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 27, 2019

2019 Notice of VGEC Board Nominees

The VGEC Nominations Committee is pleased to announce the 2019 slate of candidates for election to the VGEC Board of Directors.

We will fill four openings on the Board: three of those will be for a full three-year term. The other opening will be for a two-year term to fill a vacancy created by a resignation for personal reasons.

Here are the 2019 candidates for the VGEC Board of Directors (listed alphabetically):

Martha-Sue Blythe
St. Martin in the Fields Episcopal Church, Atlanta, GA

Thurl Headen
St. Luke’s Cathedral, Portland, ME

Ann Davis McClain
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Paris, KY

Stephen Rowe
St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church, Douglassville, PA

Bob Shelton
St. Matthew's Parish, Hillsborough, NC

John Townsend
Church of the Good Shepherd, Nashua, NH

You can read each candidate's biography by clicking on their names above.

Within the next few weeks, we will post short interviews with each candidate on VergerTV. Stay tuned for these.

The election will be held during our business meeting at the Annual Conference at Camp Allen, Texas October 24-27, 2019. Only those who are present may vote, but candidates do not need to be present at the conference.

We look forward to as many Vergers as possible joining us at Annual Conference. Time is growing short but there is still time to join us! The VGEC Annual Conference is always a joyful time. This year in particular—in a camp/retreat setting—you will have time to recharge and have great fellowship with your fellow Vergers!  Visit vergers.org to find out more information and to register for the conference.

See you at Camp Allen!

VGEC 2019 Nominations Committee

2019 Board Nominee: Martha-Sue Blythe

Martha-Sue Blythe, FVGEC

St. Martin in the Fields Episcopal Church, Atlanta, Georgia



I am honored to run for the Board of the VGEC. I am a member of St. Martin in the Fields Episcopal Church in Atlanta, GA. A few of my activities at St. Martin’s have been: EfM graduate, Cursillo participant, Altar Guild, Flower Guild, Stephen Minister, DOK Chairperson 3 years, Intercessor, Eucharistic Minister, Ministry Leader for Visiting Eucharistic Ministers 14+ years and as well as a Verger for 10+ years. I am currently the Chairperson of the Board of Directors/Chapter for the Diocese of Atlanta Chapter of the VGEC and have held every office in the organization. In 2017, the Atlanta Diocese Chapter served as host for the highly successful VGEC Annual Conference. I served as Treasurer of this VGEC Annual Conference and ensured the conference came in significantly under budget. The Diocesan Acolyte Festival has been a major event for our Verger Chapter-- I have served as co-chair of this event. I serve annually as a Teller at the Diocese Annual Council. I have served on two committees of the VGEC Board - Chapter Development Committee as a member at large and the Finance Committee. I am currently serving as the 2019 Chair of the VGEC Nomination Committee. My call to the VGEC Board would be to continue the organization’s growth path, to expand the verger footprint across the country, help expand its marketing campaigns and continue to promote the educational aspects of the organization for the benefit of the overall VGEC and the Episcopal Church. Fellowship within the VGEC with other vergers is an educational experience as well for me and helps to round out my personal growth and development in this ministry. I am a Fellow in the VGEC. I would appreciate your support and vote to continue the work I have been called to do.

2019 Board Nominee: Thurl Headen

Thurl Headen, FVGEC

The Cathedral Church of Saint Luke, Portland, Maine

My name is Thurl Headen and I am the head Verger at the Cathedral Church of Saint Luke. I’ve been a Verger here for seven years and asked to be head Verger two and one half years ago. I’m fairly new to the Episcopal church and from the first time upon seeing a Verger at Saint James Cathedral in Chicago, I said to myself, “that’s what I want to be”. Not even knowing what a Verger was and the rich history of vergers. We moved to Maine and my husband and we became members of The Cathedral Church of Saint Luke. The then head verger David Savage, a fellow of the guild had his eyes on me and invited me to join the Verger guild. It is truly a calling and I am so blessed to have this ministry and the people that I serve with. I tell my Vergers that our guild is a ministry of welcome. We are there to create a safe place for people to come and be. To let God meet them where they are or to find what it is that they may have come in search of. In my duties at the cathedral I oversee the Eucharistic Ministers and the acolytes. I am responsible for the training of the EM and acolytes. And to some extent I work with the Christian Education director as most of the pre-teens and teens serve at the altar. They are more inclined to serve as acolytes than go to Sunday school. Sadly this is the state we are in. I also work closely with the Altar and Flower Guilds to keep up to date on events at the Cathedral. I also work with the Bishop’s office and his Administrative Assistant Barbar Martin. I assist the Bishop anytime he is at the Cathedral. I serve as the Bishop’s Verger. Also, when we have convention either in Portland of Bangor, I am responsible for creating a worship space in the respective venues. I do wear many hats and I do my best to take care of myself. I am slowly developing a spiritual practice. As we all know, during service we do not have a chance to really partake in the service. As I said, I do love what I do and the joy I receive from my ministry.

2019 Board Nominee: Ann Davis McClain

Ann Davis McClain, FVGEC

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Paris, Kentucky

I was born and raised in Paris, Kentucky, and was baptized at the age of 3 months at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, being what you call a “cradle Episcopalian”. In 2007, I became a verger and am now the head verger at St. Peter’s. My parish roles have been or are currently Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Clerk, Treasurer, Chair of Search committee for new rector, Altar Guild president, communion bread maker, Daughters of the King treasurer, Stephen Minister Leader, and EfM graduate. My diocesan roles have been or are currently, Treasurer, Executive Council member, Executive Council secretary, Bishop’s special commission, various committees (Budget, Appeals, Personnel, Nominating, Annual convention team). National roles include Deputy to General Convention in last four conventions (Indianapolis, Anaheim, Salt Lake City, Austin), where I also sat on committees for Liturgy, Worship and Music for 2 conventions, as well as Stewardship. In times past, I was part of a team to audit the books for Verger’s Guild. In my community, I am a member of two garden clubs, and have served as state treasurer for the Garden Club of Kentucky, Inc. I sit on the boards of the Bourbon County Extension District Board, Bourbon County Homemaker Council, our local Food Bank board and the Paris-Bourbon County YMCA Fall Benefit board. I am married with two grown daughters and two grandchildren whom I am enamored with, and a much-loved miniature dachshund, Mr. Carson (named after the head butler on Downton Abbey, because he runs my house). I am a retired banker and would bring my love for numbers to the position.

2019 Board Nominee: Stephen Rowe

Stephen L. Rowe, Sr.

St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church in Douglassville, Pennsylvania

My name is Stephen L. Rowe Sr. For over the past twenty years, I have been a member of St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church in Douglassville, PA. My wife and I together have eight children, one daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren. As the son of an Episcopal priest, I grew up in a rectory across the driveway from the church. I retired from a municipal Police Department in PA after twenty-six years of service. I am now a Computer and Cell Phone Forensic examiner for a District Attorney's Office. I have served as the Secretary of Union Lodge No. 479 Free and Accepted Masons, since 2012. While a member of St. Gabriel’s, I have served as an Usher, Greeter, Chalice Bearer, Reader, Intercessor, Crucifer, and am a member of the Altar Guild. I have been scheduling the Lay Ministry duties, for the two Sunday morning services, since 2007 and I am in charge of the Acolytes and Crucifers. I have also served on the Vestry where I held the positions of the Junior Warden and Senior Warden. In 2009, my mentor, the Rev. Canon Calvin C Adams, installed me as the Verger of St. Gabriel’s and I have served in that capacity since that time. I believe my ministry, as the Verger, is to provide the clergy the freedom to concentrate on administering the Word and Sacraments, and not to be overly concerned with the logistics of the service. I believe I would make an effective member of the VGEC Board based on my experience at St. Gabriel’s in the various positions and roles, supplemented by my work as the Secretary in my Lodge. Also, I have recently agreed to assume the manager’s position for the Vergers Guild Shop. In addition to this, I have volunteered with Little League, BSA and with the High School Music Booster Club. I believe participating as a VGEC Board member is a great next step in my ministry journey.

2019 Board Nominee: Bob Shelton

Robert (Bob) N. Shelton, FVGEC

Church of the Good Shepherd in Asheboro, North Carolina

My earliest church memories are of Sunday School at Grace Episcopal Church in Asheville, NC. I became a member at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Asheboro, NC some years later. My family went through some difficult emotional stress at that time, and the church was an integral part of surmounting that storm for all of us. Outside the church I have been involved with numerous service organizations and activities to include the Boy Scouts, Civitan, UNC-G’s Advisory Board, EVP of the Self Trust, and others. In Episcopal Church I have served on the Diocesan Council and Standing Committee during Michael Curry’s tenure as the Bishop of NC. I have been a Senior Warden and a Junior Warden on multiple occasions. My first pursuit this ministry was ten years ago when I was a member of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Greensboro, NC. However, as often happens, life got in the way. Nine years later that road opened again when I was asked to consider that ministry again. With God’s help and the support of family and friends, I achieved that goal early this year. It was a banner moment for my faith. In some ways the VGEC may be one of the best kept secrets in the Episcopal Church. Prior to retirement I spent most of my business life trying to manage products. The “Itty Bitty Machine Company” taught me many good lessons about how to do that. I would bring that knowledge and experience to the VGEC so that we might be better understood. Externally I would also hope to be able to elevate the Verger Ministry to a public level of understanding that would benefit the church and the VGEC in particular. I am passionate and relentless in pursuit of those goals. I feel strongly that my service on the Board would allow me the best venue possible to achieve them.

2019 Board Nominee: John Townsend

John Townsend, FVGEC

Church of the Good Shepherd, Nashua, New Hampshire

John is a cradle Episcopalian, born and raised in the Diocese of New Hampshire. Having enrolled in Mount Hermon School, in Northfield, Massachusetts, he served as Acolyte for the Episcopal chaplain of the school, as Deacon at the multi-denominational services, and as Chorister in three different choirs. Enrolling in the University of New Hampshire, he received a B.S. in Hotel Administration, and a B.A. in Linguistics. During that time, he attended St. George’s Church in Durham, and St. Thomas’s Church in Dover. He also served as an Ad Hoc member of the Seacoast Convocation’s Task Force for Christian Education. Upon coming back to the United States after four years in Valencia, Spain, John returned to school and earned a degree in Nursing from Rivier College, and is currently working in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center in Nashua. He joined the Church of the Good Shepherd, in Nashua in 1986, quickly becoming involved in parish life. He became a member of the Fellowship Committee, served a three year term on the Vestry, and now serves as a Eucharistic Minister, a Eucharistic Visitor and as Acolyte Master of the Youth Acolyte Corps. He was appointed Verger in 2001. He completed the Vergers’ Training Course and received his verge in San Diego, in 2009. John has since worked with the Altar Guild, and the lead Eucharistic Minister to revamp and modernize the customaries of the Altar Guild, the Eucharistic Ministers, Eucharistic Visitors and the Acolyte Corps. He is also working with a new Verger, who is currently completing the Vergers’ Training Course. John also serves as a delegate to the Southern Convocation, where he recently presented a short program on the Vergers Ministry, and to the Diocesan Convention.

Monday, June 10, 2019

VergerTV: Inside the Guild Shop


This video was produced by VergerTV on Saturday, June 8, 2019 at the home of Barry Norris, manager of the Vergers Guild Shop in Pennsburg, Pennsylvania.

Click the image above to play the video or click HERE.

Check out the Vergers Guild Shop site at shop.vergers.org!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

VergerTV: Why Camp Allen?


This video was produced by VergerTV on Saturday, May 18, 2019 at the offices of Trinity Church Wall Street in New York. Click the image above to play the video or click HERE.

This is a transcript of the video:

Hello and welcome to VergerTV!

I’m Scott Smith, Head Sacristan at Trinity Church in New York and I’m also President of the Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church.

If you’re new to the vergers guild or wondering just what in the world a verger is, check out vergers.org or the VergerGuild Facebook page for tons of information.

Look below this video for some helpful links and be sure to give this video a thumbs up.

Leave your own comments and suggestions, and also subscribe to VergerTV on Youtube.

So today I wanted to talk a little bit about our Annual Conference this fall.

This year the Vergers Guild will be gathering at Camp Allen, an Episcopal Retreat and Conference Center located in the Piney Woods in Texas.

I’ve had a few emails asking me why we chose Camp Allen this year.

Well, this is the 31st year of our Annual Conferences and EACH one has been really successful and unique.

I’ve personally been going to the conferences for 10 years and I’ve enjoyed each one A LOT.

They’re a great way to learn about being a verger.

And also good time to spend with other people who work in these pretty unique jobs that we do.

But we’ve heard for quite a while that conferences have been pretty expensive, and the high cost has historically prevented some people from attending.

Not just PRETTY expensive, but REALLY REALLY expensive.

The Vergers Guild board has been working really hard over the past year to come up with a solution.

This year we’ve chosen Camp Allen because we can all meet there for a LOT less money and we can spend time together in a more laid back, peaceful,  and beautiful place.

Camp Allen is located in an absolutely beautiful part of Texas, about 80 miles from Houston and 120 miles from Austin.

I’ve been in that area a LOT believe it or not, and it really is amazing.

I’ve even caught a bunch of fish in the area - so much so they were basically jumping in the boat! That’s really true!

Camp Allen is also one of the best Episcopal Conference Centers in the country.

And the cost of Camp Allen is DRAMATICALLY less expensive

For one person sharing a double room, it’s $400 for the room, all meals, conference registration, AND shuttles to and from both Houston airports.

That is big-time less expensive than in past years!

A few of you have asked me if we’ll be only going to a retreat or conference center in the future.

Well, in 2020, we’ll be meeting in another metropolitan location just like we always have in the past.

We’ll announce that location at Camp Allen - so come find out where it will be!

Then in 2021 we’ll meet at another conference center, and in 2022 back to another church in a city.

So we’ll be going back and forth for a few years to see what we all really like.

So if you’ve ever thought about coming to a conference, and you’ve not been able to afford it, this might be your year to try one out!

And the host committee has lined up a great list of seminars and activities for us…

This is going to be a much more laid-back conference, and we’re looking forward to the keynote address by Bishop Andy Doyle of the host Diocese of Texas.

His topic is, “How do I maintain a spiritual life when I work for the church?”

Now not all vergers work full-time for the church, but it sure does feels like it sometimes…

There’s also a chance to meet and talk with Kelly Puckett who created lectionarypage.net.

That’s the site that almost every Episcopal Church uses for their Sunday readings.

We’ll also learn about “hospitality Disney style” and “digital literacy for ministry,” we’ll have a Texas BBQ, an ice-cream social, and a whole lot more.

We’ll also have a lot of time for relaxation, fellowship and worship.

So check out vergers.org, and I really hope you’ll be with us for this conference!

It’s super easy to start the registration process online at vergers.org also.

We have 15 scholarships of 100 dollars each for the conference, so check out vergers.org to apply.

Today’s video has been brought to you by the Vergers Guild Shop where you can pick up a got vergers shirt just like this and a whole lot more at shop.vergers.org.

That’s it for today from VergerTV.

Take care, and remember:

Keep Calm and Verge On!