AND shuttles to and from both Houston airports.

That is big-time less expensive than in past years!

A few of you have asked me if we’ll be only going to a retreat or conference center in the future.

Well, in 2020, we’ll be meeting in another metropolitan location just like we always have in the past.

We’ll announce that location at Camp Allen - so come find out where it will be!

Then in 2021 we’ll meet at another conference center, and in 2022 back to another church in a city.

So we’ll be going back and forth for a few years to see what we all really like.

So if you’ve ever thought about coming to a conference, and you’ve not been able to afford it, this might be your year to try one out!

And the host committee has lined up a great list of seminars and activities for us…

This is going to be a much more laid-back conference, and we’re looking forward to the keynote address by Bishop Andy Doyle of the host Diocese of Texas.

His topic is, “How do I maintain a spiritual life when I work for the church?”

Now not all vergers work full-time for the church, but it sure does feels like it sometimes…

There’s also a chance to meet and talk with Kelly Puckett who created lectionarypage.net.

That’s the site that almost every Episcopal Church uses for their Sunday readings.

We’ll also learn about “hospitality Disney style” and “digital literacy for ministry,” we’ll have a Texas BBQ, an ice-cream social, and a whole lot more.

We’ll also have a lot of time for relaxation, fellowship and worship.

So check out vergers.org, and I really hope you’ll be with us for this conference!

It’s super easy to start the registration process online at vergers.org also.

We have 15 scholarships of 100 dollars each for the conference, so check out vergers.org to apply.

Today’s video has been brought to you by the Vergers Guild Shop where you can pick up a got vergers shirt just like this and a whole lot more at shop.vergers.org.

That’s it for today from VergerTV.

Take care, and remember:

Keep Calm and Verge On!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Vergers at General Convention in 2018

This VergerTV video shows the VGEC booth as General Convention prepares to open on July 3, 2018

By Scott Smith, VGEC President and Head Sacristan, Trinity Church Wall Street, [email protected]

As the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church gets underway in Austin, Texas, the Vergers Guild has an excellent location in the Exhibit Hall of the Austin Convention Center. We plan to spread word of the verger ministry to the over 1000 attendees of this triennial.

The one minute video above shows the results of a full day’s work yesterday. We have started an online photo album where we will be uploading photos and videos of the event.

The VGEC has had color-
changing cups at General
Convention since 2009 and
they have become very
The VGEC had its first booth at General Convention in 2009 in Anaheim, California followed by 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana, 2015 in Salt Lake City, and now 2018 in Austin, Texas.

25 vergers volunteers will be working in shifts to staff the booth for the entire time the exhibit hall is open. Some are delegates or alternates, some are local to the Austin/San Antonio area, and several are traveling from afar. According to Duke DuTeil, this year’s General Convention Committee Chair, “We have spent several months planning the event here in Austin and we are delighted to welcome the greater church to our part of the country.”

We invite you to tell anyone that you know who is attending the event this year to stop by the booth and pick up an orange color changing VGEC collector’s cup. They can’t miss us - tell them to look for the large overhead “got vergers?” sign.

We have put aside a stash of these awesome orange cups for those attending the VGEC Annual Conference in Denver on September 20 to 23, 2018 in Denver, Colorado.

The 2018 VGEC Annual Conference is in Denver from Thursday, September 20 to Sunday, September 23, 2018. This conference marks the 30th year that we have gathered together to learn about and explore the ministry of the verger in God's church. The deadline to register is Monday, September 10, 2018. We cannot accept on-site registrations! Fees increase after August 15, 2018!

Abstract: Vergers are being well-represented at the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church being held in Austin, Texas from July 3rd to July 13th.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Young Adults in Verger Ministry and Pub Theology in Boulder Colorado

Jesus-loving Coloradoans and Vergers in Boulder!

By Jennifer Carr, Head Verger, Acolyte Master, St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church, Boulder [email protected]

Editor's note: Jennifer is leading the “Young People in Verger Ministry - Not all heroes wear capes and not all vergers wear chimeres” session at the 2018 VGEC Annual Conference on Friday, September 21, 2018 at 2pm in Denver, Colorado. To register, click HERE.

On a Sunday, not too long ago, one of my parish’s retired vergers stopped to ask me, “Has the job changed much since you took over?” He asked me just as the bell was ringing and obviously did not expect a detailed answer so I said, “No, we still do most of the things that you remember.” That answer was not entirely accurate.

Thinking about my answer and considering our conference theme of “The Church in the 21st Century,” my answer changes. We do still complete many of the same tasks that vergers at my parish have always completed, but there’s more to what we do than completing the same tasks year after year.

I work in a church that is just a stone’s throw away from the campus of The University of Colorado at Boulder. Part of our mission is to reach out to the students at the university. Through this outreach I now have a team of vergers comprised partially of college students and recent graduates.

Having students and young adults as vergers is wonderful. I strongly encourage you to reach out to young people who may be interested, whether they know it or not! But you will have to remember to make some accommodations. Scheduling, for my team, includes a knowledge of the academic year. I do not schedule student vergers during finals week or other weeks where their attention needs to be on campus. Summer break also brings scheduling considerations as some students leave town or work summer jobs that include Sunday shifts. However, there is more to what we do than scheduling. With these students and young adults, I get to do something that I think is truly remarkable: Pub(lic) Theology.

Pub Theology is nothing new, but as a Jesus-loving native Coloradoan there is little I enjoy more than talking about God over a good craft beer. My group started meeting because some of the older students and young adults in my church wanted a place for fellowship and discussion that fit in the gap between campus ministry sermons and Sunday morning. A place where we could ask questions and have discussions and find a little fellowship with people who were in a similar place in life. Vergers now help plan and facilitate those conversations.

Planning Pub Theology is not a difficult job, but it is important. We meet roughly once a month in a brewery in East Boulder. The brewery is quieter than most of the restaurants we have tried. You do not have to shout to be heard. I gather feedback and ideas from some of our regulars and pick a topic to research. Recently we have discussed The Seven Deadly Sins, The Seven Virtues, as well as Vocation and the Holy Spirit. I come prepared with ideas and questions, but no answers. One of my other vergers helps plan the meeting by posting the event on Facebook and making sure it is announced in newsletters and bulletins.

Hosting these meetings feels similar to the work we do in officiating a Daily Office or serving at the Eucharist. We help create a space where people can be open to something bigger than themselves. Just as vergers worry about the details of the liturgy so others do not have to, my vergers worry about the research and scheduling so others can simply participate. Just as a verger might guide someone through part of the Daily Office by guiding us through the prayers, we guide others through a discussion. The result, for me anyway, is not unlike when I leave a worship service. I come away pondering my place in the universe and within my community and thinking about how what we discussed can influence the rest of my life. Pub Theology is a place where we can talk about whatever interest us and it also a place where we come for support and fellowship. Together, we have grown a lot while talking about God over craft beer.

So to return to the original question, I would stay that my job has not changed much. It is still my job to be welcoming and support people through the service. Now I just get to extend that support and welcome to a brewery in East Boulder.

The 2018 VGEC Annual Conference is in Denver on Thursday, September 20 to Sunday, September 23, 2018. This conference marks the 30th year that we have gathered together to learn about and explore the ministry of the verger in God's church. The deadline to register is Monday, September 10, 2018. We cannot accept on-site registrations! Fees increase after August 15, 2018!

Abstract: Jennifer Carr will be leading a seminar on Friday afternoon, September 21, at our annual conference. Come hear how craft beer, vergers, and Pub Theology fit in with the verger ministry of hospitality and welcome and the ministry of the verger in the 21st Century.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

2018 Annual Conference Keynote: Accidental Saints by Nadia Bolz-Weber

Nadia Bolz-Weber is the highly acclaimed Keynote Speaker at the 2018 VGEC Annual Conference in September

By David Deutsch, Volunteer Verger at Washington National Cathedral, [email protected]

I was somewhat surprised when I learned that Nadia Bolz-Weber was to be the Keynote Speaker at the 2018 VGEC Annual Conference this September in Denver, Colorado.

Then, as I read her second book, Accidental Saints, I gained mind-blowing insights into the ministry of the verger. Bolz-Weber writes in moving, compassionate, sometimes gut-wrenching stories the importance of the worship community—the community of when two or three are gathered together. I believe that heart of Accidental Saints is that the radical grace that flows from God to his broken community must be done by and in his broken community. The community—that very community in which the verger serves— is key. Nadia Bolz-Weber writes that:
We cannot create for ourselves God’s word of grace. We must tell it to each other. It’s terribly inconvenient and oftimes uncomfortable way for things to happen. Were we able to receive the word of God through pious, private devotion—through quiet personal time with God—the Christian life would be far less messy. But, as Paul tells us, faith comes through hearing, and hearing implies someone right there doing the telling. Sometimes this comes through God’s weirdly gracious nature…But sometimes, I believe that God’s word of grace can also come through simple, imperfect everyday human love.
Every story in Accidental Saints is undergirded by this necessity for a religious community if we are to receive God’s amazing grace. And what does Bolz-Weber mean by “religious?” To be religious “is to be human in the midst of other humans who are as equally messed up and obnoxious and forgiven as ourselves.” Religious implies community while spiritual implies an individual and escapist approach to salvation.

For example, in telling the story of Jesus healing the Geresene demoniac in Mark, Bolz-Weber reminds us that Jesus is never simply interested in just healing. No. Jesus is most concerned about restoration back into the community: “In the Jesus business, community is always a part of healing. Even though the community is never perfect.” And how does this relate to the ministry of the verger?

We vergers help protect, guide, shepherd, assist in creating the liturgy—the work of the people—in our religious communities. Thus we help oversee the process which allows our beloved communities to share, give, receive, hear, and speak God’s boundless grace. Bishop James Mathis at the 2009 VGEC convention said that vergers, by providing order for a life of worship and of prayer at the heart of the community, create a safe place for the holy spirit to work its grace.

By carrying out our ministry, we vergers enable others to do their work and exercise their ministry. Reading Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Accidental Saints gives profound insight into the collective ministry of a church community. I consider it a must read.

Editor's Note: We also found the Fresh Air episode below to be a must listen!

The 2018 VGEC Annual Conference is in Denver on Thursday, September 20 to Sunday, September 23, 2018. This conference marks the 30th year that we have gathered together to learn about and explore the ministry of the verger in God's church. The deadline to register is Monday, September 10, 2018. We cannot accept on-site registrations! Fees increase after August 15, 2018!

Abstract: David Deutsch said this about the 2018 VGEC Annual Conference Keynote Speaker: When I read Nadia Bolz-Weber’s book, Accidental Saints, I gained mind-blowing insights into the ministry of the verger.” Find out why...

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Bumper Sticker Contest for vergers.org

Stickers are great give-aways at General and Diocesan Conventions. We need your help!

By David Deutsch, Volunteer Verger at Washington National Cathedral, [email protected]

Are you a person of few words? Would you like to put that rare personal trait to work for the Vergers Guild? Are you a person of perhaps too many words, as, ahem, is yours truly? Would you like an opportunity to practice thinking as tersely as possible all in the service of the Vergers Guild? Would you like to win free registration to either the 2019 or 2020 Annual Conference?

The VGEC is announcing a bumper sticker contest!!

got vergers? has been around for a while...
When I was assigned this topic I had some questions to answer. What bumper stickers does the VGEC have right now? That question lead me to the got vergers? department of the Vergers Guild Shop where I found the one got vergers? bumper sticker that we have. Then I wondered about how the got vergers? campaign came to be and I stumbled on a video in VergerTV from 2012 explaining how it was developed in 2011 for General Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana in 2012.

Examples of the author's verger-related bumper stickers
Now, in 2018, the guild is looking for new and creative ways to express an aspect or a motif of vergerdom. As an example, over the years I have developed and printed several bumper stickers with messaging relating to the verger ministry. I give them away to many colleagues and unsuspecting Episcopalians far and wide. Several people tell me they miss my big manilla envelopes with the blue gifts inside! I have included some examples of what I created, hoping that this might help stir your creativity.

Indeed, the VGEC is interested in your ideas and I know we are a creative bunch. We have to be in order to do our jobs as vergers! The main guideline for a bumper sticker is that it must be easy to read and digest in a relatively short amount of time. That is the challenge: not to be overly wordy.

The winning bumper sticker will be formatted by some of our fabulous VGEC techno-vergers, but the phrase "vergers.org" must be included in your sticker submissions. (You perhaps have already noted that I did not include that phrase on the bumper stickers I designed as mine were unofficial.)

Submitted bumper stickers may be part of an a new kit of materials for Diocesan Conventions and other events.

If you want to play around and do a mock-up like I did, go to Graphicsland at graphicsland.com where you can select a template and start right in. You can also just jump right in and create it on your computer without using a template. Either way, put on your creative verger persona and get to work. Have fun!

Who will judge the winning entry? Why WE ALL will! A poll will be presented to us with the top entries. Please mail your bumper stickers to [email protected]. Deadline for all entries is July 22, 2018, 10:00 pm PDT.

Here are the picky details:
  • Winner will be announced at the Awards Banquet in Denver at the 30th Annual Conference on September 22, 2018.
  • You do not have to be present to win.
  • Winner agrees to give up all artistic, intellectual, and property rights to the winning bumper sticker selected by vote of the membership of VGEC.
  • Contest is open to all members of VGEC as of July 22, 2018.
  • Winner will receive free registration to either the VGEC 2019 or 2020 Annual Conference (no lodging or meals, only registration).
So let’s do it. And always remember:

The 2018 VGEC Annual Conference is in Denver on Thursday, September 20 to Sunday, September 23, 2018! This conference marks the 30th year that we have gathered together to learn about and explore the ministry of the verger in God's church. The deadline to register is Monday, September 10, 2018. We cannot accept on-site registrations! Fees increase after August 15, 2018!

Abstract: Are you a person of few words? Would you like to put that rare personal trait to work for the Vergers Guild? Enter the Bumper Sticker Contest and show us your best pithy takes on the verger ministry. You can win a free registration to either the VGEC 2019 or 2020 Annual Conference!

Friday, April 13, 2018

September in the Mile High City

The 2018 VGEC Annual Conference is in September in Denver: Please Join Us!

By David Barr, 2018 VGEC Annual Conference Co-Chair, [email protected]

I am incredibly excited to introduce you to the 2018 Annual Conference of the Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church being held in Denver on Thursday, September 20 to Sunday, September 23, 2018! This conference marks the 30th year that we have gathered together to learn about and explore the ministry of the verger in God's church. I hope you will make plans to join us!

Hosted by Saint John’s Cathedral, Denver and Saint Andrew’s Church, Denver and the Barry Bowman Chapter of the VGEC, the conference theme this year is "The Church in the 21st Century" and we will focus intently on how the ministry of the verger can help grow the church for the future. Twenty-five members of the Barry Bowman Chapter of the VGEC have joined together to host this exciting event.

The annual conferences are one of the most anticipated and popular activities of the VGEC. The conferences are held Thursday through Sunday in the autumn. Each conference has a series of sessions that cover several topics of interest to the verger and several events that foster fellowship, learning, and worship during the weekend.

The conference culminates with a festive Holy Eucharist with a procession of all vergers in attendance. For a quick view of what conferences in the past have been like, click HERE for VergerTV conference videos and HERE for Flickr conference photos.

Complete information about this year's conference is available HERE along with hotel information and online conference registrations. You may want to take a look at the detailed online agenda for the conference HERE.

Our Keynote speaker this year is Nadia Bolz-Weber, founding pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints and author of New York Times bestseller Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People (Convergent, 2015). As the Church changes and evolves in this century, the ministry of the verger will evolve with it. Pastor Nadia clearly has a vision of how the Church can be both deeply rooted in its most ancient traditions while being very open to both the present and future of the world within which we are called to be the Church.

Other conference sessions and events include:

Verger 101: Exploring the Verger Ministry

Specifically designed to support the new verger as he or she embarks on this ministry. It is for those who have been vergers three years or less or first-time conference attendees. Led by Duke DuTeil, VGEC Training Advisor and Retired Head Verger, Washington National Cathedral.

Verging in the 21t Century: Where are we?

Designed for the seasoned verger: Join Ian Thompson, Sacristan and Verger of Saint John’s Cathedral, Denver, as we explore our unique heritage and ministry within the church. As vergers, we are not just ceremonial leaders but are leaders within our church’s ministries and communities.

Young people in Verger Ministry: Not all heroes wear capes and not
all Vergers wear chimeres

Join Jennifer Carr, Verger at Saint Aidan’s Episcopal Church, Boulder, to hear about young people and students in Boulder and other parishes who are helping to shape, re-imagine, and revitalize ministries within their parishes.

How does your Parish remain Open, Welcoming, and Inclusive
and still keep the people safe?

Join Steve Tilson, Verger, Saint John’s Church, Boulder and Bill Finch, Retired Lieutenant of the Denver Police Department, as we discuss being open and welcoming and having a common sense security plan.

Annual Business Meeting of the VGEC

This is the one time in the year that representative members of the VGEC join together to conduct the business of the Guild including committee reports and election of board members.

The Vergers Banquet

On Saturday night, we gather for a wonderful evening of dinner, presentations, and entertainment at the Warwick Denver. The primary focus of the dinner is to celebrate all of the vergers who have completed the VGEC Training Course to become Fellows of the VGEC since the last conference.

Please click HERE to learn about everything that we have to offer this year at this conference which helps us all take a careful look at where we are in our own verger ministries and how we will continue to grow and strive in the 21st century.

Please contact me at [email protected] if you have any questions. I can't wait to see you in Denver in September 2018!!

Did you know that you can submit your own story about the verger ministry for possible inclusion in the Vergers Voice blog?

We are always looking for interesting topics, ideas, and creative ways of demonstrating the power and enjoyment of being part of the fellowship of the VGEC and our ministry of service.

If you have any ideas, or if you would like to take your turn at writing a post and sharing ideas, send them to [email protected]!

The 2018 VGEC Annual Conference is in Denver on Thursday, September 20 to Sunday, September 23, 2018! This conference marks the 30th year that we have gathered together to learn about and explore the ministry of the verger in God's church. The deadline to register is Monday, September 10, 2018We cannot accept on-site registrations! Fees increase after August 15, 2018!

Abstract: The Church in the 21st Century is the theme for the 30th annual VGEC Conference to be held in Denver on Thursday, September 20 to Sunday, September 23, 2018. Time to make reservations and travel plans!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Book Review: The Last Week by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan

A book recommended by David Deutsch

By David Deutsch, Volunteer Verger at Washington National Cathedral, [email protected]

The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus's Final Days in Jerusalem
by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan
Harper Collins, 2007

Thank you, Scott Smith, for suggesting that I read this book.

What I particularly like in this book—indeed any book by Marcus Borg—is that the writing is crystal clear. Having gone to seminary I can attest that most theological books are a real slog. Not "The Last Week." Borg and Crossan dissect the week from Palm Sunday to Easter, day by day, using only the Gospel of Mark. Why Mark? For two reasons. One, Mark was the earliest gospel writer. And because Mark alone went out of his way to chronicle Jesus’s last week on a day-by-day basis.  I had never realized that Mark chronicles Friday’s events in three hour segments (like Roman military watch times):
  • 6 am: “As soon as it was morning” (15:1)
  • 9 am: “It was nine o’clock in the morning” (15:25)
  • 12 noon: “When it was noon” (15:33)
  • 3 pm: “At three o’clock” (15:34)
  • 6pm: “When evening had come” (15:42)
Totally cool!

Borg and Crossan make a good case that the message of Mark’s Jesus is not about himself. Jesus’s core message is that the kingdom of God is both present and the kingdom of God is on its way. Indeed, many of us remember that the disciples continually misunderstood this and always looked at Jesus as Messiah and savior. Also, Jesus is totally upset that the Temple authorities, priests, and scribes are not concerned with doing justice, a core tenet of Judaism and of utmost importance to the prophets. Justice is a core component of the Kingdom of God as those prophets continually remind us. Yet the disciples, i.e., us, just do not get it. This is a prominent theme in Mark:

His story of failed discipleship is Mark's warning gift to all who hear or read his narrative. We must think of Lent today as a penitential season because we know that, like those first disciples, we would like to avoid the implications to be about the interior rather than the exterior life, about heaven rather than earth, about the future rather than the present, and, above all else, about religion safely and securely quarantined from politics.

The above is just one of the themes that run through this book which is clearly and lucidly presented. One other point that Borg and Crossan make—which I will not delve deeply into here; I’ll leave that for you—is the idea is that we sinned, a sacrifice of someone without sin is necessary for atonement, Jesus, Son of God is the one to be that sacrifice. Borg and Crossan totally disagree.

It is not by Jesus substituting for them [disciples], but by their participating in Jesus. They must pass through death to a new life here below on this earth, and they can already see what that transformed life is like in Jesus himself.

Once Holy Week is over, and we vergers have taken a breath, I suggest that you read this marvelous book. Borg and Crossan lay out their interpretations lucidly and logically. For that writing, I give much thanks. The Last Week will give the reader a firm foundation on which to build an understanding not only about the moving drama of Holy Week, but also a deeper insight into Jesus’ message for us as told by that earliest of gospel writers, Mark.

I find the book fascinating.

The 2018 VGEC Annual Conference will be in Denver, Colorado on Thursday, September 20 to Sunday, September 23, 2018. Complete information is available online at 2018.vergers.org.

Online registrations will be live on Tuesday, April 3, 2018 and a blog post about the conference will come out next Friday! 

Abstract: Once you have recovered from Holy Week, David Deutsch, volunteer verger at Washington National Cathedral, recommends "The Last Week" by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan, as a book to ponder for a deeper insight into Jesus' last week based on the Gospel of Mark.