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, March 28, 2014

New VGEC Committees Launched in 2014

Board member and Treasurer Duke DuTeil's dedication typifies the hard work of our many volunteer committee members

This week VGEC President Scott Smith surveys the work of a growing number of volunteers within the committees that help operate the VGEC in support of your personal verger ministry.

For many years, a number of volunteers have been the backbone of day to day operations while also applying their experience to long term goal development. The guild has always had a very active board of directors. There are eleven board members (nine elected and two ex-officio) who work together to direct VGEC strategy and operations.

New committees of the VGEC have been launched in 2014 allowing us to focus on various critical areas of the organization and to greatly increase the number of people who are involved in leadership of the guild. The committees are evolving and will be adding new members.

Please consider how you can apply your counsel, experience, and skills to work with the leadership of the VGEC. Email me at [email protected]
or email any of the committees or the committee chairs at the email addresses indicated on each committee’s web site page. This work is fulfilling and is a pleasure to participate in (most of the time!). Here is the latest news from our (very) active committees:

Annual Conference Committee
In the past the primary role of the Vice President has been to coordinate the location of future annual conferences and to support the planning and conduct of the current-year conference. This one-person job is now a committee of six people who all have experience working on our conferences or will be involved in future conferences. A planning meeting was recently held at Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis, Missouri site of the 2015 conference. Members are also working hard to make sure the 2014 conference in Burlington, Ontario in Canada is a huge international success. Where will the conference be in 2016, 2017 and 2018? Stay tuned or contact the committee to help decide!
Email: [email protected]
Online: http://www.vergers.org/about/GuildLeadership/committees/conference

Chapter Development Committee
We have six diocesan chapters of the VGEC: Atlanta, Dallas, Mississippi, Southeast Florida, Tennessee, and Texas. In 2014, we want to vastly improve how we represent and help promote the chapters and specifically how the VGEC can offer assistance to the chapters. We are actively encouraging and helping more dioceses to form new VGEC chapters. Board members Rich Lammlin and Richard Parker are heading up this new committee along with representatives from the existing chapters. You will see exciting news about current and developing chapters in the coming months!
Email: [email protected]
Online: http://www.vergers.org/about/GuildLeadership/committees/chapters

Communication and Technology Committee
This committee was formed in 2009 at the VGEC annual meeting in San Diego. In the last six months, the committee has re-invented the "Verger’s Voice" newsletter into an active news blog located at news.vergers.org. The vergers.org web site recently received a major organizational overhaul. Now the Technology sub-committee is hard at work moving the membership.vergers.org server to a new home in the Amazon Web Services cloud. The committee will soon meet to elect a new chair and to set objectives for the rest of 2014 and beyond.
Email: [email protected]
Online: http://www.vergers.org/about/GuildLeadership/committees/communications

General Convention Committee
Immediate Past President Margaret McLarty is chairing this committee as she has for the past two conventions. In 2015, General Convention will be in Salt Lake City and the VGEC plans to have a conspicuously active presence with a booth and participation in worship as directed by the convention liturgical leadership. Other members of the committee include vergers with experience or interest in working in the VGEC booth at General Convention. This committee also works to improve our relations with the Episcopal Church and other church organizations around the world.
Email: [email protected]
Online: http://www.vergers.org/about/GuildLeadership/committees/convention

Guild Shop Committee
The Guild Shop exists to supply vergers with verger stuff. It’s really that plain and simple! But what’s not plain and simple is running the Guild Shop... VGEC President Emeritus Bill Gleason has been expertly and tirelessly operating the Guild Shop as a true labor of love for many, many years. He continues in that role today. We recently formed the Guild Shop Committee to help spread some of the work around to others in the VGEC. Barry Norris, board member and verger at The Church of the Holy Spirit in Harleysville, Pennsylvania is Board Liaison for the committee while Bill is serving as committee chair. We are very pleased with how the relationship between the shop and Amazon Store Services is going. The committee is also working to streamline the process of ordering and obtaining several of the embroidered clothing items. This very active committee takes care of your Guild Shop orders every day. We look forward to news of more shop upgrades in the coming months. If you have interest in helping with the Guild Shop, please contact [email protected].
Email: [email protected]
Online: http://www.vergers.org/about/GuildLeadership/committees/shop

Membership Committee
One of the most vital and challenging operational areas of the VGEC is processing memberships, especially since our active membership roster is now hovering around 1,500 members. Membership Secretary Cheryl Cantrall, verger at All Saint’s Episcopal Church in Lakeland, Florida has worked in that role since the 2010 Annual Conference in Washington, DC. In 2014, Cheryl became chair of the new Membership Committee with the idea of spreading the tasks associated with membership services to several members working together. In February, the Membership Committee announced that Betty and Karl Moore, vergers at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Laurel, Mississippi are working to audit the membership database. David Neville from St Simons Episcopal Church in Conyers, Georgia is working as photo editor to edit and approve all headshots submitted by members. And the best news is that we are about to launch a new online PDF Membership Directory. There is so much going on in the area of membership. Look for a follow-up Verger’s Voice blog post focusing just on membership services!
Email: [email protected]
Online: http://www.vergers.org/about/GuildLeadership/committees/membership

Nomination Committee
The VGEC Bylaws set out the Nomination Committee as the one committee that MUST be formed every year. This year, the committee of five members was established at the January board meeting. They have already met in a conference-call meeting and elected a chair, Mike Malone, verger at Church of the Holy Cross, Poplar Bluff, Missouri. The committee will work to build a slate of nominees for the board election at the VGEC annual meeting on Saturday, September 27, 2014 in Burlington, Ontario. It's OK to nominate yourself-just contact the committee and let them know of your interest in helping!
Email: [email protected]
Online: http://www.vergers.org/about/GuildLeadership/committees/nomination

Training Committee
Last week’s Verger’s Voice blog post covered the Training Committee. Check it out!
Email: [email protected]
Online: http://www.vergers.org/about/GuildLeadership/committees/training

This gives you an idea of the work being done, 
much of it online, by an increasing number of dedicated volunteers across the country. Again, I encourage you to join in our committee activities by contacting me at [email protected] or by emailing any of the committees or the committee chairs at the email addresses indicated on each committee’s online web page.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

VGEC Training Committee in the Spotlight

Immediate Past President Margaret McLarty presenting Vyonne Carter-Johnson of Grace Episcopal Church, Houston with her training course certificate and virge at the 2013 Annual Conference in Nashville, TN

Bill White, chair of the VGEC Training Committee, manages one of our truly important guild functions – how we provide opportunities for verger training via the VGEC Training Course.

A bit of history always helps our perspective. In the early days of the VGEC there was a hope that we would develop a course of training for vergers similar to the course long offered by the Church of England Guild of Vergers (CEGV). The classic structure and content of that course has prepared hundreds of Church of England vergers for their ministry.

It took exactly ten years from the founding of the VGEC in 1989 until the first class of three vergers completed the course in 1999. Those first three were Dianne Betts, St. Michael & All Angels in Dallas, Dr. James Boyd, St. Marks Cathedral in Shreveport, and Toby Griffen, St Andrews in Edwardsville, IL.

Countless questions have been examined during the process of developing the course and in the fifteen years that have followed. Who would administer the course? How much would it cost? What would the course include? Who would serve as mentors? How would the course be evaluated? What would the vergers who completed the course receive and how would they be recognized?

The course has gone through several editing and review updates although the outline of the course is essentially unchanged since the first version. Kate Pendzuk was appointed Training Course Registrar in 2009 and does a tremendous job administering the course and maintaining the roster of course participants. At her most recent report, we have 271 vergers who have successfully completed the course to become “Fellows of the VGEC” and 445 vergers are registered in the course.

In 2011 Walt Kindergan, verger at Christ Episcopal Church in Pensacola, Florida, became the Training Course Mentor. Walt helped to edit and review the course, aligning it with contemporary liturgical practices. As a result, the current version of the course was published in 2012. It begins by surveying the extensive guild resources available to guild members and is strengthened with a narrative “notes” guide to course completion.

Last year, the Training Committee was established. It initiated a long-term review of all guild training efforts including the course itself, training topics presented at the annual guild conference, and training assistance to guild chapters. The committee also began to think about new ways that the course might be distributed beyond the physical notebook and printed pages. We have started the distribution of the course in PDF format and we are looking to standardize that process over the coming months.

Many of the same questions occur today that happened when the course was first envisioned and published. The committee continues to work on these issues and others that come about as part of the planning process for the course.

The committee is considering a possible online version of the course and recognizes the need for a training course “cadre” to offer support and dialogue opportunities for course enrollees. If you are looking for an activity/role supporting VGEC course enrollees, please contact any member of the training course committee to help us develop and administer the new course delivery model. We encourage every member of the Guild to consider this meaningful and fulfilling commitment.

The Training Committee currently has five members, appointed by the board of directors. They are:

Bill White – Chairman, Guild Secretary, and Board liaison
Kate Pendzuk – Training Course Registrar and Board member
Duke Duteil – Guild Treasurer and Board member
Walter Kindergan – Guild member
Kent Wingerson – Guild member

Friday, March 14, 2014

Junior Verger Michael Faircloth of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd Tomball, TX

Michael Faircloth, Junior Verger with the Rt. Rev. C. Andrew  Doyle, Bishop of the Diocese of Texas at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd

More Junior Vergers are installed every year in the Episcopal Church. Through the ministries of these outstanding young churchmen we can count on a rich VGEC future. One of our Junior Vergers, Michael Faircloth, benefits from a seasoned mentor and a great supporting family.

Joe Sturdevant, Verger & Master-of-Acolytes at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in
Tomball, TX, comments on Michael Faircloth, a fourteen year old Junior Verger, serving there, who followed his sister, Brittany, now a freshman at Sam Houston State University, as an acolyte when he was nine years old.

Joe's voice beams when he says that, "Michael has been exceptionally alert, dedicated, and focused since he first began to serve. Because of his mastery of the (acolyte and verger) disciplines, he is respected by other acolytes of all ages. He is inquisitive, always interested in why we’re doing something, especially if we’re putting in a change. And while he is at all times respectful, he doesn't hesitate to give quiet hand directions to an adult Eucharistic Minister – but ONLY when it is needed. They often will wait for his signal – but that applies to all our junior vergers as well.“

His mother, Heather Faircloth, commented on Michael’s involvement in the liturgy, “Michael serves as verger once or twice a month and often fills in at the last minute when needed. My son is one of the most conscientious and compassionate people I know. I'm not just saying that because I'm his mom. I have heard similar comments from other members of our congregation. He thrives in this role of responsibility."

Michael told me that his definition of a verger is, "...the person responsible for quietly keeping the church service running smoothly". He likes the idea of other young people serving as long as they can handle the responsibility, can lead others in a positive way, and can think on their feet. The other acolytes, Eucharistic Ministers, and on occasion even the clergy look to him if something out of the ordinary or unexpected occurs.

As many other Junior Vergers are, Michael, a freshman at Klein Forest High School, is
active outside of church. He plays the cello in Klein Forest's Philharmonic Orchestra and is raising a steer as member of the school’s chapter of the Future Farmers of America (FFA).

Recently, he was honored to be the lead verger when the Bishop of the Diocese of Texas, Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, visited the church.

At Good Shepherd, Michael is joined by two other Junior Vergers: Ashley Hailey, and Brianna Wilson. Look for another Verger's Voice article covering the ministries of these, and other Junior Vergers later in the year.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Stolen Virge Replaced by Baptist Craftsman's Skill and Catholic Church Relic Salvaged by Collector

The Rev. Jim Sell, transitional rector at
Eastern Shore Chapel in Virginia Beach,
holding the church’s new virge in his
right hand and a VGEC Basic Virge in
his left hand

Roger Chesley, noted columnist with The Virginian-Pilot newspaper in Norfolk, VA wrote in 2012 in the Virginian Pilot about a stolen virge at an Episcopal church in Virginia Beach. 

After interviewing the Rev. Jim Sell, the church's transitional rector, he reported, “It's a ceremonial piece of wood. It's not worth much money. It's devoid of opulence  –  no diamonds, silver or other baubles. The 39-inch-tall, 2-pound object is called a virge. Parishioners at Eastern Shore Chapel Episcopal Church in Virginia Beach would like to have the religious symbol back where it belongs – no questions asked. I'm sure they'll even pray for the person who took it.”

Rev. Sell added, "This is nothing worth stealing. It has no monetary value at all.” Roger added that, “Bill Hunter has been a member of Eastern Shore Chapel since 1962, and he holds the title of (lead) verger. He's a mite bewildered that someone swiped the staff. After Sunday services, Hunter usually stored the virge in a choir room that's often locked. That's what he did on July 22. When Hunter tried to retrieve the virge the following Sunday, it was gone.”

"So many in the congregation have said, 'Why would anybody want a virge?' " Hunter told me this week." "You'd get maybe $100 to melt the brass.”  A new virge was purchased and Bill Hunter began using it. The stolen virge had not been found by press time, September 13th.

A few months later, February 9, 2013, something truly remarkable had happened and Roger covered it in a follow-up column.

He opened his update article as follows:  “The wood was transformed by a craftsman's skilled hands. The cross was rescued from a pile of garbage inside a Pennsylvania church facing demolition. Those efforts, by two people who aren't members of Eastern Shore Chapel Episcopal Church, have replaced a religious artifact pilfered there several months ago.”

He continues, "David Zurek is a member of the Tidewater Turners of Virginia, a nonprofit group that uses lathes and chisels to create all types of things. After reading my earlier column, Zurek told me this week, "I felt bad for the church and decided to make them a new one." He contacted Bill Hunter, the verger, and they discussed a design for a replacement virge. The new handle is red oak, and the orb is ambrosia maple. The church paid for most of the materials, which were around $70. But Zurek donated his time and expertise.

Meanwhile, Barbara L. Hancock, who has a friend who attends Eastern Shore Chapel, thought she could help by donating something stored in her garage. Hancock salvages architectural items. In 2011, she had journeyed to Philadelphia to visit the church her great-grandparents had attended. St. Boniface Catholic Church had been closed several years and was set for demolition, and folks had the chance to buy items, such as stained-glass windows. Hancock noticed a pile of trash that included a staff about 7 feet tall. "I thought, 'How horrible,' " she told me. Hancock asked workers whether she could take the discarded item, and they assured her that was OK. She brought the staff home, to Virginia Beach. After she learned of the theft of the virge, Hancock asked her friend whether Eastern Shore Chapel could use it. The Maltese cross (on the staff) was bent, but it was refashioned by Zurek and now tops the new virge. "It's so beautifully restored," Hancock told me. "I'm just so glad that it lives on!"

The Rev. Jim Sell, acting rector, subsequently showed Roger the new virge. He noted that, “…the craftsman is Baptist and the cross had been used by Catholics. They've made members of an Episcopal church very happy.”

During my recent conversation with lead verger Bill Hunter, retired Naval officer and retired marine engineer, he pointed out that Eastern Shore Chapel has been in continuous operation since 1643. He adds that the original virge, alas, has not returned.