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Friday, May 22, 2015

A Verger by any other name is still a Verger

Vergers Duke DuTeil and Kevin Thomas at the Washington National Cathedral pictured with proper hats after the 2011 earthquake

By Duke DuTeil, VGEC Training Advisor

With what job title do you serve in your parish? In your congregation, are you a Verger or perhaps a Master of Ceremonies? Might you be the Sacristan or the Acolyte Master? Worship Coordinator or perhaps Wedding Coordinator? These are just a few of the many hats that VGEC members can wear.

All of these titles have one thing in common; they are all ways that we serve in our congregations in support of the clergy who lead our communities. Some of these titles are additional duties while some are primary responsibilities. As an example, when I was the Head Verger at the Washington National Cathedral, I was also the Sacristan. The Assistant Verger was also the Acolyte Master. Both of us served as Wedding Coordinators and frequently as the Master of Ceremonies at various functions or services. There was always a verger coordinating logistics at any service - me, my assistant, or one of our many volunteer vergers.

My point is that our title is not as important as the work we do and we all wear many hats. In conjunction with our Rectors, Vicars, or Priests in Charge, each of us should discern what our job responsibilities are. We need to determine how we can best serve our clergy and our congregations and then, together, write a job description. This process is thoroughly explored in the VGEC Course of Training for a Verger and developing a detailed job description is one of the requirements of the course.

Here is what I have discerned about some of these job titles and functions:

Title Function
Acolyte Master/DirectorWorks with, trains, and typically schedules acolytes.
SacristanResponsible for the Sacristy and liturgical suppliers, may often be the Chair of the Altar Guild. May serve during worship as an altar traffic coordinator.
Worship CoordinatorTypically a non-vested lay person that makes sure that everything is ready for a given service.
Wedding CoordinatorDeals with all the pre-wedding logistics for the church and makes sure that parish and Episcopal traditions are articulated. Helps at wedding ceremonies to make sure all is smooth and participants are cued.
Master of CeremoniesTypically a vested (cassock and surplice) lay person that helps with the service logistics. May or may not process in and out. May either be in the chancel area during the service to assist as needed, may be located in the Nave to solved problems as they occur.
VergerIs most often the Master of Ceremonies at a particular service. In addition to any or all of the above responsibilities, Vergers often escort processions and/or individuals during worship. Vergers typically are vested in cassock and chimere.

These are just a few of the many types of responsibilities that our members have in their congregations. Our responsibility is to work with our clergy to determine what our individual gifts and responsibilities are, write them down, and to tactfully let others know that we are serving God and his people as we have been asked to do.

When we use the term "Verger" in the "Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church," we do so including all of the people who serve in these many roles using whatever title they are accustomed to and following whatever tradition has been developed in their own parish.

If I can assist you with your verger ministry or your training please contact me at [email protected] or [email protected].

P.S. By the way, when I say we wear many hats, I am not referring to those infernal verger bonnets. I detest those things. In my opinion they are part of our past that should remain in the 16th century. They are great to wear when running vested in a pancake race on Shrove Tuesday, outside in 15 inches of snow, but that’s about it!

Register before June 1, 2015 to be entered in the drawing for a $100.00 gift certificate from the Guild Shop. To be eligible you must register as a verger, be present at the official Business Meeting on Saturday morning of the conference.

Click the big red button to register for the 2015 Annual Conference being held October 1-4, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri:

Abstract: What ever you are called as you perform verger tasks at your parish church, you might be a verger if you are the wedding coordinator, acolyte master, sacristan, worship coordinator, master of ceremonies, or... a verger.


  1. You forgot "Contract Coordinator and facility maintenance"

  2. Duke,
    Howdy! What's the line between Verger and Deacon, not the ordination but the roles? In my parish in San Antonio (Reconcilliation) I serve as liturgical assistant, especially when our Lutheran Pastors preside, chatechist and lay minister at the altar...as I see it this is two of the three roles of a deacon. I wonder if I'm confusing roles or simply missing something?



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