|The Rev. Walter Kindergan and wife, Becky at the VGEC 26th Conference in Burlington, Ontario|
I asked the Rev. Walt Kindergan, the former verger at Christ Episcopal Church, in Pensacola, Florida, about the events on his life path that led him to ordination. I wanted to know how/why/when he decided to seek ordination. I wondered why he sought to make himself available, at this level of service, to his community. I asked, "What about your journey would you tell prospective vergers? New vergers? Well-experienced vergers? What about the priesthood do you find the most fulfilling activity?"
"About eight years ago, I began discernment for the vocational deaconate. I was getting close to retirement but still had a lot of energy and I knew God had something more for me to do. Soon after that, our diocese began a two-year Deacon’s School (in 2008) but I didn’t think I was ready yet. Then, in the summer of 2011, after much personal reading and discernment and many long conversations with mentors, clergy, spouse, and friends, I discerned a call to the priesthood. The Commission on Ministry and the bishop agreed and I began studies at The General Theological Seminary the fall of 2011."
"Seminary was great fun and extremely rewarding. I like to say it was like Education for Ministry (EfM) all day every day – and those who know EfM will understand this. Of course, there was a lot of reading, studying, writing papers, lectures, etc. but every bit of it was fascinating and educating. And my experience as a verger really paid off, especially in two areas. One is probably obvious: a verger arrives at seminary perhaps a bit more knowledgeable than many other seminarians who have not served the liturgy in the same way. The other area is not so obvious but, I would argue, perhaps even more important. And that is that a verger understands her or his ministry is one of ‘hospitality’ and ‘service.’ That is a critically important attitude for any seminarian to hold and it is vital to successful ordained ministry."
"Now that I am a priest and serving as Curate at Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Pensacola, Florida, I cannot imagine what I might be doing that could be more rewarding and fulfilling – and just plain fun!"
"If I were asked for advice by someone thinking of becoming a verger, or a deacon, or a priest, I would remind them to take their time, pray about it often, and really discern what God is calling them to do – and don’t do it in a vacuum but seek a lot of conversation with others. And remember that God doesn’t call the qualified – Moses couldn’t speak right, Jeremiah was too young, Isaiah was a man of unclean lips, and so on – but God qualifies the called. Just think about the disciples."
"And one last thing – always remember that ours is forever a ministry of ‘hospitality’ and ‘service.’ It’s never about you – it’s about Jesus!"
So, Walt, after a long Naval career and subsequent experience in governmental administrative positions, made himself available to serve in the church. Is his story unique? I will parrot those who have said, "It is just as common for a dentist or teacher, a "techie" or tailor, as it is for a verger or anyone else to be ordained." It really relates to how one is called to be a servant of Christ.
How can we know if we are being called? As humans, all we can do is to be vividly aware when God grabs us by the nose and pay careful attention to following His lead.
Abstract: Vergers thinking about seeking ordination, read this article. It's about your calling. It's about your willingness to be a servant. It's about your commitment. It's about knowing God. The Rev. Walt Kindergan tells us about his experience in becoming a priest.