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.”