|The Right Reverend Michael Curry, Bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina and Presiding Bishop-Elect|
By Ken Holloway with Richard Parker
This week I asked Richard Parker, verger at Church of the Holy Comforter, Burlington, North Carolina about the video entitled Vergers: The Concierges of the Church, which our Presiding Bishop-Elect, The Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, made in the fall of 2014 with Richard and Mick Capon, as a part of the diocese's continuing news video series, Please Note from the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. Richard had these observations on why and how the video was made and the results of the conversation with Bishop Curry.
"Shortly after our Diocese of North Carolina chapter of the VGEC was started in 2014, we met with our Bishop Suffragan Anne Hodges-Copple to tell her about our new chapter. She was very excited to hear that the vergers would have regular meetings and continue to promote the ministry throughout the diocese. She said that she would inform our diocesan Bishop Curry and suggested that we arrange to meet with him to give him an overview of the verger ministry in North Carolina and the role of the VGEC plays in supporting the diocesan chapters.
"We originally set the meeting for the summer but conflicts arose so we arranged to meet in the fall. The verger at St. Philip's in Durham, NC, Mick Capon and I met with Bishop Curry in November, 2014. Mick and I had a long discussion with the Bishop before his film crew began taping our conversation. Bishop Curry recalled that when he became our Bishop 15 years earlier, there were only a few vergers in the diocese. He was thrilled to find out that there were over fifty vergers in the diocese now.
"He asked both of us about our ministry to our local parish and what vergers did in other churches. We explained the various roles that vergers serve and that the duties of the verger were directed by the parish priest. We said that in some churches, the verger is behind-the-scenes and in other churches the verger is "out in front," during processions and at other times. As our discussions went on, the Bishop was enthusiastic about our ministry and mentioned that he'd encouraged all parish priests to find someone in the parish that could fill the position of verger.
"As General Convention approached, the vergers in North Carolina had a pretty good feeling about Bishop Curry's chances to be elected as Presiding Bishop. Our knowledge of him and his ministry gave us confidence as the election drew closer. We were not surprised when we learned of his election and were thrilled when we immediately saw the Vergers Voice blog post with our video front and center! We were sad to lose him as our Bishop but we are thrilled at the prospects of his new position. We gladly give him up to the greater church and we are very confident that he will continue to motivate us all!
"We feel that Bishop will help promote the verger's ministry as he begins his journey as our Presiding Bishop. As for us here in North Carolina, we have great confidence in the leadership of Bishop Anne and the eventual election of a new Bishop."
A further endorsement of North Carolina vergers was made in "A Rector's Take on Vergers", featuring The Reverend Jonah Kendall, rector of St. Philip's, Durham as he comments on his introduction to parish vergers and the partnership he found with Bruce Olive who preceded Mick Capon at St. Phillip's. He spends a very concise minute and twenty-four seconds endorsing the verger's role as a "right hand" for the rector. I was impressed that Rev. Kendall emphasized that vergers are not just for cathedrals or large program churches, challenging all rectors to consider the value that a parish of any size gains from having a verger.
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Abstract: Some believe that vergers only have a place at a cathedral or large parish church. Others know that any church can benefit from the verger ministry. The Bishop of North Carolina, now our Presiding Bishop-Elect, The Right Reverend Michael Curry and The Rev. Jonah Kendall, rector of St. Phillip's in Durham made news videos in the recent past exploring and endorsing vergers as "concierges" and "partners". Read about how the videos came to be made.