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, May 30, 2014

VGEC Guild Shop - Stellar History and Sky-High Future

The Early Years - Bill Gleason and the VGEC Guild Shop committee meet to plan on-line retailing future.
(Can you spot Bill, holding forth on "high church" accouterments?) 

By Barry Norris, VGEC board member and verger at The Church of the Holy Spirit, Harleysville, Pennsylvania

Bill Gleason, one of the original VGEC founders and President Emeritus, opened the VGEC Guild Shop in 1989. Bill has served for 25 years as the merchandise manager, product designer, purchasing agent, accountant, shipping clerk, director of manufacturing and shopkeeper. Under his guidance, the Shop grew from the initial few items to the present day-vestments, clothing, jewelry, and accessories. He recently announced his retirement as manager of the Guild Shop effective May 31, 2014. Bill also recently retired from UPS and his wife Helen will be retiring from Vanderbilt University in June. When you see Bill and Helen at the VGEC Conference in Burlington, ON this September 25-28 - let them know what a great job has done! And ask him about his many interesting Guild Shop tales.

Bill's influence on the institution and identification of the VGEC and our Guild Shop was one of visionary formation and daily dedication to furnishing the world's vergers with what they needed to further the ministry, tell its story, appreciate its heritage, and advertise their ministry.

I have helped Bill with the Guild Shop for a number of annual conferences and as a member of the VGEC Board have been the liaison for Guild Shop Committee the past year. Effective June 1, 2014 I will take over the day to day operations. We will continue to run the Guild Shop as-is while the Guild Shop committee works to evaluate additional options. We are planning a survey of the membership to ask what products everyone would like to see. 
If you have experience in on-line technology and/or retailing and are interested in helping develop new features and products for our on-line store, please contact me at [email protected].

Did you know your registration for the 2014 Annual Conference on September 25-28, can be obtained directly from the Guild Shop?

In Clothing, our shirts for women and men
, in long sleeve and polo styles, (especially the set of 6 liturgically colored golf shirts), continue to be very popular. They are often ordered as presents by verger spouses when celebrating personal or family milestones.

In our VGEC Processional Gear department, the Verger's Chimere has quickly found a steady following. The VGEC 6" Seals, both machine embroidered and beautifully hand-embroidered styles make handsome additions to our verger vestments.

In the Verger Jewelry department, the men's and women's signet rings, featuring the boldly engraved VGEC seal, are both distinctive and uniquely symbolic. A wide array of additional jewelry items is also available.

It is quite possible several new and fun specialty items like the cups that turn purple, maybe some "notable" pens, and newly designed paper weights will be added to the Guild Shop.

The Guild Shop is a huge part of the VGEC Annual Conference, coordinating online registrations and being present throughout the meetings with updated information about how to purchase what you need for your verger ministry. At this year's conference in September we will not be able to carry many samples into Canada because of costs associated with bringing items across the border. Don't worry-we will be there with several computers to help you place your orders on-line.

CM Almy and Whippell's will also be showing their goods along with the Guild Shop this September and will face the same limitations on the number of physical items they can bring. But we will definitely have a good time exploring and talking about the many items that we use in our ministry.

Please contact me if you are interested in joining the Guild Shop Committee as we move into the our new season!
Register online today and call 905.681.5400 for hotel reservations with VERG as the discount code!

Abstract: The VGEC Guild Shop has a long history of great service, product selection and pricing. What changes are in store for your shop? As Bill Gleason retires from 25 years of operating the Guild Shop next month, Barry Norris shares a few of the future plans for VGEC on-line Guild shop retailing.

Send us story ideas or requests, notes on your verger experiences or fully developed stories about your own verger ministry to [email protected].

Friday, May 23, 2014

Maple Leafs and "Take Homes"

Maple leafs galore and Burlington on Lake Ontario

By Ken Holloway, verger at St. Richard's Episcopal Church in Round Rock, TX

When I travel I always like to take something special home with me. I guess that I want to feel, taste and even smell the memories triggered by those "Take Homes".

During my 20 year Air Force career, I spent just over 2 hours in Canada. We landed a little before midnight at a Canadian Air Force base and I met a fellow in the pilot's mission planning area at Base Operations. We completed our business, shook hands, and saluted smartly, sealing the deal. Our plane lifted off at about 1:45 AM  headed for Colorado Springs. I still have the Canadian Air Force lapel pin he gave me to commemorate our completion of an agreement between our countries.

Your VGEC Board of Directors recently met in Burlington, Ontario with our 2014 VGEC Conference hosts Terry Hughes and Ritchard Taylor. Apart from the formal business meeting, the Board visited the the Parish of St. Luke's, the conference host church plus all the venues for the many scheduled events, classes and celebratory functions, including Christ Church Cathedral in Hamilton, AND they stayed at the official conference hotel, the Waterfront, and sampled some prime Canadian cooking. The 2014 Conference dates are September 25-28.

I asked Scott Smith what he observed / experienced on the trip. He said, "Burlington is a mid-size city which is definitely cosmopolitan in atmosphere. The hotel is right on the water just at the edge of the downtown area. I saw an antique clock store just across the street that I'll be investigating in September! Our breakfast was the usual continental fare, much like what the Holiday Inn in Nashville offered, and with a comparable room but a lower room rate. The Hotel pub and restaurant were really good too. Take time to walk around the village square. I can't wait to do it again." 

The village square in Burlington

What about your very own 2014 VGEC conference experience "take-home" possibilities?

1. Start by experiencing the beautiful liturgy of the Anglican Church of Canada. It's a little different from our 1979 Book of Common Prayer and the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England. You'll like it. Take it home to your church family.

2. In addition to St. Luke's Parish, Christ Church Cathedral in Hamilton has a prominent display of heraldry - family and clan shields - which you'll see on Sunday morning at the Solemn Festival of Eucharist. Retired Bishop Ralph Spence (Fellow of the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada) leads our 4th Session on Friday September 26th, "Historical Significance of Flags and Banners in the Church". This is a must attend session. A delightful experience and journey through the ages of flags, banners and coats of arms in the church. Take it home to your children or grand children.

3. Verger 307 - Expect a far different take on this class for experienced vergers. David Jette and Bob Mikrut have some significant surprises planned. Take it home and put it into practice.

4. Verger 101 - Duke DuTeil is intent on bringing more hands-on activities to this "must" class for new or fairly new vergers with renewed focus on recruiting, training, and mentoring. Take it home to your new or candidate vergers and senior LEMs.

5. The trip to Niagara Falls is guaranteed to impress. You can't take it with you, but you'll never forget the views from the Canadian side. Plus the September 25-28 dates hold the promise of fall foliage for those of you who don't normally get to enjoy that natural splendor.

Maybe you'll take home some ideas which you can use to hone your liturgy customary collection. You may meet another verger who has a similar size parish and be able to establish an ongoing interchange of ideas and reference brain-picking ("...what do you do when the Bishop shows up without his chaplain?") It's possible that a previous acquaintance will be renewed. You may get to shake hands with someone whose comments you see on the V-List . You'll be certain to bring home pictures of Niagara Falls, St. Luke's and the waterfront. Those pictures will jog your memory and you'll savor your (much more than 2 hour) visit to the land of the maple leaf because your "Take Homes" will be tied to your Burlington 2014 experience.
Register online today and call 905.681.5400 for hotel reservations with VERG as the discount code!

Abstract: There are many great reasons to come to Burlington September 25-28 for the 2014 VGEC Annual Conference. In this vergersvoice.org blog post, Ken Holloway reports on a recent board meeting in Burlington with first-hand experiences and explores some of the take away items that you might expect from the upcoming conference. Register online and make your hotel reservations today!

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

Friday, May 16, 2014

Lisa Churchill Installed as Head Verger at St. Paul's Cathedral, San Diego

Lisa Churchill receives the Head Verger's virge at St. Paul's Cathedral, San Diego from the Rev. Canon Brooks Mason

At Evensong on Sunday July 14, 2013, the Rev. Canon Brooks Mason passed his ceremonial virge to Lisa Churchill, who assumed the duties of Head Verger at St. Paul's Cathedral in San Diego site of the VGEC 2009 Annual Conference

Brooks was our conference host in 2009. He was ordained in 2013 and remains Canon Verger. He will continue to perform much of the liturgical role associated with this position, but because Brooks is now ordained clergy, he turned over the role of Head Verger to Lisa. She is now completing her first year as Head Verger.

On its blog, St. Paul's marked the occasion by welcoming Lisa to this new ministry. And, for those who want to learn more about vergers, or altar service in general -- check out this ministry spotlight and this field guide to the processional.

Here's the slideshow from the installation service and if the embedded version doesn't work, here's a link to the slideshow, and a link to the pictures.

Lisa first joined the verger corps as a sub-verger in 2011 (after serving as an acolyte and thurifer). She was installed as a verger in early 2012, and became Head Verger in July 2013 (the current installation). There are currently ten vergers at St Paul's Cathedral, and at least three (including Head Verger) serve at main Holy Eucharist or other large services. Lisa says, "I experience service as a verger to be a form of worship. I am blessed to be part of a great team of dedicated vergers, thurifers and acolytes at St Paul's."

Lisa's weekday job is senior grants administrator at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, a non-profit biomedical research institute in La Jolla, CA.

Abstract: New Head Verger at St. Paul's Cathedral, San Diego, Lisa Churchill, succeeds the Rev. Canon Brooks Mason upon his ordination. Canon Mason headed the host committee for the VGEC Annual Conference at St. Paul's in 2009.

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

Register today for the VGEC Annual Conference on September 25 through 28, 2014 at the Parish of St. Luke in Burlington, Ontario Canada.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Take Action on the Long Pole in the Tent - Conference Host Hotel reservations need to be made by end of June

St. Luke's Parish, Burlington, Ontario - Site of the 2014 VGEC Annual Conference

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

Believe me, it's really hard for a systems engineer to go through a week without consulting his checklist. Same goes for pilots, surgeons, teachers, house painters, and (smart) vergers. So what will be high on my checklist this week?

Preferably at the conference hotel, since there are no shuttles available at any of the Burlington hotels to get you to St. Luke's and back. BTW... the Waterfront Hotel Downtown is in close walking proximity to the church. Call them at 905.681.5400 or 1.877.681.0767, NOW.

Sure, transportation is important.
Passport and border negotiation is important.
Registration is important.

But you'll really want to have your room reservation nailed down in the next several weeks or the Waterfront Hotel Downtown will return your un-reserved room to their regular block of rooms available for everyone else.

When does that happen, you say? AT THE END OF JUNE. Right, so the deadline is more than a month away. How much effort does it take to assure that you'll be staying in the best location in Burlington? Get up, go to the phone and dial 905.681.5400 and you're in!

þ Getting to Burlington from the airport(s). NOT TRIVIAL!!!
Quoting my first post on the conference, "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 Cdn. one way. The best way to get this information is to visit the website of the airport that you will be flying into. From there find their link for ground transportation. That will give you all the information you will need. It will also give you websites where you can pre-book your transportation needs."

Once again, do pay attention to the Survival Guide 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.

Summary for smart vergers: If you have any excitation or inclination to experience exhilaration without perspiration over your arrangements to glide through conference week assured of comfort, proximity and conviviality, call the The Waterfront Hotel Downtown Burlington for your reserved room (within walking distance of the St. Luke's conference venue) at 905.681.5400 or (877) 681-0767. Do it now! Yes, right now.

Your points of contact for information are:

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

Barry Norris, Registration Coordinator
[email protected] (215) 541-4003

Abstract: If you have any excitation or inclination to experience exhilaration without perspiration for a really great VGEC Annual Conference week, assured of comfort, proximity and conviviality, call the Waterfront Hotel Downtown Burlington Conference HOST HOTEL at 905.681.5400 or 1.877.681.0767 immediately. Find out why you should call now in this issue of the Verger's Voice, eh!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Easter Without the Church

Lincoln Cathedral - what a sight!

by John Campbell, Dean's Verger, Lincoln Cathedral - Lincolnshire, UK [email protected]

Behold, "...the old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfills himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world."

- with apologies to Alfred Lord Tennyson.

I left school in 1969 and straight way enrolled in catering college and entered into a love affair with food and all things culinary and epicurean.

The catering was a demanding profession. By 1976 I had changed track and entered into parish life followed by a sideways move in 1978 into cathedral life and thus in the past forty five years I have worked / been on duty for every Easter season. That is until this year, 2014, when I was informed that I needed surgery and it was scheduled for 16th April, Holy Week, the day before Maundy Thursday! I was given ten days to bring all preparations, rubrics and instructions together and on Tuesday 15th April following a service for the blessing of oils and the renewal of baptism and ordination vows I abandoned my team. For the first time in thirty six years I would not be in church [on duty] for Easter.

Some might relish the thought; some might be thrown into despair, others might contemplate ‘Easter without God’ and be horrified.

This year I may have had an Easter without church [saving one brief encounter] but certainly not one without God. With the help of telecommunications, internet technology, and social media I was able to connect with God and his people of the global village in which we live.

Recorded television afforded the opportunity to experience Allegri Miserere with Harry Christophers and the Sixteen on Maundy Thursday.

Good Friday provided me with Live TV from South Shields [in the North East of England, the cradle of English Christianity and my homeland]. The Great North Passion, a retelling of the last hours of Jesus life, was a community project during Lent.  Twelve communities were each given a shipping container. Schools, churches, community groups, individuals… worked on subjects covering pain, bereavement, unemployment, homelessness, fear. Each container, used in a unique way, was brought together on a headland overlooking the North Sea and formed a live, open air, contemporary Stations of the Cross. Music-modern, classic and local; dance, drama, silence and words brought all of the elements of the cross into ordinary people’s living rooms. This was contrasted later in the day when I linked in [live] to the Good Friday Liturgy from Christ Church Cathedral Nashville via YouTube and the twelve words of Dean Kimbrough’s sermon were worth a thousand of others. "Our sin – His nails, our pain – His blood, His death – our life."

On Easter Eve the TV brought words and music from Kings College Cambridge [Byrd, Mozart and Vaughn Williams set cheek by jowl with Sassoon, Herbert and Donne] in the ’Nine Lessons and Carols’ mode. Later in the evening the reassuring ringing of Great Tom [the largest of the cathedral’s 21 bells], heralding that Christ had risen, from the liturgy of the Paschal Vigil within called to the outside world, to me, and to all in Lincoln.

With an early start on Easter Morn, struggling out of my sick bed at 0645, Pauline and I made it [all 30 yards] to the 0800 BCP [1662] communion service where the faithful early birds ended the liturgy with a unique offering of ‘Jesus Christ is risen today’.

Then home for breakfast before tuning into live worship from Leicester Cathedral with its multi-cultural service, which included colorful and meaningful [eastern] liturgical dance, followed at noon by Urbi et Orbi – the Pope’s live massage to 150.000 faithful gathered in front of the Vatican and to countless unknown out in the world.

All of this was peppered with the occasional further dip into liturgy at Christ Church Cathedral Nashville. Helped by the social media which is Facebook, I was taken to the National Cathedral Washington and St Marks Capitol Hill.

So I find that at Easter 2014 I was able to flit in and out of that great and varied tapestry which is the church and finding God at every turn.

Normally I use the church as a nest: to stay, settle and grow. This Easter I seem to have used it as a perch to rest a while, among screen and pew, from the [dis]comfort of my cushioned chair, resting before moving on - taking each spiritual experience with me on my ‘static pilgrimage’ from betrayal, the pain of the cross, the void of the in-between to the reality of the empty tomb.

Whether you minister in a nest or on a perch remember the Searchers, Settlers and the Seekers: those who are with you yet unseen.

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

Abstract: . John Campbell, Deans Verger at Lincoln Cathedral in the UK, and Overseas Liaison Officer for the Church of England Guild of Vergers found 
one really can celebrate Easter without church. His story is an inspiration. Read it to the last for a jewel you'll copy into your spiritual file.