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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."