|Mike Stitt, at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Shippensburg, PA|
This great story tells itself.
It begins with a December 16, 2015 inquiry from the Senior Warden, Michael Rhodes, at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Shippensburg, PA to the VGEC Membership Committee:
Dear Membership Committee,
I hope this email finds all of you well. My name is Mike and I am the Senior Warden at St. Andrews Episcopal church in Shippensburg PA. I have a question that I hope you can help me with.
We have a wonderful verger who goes "above and beyond" for our parish! We would like to do something nice for him in return. We would like to pay 5 years of his dues. How can we do that?
Could you please let me know how I can get his dues to you? Can I charge on my CC? or can the Church send you a check for $100.00? Please let me know, we would like to present this to him at the annual meeting in January.
Our Verger is: STITT, Michael Cree, Sr.
Scott Smith, VGEC President replied the next day:
I know Michael and this is a wonderful thing! We can definitely do the 5 year payment for $100.
We also have a Lifetime Membership which is $500 (this may be way out of the question, but I wanted to mention it to you as well). If you purchase the lifetime membership, it comes with a very nice certificate that we could make sure that you have in time to present to him.
If you would email Betty Moore on the membership committee at [email protected] she can help you with anything that you need.
Kind regards and my best to Michael,
Scott Smith, President
Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church
Mike responded with good news:
Thanks so much for your email.
I took this to the vestry today and they approved the $500.00 lifetime membership! I was so thrilled! Mike is such a blessing to our parish. Mike inspired me to join the vergers guild and enroll in the training course back in October. I plan to devote all of my time in the new year since my term as senior warden is coming to a close.
It will be great to present this to him at our annual meeting in January! I will make sure to send pictures, perhaps you can do a story on in for the Vergers website.
I have included Betty on this email thread. I just need to know how to get the check for $500.00 to her. I want to make sure Mike is in the dark on all this till after the annual meeting. Could you not update the directory or his account till after?
Thanks so much for all of you help and support on this!
Mike Stitt has served his parish for an extended period, as a leader during worship and as a humanitarian in serving the community with hot meals for those who need nourishment and even inspired his Senior Warden to become a verger too. Michael Rhodes sent the following paragraphs for us to publish in recognition of Mike's service to St. Andrew's:
Mike Stitt is the verger at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Shippensburg, PA. What is a verger, you say? Well, a verger is a person within the Church who assists the clergy in the worship service. The Office of verger dates back to the Middle Ages when the verger was the "Protector of the Procession." Vergers led the procession into the church, clearing the way for the procession and protecting it from vagabonds who tried to attack it. Today, in many parishes you will see a verger ceremonially leading the procession.
The Parish of St. Andrew’s honored Mike Stitt’s ministry as verger at their annual meeting on the 31st of January. The parish presented Mike with a lifetime membership in the Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church. Mike is now one of 42 lifetime members in the Vergers Guild that boasts 1,856 active members.
Mike is the “go-to” guy for most things at St. Andrew’s. He is the first to unlock all the doors on Sunday morning and the last guy out to lock them back up. He leads the Buildings and Grounds committee that takes care of maintenance within the Church, the Parish Life Center, and the administrative offices. He also ensures that the outside grounds remain neat, weeded, and well cared for.
The community meal ministry feeds on average 70 people the first Monday of each month. This is a ministry that Mike started several years ago. The doors to the Parish Life Center open to provide a warm nourishing meal to those who need it. There are hopes to expand that ministry this year, to open the doors for a second day each month.
People have been worshiping at St. Andrews for 110 years. It was built in 1906. Mike is an avid historian, and has recorded much of that history in his weekly blog. You can find on the St. Andrew’s web site. (http://www.standrewsshippensburg.org/vergers-voice/) (This wonderful series of historical accounts now numbers 30 entries. Each is really well done and would be good models for any of our home parishes. - Ed.)
Mike is a true blessing to the parish of St. Andrew’s and of great help to the Rev. Barbara Hutchinson, Rector of St. Andrews. Mother Barbara says, “Mike does a great deal for our parish, but equally important, Mike shows our Christian values of respect for all people, seeking and serving Christ in all people, and making the love of God real to everyone who walks through our doors. We are all blessed by his presence and leadership among us.”
Mike may be only one of many vergers in the Episcopal Church, but he is Number One in our book!
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Abstract: A story of long, dedicated service to a 100+ year-old parish church in Pennsylvania. A story of inspired leadership. A story of a heart for humanity and heart-felt recognition of one of God's most faithful servants.