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, April 25, 2014

Celebrate! Celebrate!

"...plus an Easter egg hunt sandwiched in between services..."

by Ken Holloway, Verger at St. Richard's Episcopal Church, Round Rock, TX [email protected]

On our most joyous Christian day, with glorious organ accompanying robust voices, we sing, "Jesus Christ is risen today. Hallelujah." Then our parish family goes home to a relaxing lunch as we vergers finish our after-Sunday-service tasks. Ever notice how silent the nave is at that moment? You've all heard it, haven't you? The crescendo of our Easter celebration suddenly becomes an echo, retreating into the past.

After Palm Sunday's Gospel Passion Reading, a Seder on Wednesday night, Maundy Thursday's observance of Jesus' death, Good Friday's Stations of the Cross, Holy Saturday's Great Vigil, and after two or three Eucharistic celebrations of Jesus' resurrection on Easter Sunday morning plus a children's Easter egg hunt sandwiched in between services, most of us pause, exhausted, trying to fully absorb Holy Week's emotional peaks and valleys.

I was thinking about what we vergers could do to best transition from our heaviest liturgical week to services of the First Sunday of Easter. Would it help to physically or spiritually nurture (take care of) ourselves? Perhaps we could look ahead, planning for the next major feast on the calendar. Maybe we could take a few minutes to write our "Lessons Learned" report for the liturgy team. Baffled, I (wisely) sought counsel from my beautiful wife.

She said, "What about just going out and spreading the good news of Jesus' having risen from the dead? Don't make it so complicated, Mr. Engineering-mind!"

Can the absence of Easter's celebratory sound cause us to be more fully aware of, and more active in, a new beginning of our life in Christ?

More than other spiritual forces, maybe the peaceful, uplifting silence of the "after-Easter" can be what finally moves us to extend our hands and hugs and share our exuberance in Christ's promise to mankind with our families, our neighbors, our old friends, each other, and even someone we will meet for the first time tomorrow.

Please share your stories about about your own verger ministry and experiences with [email protected].

After the special liturgies of Holy Week and and Easter Sunday, we vergers can enjoy an uplifting silence that renews our life in Christ just by talking to the people in our life about Jesus' resurrection and his promise of eternal life.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

What to say about Holy Week?

Easter Morning - Reverently Processing

How do you coach your Passion Gospel readers for Palm Sunday? What do you say to your Lectors and Eucharistic Ministers about the many services during Holy Week? Is there a Holy Week State of Mind?

Our Rector, Father Stuart Shelby, sent this paragraph to all St. Richard’s Holy Week liturgy participants this morning:

“As we approach Holy Week, let me express my deep appreciation for each of you and the ministry we share. Thank you for the preparation and time you put into this work as Lectors and Lay Eucharistic Ministers; and thank you for being fellow intercessors for all who would be drawn to be comforted by the Gospel and our Lord's Presence when they gather to worship with us. Last year, eight hundred of us and many we don't know gathered at St. Richard's on Saturday evening and Sunday morning to celebrate our Lord's Resurrection. No matter the count, I am confident we will do our various parts with excellence, joy and gratitude.”

After our rehearsal of the Passion Gospel Reading this morning I sent this to our Lectors:

Please remember that the Gospel reading tells a story, in this case the VERY SIGNIFICANT STORY of Christ's death and the events surrounding it. To that end, please reconsider your parts and rehearse them aloud at a moderate rate of speech, using the punctuation and within the following context:

"Make the music of the voice match or move with the content being read." If you were a musical composer putting music to a lyric, you'd have to match the lyrics with your music. If you were a lyricist writing the words to go with a melody, your words would need to follow the music. Likewise, we're reading with emotion to help tell a story to the congregation. Don't hold back your emotions. (Don't over-do either. This is not Shakespearean Theater.)

So I am saying that anyone can read words from a page, but sincere oral interpretation of the written scriptural word demands that the audience receives the intended content of the writing in a way that requires the least decoding possible (or none at all) on their part. Make it easy for our parish family to "get it".

Notice that Father Shelby pays special attention to that notion in his preaching style every time he preaches, and even when he is making announcements. He really cares that the congregation has a more than even chance of really receiving ("getting it") the message. Let’s follow his excellent lead and honor the Gospel reading tomorrow morning, keeping our individual spoken efforts centered in our hearts.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Travel & Hotel Planning - 2014 VGEC Conference in Burlington, Ontario, Canada

The Waterfront Hotel Downtown in Burlington is located on the western shore of Lake Ontario. Make your reservations for the conference now.

The excellent "Vergers Survival Guide" posted by our 2014 Conference host committee is Top Priority as you plan your trip to the conference, convening September 25-28 in Burlington, Ontario.The Survival Guide gives you concise information on how to get to Burlington and the Waterfront Hotel Downtown, our conference host hotel, from the two largest airports, Toronto Pearson International Airport and Buffalo Niagara International Airport, plus other smaller regional airports.

Do pay attention to the comments about the Waterfront Hotel reservation policy. You can book now and be assured a very nice room with free parking and a hot/cold breakfast buffet for two in the conference hotel.

If bookings do not start coming in by June, the hotel will start cutting back on the number of blocked rooms since there is a high demand for the rooms in early autumn, and they assure us that the rooms will sell out. Once blocked rooms are released, reservations will be a first come first serve basis.

Most major airlines fly into Toronto Pearson International, as listed here. Those serving Buffalo Niagara International are listed here. The driving time to Burlington from Buffalo Niagara is about 1 ½ hours depending on time of day. Toronto Pearson to Burlington is about 1 hour.

Note the comment about identification documents, namely a current passport. You’ll find everything you need to know about getting a new passport for United States citizens at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports/apply.html. Allow 4-6 weeks for non-expedited processing. Basic cost of a passport is $110 to the State Department and $25 to the “Acceptance Facility” (Generally one (designated by searching by zip code on the Passport site) of your local post office locations).Start early and avoid higher processing fees and possible disappointment.

Now that you've planned how you will arrive in Canada and feel confident that you’ll be allowed to cross the border and back, you’ll want to get to Burlington. As the Survival Guide points out, you can drive or travel by limo or bus. I am told that the Bus/Limo fare from Toronto runs between $60 and $80 Canadian one way. Our conference organizer, Terry Hughes, says that the best way to get this information is to visit the website of the airport to which you will be flying. From the airport website find the link for ground transportation. That will give you car rental, bus, rail, or limo service information. It will also list websites useful for pre-booking your local transportation needs.

Getting around in Burlington will be less effort, if you are staying at the excellent Waterfront Hotel Downtown, just three blocks from our hosts at the Parish Church of Saint Luke. However, none of the Burlington hotels provide shuttle service so rental cars or taxis will be in order to supplement shoe-leather.

To register for the conference today, click HERE.

Your points of contact for information are:

Terry Hughes, Host Committee Chair
[email protected] (905) 632-9535

Bill Gleason, Registration Coordinator
[email protected] (615) 812-9440

Plan early to enjoy yourself in Burlington in late September, eh!