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].

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Kasey and Her Muse

by Ken Holloway [email protected]

I had seen Michael Beach during the Vergers' Guild Annual Conference in Nashville this year, but did not actually meet him until we were seated close-by at the airport waiting for our flights home.

He told me that he has been a member of the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Sierra Madre, California for twenty-six years and that he sings in the choir most Sundays, so he is not verging as much these days. We talked a bit about our experience in the aerospace industry. During our conversation, I asked him to let me know if he had any ideas for Verger’s Voice articles. I had asked at least fifty others to send me ideas, drafts, photographs or manuscripts, mentioning it conversationally.

Michael replied. The image he sent and the story behind it moved this 70+ author.

Kasey O’Sullivan and her grandmother came to the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Sierra Madre CA. about three years ago. Kasey, then a 7 year-old, has been an acolyte for the last two years. She is acquiring liturgical wisdom in this picture from Head Verger Michael Beach. This picture was made by Dr. Jay Packer, a member of the parish. Dr. Packer is behind the camera at Ascension often. He approached Michael and Kasey’s grandmother with the concept and made this one with their approval.

We can read into this picture as we are guided by our individual reference frames.

I see teaching, guiding and loving care in a liturgical setting. How about you?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

"How To" Look up VGEC Member information

Ever wonder about finding email addresses or phone numbers of fellow VGEC members?

Often, the thought process follows a pattern like this:
  • I was trying to find an email address for someone just now and I confess I couldn't find where on vergers.org I could do that...
  • Granted, it's late and I could be missing it, but where should I be looking?
  • I figured I'd have to log in to gain access to personal information, but...
  • I'm not looking under the right rock, I guess!
Here’s a “How To” explaining the Membership Management Services feature of our web site. Known as "MMS," you can get to the site by typing membership.vergers.org in your browser's address bar or you can Google membership.vergers.org and it will find it for you.

You can also go to vergers.org and click on, "Member Login" in the menu buttons towards the top-right of the page:

This takes you to the login page:

Enter your email address and password and click  "Login." If you do not know your password you can click on the link to easily reset your password.

Once you login you will be taken to the main MMS page showing all of the capability of the system.

Go to the Search page by clicking the "Search Membership" tab to the far right as shown in blue below.

Enter your search criteria as desired and click the "Search Membership" button. In this example, we entered "Holloway" as the last name. This will display these search results:

You can click on several links in the results including parish and diocese if we have links for that information available. If you click on the member name or the photo, you will see details about the member:

From here you can print the information or copy it using highlight/right click/copy (or not)! Note that you can view a map of the member home address or the parish address. Remember that this information is only available to other members of the VGEC so your data is safe within our VGEC membership community.

So there you have it!

If you have other "How To" questions, send them to [email protected]. Our "crack" volunteer staff will have a response out to you via The Verger’s Voice in a flash.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Newest Pacific Northwest Junior Verger

Finn Kelly with Michael Sanchez of
Christ Church Episcopal Parish,
Lake Oswego, Oregon

Michael Sanchez reports we have a new Junior Verger at Christ Church Episcopal Parish in Lake Oswego, Oregon, just outside of Portland.

From what longtime members of his church have told him, Michael is the parish's first verger.  He has been serving since October of 2011 and has been the primary trainer for the acolytes for the past year.  

He tells us how it happened: "I've always thought it might be nice to have a second verger to help out with special church holidays and occasional services, but I always got stuck on who might be a good candidate for that. 

"After working more closely with the acolytes--especially this past year or so--the Spirit ever so gently led me in the right direction:  while we have plenty of fine adults in our church who serve as Eucharistic Ministers and in other capacities, we also have some truly remarkable kids.

"As a former middle school teacher, I have seen that kids really like helping out.  Adults have many ways they can serve at church, but many of them require time, resources, and frankly, a status of majority that kids simply don't have.  In proposing to our Interim Rector, Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dorsch, that we might integrate a Junior Verger in our services, I envisioned that our youth would have another very unique opportunity to serve God's church.

"I was delighted when Father Dorsch accepted the proposal. I sought out an acolyte who would be a perfect fit for the job. As I'm often known to say, we have many wonderful kids in our Parish.  It was difficult to select a young person for this ministry because we have so many whose gifts would qualify them as a fine Junior Verger.

"After prayerful consideration, I chose Finn Kelly.  He's a bright young man who is very keen on what's happening around him.  He catches on quickly and he's extraordinarily reliable and dependable.  Additionally, he's a kind person who is beloved by the entire congregation.

"I spoke with both Finn and his mother about the idea, and they were both quite receptive.  Once I got them on board, I suggested to Father Dorsch that we use Finn for All Saints' Sunday to verge the EMs and clergy. He agreed to it. Finn and I then had some one-on-one training over the phone.

"One of the funniest things I remember Finn asking early on was, 'Do I have to do all the work you do on Sunday mornings?'  I laughed and told him of course not.  But I do see him being able to handle something like that on a Sunday morning in the future, for sure.

"A 'Finn-sized' black cassock was appropriated, but a virge was needed in time for the service. I rushed to have another virge made by a local woodworker. It was close, but on Thursday, just before All Saints' Sunday, the Lord blessed us with a really beautiful virge to add to our procession!

"On All Saints' Sunday, as we quickly reviewed the service, I made sure that he was comfortable with how he fit into our customary.  We did a short walk-through, noting his various assignments as the service progressed. That was all we had time for.  One of the reasons Finn is a great Junior Verger is that I can coach him once on his movements and from that point on, he knows it. He really gets it.

"So how did our new Junior Verger do? He was about as perfect as could be! I am very proud of him.  I heard nothing but positive, affirming things from the congregation, as well.  They enjoyed seeing Finn serve in this new role.  And, of course, he had one very proud mom!"

What happens from here?  

"In the short-term, if his schedule allows, Finn will serve as Junior Verger for special church holidays:  Christ the King Sunday (which is also our Patronal Feast Day) and Christmas Eve are already in the works.  I'm already thinking ahead to Lent and Holy Week, too! Any long-term goals will have to wait until we have called our new Rector, as he/she will have final say on the Junior Verger program and its direction." 

Expressing his feelings about the Junior Verger program, Sanchez says, "I have a really good feeling about this.  Anything that helps promote our ministry is certainly a plus.  But more importantly, by starting this program, we're actively engaging our young people in our practice of Episcopal liturgy. Their participation constitutes the future of our church. To me, that alone is worth the effort."

Congratulations to R. Michael Sanchez, Verger - Christ Church Episcopal Parish. And to Finn Kelly, our newest Junior Verger.  Welcome to our ministry. It's great to have you "on-board."

Friday, October 18, 2013

VGEC Organization Updated and New Board Members Elected at 25th Conference in Nashville

Margaret McLarty and Scott Smith, past and current
VGEC presidents at the 25th Anniversary Conference

As our Book of Common Prayer provides structure for our liturgy, the VGEC bylaws give structure for day-to-day operation of the Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church.

Landmark work by our board of directors preceded the Guild’s adoption of major clarification in the VGEC bylaws. Outgoing board president, Margaret McLarty was instrumental in the bylaw amendment process and openly admits that she enjoys parliamentary process. She was joined by committee members David Jette, Kate Pendzuk, and William White.

According to David Jette, Head Verger, Trinity Wall Street, "The bylaws committee has been working for many years to make small amendments to the overall document. This was by far the most fundamental change in the bylaws since our founding and the committee believes that this was a positive move to develop more effective and sustainable leadership in the VGEC."

After months of work and reasonable discussion and debate at this Annual Meeting, we unanimously adopted the amended bylaws establishing a “Vestry Model” of board structure which gives us overlapping teams of board members in three-year terms. This organization design ensures that new board members have experienced fellow board members to help them get up-to-speed and retiring board members have opportunity to pass along the legacy of work underway to the incoming class.

Inherent in the “Vestry Model” is the sincere invitation to all VGEC members to take responsibility for Guild operational function by serving on committees large and small. Twenty-five vergers of the Diocese of Tennessee stepped up to sponsor and conduct this year’s Nashville conference in truly grand style. If we can emulate their thorough planning, extensive backup processes and dedicated, warm-hearted love of their tasks, our Guild will continue to thrive in its service to the Church.

Elected to the VGEC Board Class of 2016 were Barry Norris, Church of the Holy Spirit, Harleysville, PA; Rich Lamlin, St. John's Episcopal Church, Essex, CT; and Richard Parker, Church of the Holy Comforter, Burlington, NC. Appointed to the Class of 2014 were Kate Pendzuk, Trinity Church, Ossining, NY; and Scott Smith, Christ Church Cathedral, Nashville, TN; with sitting member Pat Allen, Christ Church Cathedral, Lexington, KY. Appointed to the Class of 2015 was Cheryl Cantrall, All Saints Episcopal Church, Lakeland, FL with sitting members Duke DuTeil, National Cathedral, Washington, DC and William White, Christ Cathedral, Indianapolis, IN.These actions rounded out the 9-member board with three members in each class over three years.

The Board met briefly on Saturday and elected its officers for the year: Scott Smith, President; Pat Allen, Vice President; Duke DuTeil, Treasurer; William White, Secretary. Margaret McLarty became Immediate Past President while the Rev. Matthew Corkern was appointed Chaplain, both non-voting ex-oficio board members.

In his remarks at the Saturday evening dinner, Scott welcomed the new board and urged us all to live into our motto, “Service through worship and worship through service.” He said that the part of the Vestry Model which discourages long-standing committees of the whole in favor of dynamic and distributed leadership responsibilities is key to our managing continued Guild growth moving forward. Scott's invitation is clear - If you have a special skill or talent looking for an outlet, or if you excel in “getting things done,” step up and be a part of one of our several supporting task-oriented committees. Contact [email protected] if you have an interest in serving!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

New “Training Course” Virge for Guild Training Course Graduates

The new Training Course Virge
to be awarded in 2013 in Nashville

A new Training Course (TC) Virge will be awarded to those who complete the VGEC Training Course beginning with the class of 2013 during the 25th Anniversary Conference in Nashville. The new TC Virge will also available for purchase by those who completed the VGEC Training Course prior to 2013.

From concept to first award, the TC Virge has an established VGEC process of development, prototype evaluation and final design selection.  The guild’s “Basic Virge” went through 20 or so designs and three board meetings in 2011 prior to its final design approval, manufacture and introduction. The objectives for the first guild-produced virge were low price, simple design, and well-defined specifications which could be executed by any commercial wood working business. The guild felt that this path would encourage new vergers to obtain a quality virge more quickly and more economically than having to make one on their own. For those who had the wood working skills and access to machinery, a Virge Finial Kit was made available separately. Finally, the board expressly aimed to not compete with the many fine commercial virges available from our traditional liturgical suppliers.

In 2012 the VGEC Board started working on developing a distinctive new virge to be awarded to graduates of the VGEC Training Course. Scott Smith and Bill Gleason contacted Jeff and Kent Liddle of Liddle Creative Construction in Smyrna, TN after the previous virge craftsman said that he felt that he could no longer make the Training Course Virge for the guild. The Liddle brothers reputation for creativity in wood working is well established by their elegant cabinetry found in scores of up-scale homes in the greater Nashville area. You can also find their excellent work in the initial remodel of the sacristry, and the current upgrade of the vesting room at Christ Church Cathedral, Nashville.

Jeff made up several design examples for board consideration. Bill Gleason recalls that, upon receiving the examples, “We dropped our jaws when we saw and handled the spiral virge prototype. I love the spiraling down as it drops through the hand.”  The board approved the new spiral design during the 2012 VGEC Conference in Lakeland, Florida and Liddle worked on three variations on the spiral theme with incremental improvements. The new finial, a good looking double-sided VEGC seal, tops the spiral-turned mahogany 37-inch long staff. The length of the finished virge is 39 inches.

The VGEC would also like to express gratitude to the Rev. Ernest Saik who over the past thirteen years designed, hewed, built, and shipped the original TC Virges to the the Guild each year. He made over 250 virges for the VGEC since the first virges were awarded in 1999 at the 10th Annual VGEC Conference in Jackson, Mississippi. These were awarded to the first recipients: Dianne Betts, Toby Griffen, and James Boyd, MD.

The new TC Virge, priced at $175.00,  will be manufactured once yearly to supply the VGEC Training Course graduates for that year, plus a small number set aside for purchase by earlier TC Course graduates. Contact [email protected] for more information or visit shop.vergers.org.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Great Planning Leads to an Outstanding 2013 VGEC Conference

In this blog post, Craige DeMoss, verger at Grace Episcopal Church in Spring Hill, TN, helps the rest of us understand the challenge of being on the team responsible for planning and preparing a conference for 188 vergers, all of whom have a passion for liturgical logistics in the EpiscopalChurch

Led by Scott Smith of Christ Church Cathedral, Nashville, Craige and twenty-three other dedicated vergers of the Diocese of Tennessee spent hundreds of hours of planning, in group-think sessions, arrangement trade-off discussions, and detailed checklist pruning to put on a world-class conference experience for all who travel to Nashville during this week  to celebrate the VGEC’s 25th year.

Craige says the Right Reverend John C. Bauerschmidt, Bishop of the Diocese of Tennessee, has always been a champion for the work done by vergers throughout the diocese. Bishop Bauerschmidt will be celebrating at the Festival Holy Eucharist on Sunday morning, October 6th. The Very Reverend Timothy E. Kimbrough, Dean and Rector, Christ Church Cathedral, will preach on Sunday and also lead a session on Friday, entitled "The Customary for Tabernacles, Aumbries, Oils, and Sanctuary Lights". These leaders demonstrate that the clergy in the Diocese of Tennessee very much appreciate the value of vergers in the parish church. By the way, this year, more clergy than ever before are registered to attend the Vergers’ Conference.

As you can see in these working-session pictures, the Host Committee, has worked hard, and is totally determined that every detail of every event is carried out in grand style. You’ll know the Host Committee members by their red shirts decorated with the conference logo printed above the left pocket. Have a question? Ask any host committee member!

The event chairpersons have stepped up to the plate for the past 12+ months of planning to assure your trip to Nashville will be memorable. All of the suggestions from past conferences were audited to identify the conference qualities desired by the membership. You’ll find that each suggestion was addressed and actively incorporated into an appropriate spot on the agenda. A good example of a challenging event (for logistics fans) is the Thursday evening transport of 200+ visitors to and from St. George’s Episcopal Church, site of first Annual Conference of the VGEC in 1989, for three events: a choral evensong, a full dinner and the first of two conference group pictures.

As the committee worked assembling the registration packets this past Saturday, they were counting the hours until the first registrant arrives at the church in downtown Nashville to claim a conference packet.

Who will be the first VGEC traveler to pin on a conference badge, then find and thank everyone in a Host Committee red shirt for their work over the past year?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

UK & USA Vergers United in Mission and Tradition, Present and Future

John Campbell and Margaret McLarty
during meetings in London in July, 2013
Continuing a 25 year history of mutual interest in supporting liturgical excellence, Margaret McLarty, President of the Vergers’ Guild of the Episcopal Church and John Campbell, Overseas Liaison of the Church of England Guild of Vergers met on the morning of Friday, July 19, 2013 in London to review the association of our two Guilds and identify ways to improve the relationship of our respective memberships.

Lord Cormack, a neighbor of John Campbell’s in the Cathedral Close at Lincoln arranged for a tour of the houses of Parliament, including an opportunity to sit in during a session of debate in the Chamber of the House of Lords. Before lunch, Margaret also greatly enjoyed a tour of the grounds of The Church House, the corporate office of the Anglican Church in England. 

The meeting continued over lunch at a nearby museum restaurant. The following principles were discussed and will be proposed to the respective governing boards for adoption during the fall of 2013:

1. By action of our two boards, each of our organizations is “in association with” the other Guild. The VGEC has that statement in the bylaws while the CEGV has approved that by action of their board.

2. The two organizations, as a means of hospitality, will welcome any other active member of their home guild as an attendee at any function, conference, or training course. If possible this should be at the member rate or registration fee.

3. As a means of reciprocal communications and with the advent of technology, VGEC members wanting to have access to The Virger the publication of the CEGV, an Internet passcode will be made available to them by John Campbell, the Overseas Liaison.

4. The CEGV members currently have and will continue to have access to the vergers.org website.

5. Knowing that traveling to a specific location, and finding vergers in churches is important to our shared ministry and to the opportunity to offer hospitality, access to query membership by specific location can be obtained by contacting the Overseas Liaison officer of the CEGV or by emailing [email protected] for the VGEC.

6. Anyone interested in the ministry of verger wanting to apply individually for full membership in either Guild is welcome to do so.

We look forward to adoption of the proposed measures and an increasing frequency of opportunity for liaison, information exchange, and mutual support. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Celebrate! - A Note From Ghana

Verger and Crucifer at St. Andrew's Anglican Church in Accra, Ghana

Isn’t it remarkable how just a glimpse of an event can sometimes flip the switch on your “Wow!” receiver? See what you think about these few well-chosen words and two simple pictures.

In early August 2013, Debra Gustin, wife of VGEC member Pete Gustin, of Annandale, VA, was on a team sponsored by Ghanaian Mother’s Hope, a Maryland, USA - based non-profit working in a village in Ghana, West Africa called, Akramaman. The Ghanaian Mother’s Hope (GMH) mission statement declares they “…show the love of Christ through the building of preschools, playgrounds and health education.” Each year they show that love by conducting a reading camp for Ghanaian children.

One Sunday, the team attended the 9 AM Eucharist at St. Andrews Anglican Church in Abossey Okai, Accra, the capital of Ghana. Debra wrote to Pete, commenting on the vergers’ and acolytes’ role in the liturgy.

Pete shared Debra’s note from Ghana; "I wish you could have seen the main verger [out of the three] in his Ghanaian robes, his verger robes lined in velvet, his bare feet, the verge pointing out and his other hand over his heart. He could not have been more regal." Debra described the acolytes as "drill teams, so spot-on with their duties and executions.” Reading her note, I was struck that what she wrote is an elegant description of a whole-hearted celebration of Christ! I had to know more.

"...acolytes - so stunning but still boys when it came to
staying at absolute attention."
Later, replying to my questions, she said, “I wish I remembered more accurately how many acolytes served that morning.  You would think during a FOUR hour service the details would stick.  I am enclosing two pictures of the acolytes - so stunning but still boys when it came to staying at absolute attention. They went down on their knees for the communion prayers and then down on their faces for the consecration ... still holding on to those torches and cross and even incense.” 

Look at the picture of the verger and the crucifer taken by Linda Rines, a Lay Eucharistic Minister from St. James Parish in Lothian, MD and member of the (GMH) team, also present at that service along with, she estimates, 500 parishioners. How fulfilled the Verger appears to be. Can you tell that his heart is fully invested in his role in the liturgical mission?

Notice one more thing. What do you see in the crucifer’s face? Is it “determination”? How about “dedication”? Does it look like “boyhood”?  Maybe he sees himself carrying a virge in the future. Maybe he’ll remember the path that the verger led in procession that morning. Maybe….he’ll lead that procession some day, followed by his own son, regally bearing a cross.

With graphic stimulus like this, I’ll bet that we all can regain that grand inner sense of worship we felt years ago when we first were a part of a liturgical team. Perhaps our “how-it-felt” memory will be strong enough today to enable us to be “in church” more than “at church”.

How loving Debra Gustin, Linda Rines and the other members of the Ghanaian Mother’s Hope team are to travel to Africa to show the love of Christ, and how sensitive they are to grace us with their insight.

Isn’t it remarkable how Debi’s forty four word note to Pete, and two pictures, manifest themselves as a gift to hundreds of ministries, now touched by her expression of wonder. 

Muse on the dignity and reverence revealed in the pictures. Feel the verger's dedication. Enjoy the acolytes, living into Christ’s world by profound ritual. 

By Ken Holloway, verger at St. Richards Episcopal Church in Round Rock, Texas and VGEC News Manager.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Where did the VGEC Seal come from?

By Ken Holloway, verger at St. Richards Episcopal Church in Round Rock, Texas and VGEC News Manager at [email protected]

Early VGEC Seal Prototypes
from 1988 and 1989
On November 30, 1989, a fledgling organization for Episcopal vergers in the United States met in its “Organizational Full Membership Meeting“ at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Nashville, Tennessee. One important agenda item addressed selecting a design and finalizing requirements for the Guild’s official seal.

A year earlier in his Advent 1988 Newsletter, Bill Gleason solicited design input from the membership for a VGEC seal. He suggested that the best design elements of the seals of the Church of England Guild of Vergers (CEGV) and the Episcopal Church might be used as a starting place. How would the final design be chosen? What design elements would mark our Episcopal identity?

More than one creative mind started working. Design prototypes were submitted from across the country by Ford E. Smith, Raleigh K. Rollason, George L. Bland Jr., and two designs came from Scott M. Weir. Their early documents are available in archives.vergers.org.

How did we get the final design? In the late 1980’s Scott Weir was invited to be a Ceremonial Verger by Kent Wingerson of Grace Cathedral in Topeka, KS. Scott accepted and began training. A short time later, Kent told Scott that the formative verger’s guild needed a communications committee chairman. Scott thought that he lacked the time to do justice to the committee, but did volunteer to design a prototype seal for the guild. His artistic eye and spiritual inspiration became manifest in his concepts for the seal, depicted in watercolor illustrations.

Scott tells the story:

Scott Weir's initial round
design submitted in
June of 1989 
“I don't remember all the designs submitted, but I think that there were maybe four final designs put up to a  vote. To the best of my recollection, I submitted two of those four. The two I submitted were: 1) A round seal in which I had incorporated the Episcopal Church Seal along with the CEGV crossed virges; and 2) the seal that was adopted, which was placed in a "vessica" which has a lengthy mystical history upon which I could give a short to medium length lecture. Some questioned the "crossed toilet plungers" I borrowed from our British counterparts. Those maces are symbolic now. Let's just say that a vessica is the intersection of two  circles. Anyway, the vessica is often used as the shape for the seal of a bishop or a cathedral. For a bishop, it is a convenient design, housing an heraldic shield in the lower half and a mitre in the upper half."

“I remember that I was personally fonder of the circular design because the white crosslets and virges essentially filled their respective quarters - but the vessica won out, and I'm still sinfully proud that one of my designs was selected.

Scott's updated version
in October of 1989
(note the position
of the plungers)
“Another specification was that the VGEC Seal should incorporate the Guild's Motto, which was non-existent. I submitted two or three of my own, along with suggestions from other members. I think I even cajoled Kent into coming up with a couple of candidates. The one that won was the Latin translation of "Service in worship, and worship through service." I had three years of Latin in junior high and high school, but had forgotten most of it. I had not, however, forgotten my high school Latin instructor, Mr. Norman Meisner - a Roman Catholic of German descent. I gave him a call, and he gave me the translation and then asked why I wanted it - when I explained about the VGEC, he said, 'Why don't you just get it over with and become a Catholic?' I always loved that guy for his candor."

“The final design specification was to obtain the exact Pantone Matching System (PMS) colors of red and blue to match the colors of the Episcopal Church Seal. As I recall, Bill (Gleason) and Kent (Wingerson) were able to track down the specific PMS ink numbers. (I didn't realize that ink colors had specific numbers, but it made sense that there had to be a standard of some sort to maintain consistency in the printing industry.)

“The rest is history. The Guild adopted the Seal and Motto, and I drew the official final version and got a local (Topeka) printer to produce master prints and color separations. It soon appeared in print and as badges, patches, pins and on coffee mugs. And it became a true seal applied to wax on official Guild documents.”

The minutes of the November 1989 meeting report (in part) that Mr. Karl Bailey Johnstone, acting for the Chairman, Mr. Scott Weir who was unable to attend the Conference, presented two drawings of the proposed seal for the Guild. Mr. Johnstone reported that the Committee had decided upon using the oblong design, but with the elements as included in the circular design.

Official Seal of the
VGEC in 2013
Mr. Robert L. Baxter, seconded by Mr. Johnstone, made the motion that the seal as presented be accepted with the following additional notation: 1) That the crossed maces and initials "CEGV" be placed in the lower right quadrangle of the seal. 2) That the name be placed around the edge of the design from the six o'clock position to the twelve o'clock position, and the Guild's motto be placed around the edge of the design from the twelve o'clock position to the six o'clock position. The motion carried unanimously. 

Bill Gleason remembers why the CEGV initials mentioned in the minutes were omitted in the final design, "We thought the crossed Virges (maces) which came right off the CEGV seal represented a significant and sufficient tribute to our heritage, so the initials CEGV were not really needed." 

So the result of this spiritually creative effort is our seal, prompted by our founders, proposed in detail by creative vergers across the country, made real with skilled craftsmanship and proudly worn today by hundreds of vergers of the Episcopal Church.

See archives.vergers.org for historic documents used in the preparation of this report.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What's New in the Vergers Document Library?

The Document Library of The Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church has almost 60 documents for your use at vergers.org/resources/library.

This excellent reference library includes sections such as:
  • Verger Ministries
  • Checklists
  • Customaries
  • Glossary
  • Lay Eucharistic Ministries
  • Liturgies
  • Miscellaneous
  • Verger Guild Documents.
Vergers representing 17 churches in 11 states have contributed to the library.  We would love to add your documents.  Feel free to send anything you want to share to [email protected] for possible inclusion.

If you are tasked with a "new" service for your parish,  look in the Customaries or Liturgies sections. Chances are you will find a customary you can tailor to your parish needs.

You may freely copy any of the materials contained in the Library for your own use. Kindly give credit to the VGEC and the source parish, and provide a link to vergers.org/resources/library in any document used from this library. 

You will find everything from a "Fact and Fantasy" article by John H. Betts and an article from the U.S. Copyright Office containing all you want to know about copyrights for your parish, to an excellent Master's Thesis titled "Walk Softly and Carry a Big Stick–with Love: The Emerging Ministry of the Verger in the Late 20th Century to the Present" by David S. Deutsch.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

July CEGV Conference Leads to October VGEC Conference

By Stephen Haude, member Church of England Guild of Vergers and member Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church

The Church of England Guild of Vergers conference is now held annually at the Elim Centre at West Malvern. It is held in a beautiful country house once lived in by Lord Baden Powell, founder of the Boy Scout movement. It boasts a large heated outdoor swimming pool, the rooms are en-suite, and the food (full board) is very good, plus hot drinks on tap with pastries all day long. We were surrounded by what must surely be the finest views of British countryside.

Our conference is somewhat different to the VGEC Conference in the United States. Indeed it would be very boring if we were all the same! It could perhaps be described as contemplative and solely centered in one place. There is a beautiful old country church a few yards away that kindly allows us unrestricted use for our many services. We don’t have a banquet or tours, but I’ll let my hair down in Nashville! A typical day begins at the church with Morning Prayer at 7.30 am followed by Eucharist. A good cooked breakfast follows at 8:30.

A talk or lecture takes place at 10 – noon. Then a short midday prayers followed by lunch. The afternoon lecture is from 2 – 4 pm. We also formed a pretty good choir and did Choral Evensong with the Bishop of Worcester preaching. The lectures were really interesting, one of which was by our National Chaplain, Canon Maureen Palmer. Her theme was "Healing" and included a long period of silence – not easy for me, but I managed it! This was followed by a service of Healing and Anointing. Another great talk came from the Rev'd Tom Cameron on funerals and dealing with death and bereavement. In places it was funnier than you might think!

After dinner each evening (playing hooky from Compline) some of us strolled down the country lane to a great old pub reputed to have the best view in the land. The fellowship between us all was tangible, and it was great to welcome VGEC member John Townsend from Nashua, New Hampshire.

Our closing Eucharist was beautifully rehearsed with full ceremony and plenty of clouds from the theruble. It was a moving and uplifting service providing a fitting end to our conference. In 2014 it will be from 10th August over four nights. Hope to see some of you there. Meanwhile, many of us Brits will see you in Nashville!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Get to know the VGEC Membership System

by Eileen Brightwell-Hicks
Trinity Episcopal Church, Baytown, Texas

You only need three things to renew your membership online or to upload your photo:

  • a computer with internet access
  • a digital headshot of you
  • your password

You will find using the VGEC automated membership system at membership.vergers.org is easier than writing a customary!

Of our 1,350 active members, we have 650 who have uploaded photos. Your photo should be a head shot of you (not a group shot) and it should be close enough to see facial details. You can be in your verger regalia or in street clothes. More than 65% of our head shots are NOT in verger robes. Your photo should be a maximum size of 5 MB (600 pixels wide x 600 pixels high, 40K in JPEG format is ideal). Any point-and-shoot digital camera or cell phone will take a correctly-sized picture. Think of a high school yearbook picture: but this time you get to pick the day and the picture you want!

To get started, go to membership.vergers.org in any internet browser. You can also find this on the vergers.org home page. Click on the blue bar close to the top of the page that says, "Renew Membership or Upload Photo."

That will open the login screen entitled shown to the right. Enter your email address and password.  If you have forgotten your password or never knew your VGEC password, click on the "I forgot" link for instant help.You can also contact [email protected] for help at any time.

Once you successfully login, you will see a welcome page with your name on it.  Read this page, especially the second paragraph.

Click on the blue underlined phrase that describes what you want to do next. There are also a series of tabs at the top that allow you to go to different panels of information.

Note in the third paragraph your ability to access your membership certificate and the VGEC Yearbook as well as a link to search the VGEC membership.  For this example we are going to click on the "upload your yearbook photo" in the second paragraph.

This will open the "my information" page.  Here you can review your personal information on file with the VGEC, correct or change any information as needed, and upload your head shot photo in the upper right-hand corner.

You will either see a link, "Upload my photo" or "Replace my photo" - just click on that phrase and a pop up window will appear with the previously discussed suggestions about proper head shots.

At the bottom will be a place for you to select your head shot and then upload it to the VGEC server. It happens quickly and you will see the photo appear on your membership information page. You will also receive an email from [email protected] confirming the upload.

Take a few minutes to get to know the VGEC Membership Management System. Everything that we have on file for your membership is available for you to access here. One of my favorites is the "Search Membership" tab that is especially interesting when I am traveling. Note also that you can specify your VGEC Annual Conference preferences as well.

Thank you for taking the time to help all of us get to know you!

Friday, July 19, 2013

This Author Staying at the Scarritt Bennett Center near Vanderbilt University

Dating from 1924, The Scarritt Bennett Center
near Vanderbilt University was once
the Scarritt College for Christian Workers
By Ken Holloway, VGEC News Manager
[email protected]

I am looking forward to my accommodations at the Scarritt Bennett Center while attending the 25th Annual VGEC Celebration Conference in October.

Mr. Henry Hibbs, a Nashville architect, won national awards for his work on these buildings, which are a modified Collegiate Gothic style. The buildings were constructed from colored Crab Orchard (Tennessee rubble) stone, which was quarried in East Tennessee, and the casement windows of the original structures were imported from England.

It's current orientation, since the school closed in 1988, is as a non-profit education, retreat and conference center with a strong commitment to promoting racial equality, cross-cultural understanding, the empowerment of women and spiritual renewal.

A serene setting with long-term Christian missionary history, housed in Gothic architecture, it is sure to bless us with peace at day's end. At $50.00 + tax per night, how could one resist?

Contact [email protected] if you have any additional questions about the conference or the Scarritt-Bennett Center accommodations.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Archives for the Vergers Guild now Open

It is true that the Communication Committee of the Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church has been busy this summer! We have recently launched a new archival web site at archives.vergers.org with a large number of historical artifacts that document the history of the VGEC.

The archives are segmented by year from 1988 when the VGEC was a fledgling branch of the Church of England Guild of Vergers to its founding as an independent organization in 1989. Our intent is to use this platform to maintain all of the documents of the VGEC moving forward.

One highlight for those vergers who have been around since 1989 is the scrapbook from the first year of the VGEC. That is located in the 1989 section located at http://archives.vergers.org/1989 under the "Scrapbooks" category.

Take a look, and let us know what you think!

Ordination in Oregon: What's a Verger to do?

On July 6th, 2013, VGEC member and VGEC Facebook page manager Michael Sanchez participated in the "Ordination of Sean Scott Wall to the Sacred Order of Deacons" at Christ Church in Lake Oswego, Oregon (just outside of Portland). Bishop Michael J. Hanley presided over the event.

"This was the first time I've been so involved with an ordination," Michael tells us. In the past, he's helped with providing music or simply came to support the ordinand. This time, Michael had a large role to play: Sean (the ordinand) asked him to be master of ceremonies.

"We had a staff meeting at the church, and I sat down with Sean and the interim rector, and we looked over the service bulletin. At the outset, I knew I had two big challenges: we have a small chancel and there were a lot of people that needed to be seated. Also, with the visiting clergy, this was by far the largest processional/recessional that I've ever had to manage!"

After meeting with Sean and the Interim, Michael set out to work, drawing maps, diagrams, and making out seating cards. The day before the ordination, he came to the church and made signage for visiting clergy dressing areas, marked off pews, and made a small packet of the aforementioned diagrams, maps, and seating arrangements: one for him and one for the Interim.

"The day of the ordination was a lesson in flexibility," Michael laughs. "Of course, when you plan something out, you always have to remember that the presider or celebrant - in this case, the Bishop - will have the final say, so you can't get too attached to your master plan."

"We met at 12:30 p.m. so we could have plenty of time to rehearse and iron out any issues by the 2:00 p.m. start of the service." At the rehearsal, Michael took notes and asked questions of the Bishop. After the rehearsal, he made final preparations for the service and then ran to participate in the final part of the choir rehearsal.

For this event, Michael made a small change to the start of the service. "Normally, we gather 5 minutes before the start of the service, but I wanted folks to be in place 10 minutes prior, and it was worth it! It's a lot of people to assemble, and those things just take more time with larger groups."

Once the opening hymn started and they started the procession, "The service went like clockwork!" Michael says. The rehearsal really helped get the participants focused, and there was very little Michael had to worry about.

"One of the most gratifying things about the whole service - apart from seeing it go so smoothly - happened during the reception. One of the visiting clergy from a neighboring parish complimented me on what a good I did organizing," Michael recalls. "Hearing that from a clergy member outside of our parish really made me feel good about the work that I did and continue to do at my home church."

So what is Michael's advice for vergers organizing an ordination? "Be flexible, be patient, and be early!"

Monday, July 1, 2013

Vergers Guild Communication Committee is Growing!

The Communication and Technology Committee of the Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church  is an active group of volunteers who are working to get the word out around the world about the verger ministry!

Numerous key positions remain open:
  • Google Drive Manager
  • Photo Manager
  • Technology Manager
  • Twitter Manager
  • V-Happenings Manager
  • Website Manager
  • Yearbook Manager
See vergers.org/about/guildleadership/committees/communication-and-technology for more information.

The current committee members are:

Eileen Brightwell Hicks
Trinity Episcopal Church, Baytown, Texas
Content Editor and Verger Document Library Manager

Michael Sanchez
Christ Episcopal Church, Lake Oswego, Oregon

Facebook Manager

Kenneth A. Holloway
St. Richards Episcopal Church, Round Rock, Texas

News Manager

Mike Malone
Church of the Holy Cross, Poplar Bluff, Missouri

V-List Manager

Scott Smith
Christ Church Cathedral, Nashville, Tennessee
Acting Web Site and V-Happenings Manager

Sunday, January 6, 2013

In Pursuit of The Verger's Tipel

Bill Gleason of the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Franklin, Tennessee was intrigued by recent discussion started by Bill Rhines of St. David's Episcopal inKennebunk ME about an ale named "Verger's Tipple". This topic was noticed and also followed by many on the V-List online discussion group. The two “Bills” were serving together at a memorial service at St. David’s so, while in the vicinity, one directed the other to the source of the discussion topic.

Ever aware and enterprising in his research, Bill G. took occasion to find and visit the Post Road Tavern in Ogunquit, Maine early in 2013. This popular tourist spot on the historic Maine coast, is known for its beers and ales, which are actually brewed next door at the Rocky Coast Brewery.  

Bill G. reports that the Tavern owner is a member of St. Davids and works as an acolyte and member of the altar guild. His brew master, British by descent (how appropriate), is also a St. David's parishioner and an acolyte and Eucharistic Minister who is very familiar with the ministry of the Verger as practiced in the Church of England.

The companion brew, "Parson's Stout" is said to be named for the St. David's Rector. Bill R. writes that he often is introduced at the Tavern as the verger after whom the beer is named thus prompting discussions among those present of just what a verger does in the church (in-season many tourists are very interested in the resulting first-hand exposition of local history). Often, Bill R. says, his, now-fluent, stories about our ministry earn the price of his glass gladly paid by visitors.

So what about the "Verger’s Tipple" ale? Bill G. reported it to be amber, smooth and creamy, while the "Parson’s Stout" is dark, sweet and coffee-like in taste. This time of year, visitors have no problem being seated. But brace yourselves: the temperature this week in January in Ogunquit was just over zero.

We associate with England through our verger, so, however tangential an ale name may be, cuisine tied to the old country brings us a certain nostalgic refreshment to help wash down good food and have a laugh over our ministry being mentioned on a tavern menu on the coast of Maine.