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.

For information about submitting news and announcements to the blog, click HERE or contact [email protected].

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Verger Checklist Manifesto

Good checklists can really help vergers and The Checklist Manifesto puts it all into perspective

By David Deutsch, Volunteer Verger at Washington National Cathedral, [email protected]

As I read Dr. Atul Gawande’s short but fascinating book The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, (2009, Henry Holt and Company, New York) I knew right away why VGEC President Scott Smith asked me to write a review. This book could be extremely helpful to many vergers.

Dr. Gawande focuses on the medical profession to explain the theory behind the checklist, its application, its creation, and its difficulties in finding acceptance. But his clear intention is to raise the possibility that many people in many professions could benefit from using a checklist.

This book is an easy read and I highly recommend that all vergers, especially head vergers, read it. While I realize many of you might already be using a checklist for services, this book is particularly useful in that it explains the difference between a good checklist and a bad one. Below are a few factoids from the book.

The checklist came into use after a prototype bomber, Boeing’s Model 299, crashed during takeoff at a critical competition in front of U.S. Army Air Corps brass in 1935. The crash killed the highly experienced test pilot and wrecked not only the plane but Boeing’s chances for getting a contract. The problem: the pilot, Major Ployer P. Hill, forgot to release a new locking mechanism for the rudder and elevator controls. The checklist was born. Boeing eventually got the contract back from Douglas and built the Model 299 which became the B-17, one of the most famous planes in aviation history.

It is important to note that a checklist is not a detailed customary explaining each step of a project. A checklist sets forth the minimum steps possible in a process and makes them explicit. Dr. Gawande writes of the years of designing a checklist to be used in surgical operations around the world. The finished product had only14 steps. Put forth by the World Health Organization, it has saved many lives in both prosperous and third-world operating rooms. Checklists are not “comprehensive how-to guides... they provide protection against failures. They remind us of the minimum steps and make them explicit.”

In order to find out what makes a good checklist, Dr. Gawande visits Daniel Boorman at Boeing, a veteran pilot who has spent two decades designing checklists:
There are good checklists and bad. Bad checklists are vague and imprecise. They are too long; they are hard to use; they are impractical…They treat the people using the tools as dumb and try to spell out every single step. They turn people’s brains off rather than turn them on. Good checklists, on the other hand, are precise... They do not try to spell out everything... They provide reminders of the most critical steps... Good checklists are, above all, practical.
To summarize the book, good checklists are
  • Concise
  • Precise
  • Practical
  • Protection against forgetting procedures that are done over and over
  • A guard against the fallibility of human memory
  • A prevention against accidentally skipping steps
  • Buttress skills
  • Must be constantly reviewed and refined lest they become “ossified mandates.”
  • Allow room for judgment—judgment enhanced by procedure

Can a checklist be useful to the verger? In order to think more deeply about the use of checklists, I very much recommend that we vergers read The Checklist Manifesto. It may enhance smoother running of the liturgy during our services which, as we know, can have many moving parts.

BTW: If you use a checklist at your services, how is it working for you? Or, if you tried using one and discarded the idea, why?

Coda


I have never forgotten the installation of a new rector who I knew and very much liked. It promised to be a wonderful service which included a baptism. Installations are complicated—a one-off service, if you will—but all was humming along splendidly. Then, as the baptism began, it was discovered that no one filled the ewer with water.


Did you know that we have a huge number of shared documents in the Vergers Document Library online? See vergers.org/resources/library.

We have a whole section of Verger Checklists in the library that you might explore.

You can also submit your own checklists to Eileen Brightwell Hicks the volunteer Document Library Manager at [email protected] for possible inclusion in the library!



The 2017 VGEC Annual Conference deadline to register is Monday, October 2, 2017. We cannot accept on-site registrations! Registration is $275.00 per person.




Abstract: Do you use a checklist for regular Sunday services? Here's a book that can help you start utilizing checklists or refine the ones that you currently use. David Deutsch reviews and recommends that we vergers read The Checklist Manifesto.


Friday, September 15, 2017

A Verger without a Chimere and Virge is — a Verger!

How often do you use a virge and a chimere when you are a verger in a small parish?


Verging in a Small Parish


by Joseph John, St. James' Episcopal Church, Pewee Valley, Kentucky, [email protected]

Is there really a difference between verging in a large church versus a small church?

YES. NO. MAYBE.

What a cop out response.

However, let me first say “Ahh!”

Ahh, yes, the chimere, the virge, the procession down the aisle. Yes, that's just one of the enjoyable "perks" of being a verger.

However…forget the Ahh!, the vestments and the "stick" (or virge), for a moment. I believe the role of being a verger is directly related to the size of the church, plus the history of the church's liturgical processes, plus the season of the year, plus the pre-disposition of your rector towards liturgical processes and verger involvement — always keeping in mind that the verger serves at the pleasure of the Rector, Vicar, or Priest-in-Charge, or the Senior Warden.

In other words, a verger in a small parish with an average Sunday attendance of 75 or less may or may not be vesting and processing on a regular basis. So be it.

Let's begin with the baseline of responsibilities for the verger — large or small church. An excerpt from the vergers.org web site entitled "The Verger Today":
The verger's logistical and behind the scenes support allow the clergy more time for pastoral and sacramental responsibilities. We often say that every parish has a verger whether or not they are identified as such. Some typical verger duties are assigning, training and checking in lectors, chalice bearers, acolytes and prayer intercessors. The verger often coordinates with the altar guild and funeral guild. In some parishes the verger checks lighting and sound.

The precise duties of the verger will be specific to each parish church. For instance, in some parishes the verger will process at all liturgies and in others, they only process on Feast or Festival days. Especially helpful with visiting clergy or special services, the verger checks on additional seating, hospitality and welcoming newcomers. Most parishes, either small or large, and clergy who incorporate the verger position, wonder how they ever did without vergers!
Indeed, we as vergers are very busy; however, I think the small parish verger is even busier simply because there aren't a lot of people to divvy up responsibilities — there’s just ONE of me. No other bodies — no delegation of responsibilities. With the benefits of delegation being lessened dramatically, there is more "doing" and "git 'er done" required of the verger. Small church vs. large church is simply the difference of having bodies or critical mass to accomplish the many jobs a verger typically performs in any parish.

Yes, for the small parish verger, there is less pomp-and-circumstance and more behind-the-scenes work. He/she is working with the Altar Guild, the Worship Committee, the organist, the Parish Administrator, ushers, acolytes, Episcopal Church Women, and more.

Speaking of acolytes, invariably, there are fewer acolytes in the small parish, which then increases the challenges of training and scheduling around Mom and Dad's busy Sunday, weekend, and vacation schedules. Oh, my, there are countless times that I believe that it's a lot easier to herd cats or bishops.

Structure and attention to detail is Rule #1 for any verger, and Rule #1 is critical in the small parish. He/she must be organized and focused since there is always a bunch of running back-and-forth to ensure that the "show" goes on — without a hitch. Again, rarely is there anyone present to whom responsibilities can be delegated.

Rule #2 is flexibility. The verger has to be flexible for there will be changes during the liturgy that weren’t planned and so, the verger must accept the fact that every Sunday is "live theater" and thus, things change very quickly. Let's face it — the verger is a stage manager for the liturgical services.

I mentioned more personal "doing" rather than "delegating"; well, the small church many times lacks a sexton, and so the verger in the small church will often be responsible for opening the church, the parish hall, and all of the "locked doors" that need to be opened for easy access to the services.

Are there other challenges to the small parish verger? Oh, yes. A major challenge is the small parish that lacks a full-time rector. A verger in a situation like this becomes a major asset to the Vestry and the Search Committee as he/she keeps the Sunday services flowing while working with supply priests — one less thing the Senior Warden and the Vestry has to worry about.

The verger greets the supply priest, makes all the necessary introductions to those who will be involved in the liturgy that day. He/she reviews the liturgical processes for all services that should have been prepared by the verger and emailed to the priest earlier in the week.

And then the "stage manager" does a sound check, checks the lavaliere and shows the priest where to vest, the all-important location of the bathrooms and, of course, the freshly brewed coffee. And the list continues.

Well, all the responsibilities I've listed in this article come as no surprise to vergers throughout our churches. It’s really more of a "there's ONE of me" in the small church as compared to "there's more of me's" in the large church.

So is there really a difference between verging in a large church versus a small church?

YES. NO. MAYBE.


Did you know that you can submit your own story about the verger ministry for possible inclusion in the Vergers Voice blog?

We are always looking for interesting topics, ideas, and creative ways of demonstrating the power and enjoyment of being part of the fellowship of the VGEC and our ministry of service.

If you have any ideas, or if you would like to take your turn at writing a post and sharing ideas, send them to [email protected]!



The 2017 VGEC Annual Conference in Atlanta is coming very soon on October 12th to October 15th. Registration is $275.00 per person. The deadline to register is Monday, October 2, 2017. We cannot accept on-site registrations!




Abstract: Recently, vergersvoice.org asked the members of the Vergers Guild to consider submitting ideas and manuscripts for the blog. This post was submitted by Joseph John, a verger in a small church, average Sunday attendance of 73, in Kentucky. See if you agree with his summation of the difference between verging in small and large churches.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Tales from the Slype, Part 4: There will be Earthquakes...

Fallen angel on the roof of Washington National Cathedral (photo by John Stuhldreher)

By David Deutsch, Volunteer Verger at Washington National Cathedral, [email protected]

I began as a volunteer verger at Washington National Cathedral in July of 2003. Over the course of my time, I had certain epiphanies that, among other results, told me that this great stone edifice which can look cold and imposing on the outside, actually has a warm heart and vibrant spirit. When I am at the cathedral, I hang out in the slype. Now a slype in medieval times was a covered passageway between the dean’s office and the nave, giving the head of the cathedral easy access to the services. At Washington National Cathedral the slype is comfortably furnished, has storage for vestments, the service books, etc. The slype is both a control tower and hanger for worship. This is part 4 in the "Tales from the Slype Series:"

…there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs. – Mark 13:8

What the hell is that banging noise? On August 23, 2011 at 1:50pm1, I am sitting in the slype, drowsy from lunch. The crashing sound immediately jolts me fully awake. I hurry to the door to see what is going on in the nave. But arriving at the slype door, I realize that sound is actually the door itself. Although closed with the latch, the large wooden door is bouncing around on its hinges, pounding back and forth creating a huge racket. I am beginning to feel a bit unsteady on my feet.

I open the door and immediately notice the nave looks eerie. Dust is swirling around blocking the light. The floor feels unsteady. I cannot process what is happening. I want to move more into the nave, but I cannot. Then I hear security—

"Earthquake! Everyone leave the cathedral!" That jolts my neurons and synapses. I am fully awake. My brain is racing. I know what I have to do.

I reenter the slype. Sitting at the computer, I log on and go to my Facebook page. I post an update:

I am at the Washington National Cathedral in the middle of an earthquake.

["YOU! GO NOW!" A security officer has poked his head into the slype.]

I have to leave. More later.

I log off, gather my stuff, exit through the North Entrance, and gather on the grass with other evacuees. On my way out, not far from where I exited, I saw a huge finial sticking into the ground like a guided missile. It had fallen off from the roof of the cathedral. Hmmm, I wonder if outdoors is the safest place to be. Soon we are told to go home.

"Home" lasted nearly two months. The magnitude 5.8 earthquake shut down the House of Prayer for all people causing 34 million dollars worth of damage. But, in some ways, the Cathedral came through quite well. Here is an excerpt from The Day the Earth Shook: Washington National Cathedral Earthquake Restoration by James W. Shepherd, AIA, LEED.
In some ways, it is amazing that the Cathedral performed as well as it did in a magnitude 5.8 earthquake. To truly understand the extent of the damage, however, one needs to look closely at the structural flying buttresses and the decorative architectural elements that extend above the roofline.

As the seismic energy worked its way through the ground and traveled upward, it was released through the displacement of the highest and most slender components of the Cathedral—and also, one of the highest geographical point in the city. Delicate pinnacles on the Cathedral's towers, each weighing thousands of pounds, spun and burst apart from the seismic force unleashed in less than a minute. One gargoyle was decapitated...

Inside the Cathedral, the "debris fields" held clues to where the stone vaulted ceiling overhead experienced the most movement. The seismic waves shifted stones, causing mortar to loosen, crack and fall. In some cases, the ceiling stones cracked and spalled2.
An earthquake not only shakes the earth but shakes up the mind as well. What we take as solid can crumble. What we perceive as secure can become dangerous. In the midst of such chaos, what astounds me is the amazing spirit that humankind has to rebuild, to move forward, and to look through the debris to the future. We can see that spirit on the news when reporters interview residents of small towns who have been hit by a tornado. And I can feel that spirit beginning November 12, 2011 when I returned to the slype ten weeks after the earthquake. Fundraising has begun. The building is stabilized. Joe Alonso and his two stone carvers are hard at work. The Eucharist—a service of thanksgiving—has returned. Hope and faith abound.

More later.

1 For those of you who like accuracy–and I know that vergers do like accuracy–the time was 1:51:04.
2 Spall: To break up or reduce by or as if by chipping with a hammer (Merriam Webster)


Did you know that you can submit your own story about the verger ministry for possible inclusion in the Vergers Voice blog?

We are always looking for interesting topics, ideas, and creative ways of demonstrating the power and enjoyment of being part of the fellowship of the VGEC and our ministry of service.

If you have any ideas, or if you would like to take your turn at writing a post and sharing ideas, send them to [email protected]!



The 2017 VGEC Annual Conference in Atlanta is coming very soon on October 12th to October 15th. Registration is $275.00 per person. The deadline to register is Monday, October 2, 2017. We cannot accept on-site registrations!




Abstract: The photo for this blog post tells an incredible story. One of calm, surprise, shock, movement, shaking, falling, danger, fear, and the slow path to recovery. David Deutsch, a volunteer verger, tells about the 2011 earthquake at Washington National Cathedral from his own experience of being there: before, during, and after. More later.

Friday, September 1, 2017

My First 100 Days: Reflections of a new Verger

Godfrey tries out the Verger's Stall at St. Luke's Montclair with friends onlooking

By Godfrey Gregg FVGEC, St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Montclair, NJ - [email protected]

Easter Sunday, 2017 was a glorious day here in northern New Jersey. I awoke early, prayed, and prepared for my first verger experience. Prior to the start of the Great Vigil the night before, the rector had asked if I would like to verge tomorrow. Easter Sunday! My internal dialogue was, "Excuse me, what did you just ask me?" Following the Vigil, I grabbed a glass of champagne, approached the rector, and gave my reply, "Sure."

I am a life-long Episcopalian. At the age of ten I became a choirboy. Because choirboys received a monthly stipend, the parish (i.e. The Episcopal Church) was my first employer. I attended Episcopal Church schools, and like many of my generation I walked away from the church as I got older. Fortuitously, a couple of decades later, like the prodigal, I was welcomed home with open arms. I found a church that was inclusive and for twelve years I thrived in an Anglo Catholic experience. Following a move to New Jersey I was drawn to St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Montclair, New Jersey in August 2010. After a year I joined the Healing Ministry.

The thought of becoming a verger occurred to me after two life altering events. First, in January, 2015, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and required surgery. I took a sabbatical from teaching, reflected on my new identity, and recommitted myself to living. In the fall of 2015, I returned to the Healing Ministry and celebrated my deliverance from illness. The second event, in April 2016, occurred while I sat vigil on Maundy Thursday into Good Friday. St. Luke's was completely dark except for one candle. Suddenly I became aware of not being alone. The eyes of the faithful departed were upon me. I had not experienced such an intense examination since defending my dissertation. I am not psychotic! To self soothe myself I recited Robert Herrick's Litany to the Holy Spirit, "In the hour of my distress, When temptations me oppress. And when I my sins confess. Sweet Spirit Comfort Me!" As I sat my thoughts were often on the vergers. Indeed I was seated near the verger's stall.

St. Luke's was established in 1860 and the present edifice consecrated in December 1892. The parish had its first verger in 1917, J. G. Chesterman, who was also sexton and carpenter. There is a virge handmade in 1918 by Mr. Chesterman. The most recent verger died in October 2013 and his death created a huge void and sorrow, and the verger's stall remained vacant until Easter 2017.

During the summer of 2016, I approached the rector regarding the verger position and over the next few months we discussed the role. My oldest friend, from choirboy days, is a verger in Atlanta. His advice was, "Don't do it alone. It's a lot of work and if not careful you can/will get burned out. Think a team of vergers..." My rector also had a verger team concept but life circumstances and waning interests reduced the team to just me. The rector continued to encourage me. I read everything available, researched YouTube, and found services from Westminster Abbey. The vergers.org website was a treasure trove.

I joined VGEC in the fall of 2016 and started the training course. Additionally, in February and May of 2017, the Diocese of Newark conducted training for vergers. I started to wonder when I would have my first verger experience...

April 16, 2017, I arrived at St. Luke's with a checklist in hand. Being a former flight attendant, I was accustomed to having a checklist and/or preflight and I suspect most vergers have something similar. Neither the rector nor I had informed anyone about the new verger. Consequently, when I arrived in the vesting room and began to vest - there was silence. And that's when it hit me: I was wearing the cassock and chimere of my predecessors (ironically we were all about the same size and build) and I was holding the virge made by Mr. Chesterman in 1918. Plus it was the 100th anniversary of the verger position at St. Luke's: 1917-2017.

At 9:50 am I took my place and prepared for the procession. Easter Sunday - standing room only - dear Lord deliver me. Although everything went well, I recall the sense of relief at the conclusion of the service. I could breathe once again.

As the 100th day of my being verger approaches, I have served on thirteen Sundays and for one funeral. There is so much to learn! I have made mistakes. There are always comments regarding the role: you've got big shoes to fill; are your comfortable in the role; why don't you smile, Godfrey; good to see the verger's robes being used again - you wear them with dignity. I have questioned my decision to accept the verger's mantle but I always arrive at the same conclusion: you are in the right place and you are fine.

I confess there are occasions on Sundays when my eyes swell with tears. To be in service to Spirit is indeed a calling - Grace. This Grace is most deeply felt as I spend time alone in the church. I go to the church and polish items: the font, the crosses, collection plates, and other jewels that have gone unnoticed. I have discovered inscriptions on crosses and pews in memory of the departed. As I polish these inscriptions I sense a connection to those who have come before me - the linage - and who have made contributions. The polishing is as a prayer - an Intercession. St. Luke's is a living museum and I have been chosen as curator. As verger I have the honor to serve both the living and the departed.

I enjoy research. Therefore I have spent numerous hours probing through the church archives. I have found cancelled checks from the late 19th century, photos of choirs, rectors, and vergers. And now I too am a part of this history.

Soon after Easter I asked the rector about ordering new verger robes. I have reverence and love for my predecessors as I occupy their stall and carry their virge. However, I did not wish to wear their robes. Although I will wear their black chimere and black cassock during Lent and for funerals, I chose a blue cassock and grey chimere with blue piping for regular use. I felt the need to make my own mark. Thus far the congregation has given approval. And yet, there are moments when I wonder if I have moved too fast? Did the desire for individuality inappropriately replace tradition?

Each new verger must find her or his own way. We must stumble and question. We must turn to more experienced vergers for guidance and comfort. We must maintain faith that the Lord will illuminate our paths. I am hungry to learn more. I am excited to meet others at the Atlanta conference. With faith I enter my next 100 days...


Did you know that you can submit your own story about the verger ministry for possible inclusion in the Vergers Voice blog?

We are always looking for interesting topics, ideas, and creative ways of demonstrating the power and enjoyment of being part of the fellowship of the VGEC and our ministry of service.

If you have any ideas, or if you would like to take your turn at writing a post and sharing ideas, send them to [email protected]!



The 2017 VGEC Annual Conference in Atlanta is coming very soon on October 12th to October 15th. Registration is $275.00 per person. The deadline to register is Monday, October 2, 2017. We cannot accept on-site registrations!




Abstract: Recently, vergersvoice.org asked the members of the Vergers Guild to consider submitting ideas and manuscripts for the blog. This post was submitted by Godfrey Gregg, a new verger at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Montclair, New Jersey. A busy man, he also recently completed the VGEC Training Course and is a Fellow of the Guild and will be recognized as a new Fellow of the Guild at the Annual Conference in Atlanta on October 14th. Read more about his journey to the verger ministry.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Church of England Guild of Vergers Turns 85

The CEGV was 25 years old when this photograph was taken on April 19, 1956

By John G. Campbell BEM, FBGU, FCEGV, Head Verger of Lincoln Cathedral, United Kingdom, and Overseas Liaison Officer of the Church of England Guild of Vergers - [email protected]

I am reminded of the words penned by the [then] Archbishops of Canterbury and York in 2007 when the Church of England Guild of Vergers celebrated the Diamond Anniversary of formation:

Vergers are almost as much a part of the Great British Collective Unconscious as vicars. From Dickens' Edwin Drew through to Dad's Army, they are there, hovering (or hoovering) around the shrines of our imagination. Many of a certain generation in church life will have stories of the great and terrible vergers of the past. Stories of the punctuation of Evensong with the extremely audible reprimand to tourists "You can't come in 'ere, there's a service going on."

But now the stereotypes belong to the distant past. The best vergers have always been creative, even pastoral servants of the life of the churches they have cared for. More than ever these days, the verger's job will be some of the most crucial work of the Church in its reaching to and welcoming those on its margins. It is going to require huge gifts of stamina, imagination and spiritual steadiness. The Church of England is fortunate to have so many men and women gifted in these ways, who give themselves to ministry.

At the same time +John of Lincoln, one time Chaplain of the Exeter Branch, whose father was a verger and one time secretary of the Bristol Branch, wrote:

Vergers have been described as the Church's Cinderella Service - presumably with the Clergy as the Ugly Sisters. To a certain extent this is true. Vergers have turned discretion and unobtrusiveness into an art form. They ensure all is done decently and in order so that ministers can fulfil their roles effectively and people can worship undisturbed. It is a vital role which although often hidden, must not be taken for granted.

These statements were true ten years ago and perhaps more so these days in our 85th year, when we see some deterioration in our traditional diaconal role. Bishop John eludes to the sentiments in Acts 6 - individuals chosen to carry out essential supportive roles, whilst Their Graces paraphrase Ephesians 4 - the essence and importance of using differing God-given talents to propel that which primarily is the engine, the power house, which is the Church.

With potential changes within the leadership of our guild; chairman, chaplain, training officer, we thank God for those who have served us in these roles in the past and pray that new officers will lead us so that we can develop and at last, as vergers, go to the Ball.


Did you know that when you join the Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church, you become an Associate Member of the Church of England Guild of Vergers?

If you would like more information, contact John at [email protected].

When the VGEC was founded in 1989, we had been an American Branch of the CEGV for about a year. A "Branch" for the CEGV is the same thing as a "Chapter" in the VGEC.



The 2017 VGEC Annual Conference in Atlanta is coming soon on October 12th to October 15th. Registrations made through Thursday, August 31, 2017 are $225.00 per person. Registrations made after August 31, 2017 are $275.00 per person. The deadline to register is Monday, October 2, 2017. We cannot accept on-site registrations!


Editors note: Send ideas for Vergers Voice blog topics to [email protected] or submit your own manuscript for consideration.


Abstract: The Church of England Guild of Vergers recently celebrated their 85th anniversary. John Campbell, Overseas Liaison Officer of the Guild and Dean's Verger at Lincoln Cathedral explores the meaning of being a verger both then and now. His description might echo your own experience.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Frequently Asked Questions About VGEC Membership

Several questions were asked about membership during the 2015 Annual Conference Business Meeting in St. Louis

By Cheryl Cantrall FVGEC, All Saints' Episcopal Church, Lakeland, Florida, VGEC Membership Chair, [email protected]

There have recently been various membership questions brought to the attention of the VGEC Membership Committee. We will attempt to answer a few of those questions.

I have moved, have a new phone number or changed parishes, so how do I update my information for the Vergers Guild?

Any personal information such as an address change, new phone number, fax number, work number, spouse/partner change can be updated quite easily by visiting the verger website at membership.vergers.org. You will first be asked to enter your email address and password. Don’t have or remember your password? No worries – Membership Management System will prompt you to access a new password. Once you are logged into MMS all your personal information will be there. MMS will allow you to update any of the information listed. After the information is changed you must select the submit button and MMS automatically updates the information and sends you an email showing the corrected information. If you forgot something or need to correct an error just repeat the process. If all else fails, email the information to [email protected] and we will help with the changes.

We have a new verger in our parish and we want to register them under our Parish Membership.

Have the new verger go to try.vergers.org and sign up for the "Free 6-month" trial membership. After they join as a trial member, please send an email to us at [email protected] and include their name in the email. After receipt of the information, their membership type will be updated to "Parish Membership" and their membership expiration date will be updated to match the parish's date of expiration.

We have vergers who are no longer vergers and we want them deleted off our parish roster.

We don't delete any records in MMS. We inactivate any person who no longer wishes to be a member of the guild or who is no longer a verger in a certain parish. Their name will stay on the parish roster but in an inactive status and are not updated when the parish membership is renewed. If you are removing a person who is no longer a verger it is helpful to give a reason, if possible, so we may track why someone is no longer active. Such reasons could be: moved, no longer interested, currently in school, etc. If you have a verger who is deceased and can provide a date of death they will be listed in the "Remembrance" section of our online Membership Directory. That directory is available at membership.vergers.org.

I tried to submit my dues and it rejected my credit card.

We occasionally have members who cannot get their credit card information in the system on the first try. Try a second time being sure to just use numbers (no dashes or spaces) and also that the number, expiration date, and security code are absolutely correct. If that does not work, you may contact us at [email protected] and we can process the card for you. Send membership an email stating MMS would not accept the credit card and include a good time to make contact with you.

I don’t trust online transactions and want to submit my dues via check.

Our site is very secure and uses PayPal for all secure credit card transactions. Using online transactions save the VGEC a considerable amount of time and effort required to collect funds using alternate methods. If you must use a check, make the check out to "Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church" and mail the check to VGEC, PO Box 280, Round Rock, TX 78680-0280. Regular renewal is $40, Parish renewal is $200 (for 5 or more members) and Retired (means retired from verging) or student memberships are $20, and LifeTime memberships are $500.

I want to take the Training Course for the VGEC or have other questions regarding training.

Questions regarding training should be directed to our Training Course Advisor, Duke DuTeil at [email protected]. Complete information on the course is available at vergers.org/training where the course may be easily purchased online for $65.

The VGEC Membership Committee hopes these tips are helpful. If you have more questions membership can be reached at [email protected].


The 2017 VGEC Annual Conference in Atlanta is coming soon on October 12th to October 15th. Registrations made through Thursday, August 31, 2017 are $225.00 per person. Registrations made after August 31, 2017 are $275.00 per person. The deadline to register is Monday, October 2, 2017. We cannot accept on-site registrations!


Editors note: Send ideas for Vergers Voice blog topics to [email protected] or submit your own manuscript for consideration.


Abstract: Many membership questions and situations can be addressed by using the Membership Management System (MMS). Here are suggestions from the Membership Committee for handling common problems.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Tales from the Slype, Part 3: Be Still, and Know That I Am God

David Deutsch directs the last TV show of his career on September 26, 2003, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer

By David Deutsch, Volunteer Verger at Washington National Cathedral, [email protected]

I began as a volunteer verger at Washington National Cathedral in July of 2003. Over the course of my time, I had certain epiphanies that, among other results, told me that this great stone edifice which can look cold and imposing on the outside, actually has a warm heart and vibrant spirit. When I am at the cathedral, I hang out in the slype. Now a slype in medieval times was a covered passageway between the dean’s office and the nave, giving the head of the cathedral easy access to the services. At Washington National Cathedral the slype is comfortably furnished, has storage for vestments, the service books, etc. The slype is both a control tower and hanger for worship. This is part 3 in the "Tales from the Slype Series:"

It is Tuesday, January 24, 2004, and the icy sleet begins around 3 pm. I am sitting in the slype at Washington National Cathedral preparing to lead the office of Evening Prayer. At 4 pm the phone rings. The assistant cathedral verger, Larry Keller, tells me that because of weather conditions the cathedral is closing, the doors will be locked, and the staff and volunteers are being sent home—well, not all the staff and volunteers. I am to stay and lead 5:30 Evening Prayer in Bethlehem Chapel on the lower level. I will be the sole verger, really, the sole anybody outside security, in Washington National Cathedral.

Soon security dims the lights in the nave. The cathedral becomes very quiet. Silent. I am utterly alone in that huge stone building. I experience an overwhelming sense of awe. I palpably feel the peace and stillness.

As 5:30 approaches, I realize how much my life has changed. Six months ago, I was the director of the live, network show, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Tonight is New Hampshire primary night. At this moment I would be on the air trying to make order out of chaos in a crowded tense control room. People would be yelling. I would call for graphics to be inserted, roll tapes into the show, and coordinate with camera operators at remote locations around the country. I keep up a steady stream of commands: “Ready New Hampshire. Going to Judy in New Hampshire. And take New Hampshire. <go Judy> Font in…and lose it stand-by 3 on Jim. Hold three. Take 3. Ready chroma-key. Take. Ready the precincts graphic. I need it. And…dissolve to graphics A…”

It is time. I walk into a silent Bethlehem Chapel. I open my Book of Common Prayer, look at the empty seats and begin. "O God, make speed to save us..."


The 2017 VGEC Annual Conference in Atlanta is coming soon on October 12th to October 15th. Registrations made through Thursday, August 31, 2017 are $225.00 per person. Registrations made after August 31, 2017 are $275.00 per person. The deadline to register is Monday, October 2, 2017. We cannot accept on-site registrations!


Editors note: How has your career influenced your ministry? Send ideas for Vergers Voice blog topics to [email protected] or submit your own manuscript for consideration.


Abstract: David Deutsch, retired director of the PBS NewsHour and volunteer verger at Washington National Cathedral compares the pace of life in the control room with Evening Prayer in the quiet, peaceful, and empty Bethlehem Chapel on a cold, icy night in January.

Friday, August 4, 2017

ATLANTA: The Hollywood of the South


By Yolande Brunson Collins, Verger, St. Simon's Episcopal Church, Conyers, Georgia, [email protected]

One of the major highlights of each VGEC Annual Conference is the opportunity to dress up for the closing Reception and Awards Banquet, and this year is no exception! Our theme is ATLANTA: The Hollywood of the South, and we ask that your dress accordingly!

Atlanta and the surrounding area has become a very popular place to make movies and television shows. Due to our great weather (REAL summers and mild winters), movie crews are able to work year-round to accomplish their filming goals. In addition, many of the area colleges and universities have added technical and artistic programs of study, which provide an on-going supply of college interns, degreed individuals, and other interested persons to work in the industry.

In the 1970s, the movie Deliverance (1972) helped bring the state of Georgia to Hollywood's attention. Since the 1980s, film and production crews have regularly utilized Atlanta's stately mansions, fascinating skyline, beautiful landscapes and eccentric neighborhoods as backgrounds and backdrops for movie sets. One such award-winning movie is Driving Miss Daisy (1989). Following the success of this film and others, Atlanta became a prime location for making movies.

Also, in the late 1980s, television production became a mainstay of the Metropolitan Atlanta area, with productions taking place on local sound stages in and around the city. Extremely popular television shows In the Heat of the Night (1988 – 1992) and The Vampire Diaries (2009 – 2017) were both produced in Covington, Georgia, about 30 miles east of the city. Since 2005, all of the Tyler Perry sit-coms (and full-feature movies) were filmed in Atlanta. The Walking Dead series (2010 – present) continues to be filmed in and around Atlanta. And yes, even a game show is taped here: Family Feud (2011-2017). There have been very many television shows produced in Atlanta!

There are a number of major film and television production companies in the Atlanta area including Turner Broadcasting, Tyler Perry Studios, and EUE/Screen Gems. In 2012, the Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Office stated that, "More than 700 feature films, TV movies, TV series, single episodes and pilots have been produced in Georgia since 1972, generating a great economic impact. They estimate the economic impact of entertainment industry projects that they handled in 2009 was $770 million."

The industry has exploded in the Atlanta area, and according to a 2016 article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Georgia remains the third most popular site for movie and TV production in the U.S., following behind only California and New York. Two of the three Hunger Games trilogy films were shot in Atlanta, and in the past year alone, big-ticket films like Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2, The Fate of the Furious, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Hidden Figures, Marvel’s Black Panther, and Pitch Perfect 3 filmed in and around Atlanta. It was reported earlier this year that the Georgia TV and Film Industry brings in about $7 billion per year! For this reason, we boast that we are, in fact, ATLANTA: The Hollywood of the South!

So, come prepared to celebrate with us! As we roll out the red carpet for you, we ask that you come dressed in your “Hollywood Glam,” while you mix, mingle and hob-knob in old or new Hollywood style. You may ask, "What exactly IS Hollywood Glam?" Today, it's whatever you want it to be, as long as you make it FUN and you look FABULOUS! To make it simple, Hollywood Glam is:
  • Basic black
  • Formal (with boa) and tux
  • Casual swag with your All-Star "Chucks"
  • Long dress, short dress
  • Slacks -- with a blouse or jacket and shirt
  • Denim, perhaps bedazzled
  • Your favorite footwear
 Today's Hollywood Glam is an individual decision, so just look FABULOUS... that's your one and only mission!!!
The Verger Reception will start at 6:00pm. Come and enjoy the opportunity to become better acquainted with your fellow vergers and to hang out with and say, "good bye" to those whom you have come to know during the days of the conference. At 7:00pm the doors to the banquet hall will open, and we will invite you to sit and enjoy a fabulous feast and the program that follows.

We look forward to seeing you at the reception and banquet, and we are oh, so excited to see what you will choose as your Hollywood Glam!

Not Registered for the Annual Conference Yet?

Register by clicking HERE.

Registrations made through August 31, 2017 are $225.00 per person.
Registrations made after August 31, 2017 are $275.00 per person.

Registrations must be made by Monday, October 2, 2017. All conference plans for transportation, food, and logistics must be set by that date. We cannot accept on-site registrations; they must be made in advance online through the Guild Shop.

Alert for all Vergers Who Have Not Yet Booked a Hotel Room for the Atlanta Conference


There is much more occurring in Downtown Atlanta the second weekend of October than the VGEC Annual Conference. The Marriott Marquis has sold out of rooms. The good news is that as of today there are still a dozen or so rooms available at the at the conference rate of $135.00 per night, but when our block of rooms is sold out, there are no other rooms available.

If you plan to attend the conference and would like to stay at the conference hotel at a highly discounted rate, please book your room at the Marriott Marquis today. Procrastinators will not be pleased with the cost of their alternative choices. We certainly cannot guarantee a comparable rate to our conference rate.

Click HERE for a list of hotel options on the vergers.org/conference/2017 page.


The 2017 VGEC Annual Conference in Atlanta is coming soon on October 12th to October 15th. Registrations made through Thursday, August 31, 2017 are $225.00 per person. Registrations made after August 31, 2017 are $275.00 per person. The deadline to register is Monday, October 2, 2017. We cannot accept on-site registrations!


Editors note: Send ideas for Vergers Voice blog topics to [email protected]


Abstract: Atlanta and the surrounding area has become a very popular place to make movies and television shows. As we roll out the red carpet for you at this year's reception and awards banquet, we ask that you come dressed in your “Hollywood Glam.” You may ask, "What exactly IS Hollywood Glam?" Today, it's whatever you want it to be and this blog gives you some fabulous ideas!

Friday, July 28, 2017

VTech: The Cell Phone


How can the cell phone help the verger in her work before, during, and after church?

By Charlotte Sullivan, Verger, All Saints' Episcopal Church, Austin, Texas, [email protected]

This is the first installment of a series of Vergers Voice blog posts called, "VTech" which is about the Verger ministry and technology. If you have stories about how you use (or would like to use) technology in your own ministry, please send them to [email protected].

Since first serving as a verger in 2006, I have noticed that I use my cell phone, currently an iPhone 6, more and more to assist in my Sunday responsibilities. Hence, I was wondering how other vergers use mobile technology.

Here are some of the phone applications and methods that I have used to assist me. What other applications do you use and are there apps that I am missing?

Email


We use email to communicate on a regular basis for scheduling, service preparation, etc.

Alarm


On days when I have a lot of pre-service activities, I set my phone alarm to make sure I get to the sacristy in time to meet the acolytes.

Clock


I use my phone as a clock rather than using a watch because most cell phones are synced in time. Therefore, when the choirmaster/organist begins playing a particular prelude for Evensong, he will tell me to process at a certain time in order to make sure that the choir is in place on time. We both use our phones to tell the time so we are automatically synced rather than our watches being a few minutes ahead or behind. I also use the clock app to show the rector what time it is at the beginning of the service since we are not always standing near each other. That way, I do not have to shout out the time and disrupt the peacefulness of the prelude.

Flashlight


Since the Easter services begin with the nave lights dimmed, it can be difficult for the rector to read from the program of service. Therefore, I use a flashlight app to shine enough light for the rector to read the order of worship prior to the processional. The flashlight app also helps me find my way in dark corridors or find items that have been dropped in dark places.

Text Messages


At my church, the children process to the children's chapel at the beginning of the service, but come back to the church during the peace in order to take communion with their family or come back earlier to watch a baptism. The vergers text the children's chaplains during the service to let them know when it is time to bring the children back into the church. We have also used texts to find the parents of sick children or communicate about an issue in which the verger needs to be aware.

Book of Common Prayer (BCP)


I have a copy of the BCP downloaded on my phone. Since the vergers text the children's chaplains during the service, I need to pay attention to my phone in case they (or anyone else) need assistance. I find it helpful to use an electronic copy because text messages will appear even when I have the BCP open. There is an old app of the BCP; however, I would recommend downloading the PDF copy of the BCP and opening it in an app like iBooks. The text will be small, but you can hold your phone sideways and expand the text.

Phone


The vergers have been asked to call 911 should an emergency arise during the service. Therefore, I keep my phone on, but set the ringer to silent when in church.

Recorder, iTunes or other audio app


Finding the right pace for the procession during The Great Litany is always a challenge. I have a recording of The Great Litany (both traditional and modern) that I use to practice the pace of the procession prior to the first Sunday in Lent. One of the other vergers worked out the timing and marked the points in the church where we should be during the litany. For instance, I know that I should be at the St. Michael's stained glass window when the litanist sings, "That it may please thee to illumine all bishops, priests, and deacons…" Using my phone to play a recording allows me to pace the steps prior to the service to make sure we do not arrive too early or late to the sanctuary.

Stopwatch


On one occasion, a visiting minister, who knew he tended to speak too long, requested that I give him a signal when he had preached for 12 minutes. The clock app has a handy stopwatch for just such a purpose.

Camera


When we have special services with large programs of service, I find it difficult to physically keep up with the program during the service. Therefore, I take photos of each page of the program (with my markings) and use the photo as a reference instead of carrying around a bulky 8.5" x 11" booklet. (The type is small, but you can turn your phone sideways and expand the text.) I have thought of using a scanned copy of the program, but find that we make enough last minute changes that it is best if I take a photo of each page of the program a few minutes before the service begins. Also, I have been known to sneak photos of acolytes on their first day of service to share with their proud parents.

Photos


The vergers at my church do not sit behind the rail near the acolytes since space in the sanctuary is limited. With that in mind, there are times when I need to remind the acolytes to light the candles/torches, pick up the plates, or move the railing at communion. Instead of using hand signals, I use a photo made from the Pages app, to show them in large letters, "Light Torches", "Plates", or "Rail". The type is large enough for acolytes to read from about 15 feet away. It helps to improve communication without playing a brief game of charades, which has proven to not be one of my gifts.

These are some of the ways I use my smart phone. I would enjoy hearing from others as to how you use your mobile devices to assist in your work as verger. No doubt, there will be more applications invented that will continue to support the work that we do. Please comment below if you are reading this in Blogger or Face Book or email me at [email protected]


The 2017 VGEC Annual Conference will take place in Atlanta, Georgia from October 12th through October 15th. We hope you can join us! Click the big red button to register today. You can also read more about the conference and book your hotel.


Editors note: Send ideas for Vergers Voice blog topics to [email protected]


Abstract: This is the first installment of a series of Vergers Voice blog posts called, "VTech" which will be about the Verger ministry and technology. If you have stories about how you use (or would like to use) technology in your own ministry, please send them to [email protected].


Friday, July 21, 2017

How does the Vergers Voice blog work?

The Vergers Voice in the old days was a lot harder to distribute than today, but it may have been a lot more fun!
Photo credit http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/photograph/23427/newspaper-delivery-boys-on-bikes

By Scott Smith, VGEC President and Vergers Voice Publisher, [email protected]

We want to take a step back and think about the Vergers Voice, the history, where it is, and where it's headed with these questions:
  • Where did the Vergers Voice come from?
  • How does the blog work and who makes it happen each week?
  • What are the best types of posts?
  • Are there vergers out there who would like to help with the blog?

Where did the Vergers Voice come from?


When the guild started in the late 1980's, the very first newsletter about vergers in North America was produced and mailed by Bill Gleason in May, 1988. As the first president of the VGEC, Bill was also thee first editor and it evolved from "The News and Information Bulletin" to "The President's Memo" in 1989 and to "The President's Verge" in August 1991. In 1993, the VGEC newsletters stopped and were followed by one issue of "The President's Agenda" in 1994. In April 1995, "On the Verge" made its debut followed by the inaugural issue of the "Verger's Voice" in February 1996. It's interesting to notice how much that first issue from twenty-one years ago looks like our current blog!

About the newsletters, Bill recently said, "They have always been a total labor of love with many, many people involved over the years. In the early days, I used scissors and glue and tape to put the things together and we put them in envelopes and mailed them from our house. The challenge was always getting people to contribute material for the newsletter, keeping people motivated to keep it going, and to lead the massive effort. I'm sure that's the main issue with the blog today!"

In 2008, Margaret McLarty published one of the last old-style Vergers Voice newsletters and in 2009 helped launch a series of electronic news blasts called "V-Happenings" that was the birth of the current blog. The very last paper copy of the newsletter was printed in July 2010.

In 2012, Ken Holloway volunteered to help start the current blog. He recently said, "The June 2012 V-Happenings asked for help with communications and since I had a lot of experience with writing and publishing, I volunteered. We quickly started building the process for the blog and the first stories I wrote centered on the VGEC Annual Conference in 2012. Over the years, we settled on a weekly blog publishing process in which Scott Smith came up with the topics, I wrote the blog and edited a photo for the headline, then passed the draft to Eileen Hicks as our editor, who, in turn polished the piece and passed it back to Scott for final approval and publishing. Later, we engaged Michael Sanchez to be the final "push-the-button-to-publish" guy.

In 2016, Ken stepped down from regular work on the blog to spend more time as the care-giver to his wife Margaret.

How does the blog work and who makes it happen each week?


Today, the blog is hosted on Blogger which is one of the most popular blogging platforms available. Scott, Eileen, and Michel continue in their roles with the weekly production of the blog. Because we live almost 1,000 miles apart and are in three different time zones, we use a lot of technology to keep the process running. We use Trello as a project management tool which helps keep us on schedule and focused on the topic of the week and upcoming topics. Trello has helped us build a rich pipeline of posts that gives us great visibility into active and future potential topics ideas. Each post has a checklist to keep us coordinated and on track. Everyone in the system is alerted every time someone checks off a task. We stay in touch 100% by iMessage and SMS texting. Michael will tell you how much he loves getting texts at 5am when it's 7am and 8am elsewhere!

When asked about the process, Eileen said, "Compared other collaboration tools that I use, I love the flexibility of Trello. It's very visual but it uses words, too! It seems perfect for verger type to-do lists, checklists, etc but you can also easily attach items and comment on anything. I use it mostly on my laptop but the mobile app is also very usable."

Michael added, "I'm really happy with how the blog has progressed from the early days. There are so many moving parts to putting out a weekly blog, and like anything else, there was a learning curve when we started it. In the old days, we used an E-Mail system from a company called Emma. At the time, it was what the guild needed. However, as we grew and technology became more of a tool and necessity, it became clear that from a back end perspective, it wasn't going to be something we could continue with. There were other services that could offer more features (which made me happy) and at a much more competitive price (which almost made Treasurer Duke DuTeil crack a smile). Now we're using MailChimp, and it's been a wonderful tool. They are constantly adding new features that make my job as "E-Mailer-in-Chief" easier. As we continue to grow, we'll have an E-Mail system that'll grow with us. As I mentioned earlier, it's not something that is always visible from the membership side, but from behind the scenes, it's a most wonderful tool!"

What are the best types of posts?


We recently performed a Survey Monkey poll of all members of the VGEC to see how everyone is using the blog and what types of posts they think are the best. Here are some highlights from the poll:
  • 45% read every article, 47% read it occasionally
  • Over 90% think the blog is a good way to disseminate information about the verger ministry
  • On a scale of 1-5, the blog gets 4.09 rating: we'll take it! Thank you!
  • The 3 most popular topic ares are:
    • Reflections about the ministry
    • How-to articles
    • Articles profiling people/places/organizations
Take a moment to review all of the poll results if you are interested in more information.

Are there vergers out there who would like to help with the blog?


The answer to this question is a resounding YES! We have recently had several posts provided by various members and we're pleased to see that those articles are some of our most popular. Members who have been helping are David Deutsch, John Whitaker, John Campbell, Chuck Dale, David Jette, Duke DuTeil.

In the poll, we asked, "Would you be interested in helping with the blog? If so, how?" The good news is that we got these excellent responses:
  • Writing an article on occasion: 36
  • Copy editing: 12
  • Finding story leads: 3
  • HTML: 1 (only one nerd out there???)
The bad news is that the poll was blind and we cannot contact those members!

If you are interested, please contact us at [email protected] and let's get moving on making the Vergers Voice blog better and better. Just remember if you answered "yes" in the poll, we cannot contact you if you do not send us an email.

In conclusion, Eileen says, "The blog needs more writers! As vergers many of us can write a customary but the blog needs to be a bit more creative. I know there are vergers out there who are writing interesting observations of our humanity as vergers. Share your thoughts with us. The blog is your online newsletter, saving trees, but still binding us as a community of vergers."

This is the number one thing that we hope to do with the blog over the coming weeks, months, and years - encourage members to participate who are interested in creative writing and exploring and relating personal stories about the verger ministry.


The 2017 VGEC Annual Conference will take place in Atlanta, Georgia from October 12th through October 15th. We hope you can join us! Click the big red button to register today. You can also read more about the conference and book your hotel.


Editors note: Send ideas for Vergers Voice topics to [email protected]


Abstract: In today's edition of the Vergers Voice blog, we look at the evolution of the blog starting back from its humble paper newsletter days to the lean, mean electronic machine we have today. Also, reader feedback and an open call to the readership for writing, editing, and HTML help.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Tales from the Slype, Part 2: It Is In Giving That We Receive

David Deutsch in the Slype at Washington National Cathedral preparing for Evening Prayer

By David Deutsch, Volunteer Verger at Washington National Cathedral, [email protected]

I began as a volunteer verger at Washington National Cathedral in July of 2003. Over the course of my time, I had certain epiphanies that, among other results, told me that this great stone edifice which can look cold and imposing on the outside, actually has a warm heart and vibrant spirit. When I am at the cathedral, I hang out in the slype. Now a slype in medieval times was a covered passageway between the dean’s office and the nave, giving the head of the cathedral easy access to the services. At the Washington National Cathedral, the slype is comfortably furnished, has storage for vestments, the service books, etc. The slype is both a control tower and hanger for worship.

I am enjoying my down time in the slype which usually occurs between 3pm and 4pm. I am doing the crossword puzzle and just this side of dozing. Suddenly bang–rattle–bang. Someone is knocking on the slype door which generally causes the door to crash around. I jump up to see who it is. A docent enters and tells me a man and his son need someone to talk to. By 3pm the chaplain of the day–a priest from the diocese who volunteers his/her time to be on call in the nave for just such occurrences–has gone home. The canons of the cathedral are in meetings or off the Close. The one available person is the verger. That verger is me.

The docent leads me to a row in the back of the nave. The father is a middle aged African-American man. I guess the son to be about 17, dreadlocks, t-shirt, etc. He sits in a row behind his dad and remains aloof and quiet. The dad greets me and explains that they both have not eaten anything all day. Can I get them a voucher for Subway? Or McDonalds? I tell them to wait while I go to the chaplain’s office. I arrive and start rummaging around for anything that looks like a food voucher. I find none. I get angry and frustrated.

As I trek back to the pair, I look in my wallet. It is all ATM money: Twenties. I know conventional wisdom says not to do it. One does not give money to people who come into the cathedral looking for what some might call a handout. But I take out a twenty and approach the father. I mumble something about how I’m not supposed to do this, that I am breaking the rules. But here: Take this twenty. The father’s eyes light up. He takes my hand and thanks me profusely.

But get this. The taciturn, seemingly disengaged teen age son rises from his chair and comes over to me. Whereupon he gives me one of the most humongous bear hugs I have ever received. What a sight of spontaneous compassion entwined with spontaneous gratitude! Dreadlocks mixing with a purple cassock!

For me, this very emotional moment brings to life the line from the Prayer of St. Francis - It is in giving that we receive.


The 2017 VGEC Annual Conference will take place in Atlanta, Georgia from October 12th through October 15th. We hope you can join us! Click the big red button to register today. You can also read more about the conference and book your hotel.


Editors note: Send ideas for Vergers Voice topics to [email protected]


Abstract: Volunteer Verger David Deutsch from Washington National Cathedral begins a series of Vergers Voice blog posts entitled, "Tales from the Slype." In part 2, David experiences an event that brings to life the line from the Prayer of St. Francis - "It is in giving that we receive."

Thursday, July 6, 2017

In Service, Fellowship, and Worship at the VGEC Annual Conference

During the 29th Annual Conference of the VGEC, we will spend a day with Crossroads Community Ministries at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Atlanta

By Phillip Knight, Chair, Mark Emory Graham Chapter of the VGEC, and Verger at St. Teresa’s, Acworth, Georgia, [email protected]

Friday morning, October 13, 2017, will begin a day of Service, Fellowship, and Worship at the 29th Annual Conference of the VGEC in Atlanta, Georgia.

The day will begin with our wearing work clothes. Our Presiding Bishop, The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, will join us for a short three block walk from the Marriott Marquis to St Luke’s Episcopal Church. The walk down Peachtree (THE Peachtree Street, not one of the 1,762 other Peachtree-named streets in Atlanta) is to make a point. We hope that this journey will ground and instruct us and give us chance to become more intimate with the dynamics of an urban church, a downtown church. Peachtree Street will be bustling with rush hour commuters, well-dressed professionals making their way to their gleaming sterile cubes, comfortable and safe in their climate-controlled autos. The buildings along Peachtree Street are clean and inviting.

St. Luke’s is on the corner of the Pine Street intersection, and there is a large homeless shelter in a building across the corner from the church. The view changes rapidly as you turn the corner and head away from the heart of downtown—the buildings less and less inviting, streets no longer freshly swept, the people not so well-heeled. A block distant, yet two worlds apart, the dichotomy is striking. These are the poor among us and are some of the many clients of St. Luke’s Crossroads Ministries. Although we are extremely excited about spending time with Bp. Curry, these men, women, and children of Peachtree and Pine are definitely our focus for the day. They likely will change each of us, if our hearts are open. This can be a sacramental walk.

Crossroads began over 40 years ago when a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church handed a homeless man a sandwich. Today, we are a refuge for people who are homeless in Atlanta, offering compassion with constructive programs designed to give the people who come to us for help the tools they need to get off the streets. Crossroads’ well-trained staff and committed volunteers provide a variety of services to help people who are homeless find shelter and stability. Each year, Crossroads:
  • serves 60,000 meals to men, women and children who are homeless
  • provides 6,500 MARTA passes for employment-related and medical emergencies
  • serves over 4,200 men, women and children
  • provides 3,500 Guests with a mailing address—a critical first step to end homelessness
  • acquires 3,100 state issued IDs and birth certificates for Guests
  • assists with placing 300 Guests in detox and treatment programs; and
  • assists with placing 200 women and children into safe, affordable housing
Many of us will proceed to the Parish Hall, where supplies and equipment to make some 3,300 sandwiches will be in place. We will assemble these for the Crossroads Ministry to distribute to the folks that need them. By the way, we will also be assembling a snack that your fellow vergers will eat just before the Eucharist. The bravest of us will come together to help clean up trash along the back of the campus. This may be a menial task but, in truth, is more valuable as a tool to allow us an excuse to mingle with the men, women, and children who live in our neighborhood (though seldom considered “neighbors!”). We will all gather for a light snack and find our seats for the Holy Eucharist. Bp. Curry will preach, we will sing with the wonderful choir, and experience Anglican liturgy at its very, very best.

After the Eucharist, the vergers will eat lunch, prepared by Clyde Corbin, Crossroad’s Chef Extraordinaire. This will be the third serving shift for the Crossroads volunteers, as they will have already served the same (famous) fried chicken meal to two previous groups of 150 people, beginning at 9:45 that morning. We will all want to thank these volunteers profusely — it will have been a long day for them. There is room for about 150 of us in the dining hall; the rest of us can enjoy our lunch in the beautiful fall air on the grassy hill. This will also be a great time to wander by the table where the Bookstore is selling Bp. Curry’s new book, Following the Way of Jesus.

Following lunch, we will assemble in the Nave for our time alone with the Presiding Bishop. It has been a long-standing tradition of the MEG Chapter that when we assemble for our meetings, the Bishop gathers us about, sits among us, and teaches in the ancient tradition. Some jokingly refer to this as “stump the Bishop,” but there is a much deeper, intimate feeling to this type of interaction. We began calling it formally, “Dialogue with the Bishop.” It is our fond hope that the events of the day will inspire meaningful exchange, divine meaning, and lasting memories.

It is my personal wish that your walk back to the Marriott might seem different from the morning’s walk, and that the day’s events will have changed something about you and something about the places where you see Jesus.


More Top 10 Reasons to attend the Atlanta Conference

  1. Discover the essence of Southern Hospitality
  2. Walk down the world-famous Peachtree Street
  3. 57 streets called "Peachtree”
  4. Run through Centennial Park’s Fountain of Rings
  5. Home of Gone with the Wind – but we’re still here
  6. It’s smarta to use MARTA
  7. Coca-Cola is the elixir of life
  8. A midnight snack in Atlanta is the nearest Waffle House
  9. Witness Atlanta’s horrific traffic from the comfort of your hotel
  10. A snow flurry in Atlanta is the literal end of the world – an imminent Snowpocalypse


The 2017 VGEC Annual Conference will take place in Atlanta, Georgia from October 12th through October 15th. We hope you can join us! Click the big red button to register today. You can also read more about the conference and book your hotel.


Editors note: Send ideas for Vergers Voice topics to [email protected]


Abstract: Phillip Knight, Chair of the Mark Emory Graham Chapter of the Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church, details Friday morning, October 13, 2017, as a day of service, fellowship, and worship for all who plan to attend the VGEC Conference in Atlanta.