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].

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.