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].

Friday, February 28, 2014

Lloyd Graham - Sixty Years a Verger

St. Mark's, Tampa Senior Warden,
Jean Shahnasarian presenting the
VGEC Life Member Certificate and
VGEC Virge to Lloyd Graham

When he entered the Navy in 1943 at age 16, Lloyd Graham could not have predicted his sixty years service to the church in many capacities that we now identify as “verger” roles. He served forty-three years on active and reserve duty in Naval Air component units, retiring in 1986 as a Master Chief Petty Officer.

Upon discharge from active duty in 1947, he trained to be a welder under a Navy-sponsored apprenticeship program and went to work in the welding business where he had trained. He eventually bought the business, and ran it until he retired.

While attending St. Francis Episcopal Church, in Tampa, in his early twenties, he became involved in worship planning and serving in worship services. After his confirmation, the rector asked him to take charge of service management. And so it began...

All went well until the next rector arrived. On the second Sunday of his tenure, he gave Lloyd a book of Church of England liturgy proceedings, saying, “Here’s the book that shows how to do our services, and you’re going to do the job for us.” Lloyd became what we now might call a "sub-deacon" training acolytes and lay readers, leading the altar party, helping set the table and assisting the rector by turning pages in the missal.

Years later, having transferred to St. Chad's, he noticed in the the Sunday paper, a ‘first service” announcement for the newly established St. Mark’s which was near his neighborhood. The next week he attended that service, which was set with improvised vessels on an ironing board altar in a conference room in a business building. After an interim move to a strip mall meeting space, the church was built and Lloyd was declared,  "The Verger." When the altar guild president and the rector had a parting of the ways, Lloyd became the sacristan in addition to his many other duties.

He is proud that he has served as the Diocesan Verger under two bishops of the Diocese of Southwest Florida. He has served in all vestry positions several times and he served on the Diocesan council during the evolution of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.

Lloyd's son, Mark Emory Graham, was heavily involved with the VGEC in the early days and spearheaded the VGEC Diocese of Atlanta Chapter. In 1989, Mark called Lloyd to suggest that he join the VGEC and attend the first annual conference in Nashville. Although Lloyd knew nothing of the guild, on faith he joined immediately. Mark was elected the first Treasurer of the VGEC at that first conference but Lloyd was unable to attend. Both Lloyd and Mark did attend the second VGEC conference at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Mark was also a key author of the VGEC Training Course and is the namesake of the Diocese of Atlanta Chapter and founder of the Mark Emory Graham fund that supports a number of initiatives in the VGEC today.

The VGEC helped celebrate Lloyd's 60 years of service on January 19th this year by presenting him with a commemorative VGEC Life Membership Certificate and a VGEC virge.

As we all know, once a verger, always a verger. Lloyd Graham continues as the verger for three services a week at St. Mark’s at a still-young age of 87.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

January 23, 2014 VGEC Board Meeting Overview

VGEC Board at the 2013 Conference in Nashville

The VGEC Board of Directors met in a virtual on-line meeting on January 23, 2014. Some high points of the meeting are covered here in advance of board approval of the official minutes.

Our Chaplain, The Rev. Matthew T. L. Corkern, will be leading a pilgrimage to Canterbury and Lincoln England. Currently 23 pilgrims are planning to make the eleven day trip leaving at the end of June this year. They'll focus on the historical and personal aspects of Canterbury across the English nation and concentrate on the behind-the-scenes cultural workings of cathedrals, country-homes, and a few Anglican institutions. Fr. Matthew also announced that a new chapter is desired in the Diocese of Newark. VGEG member Theo Thomas is working with vergers in the Diocese and the Diocesan office to help coordinate these activities.

Pat Allen, chair of the Annual Conference Committee, reported that Co-Chairs Terry Hughes and Ritchard Taylor are excelling on planning for the 2014 Annual ConferenceAs covered in the Verger's Voice last week, the VGEC Banner is standing at the Parish of St. Luke's in Burlington, Ontario. The Board also approved the grant of up to 15 scholarships for the Annual Conference from the Mark Emory Graham Fund paying $150 of the $200 registration fee for conference registration. The 2015 conference in St. Louis is in initial planning under the leadership of Shug Goodlow from Christ Church CathedralSites for the 2016 and 2017 conferences are under discussion. Anyone interested in hosting a VGEC Annual Conference should check out vergers.org/conference and contact the committee at [email protected]. Hosting a conference is also a great way to start a VGEC Chapter in your Diocese!

Rich Lammlin, chair of Chapter Development and Richard Parker, Board Liaison for the committee, are monitoring and assisting with the development of three new chapters currently in the planning/organization stage: Maryland – point of contact (POC) is Ellie Lopez,  North Carolina – POC Dana Gaspar and  California – POC Sandra Salzer. If you are interested in a chapter in your Diocese, see vergers.org/chapters or contact [email protected]. They are also working together with the leadership of our existing chapters, many of whom serve on the Chapter Development Committee. By the way, if you haven't tried it lately, our live online Membership map on the VGEC Join Us tab has membership ID designated on each member. Go to the map and find yourself!

Margaret McLarty, chair of the General Convention Committee, is waiting for notification of availability to get the VGEC bid in for a prime booth location at the the convention site in Salt Lake City in 2015. Vergers operating the booth meet delegates from the far reaches of the church who are interested in the verger ministry. We're planning to have an active presence again at this convention. We are also excited to learn about the selection of Austin, Texas as the 2018 site!

Barry Norris, reporting for the Guild Shop Committee, commented that the use of Amazon as distribution agent for the Guild Shop is working quite well. Sales are coming in pretty much as usual and the Processional Gear Department and the Clothing Department continue to be very popular destinations as we continue to consider additional items for the shop. If you are interested in helping with the shop, please contact [email protected].

Cheryl Cantrall, Membership Committee chair, said that the membership database system  is expanding rapidly primarily due to Ritchard Taylor's effort in adding Canadian churches: 30 dioceses and 1471 parishes entered so far. She added that our new fee structure for international members is well accepted - International members now pay the same dues as regular VGEC membership.

We have a lot going on and top people serving on the Board of Directors and on the several VGEC operational committees. Give them a hand, literally! If you want to get off the couch and get on to one of these action teams, call or email the committee chair and volunteer your skill and experience.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

VGEC Banner Installed at Conference Site

The Rev. Canon Stuart Pike welcomes the
VGEC Banner, symbolic of  the 2014 Annual
 Conference to be hosted by the Parish
Church of St. Luke in Burlington, Ontario

On Sunday morning January 26, 2014, the banner of the Verger’s Guild of the Episcopal Church (VGEC) was moved in procession into the Parish Church of St. Luke in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, where it will remain on display through the 26th VGEC Annual Conference, beginning on September 25th.

After a short prayer, Terry Hughes, St. Luke's verger and chair of the conference, officially announced to the congregation that the rector, Canon Stuart Pike, and the vergers of Saint Luke’s will host the 2014 VGEC Conference from September 25th through the 28th. Terry said, "This is only the second time in its 26-year history that the Vergers Guild Conference is to be held outside of the United States. We are very proud and honored to have been chosen as hosts.”

He explained that the Conference opening ceremony will be part of an Evensong service on Thursday September 25th at 6:00 pm, during which the 180th anniversary of the founding of St. Luke’s will also be celebrated. This liturgy will feature an order of worship similar to one that would have been used in 1834, complemented with music of the period.

Terry added, "A Solemn Eucharist Celebration will be held on Sunday morning September 28th, at Christ’s Church Cathedral in Hamilton. The Rt. Rev. Michael Bird, Bishop of the Diocese of Niagara, will preside at the service assisted by St. Luke’s clergy, in addition to clergy from Great Britain and the United States. Music from three historic hymnal editions will be sung by the combined choirs of the Cathedral and St. Luke’s." 

More historically important elements in the planned conference activities, outings and meetings will be explored in more detail as we approach the end of September. We hope to see you there!

Content from the Verger's Voice blog at vergers.org/blog

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A New Liturgical “Movement”

Your guild reporters are always in touch with the latest in liturgical happenings. Eileen Brightwell Hicks, our blog and web content editor and verger at Trinity Episcopal Church in Baytown, Texas, sends this account of “real-world” verging.

"At Rotary I get to visit with a fellow verger, James Beesley, of St. Timothy, Houston. Knowing there had been an episcopal visit to institute a new rector, I asked Jim how it went.  First he said fine and mentioned that the 9th Bishop of Texas, Andy Doyle, had been the celebrant. Jim said, “I told him the service would go one of three ways: the way we practiced (on Saturday), the way it was printed in the bulletin, and the way it turns out.”  Bishop Andy laughed and said, “Let’s see which it turns out to be.” I would like to note here that Jim recently retired after more than thirty years’ service in the United States Army, serving in many overseas assignments including duty in France, Germany, Africa, Bosnia, Cambodia, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. He served in the US and overseas in a variety of command and staff positions. He is fluent in French and German, and conversant in Spanish and Serbo-Croat.

"The acolytes that service were three brothers and there were three vergers: me, my wife Mavis (also retired United States Army), and Erwin Hendrix. Erwin verged the Gospel procession consisting of the crucifer and 2 torches with the new rector, Rev. Frederick Clarkson, bearing the Gospel book. It did not go as practiced. Erwin processed to the middle of the long sanctuary while the crucifer and torchbearer brothers stopped at the first row of pews,more than 12 feet shy of the mark. The new rector motioned to the brothers to move on down into the midst of the congregation.  (And I bet Jim was off to the side looking at them intently.)

Jim, laughing so much he could hardly continue to tell me the story, said "In unison, without turning around, the three brothers BACKED down the aisle to meet up with Erwin. The service continued without a hitch. Afterwards, I went to Bishop Andy and smilingly stated, “We practiced the Gospel procession just that way.” Laughing, Bishop Andy congratulated me and our acolytes for coming up with a new form of liturgical “movement.”