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.

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Saturday, September 19, 2015

In Saint Louis, I most want to...

Our group photo taken at the 26th Annual Conference last year in Burlington, Ontario, Canada

By Ken Holloway, VGEC News Manager

Wanting to know what vergers expect to find and do at our 27th VGEC Annual Conference, which begins just 12 days from today, I asked a number of our members what they thought. A quick round of telephone calls and a bushel of emails pushed this week's Vergers Voice to capacity in record time. Here is what we heard:

Shug, what special something have you prepared for us in St. Louis?
Shug Goodlow, Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis - our Conference Host

"The reception at the hotel on Friday night has a light show surprise that will be memorable and following that, be alert for something that will tickle your funny bone while providing elegant liquid refreshment. On Friday night, at our banquet, our musical entertainment will be preceded by a demonstration of fancy footwork aligned with the native St. Louis music from the New Clapper 5.

"I am so looking forward to greeting everyone and sharing our St. Louis ambiance and hospitality."

Hey Scott, what are you looking forward to in St. Louis?
Scott Smith - Trinity Wall Street, NYC, and President, VGEC

"I always look forward to seeing long-time friends and making new friends who have joined the verger community. The VGEC is a surprisingly tight group and we all tend to get along quite well, so it’s always a joy to be able to spend time together and share our common experiences in this ministry.

"As many of you may know, our 2015 conference Chair, Shug Goodlow, is extremely active in the local theater community of St. Louis. I suspect that the entertainment this year will be phenomenal, and there is no telling what kinds of surprises she and her committee have up their sleeves. Above all, it’s just a great time for vergers to be among friends and experience worship and fellowship together.

"I also look forward to the sermon by Bishop Smith, as he is a remarkable preacher and teacher and great friend to the verger ministry and the VGEC."

Here's a link to the Conference agenda (PDF) that you can download and read on the plane or train or at a gas station or McDonald’s.

Josh, as a new VGEC member what has your attention as we approach October 1st?
Josh Taylor - St Luke’s Episcopal Church North Little Rock, AR
(BTW Josh answered my query in 5 minutes, icing the "I'm on top of it" award.)

Josh says, "This will be my first conference, and I am very excited. I would like to meet more vergers from across the country and learn ways to both provide a more comfortable atmosphere for worship in our parish as well as provide more support to our clergy and ministry leaders. I would like more advice from more experienced vergers and other new vergers like myself."

Michael, as an old timer and a Board member, what does St. Louis hold for you?
Michael Sanchez: Christ Church Episcopal Parish, Lake Oswego, OR

Michael, replies that he most wants to:

"Talk shop!  Meeting with fellow vergers to talk about our ministries is one of my favorite things to do at Conference.  Since I'm the only verger in my parish, and we don't have a diocesan chapter (yet!), this is an extremely valuable opportunity for me to learn and share ideas with others.

"Worship!  Since I am always at the same church week after week serving, it's nice to be able to--as my dear friend and long time LEM Kathy says--"sit in the cheap seats" for once.  I love the VGEC motto:  service in worship and worship through service, but it sure is nice to "worship through worship" every once in a while.

"Be a part of something special!  I love how vergers from all over the country and the world come together to share ideas how to serve our churches better.  This is the best opportunity for vergers to gather, and I always come out with fresh ideas, a renewed sense of commitment to my ministry, and a heart full of love for my fellow vergers."

So Lindsay, why are you coming to the VGEC conference this year?
The Rev. Lindsay Hills, Assoc. Rector, The Episcopal Church of St. Matthew, San Mateo, CA

"I am most particularly interested in how we liturgically incorporate youth and young adults into worship, and worship leadership.  Our parish is growing and changing and as our liturgical ministries grow and change, we are beginning to think that a verger role could help our liturgy grow even more. I'm excited about learning strategies for implementation, recruiting, and sustainability of this important ministry. I served in the diocese of Missouri for a year in campus ministry, so I am delighted, to get to come "home"!

Judyth, what will you take away from our St. Louis conference?
Judyth Wilson - St Elisabeths Episcopal Church Memphis, TN

"I'm an new verger and I'm excited about the conference so that I can learn exactly what my duties should be and to talk with more experienced vergers as to how things are handled in their church."

Rich, you've been to a number of conferences, what are your expectations for our 27th?
Rich Lammlin, St John’s Episcopal Church, Essex, CT

"I love the tours of the areas that are part of the conference which allows me to see areas of the country I might not have ever visited.  Another highlight is getting to know my fellow vergers from across the country.  My ultimate favorite though is the Sunday Eucharist with all of us in procession."

Cheryl, having helped host a prior VGEC Conference, what will you do first in St. Louis?
Cheryl Cantrall - All Saints Episcopal Church, Lakeland, FL

"I always like getting to meet the first time attendees.  It is fun getting to know them and seeing why they decided to come for their first conference.  And for the others regulars just being able to get caught up with what has happened in their lives over the past year."

Jerry, as an experienced verger attending for the first time what do you want out of the 3 days?
Jerry Lowe - Christ Church Cathedral, Cincinnati, OH

"I’ve served as Head Verger at Christ Church Cathedral, Cincinnati, since 2002 (on and off depending on clergy). This will be my first VGEC conference. Our new dean, The Very Rev. Gail Greenwell, a remarkable dynamo, came to us a little over a year ago and asked me to establish and enlarge the verger ministry. So, it’s been a busy year developing a corps of 6 vergers. I’m pleased to say that the Dean Gail has been most complimentary of all our efforts. I’ve spent 40 years as a professional stage director and arts administrator. As you might expect, I see the responsibilities of the verger in theatrical terms—stage management, production coordination etc.

"I long to see other vergers at work (I’ve seen a number but never had a chance to meet or talk with them). That’s what I hope for at the conference.  I want to expand my view. I want to see how far our work as vergers can grow. I want to hear stories and tell stories and laugh with others who understand the liturgical nightmares and hysterical moments we all must experience.

"I hope I can leave St. Louis with a brain full of new ideas and great possibilities. Just look for the tallish balding guy with silver gray hair and beard and a constantly moving mouth. I look forward to meeting you."

Clarence, do you have specific goals for the 2015 VGEC Conference?
Clarence Woods - St Andrew’s by the Sea Church, San Diego, CA

"Because this will be my first VGEC Conference I have no specific goals to be realized in St. Louis. I am going to St. Louis with an open mind anticipating a great experience. I have a full schedule for Friday's sessions. I look forward to attending:
  • Session 1 Exploring the Verger Ministry for the New Verger (since I am new)
  • Session 2 Verging in Depth-Holy Smoke!
  • Session 3 The Partnership Between Clergy and the Verger Ministry
And on Saturday, I want to hear Dr. Philip Quaque on “The Early History of Black Anglicanism.”

*   *   *

And so it goes. We gather to share, to learn, to worship, to make new friends, to enjoy our host city and church, to thank our conference leaders for a job well done and to build memories together.

Want to know who else is going to be in Saint Louis at the VGEC Conference? Just follow this link.

You have 18 days to click the big red button to register for the 2015 Annual Conference opening on October 1st and running through noon on the 4th, in St. Louis, Missouri:

Abstract: Looking forward to the 2015 VGEC Annual Conference, we poll the delegation to discover why vergers, new and not-so-new want to gather for conversation, learning, worship and good fellowship every year. Maybe some of the comments we received will ring a bell with you. You can even be a "walk-on" registrant in Saint Louis. Hoping to see you there.

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