|Stephen Haude escorting the Lord Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, the first female diocesan bishop in The Church of England on the occasion of her consecration, July 22, 2015.
By Stephen Haude, Verger at St. Peters Church - Hammersmith, London
Hello dear fellow vergers and friends in America. I’m Stephen Haude (minus the cane I had at your Burlington Conference). We Brits are a little on the poor side, so alas, cost has prohibited us from joining you in Spokane. But we will do all we can to join you in Atlanta next year.
Having just hit my 73rd birthday, this London parish church verger looks back on the past 12 months. Apart from my church nave being encased in scaffolding and undergoing complete restoration with all the hassle that goes with it, I have been so honoured to be asked to virge on the following occasions.
It was Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral in her gracious presence. I virged my lengthy procession from the West Door which consisted of all the heads of other religions across the UK. Then finally, the Archbishop of York. You can see photos HERE and the order of service HERE. The staff vergers at the cathedral were wonderfully welcoming to me and we had a four-hour rehearsal the day before – mostly for the BBC to set up their camera angles. Esther, the Deputy Head Verger was so professional and kind and instructed me in what was required. Guess what? Esther comes from your side of the pond!
Earlier in these past 12 months Rachel Treweek made history when she became the first woman to become a Lord Bishop Temporal. This gives her a Parliamentary Seat in the House of Lords. She especially asked for me to be her verger at her consecration by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the mother church of the Anglican Communion, Canterbury Cathedral. Rachel emerged at the end of the service as the new Lord Bishop of Gloucester. It was such a great honour, and nobody could see my knees nervously knocking beneath the robes! Rachel’s husband, Guy Treweek is also a priest and served his curacy for three years at my London church of St Peter’s Hammersmith. I became great friends with the Treweek’s during this time.
Recently, St Paul’s Cathedral asked me to virge at the big Annual United Guilds Service. Another ‘biggie’! This is for the entire ancient Guilds and Livery Companies of the City of London. What a colourful affair that was! All the Grand Masters in their ermine robes and chains of office with the Lord Mayor of London and High Sheriff. This simple parish verger feels humbled by these many invitations. I must be doing something right!
May God Bless you all.
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Abstract: Our long and close association with the Church of England Guild of Vergers often allows us unusual insight into the traditions and history of the Church of England. This week, Stephen Haude, verger at St. Peter's Church, Hammersmith, London relates what we would consider a VERY big year of verging ("virging" if you reside east of 7 degrees west latitude).