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].

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Vergers at General Convention in 2018

This VergerTV video shows the VGEC booth as General Convention prepares to open on July 3, 2018

By Scott Smith, VGEC President and Head Sacristan, Trinity Church Wall Street, [email protected]

As the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church gets underway in Austin, Texas, the Vergers Guild has an excellent location in the Exhibit Hall of the Austin Convention Center. We plan to spread word of the verger ministry to the over 1000 attendees of this triennial.

The one minute video above shows the results of a full day’s work yesterday. We have started an online photo album where we will be uploading photos and videos of the event.

The VGEC has had color-
changing cups at General
Convention since 2009 and
they have become very
The VGEC had its first booth at General Convention in 2009 in Anaheim, California followed by 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana, 2015 in Salt Lake City, and now 2018 in Austin, Texas.

25 vergers volunteers will be working in shifts to staff the booth for the entire time the exhibit hall is open. Some are delegates or alternates, some are local to the Austin/San Antonio area, and several are traveling from afar. According to Duke DuTeil, this year’s General Convention Committee Chair, “We have spent several months planning the event here in Austin and we are delighted to welcome the greater church to our part of the country.”

We invite you to tell anyone that you know who is attending the event this year to stop by the booth and pick up an orange color changing VGEC collector’s cup. They can’t miss us - tell them to look for the large overhead “got vergers?” sign.

We have put aside a stash of these awesome orange cups for those attending the VGEC Annual Conference in Denver on September 20 to 23, 2018 in Denver, Colorado.

The 2018 VGEC Annual Conference is in Denver from Thursday, September 20 to Sunday, September 23, 2018. This conference marks the 30th year that we have gathered together to learn about and explore the ministry of the verger in God's church. The deadline to register is Monday, September 10, 2018. We cannot accept on-site registrations! Fees increase after August 15, 2018!

Abstract: Vergers are being well-represented at the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church being held in Austin, Texas from July 3rd to July 13th.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Young Adults in Verger Ministry and Pub Theology in Boulder Colorado

Jesus-loving Coloradoans and Vergers in Boulder!

By Jennifer Carr, Head Verger, Acolyte Master, St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church, Boulder [email protected]

Editor's note: Jennifer is leading the “Young People in Verger Ministry - Not all heroes wear capes and not all vergers wear chimeres” session at the 2018 VGEC Annual Conference on Friday, September 21, 2018 at 2pm in Denver, Colorado. To register, click HERE.

On a Sunday, not too long ago, one of my parish’s retired vergers stopped to ask me, “Has the job changed much since you took over?” He asked me just as the bell was ringing and obviously did not expect a detailed answer so I said, “No, we still do most of the things that you remember.” That answer was not entirely accurate.

Thinking about my answer and considering our conference theme of “The Church in the 21st Century,” my answer changes. We do still complete many of the same tasks that vergers at my parish have always completed, but there’s more to what we do than completing the same tasks year after year.

I work in a church that is just a stone’s throw away from the campus of The University of Colorado at Boulder. Part of our mission is to reach out to the students at the university. Through this outreach I now have a team of vergers comprised partially of college students and recent graduates.

Having students and young adults as vergers is wonderful. I strongly encourage you to reach out to young people who may be interested, whether they know it or not! But you will have to remember to make some accommodations. Scheduling, for my team, includes a knowledge of the academic year. I do not schedule student vergers during finals week or other weeks where their attention needs to be on campus. Summer break also brings scheduling considerations as some students leave town or work summer jobs that include Sunday shifts. However, there is more to what we do than scheduling. With these students and young adults, I get to do something that I think is truly remarkable: Pub(lic) Theology.

Pub Theology is nothing new, but as a Jesus-loving native Coloradoan there is little I enjoy more than talking about God over a good craft beer. My group started meeting because some of the older students and young adults in my church wanted a place for fellowship and discussion that fit in the gap between campus ministry sermons and Sunday morning. A place where we could ask questions and have discussions and find a little fellowship with people who were in a similar place in life. Vergers now help plan and facilitate those conversations.

Planning Pub Theology is not a difficult job, but it is important. We meet roughly once a month in a brewery in East Boulder. The brewery is quieter than most of the restaurants we have tried. You do not have to shout to be heard. I gather feedback and ideas from some of our regulars and pick a topic to research. Recently we have discussed The Seven Deadly Sins, The Seven Virtues, as well as Vocation and the Holy Spirit. I come prepared with ideas and questions, but no answers. One of my other vergers helps plan the meeting by posting the event on Facebook and making sure it is announced in newsletters and bulletins.

Hosting these meetings feels similar to the work we do in officiating a Daily Office or serving at the Eucharist. We help create a space where people can be open to something bigger than themselves. Just as vergers worry about the details of the liturgy so others do not have to, my vergers worry about the research and scheduling so others can simply participate. Just as a verger might guide someone through part of the Daily Office by guiding us through the prayers, we guide others through a discussion. The result, for me anyway, is not unlike when I leave a worship service. I come away pondering my place in the universe and within my community and thinking about how what we discussed can influence the rest of my life. Pub Theology is a place where we can talk about whatever interest us and it also a place where we come for support and fellowship. Together, we have grown a lot while talking about God over craft beer.

So to return to the original question, I would stay that my job has not changed much. It is still my job to be welcoming and support people through the service. Now I just get to extend that support and welcome to a brewery in East Boulder.

The 2018 VGEC Annual Conference is in Denver on Thursday, September 20 to Sunday, September 23, 2018. This conference marks the 30th year that we have gathered together to learn about and explore the ministry of the verger in God's church. The deadline to register is Monday, September 10, 2018. We cannot accept on-site registrations! Fees increase after August 15, 2018!

Abstract: Jennifer Carr will be leading a seminar on Friday afternoon, September 21, at our annual conference. Come hear how craft beer, vergers, and Pub Theology fit in with the verger ministry of hospitality and welcome and the ministry of the verger in the 21st Century.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

2018 Annual Conference Keynote: Accidental Saints by Nadia Bolz-Weber

Nadia Bolz-Weber is the highly acclaimed Keynote Speaker at the 2018 VGEC Annual Conference in September

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

I was somewhat surprised when I learned that Nadia Bolz-Weber was to be the Keynote Speaker at the 2018 VGEC Annual Conference this September in Denver, Colorado.

Then, as I read her second book, Accidental Saints, I gained mind-blowing insights into the ministry of the verger. Bolz-Weber writes in moving, compassionate, sometimes gut-wrenching stories the importance of the worship community—the community of when two or three are gathered together. I believe that heart of Accidental Saints is that the radical grace that flows from God to his broken community must be done by and in his broken community. The community—that very community in which the verger serves— is key. Nadia Bolz-Weber writes that:
We cannot create for ourselves God’s word of grace. We must tell it to each other. It’s terribly inconvenient and oftimes uncomfortable way for things to happen. Were we able to receive the word of God through pious, private devotion—through quiet personal time with God—the Christian life would be far less messy. But, as Paul tells us, faith comes through hearing, and hearing implies someone right there doing the telling. Sometimes this comes through God’s weirdly gracious nature…But sometimes, I believe that God’s word of grace can also come through simple, imperfect everyday human love.
Every story in Accidental Saints is undergirded by this necessity for a religious community if we are to receive God’s amazing grace. And what does Bolz-Weber mean by “religious?” To be religious “is to be human in the midst of other humans who are as equally messed up and obnoxious and forgiven as ourselves.” Religious implies community while spiritual implies an individual and escapist approach to salvation.

For example, in telling the story of Jesus healing the Geresene demoniac in Mark, Bolz-Weber reminds us that Jesus is never simply interested in just healing. No. Jesus is most concerned about restoration back into the community: “In the Jesus business, community is always a part of healing. Even though the community is never perfect.” And how does this relate to the ministry of the verger?

We vergers help protect, guide, shepherd, assist in creating the liturgy—the work of the people—in our religious communities. Thus we help oversee the process which allows our beloved communities to share, give, receive, hear, and speak God’s boundless grace. Bishop James Mathis at the 2009 VGEC convention said that vergers, by providing order for a life of worship and of prayer at the heart of the community, create a safe place for the holy spirit to work its grace.

By carrying out our ministry, we vergers enable others to do their work and exercise their ministry. Reading Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Accidental Saints gives profound insight into the collective ministry of a church community. I consider it a must read.

Editor's Note: We also found the Fresh Air episode below to be a must listen!

The 2018 VGEC Annual Conference is in Denver on Thursday, September 20 to Sunday, September 23, 2018. This conference marks the 30th year that we have gathered together to learn about and explore the ministry of the verger in God's church. The deadline to register is Monday, September 10, 2018. We cannot accept on-site registrations! Fees increase after August 15, 2018!

Abstract: David Deutsch said this about the 2018 VGEC Annual Conference Keynote Speaker: When I read Nadia Bolz-Weber’s book, Accidental Saints, I gained mind-blowing insights into the ministry of the verger.” Find out why...

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Bumper Sticker Contest for vergers.org

Stickers are great give-aways at General and Diocesan Conventions. We need your help!

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

Are you a person of few words? Would you like to put that rare personal trait to work for the Vergers Guild? Are you a person of perhaps too many words, as, ahem, is yours truly? Would you like an opportunity to practice thinking as tersely as possible all in the service of the Vergers Guild? Would you like to win free registration to either the 2019 or 2020 Annual Conference?

The VGEC is announcing a bumper sticker contest!!

got vergers? has been around for a while...
When I was assigned this topic I had some questions to answer. What bumper stickers does the VGEC have right now? That question lead me to the got vergers? department of the Vergers Guild Shop where I found the one got vergers? bumper sticker that we have. Then I wondered about how the got vergers? campaign came to be and I stumbled on a video in VergerTV from 2012 explaining how it was developed in 2011 for General Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana in 2012.

Examples of the author's verger-related bumper stickers
Now, in 2018, the guild is looking for new and creative ways to express an aspect or a motif of vergerdom. As an example, over the years I have developed and printed several bumper stickers with messaging relating to the verger ministry. I give them away to many colleagues and unsuspecting Episcopalians far and wide. Several people tell me they miss my big manilla envelopes with the blue gifts inside! I have included some examples of what I created, hoping that this might help stir your creativity.

Indeed, the VGEC is interested in your ideas and I know we are a creative bunch. We have to be in order to do our jobs as vergers! The main guideline for a bumper sticker is that it must be easy to read and digest in a relatively short amount of time. That is the challenge: not to be overly wordy.

The winning bumper sticker will be formatted by some of our fabulous VGEC techno-vergers, but the phrase "vergers.org" must be included in your sticker submissions. (You perhaps have already noted that I did not include that phrase on the bumper stickers I designed as mine were unofficial.)

Submitted bumper stickers may be part of an a new kit of materials for Diocesan Conventions and other events.

If you want to play around and do a mock-up like I did, go to Graphicsland at graphicsland.com where you can select a template and start right in. You can also just jump right in and create it on your computer without using a template. Either way, put on your creative verger persona and get to work. Have fun!

Who will judge the winning entry? Why WE ALL will! A poll will be presented to us with the top entries. Please mail your bumper stickers to [email protected]. Deadline for all entries is July 22, 2018, 10:00 pm PDT.

Here are the picky details:
  • Winner will be announced at the Awards Banquet in Denver at the 30th Annual Conference on September 22, 2018.
  • You do not have to be present to win.
  • Winner agrees to give up all artistic, intellectual, and property rights to the winning bumper sticker selected by vote of the membership of VGEC.
  • Contest is open to all members of VGEC as of July 22, 2018.
  • Winner will receive free registration to either the VGEC 2019 or 2020 Annual Conference (no lodging or meals, only registration).
So let’s do it. And always remember:

The 2018 VGEC Annual Conference is in Denver on Thursday, September 20 to Sunday, September 23, 2018! This conference marks the 30th year that we have gathered together to learn about and explore the ministry of the verger in God's church. The deadline to register is Monday, September 10, 2018. We cannot accept on-site registrations! Fees increase after August 15, 2018!

Abstract: Are you a person of few words? Would you like to put that rare personal trait to work for the Vergers Guild? Enter the Bumper Sticker Contest and show us your best pithy takes on the verger ministry. You can win a free registration to either the VGEC 2019 or 2020 Annual Conference!

Friday, April 13, 2018

September in the Mile High City

The 2018 VGEC Annual Conference is in September in Denver: Please Join Us!

By David Barr, 2018 VGEC Annual Conference Co-Chair, [email protected]

I am incredibly excited to introduce you to the 2018 Annual Conference of the Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church being held in Denver on Thursday, September 20 to Sunday, September 23, 2018! This conference marks the 30th year that we have gathered together to learn about and explore the ministry of the verger in God's church. I hope you will make plans to join us!

Hosted by Saint John’s Cathedral, Denver and Saint Andrew’s Church, Denver and the Barry Bowman Chapter of the VGEC, the conference theme this year is "The Church in the 21st Century" and we will focus intently on how the ministry of the verger can help grow the church for the future. Twenty-five members of the Barry Bowman Chapter of the VGEC have joined together to host this exciting event.

The annual conferences are one of the most anticipated and popular activities of the VGEC. The conferences are held Thursday through Sunday in the autumn. Each conference has a series of sessions that cover several topics of interest to the verger and several events that foster fellowship, learning, and worship during the weekend.

The conference culminates with a festive Holy Eucharist with a procession of all vergers in attendance. For a quick view of what conferences in the past have been like, click HERE for VergerTV conference videos and HERE for Flickr conference photos.

Complete information about this year's conference is available HERE along with hotel information and online conference registrations. You may want to take a look at the detailed online agenda for the conference HERE.

Our Keynote speaker this year is Nadia Bolz-Weber, founding pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints and author of New York Times bestseller Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People (Convergent, 2015). As the Church changes and evolves in this century, the ministry of the verger will evolve with it. Pastor Nadia clearly has a vision of how the Church can be both deeply rooted in its most ancient traditions while being very open to both the present and future of the world within which we are called to be the Church.

Other conference sessions and events include:

Verger 101: Exploring the Verger Ministry

Specifically designed to support the new verger as he or she embarks on this ministry. It is for those who have been vergers three years or less or first-time conference attendees. Led by Duke DuTeil, VGEC Training Advisor and Retired Head Verger, Washington National Cathedral.

Verging in the 21t Century: Where are we?

Designed for the seasoned verger: Join Ian Thompson, Sacristan and Verger of Saint John’s Cathedral, Denver, as we explore our unique heritage and ministry within the church. As vergers, we are not just ceremonial leaders but are leaders within our church’s ministries and communities.

Young people in Verger Ministry: Not all heroes wear capes and not
all Vergers wear chimeres

Join Jennifer Carr, Verger at Saint Aidan’s Episcopal Church, Boulder, to hear about young people and students in Boulder and other parishes who are helping to shape, re-imagine, and revitalize ministries within their parishes.

How does your Parish remain Open, Welcoming, and Inclusive
and still keep the people safe?

Join Steve Tilson, Verger, Saint John’s Church, Boulder and Bill Finch, Retired Lieutenant of the Denver Police Department, as we discuss being open and welcoming and having a common sense security plan.

Annual Business Meeting of the VGEC

This is the one time in the year that representative members of the VGEC join together to conduct the business of the Guild including committee reports and election of board members.

The Vergers Banquet

On Saturday night, we gather for a wonderful evening of dinner, presentations, and entertainment at the Warwick Denver. The primary focus of the dinner is to celebrate all of the vergers who have completed the VGEC Training Course to become Fellows of the VGEC since the last conference.

Please click HERE to learn about everything that we have to offer this year at this conference which helps us all take a careful look at where we are in our own verger ministries and how we will continue to grow and strive in the 21st century.

Please contact me at [email protected] if you have any questions. I can't wait to see you in Denver in September 2018!!

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 2018 VGEC Annual Conference is in Denver on Thursday, September 20 to Sunday, September 23, 2018! This conference marks the 30th year that we have gathered together to learn about and explore the ministry of the verger in God's church. The deadline to register is Monday, September 10, 2018We cannot accept on-site registrations! Fees increase after August 15, 2018!

Abstract: The Church in the 21st Century is the theme for the 30th annual VGEC Conference to be held in Denver on Thursday, September 20 to Sunday, September 23, 2018. Time to make reservations and travel plans!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Book Review: The Last Week by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan

A book recommended by David Deutsch

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

The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus's Final Days in Jerusalem
by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan
Harper Collins, 2007

Thank you, Scott Smith, for suggesting that I read this book.

What I particularly like in this book—indeed any book by Marcus Borg—is that the writing is crystal clear. Having gone to seminary I can attest that most theological books are a real slog. Not "The Last Week." Borg and Crossan dissect the week from Palm Sunday to Easter, day by day, using only the Gospel of Mark. Why Mark? For two reasons. One, Mark was the earliest gospel writer. And because Mark alone went out of his way to chronicle Jesus’s last week on a day-by-day basis.  I had never realized that Mark chronicles Friday’s events in three hour segments (like Roman military watch times):
  • 6 am: “As soon as it was morning” (15:1)
  • 9 am: “It was nine o’clock in the morning” (15:25)
  • 12 noon: “When it was noon” (15:33)
  • 3 pm: “At three o’clock” (15:34)
  • 6pm: “When evening had come” (15:42)
Totally cool!

Borg and Crossan make a good case that the message of Mark’s Jesus is not about himself. Jesus’s core message is that the kingdom of God is both present and the kingdom of God is on its way. Indeed, many of us remember that the disciples continually misunderstood this and always looked at Jesus as Messiah and savior. Also, Jesus is totally upset that the Temple authorities, priests, and scribes are not concerned with doing justice, a core tenet of Judaism and of utmost importance to the prophets. Justice is a core component of the Kingdom of God as those prophets continually remind us. Yet the disciples, i.e., us, just do not get it. This is a prominent theme in Mark:

His story of failed discipleship is Mark's warning gift to all who hear or read his narrative. We must think of Lent today as a penitential season because we know that, like those first disciples, we would like to avoid the implications to be about the interior rather than the exterior life, about heaven rather than earth, about the future rather than the present, and, above all else, about religion safely and securely quarantined from politics.

The above is just one of the themes that run through this book which is clearly and lucidly presented. One other point that Borg and Crossan make—which I will not delve deeply into here; I’ll leave that for you—is the idea is that we sinned, a sacrifice of someone without sin is necessary for atonement, Jesus, Son of God is the one to be that sacrifice. Borg and Crossan totally disagree.

It is not by Jesus substituting for them [disciples], but by their participating in Jesus. They must pass through death to a new life here below on this earth, and they can already see what that transformed life is like in Jesus himself.

Once Holy Week is over, and we vergers have taken a breath, I suggest that you read this marvelous book. Borg and Crossan lay out their interpretations lucidly and logically. For that writing, I give much thanks. The Last Week will give the reader a firm foundation on which to build an understanding not only about the moving drama of Holy Week, but also a deeper insight into Jesus’ message for us as told by that earliest of gospel writers, Mark.

I find the book fascinating.

The 2018 VGEC Annual Conference will be in Denver, Colorado on Thursday, September 20 to Sunday, September 23, 2018. Complete information is available online at 2018.vergers.org.

Online registrations will be live on Tuesday, April 3, 2018 and a blog post about the conference will come out next Friday! 

Abstract: Once you have recovered from Holy Week, David Deutsch, volunteer verger at Washington National Cathedral, recommends "The Last Week" by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan, as a book to ponder for a deeper insight into Jesus' last week based on the Gospel of Mark.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Advent 4 and Christmas Eve, Oh My!

The Advent wreath with three lighted candles juxtaposed with the Christmas trees just does not quite look right...

By Scott Smith, VGEC President and Head Sacristan, Trinity Church Wall Street, New York, [email protected]

Editor's note: While we were working on this topic, the Episcopal New Service posted, "Churches face liturgical 'conundrum' with Christmas Eve falling on Advent IV" which is a really good post, so check it out.

2006 was the most recent year the Fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve fell on the same day. In 2017 we have such a year, as we will also have in 2023, 2028, and 2034. Yes, there are nerds among us who track these things.

The gang here at the Vergers Voice blog are wondering what our membership, filled with active participants in the liturgical planning of our parishes, are doing in preparation for this particularly busy Sunday and Monday. So we asked you! We sent out a Mail Chimp email to 1,995 members. We were thrilled to hear from many of you who took the time to reply. Here's a generous sample of the replies:

From Tony J. Faught, St. Edmund's Episcopal Church, San Marino, California

Christmas is always an exciting time at Church and something I always look forward to. With Advent 4 and Christmas Eve falling on the same day, it does add to my already hectic duties. I am not only Verger of my Parish I am also LEM, Lector, Usher, Hospitality and I belong to the Bell Choir. Coordinating four services for one day is exhausting but joyous work. I am finding that the most difficult duty is trying to gather my teenage Acolytes for each service. Gathering a handful for morning services has proven to be pretty easy, gathering a full Acolyte corps for each of the 2 evening services has proven much more difficult. With perseverance I managed to complete my task with 3 adult volunteers to fill in the gaps for the late service. It will be with great pride when I see the fruits of my labor come to fruition Christmas Eve as we celebrate the birth of our Savior.

From Hank Williams, Christ Church Cathedral, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada

We here in eastern Canada are doing probably what a great number of others are doing i.e. scaling back the number of services. We already have a weekly service at 8:00 a.m, 10:00 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. which would make Christmas eve extremely hectic with the yearly 4:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m., and 11:00 p.m. services. We will have only a 10:00 a.m. service on Christmas eve morning and the other three that evening. This will be followed by the usual 10:00 a.m. on Christmas morning. Thank goodness that Boxing Day is a statutory holiday here!

From Geoff Brown, Trinity Lime Rock in the Diocese of Connecticut

First off, instead of having our Christmas Pageant on 4 Advent we had it on 3 Advent this year. This may upset some, but attached is a photo of our acolytes heading out in the Gospel procession. You’ll note that they are not in any usual kind of vestments – these are their costumes for the pageant which follows the Gospel. It was unintentional, but I see that we managed this year to have Advent Blue vestments without spending an extra dime! Somehow the costumes, at least for these three, were at least variants on Advent Blue. (note that the altar, however, is not). We’re handling the Advent 4 – Christmas eve conundrum this year as follows: Sunday 8 AM Holy Eucharist – straight Advent 4. Sunday 10:30 AM Holy Eucharist – begins as Advent 4 with lighting the Advent wreath, but morphs into the family Christmas eve service. Altar will be white, and acolytes will be in red cassocks (pretty much their favorites, and they wear them only 3x per year: Christmas, Palm Sunday, and Pentecost) with white cottas. None of them will fit from last year, so we will have some vesting confusion. We have a seven year old as Lector and a nine year old as Epistler that day. (actually, they are both really good and expressive readers, and recognize that this is a relatively big deal so they will be prepared. Even if I have to pull up a kneeler so they can get up to the level of the lectern). Sunday 6 PM Holy Eucharist – straight Christmas Eve. We will have a lot of photos at facebook.com/trinitylimerock.

From Shirley Pardon, St. Philips in Coral Gables, Florida.

We seem to be luckier than most at St. Philips in Coral Gables, Florida.
  • The Altar Guild functions brilliantly.
  • The flowers are delivered by the local florist - already arranged.
  • Verger's only needed for one service - the late one.
  • Everything else is organized and run by the Rector.
  • Then we stand around the fountain after the midnight service, drinking champagne in the courtyard.
So no sweat at our church!!! Merry Christmas to all Vergers. I will be thinking of you all in your churches.

From Scott Smith, Trinity Church Wall Street, New York City

Of course as VGEC president I replied! So let me say that, just like everyone else, this is definitely a crammed 30 hour period. I'm not sure if I like it better having everything at the same time or not. There is something in me that says it's better to get it all over with at once, but I really should think about that feeling before I promote it. At Trinity Church, we have long decided that it is virtually impossible to adequately communicate to everyone (parishioners, staff, and most importantly in this case, the public) changes to our normal Sunday and weekday schedule of our services. So, we never even thought about reducing the number of Advent 4 services that we were having, and that gave all of our communications a well defined clarity about them. With Advent being on then we had to decide about the Christmas Pageant. Lord have mercy, this was already complicated and now it's getting worse. So at our normal 9:15am Family Service at St. Paul's Chapel on Advent 4, we plopped the Christmas Pageant there, so in fact we decided to cheat a little right from the start. Everything else we pretty much left the same. The biggest impact this has had is that Trinity Church has to stay in Advent mode until after the 11:15am service and jump to Christmas by 6pm, and St. Paul's Chapel has 8am Advent 4 in full blown Christmas decorations and continues with the pageant and the Family Christmas Eve Eucharist at 4pm and so on. This is not that interesting, so I'll stop right here! I will add that just like everyone reading this, the biggest challenge we have faced here is scheduling the 321 people for all of the 9 services that we have in the 30 hours from Advent 4 to Christmas Day. That's a lot of people! To see our online rota for that period, click HERE.

From Annette Baker, St. Gregory's Episcopal Church, Boca Raton, Florida

When sending out our schedule to everyone, I sent the following note and had a few people respond and try to help with the load:
Hello everyone, ​Below and attached is the schedule for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (Farther below, I've also attached December 24th 8am and 10am services that are Advent 4 services and were sent out previously). With so many services and so many of us traveling for the holiday, you may see on the schedule that many people are doing double, triple, or even quadruple duty. We truly appreciate your time and willingness to serve! If by chance, you aren't on the schedule and would like to serve, can you please let me know?
Also thinking about sending a note out enticing volunteers with Christmas cookies in the acolyte room between services - food seems to always attract! Another thing I asked is that the altar guild (who is also running thin) make sure and rinse all of our vessels that are used on the credence table in the piscina because with so few of us on the altar, the vergers will also have to be lay Eucharistic ministers and will be unable to clean the vessels right after the Eucharist as is normal in our service. Just a few thoughts....

From Jim Parks, St. James Marietta, Georgia

With Advent 4 and the Christmas Eve services together we will be having a total of 7 services at St.James Marietta as well as a 10:00 on Christmas morning. We always use two Vergers for our major services and usually only one during the regular services. That means on Christmas Eve I will have used a total of 11 vergers on that day plus one Christmas Day... No doubt we will all be worn out when it's over but that just comes with the territory. Just glad we are all able to serve.

From David Phillips, Christ and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Norfolk, Virginia

We are preparing for 4th Advent for the 10:15AM service, the annual children’s pageant at 4PM, and the Christmas Eve Festal Eucharist with Beginning at 9:30 PM with the Women of the Choir singing A CEREMONY OF CAROLS, OP. 28 by Benjamin Britten (1913-1976); Barbara Chapman, harp. We have a cadre of 5 Volunteer Vergers, 4 of whom will serve in these services: 1 at 4th Advent, 2 at each of the Festal Eucharists. Brass was polished by a team of volunteers last Saturday, the Altar and Flower Guilds will be in high gear with all teams collaborating to do the changeover from 4th Advent to Christmas Eve on Sunday afternoon. College students returning for the holidays will also participate as Acolytes and Servers. We are particularly fortunate to have as our guest Presider and Preacher, The Right Reverend Doctor James B. Magness. These services will also mark the end of 50 years of service for our organ, which will be packed up and sent away for repair and rebuilding during the coming year. It is anticipated to return for Christmas Eve 2018.

From Ernie Mainland, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Petoskey, Michigan

Ours is a small parish in northern Michigan. If we all showed up at the same time, we might have 300 souls. But it is likely that we will have no more than 150 at the largest of four services on Advent IV and Christmas Eve. A our priest is also going to a neighboring parish that has no priest, he will no doubt be totally exhausted. I am doing the Christmas Day service, ten in the morning, where we will be lucky to have a dozen folks. The liturgy is based on my great grandfather’s BCP of 1874. There will be no communion since we will be celebrating the birth of Jesus, not remembering the Last Supper. We will follow that BCP right up to the consecration paragraphs using the lectionary from the same book. The readings are appropriate for the birth, including Isaiah 9:6, Matthew 2:1 and finally John 1:1. The “sermon” will be Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s Christmas Message of 2016. We will follow the service with birthday cake and a suitable beverage. The three gifts will also be on display: gold, frankincense and myrrh.

From Donald Wertz, All Saints' Episcopal Church, Austin, Texas

We persuaded the Rector to celebrate only the first Service on Sunday to observe Advent IV so the Altar guild will have time to change hangings, arrange poinsettias, etc.

From John Whitaker, Christ Church Cathedral, Nashville, Tennessee

Our Dean has come up with a brilliant solution! The Advent IV service will be held at a special Saturday evening service, to fulfil that obligation. Sunday, the 24th will proceed as a usual Christmas Eve; that is, we will not have any of the regular Sunday morning services, but will have our customary Christmas Eve Services at 12:15 p.m., 4:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. Christmas will see our usual 10 a.m. service (very low key). This will allow the Altar Guild and Flower Guild perform their usual magic, Saturday morning. So minimum stress and change, this year! Merry Christmas!

From Bill Cox, St. John's Episcopal Church, Austin, Texas

We typically have three services on Sundays - two services in English in the morning and one in Spanish in the early afternoon. On Christmas Eve, we typically have two services - a bilingual family-oriented Eucharist in the early evening that includes a children’s pageant and a late “midnight mass” service where we pull out all the stops - full choir, additional brass and woodwind instrumentalists, congregational candles, and so forth. This upcoming Sunday, we will merge the two liturgical days by having a single service for Advent IV in the morning. After the service, we will have a simple lunch that we are using as a bribe to get people to help us decorate the church for Christmas. We switch from Sarum Blue for Advent to Celebration White for Christmas, and we break out all the poinsettias, wreaths, and other finery that have been quietly waiting in the sacristy. The evening services are as usual for Christmas Eve—a bilingual children’s pageant at 5:00 PM, Choral presentation at 10:30 PM, and the Celebration Eucharist at 11:00 PM. We then have another Eucharist on Christmas Morning; sadly this service is sparsely attended. After that, there is a slight bit of rest for the weary - at least until we prepare for the Feast of St. John the Evangelist, our namesake Saint, a few days later.

From Charles Miller, The Church of the Resurrection, Vineland, New Jersey

Being that there is no Trinity Episcopal or Saint Andrews here in Cumberland County, New Jersey, and being that the two parishes are worshiping as The Church of the Resurrection (Episcopal), the Christmas services are going to be a bit different this year. We are starting Sunday morning service as usual at 10:00 AM at our rented site in Millville, New Jersey. After that service we will set the Church up for the 10:00 PM service, then as soon as that service is over we load up and move everything to Saint Andrews in Bridgeton for the 10:00 service Christmas day. Then we load everything up and take it back to our rented Church in Millville.

From Andrew Eastman, Church of the Holy Comforter, Vienna, Virginia

At our parish (~1,800 members) we are fortunate to have six vergers, which allows us to spread the load. Our interim rector made the decision to observe Advent 4 at our Saturday 5:00 pm service this year. That allows us to focus our attention fully on the Christmas Eve liturgy on Sunday. Our vergers have been in place for a minimum of three years, with some in their position for over a decade so it is not our first Christmastide. While we can’t eliminate the stress of the season completely, we reduce it as much as possible by planning, reflecting on how we have conducted the services in previous years, and meeting as a team with the clergy, minister of music, altar guild and lay liturgist coordinator to review the liturgies in the week prior. Planning is the key. We begin in August by coordinating verger and lay liturgist schedules, then in early November we solicit acolyte volunteers from our 60+ member acolyte team. Where training is needed, we conduct it a few weeks in advance. Assignments for the service are communicated and confirmed five days in advance. Vergers and clergy meet three days in advance to review the service in detail and review assignments. Service bulletins are distributed electronically. Acolytes, lay liturgists and verger arrive 30-60 minutes in advance of the service to review what will occur. All these steps help to ensure we are prepared and hopefully have a low stress Christmas.

From Gary Mason, St. Paul's Church Englewood, New Jersey

Yes it is a busy time for all of us. We at St. Paul's Englewood NJ are having a Greening of the Church on Saturday morning. On Advent 4 we are having Morning Payer at our 8:00am and 10:30am services. At 5:00pm we are having a Jazz Mass and at 10:30 pm we will have Carols followed by a Choral Candle Lit Mass at 11:00pm.

From Corrine Hilton Hofstetter, St, Aiden's Episcopal Church, Alpharetta, Georgia

First of all, Happy Holidays to all ! May you be blessed this season! The four vergers at St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church are rejoicing with our parish the installation of The Rev. Reginald Simmons as our new Rector on December 17! Due to the recent power outage at the Altanta airport, our guest preacher could not be with us so Bp. Wright stepped up to fill in with an inspirational presentation. A great day for all involved! On behalf of Cozy Ledford, Becky Sullivan, Bob Stetcher, and myself, we hope that you will have the pleasure of meeting Fr. Reggie soon! God Bless!

From David Nolan, Christ Episcopal Church, Deposit, New York

With the season being very busy unable to get to my inbox until today. The Flower Guild has completed their work. The list is provided by the Treasurer and purchase is done thru the Lions Club which provides poinsettias. I will be assisting Altar Guild tomorrow. No Service Sunday a.m. Two services in the evening. One at 7:00 p.m. and one at 11:00 p.m. I will be multitasking at these. Verger, reader, Lay Eucharistic Minister, and thurifer. Merry Christmas and May God Bless all.

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]!

Abstract: Take notes on Sunday, December 24, 2017, because we get to celebrate the 4th Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve together again in 2023, a mere six years away. Here are how some of our fellow vergers are hoping to celebrate. Merry Christmas from the Vergers Voice!