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, May 26, 2017

A Retired Verger’s View from the Pew

David Jette with members of the All Saints' Church Altar Guild: Sally Steere, Carol Walsh, and Patricia Row

By David Jette, Retired Verger, [email protected]

My retirement after 30 years as Head Verger of Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City was soon followed by a move to Peterborough, New Hampshire, a lovely town of 7,000 people in the Mount Monadnock region of the state. After settling into a new home and different surroundings it didn’t take me long to enter All Saints’ Church, my first Sunday in Peterborough.

There I discovered an absolute gem of Gothic Revival architecture beautifully maintained and appointed. The liturgy, true to our tradition, was comfortably familiar and by the time of the sharing of the Peace I realized the church was full of people, a very healthy sign, and many greeted me warmly as an obvious newcomer. This welcome, though not overdone, was just right to assure my return. I have missed only one Sunday!

After some time, I arranged a meeting with The Rev. Jamie Hamilton, our rector, and we agreed that my involvement would be measured and in no way commence a verger’s ministry in a place where no verger has served. I breathed a sigh of relief and knew this was just right. Of course Jamie and I discussed liturgy, my experience at Trinity, and how I was adjusting to life in small town New Hampshire. I agreed to serve as an occasional lector and work with her on upcoming special services.

I have long believed and have stated many times in verger gatherings that ninety-five percent of our ministry is rightly carried out “behind the scenes.” Our principal role is not to merely don quaint eighteenth century quasi academic garb and lead processions. The ministry of the verger is much more complicated and challenging and I believe more holy than that. To regularly worship from the pew (and I must point out that All Saints’ has chairs rather than pews), has reinforced the truth of this belief and has heightened my discipline to both appreciate the detail needed to offer any meaningful liturgy and to see the larger symbols at work.

This year’s Holy Week observance was the first for me in forty years that I was not an active participant. Before Palm Sunday, I must admit, the rector and members of our altar guild and I walked through all the services but my role through the week was very minimal and appropriately out of view. Let me share with you my images upon entering the church for the Liturgy of Maundy Thursday.

I arrived early and slowly walked down the aisle of the nave and simply gazed at the altar and its furnishing beautifully prepared for the rites of Maundy Thursday. Items needed for the stripping and washing of the altar were in place. A few things including large and very heavy pavement candlesticks had already been removed in order to avoid any awkwardness later. Chairs, basins, a ewer and towels were near the pulpit for the foot washing. The altar of repose in the Lady Chapel was banked with a beautiful assortment of flowering spring plants, a small bank of votive candles was in place for the all night watch that would follow the service and a schedule of those keeping vigil was in a small binder at the entrance to the chapel.

As I returned to the nave and as people were arriving I noticed three members of the altar guild seated quietly together in the front row all dressed in black clothes. I smiled at them recognizing that they in their way had fulfilled the ministry of verger for that time and for that occasion. Everything I observed had been carefully, reverently and quietly carried out by these three very special women before the first person entered the church.

Toward the end of the service when the Blessed Sacrament was carried to the altar of repose and as a cantor from the choir began chanting the familiar words of Psalm 22, these three people with great dignity and purpose in a darkened church removed everything we had used for the foot washing and the Eucharist. To most of the people gathered, I am certain their movements and actions were largely invisible. Well not to me.

As the rector finished the final Gospel reading describing the scene in the garden of Gethsemane, the last action of the liturgy, I offered a quiet prayer of thanksgiving for the work of vergers and all those who with grace and dignity worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness unseen and largely unknown.

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.

Abstract: David Jette, retired Head Verger of Trinity Church Wall Street and new resident of Peterboro, New Hampshire, has long believed that ninety-five percent of the verger ministry is rightly carried out behind the scenes. He says, "Our principal role is not to merely don quaint eighteenth century quasi academic garb and lead processions. The ministry of the verger is much more complicated and challenging and I believe more holy than that." David reflects on this experience at his new parish, All Saints' Church, Peterboro as a retired verger happily situated (mostly) from the pew.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta Welcomes You!

Consecrated in 1962, the Cathedral of St. Philip will be the site of Evensong and dinner on Thursday night and a Festive Holy Eucharist on Sunday for the 2017 Annual Conference of the VGEC in October

By Beth King, Cathedral Verger, [email protected].com

As vergers from around the world come together in October for the VGEC Annual Conference, they will be welcomed to Atlanta at the Cathedral of St. Philip with a barbeque dinner and Evensong as the opening events. On Sunday morning vergers will gather once again at St. Philip's for celebration of Holy Eucharist.

Magnificent St. Philip’s is perched atop a hill on Peachtree Road, north of downtown Atlanta, in an area often referred to as “Jesus Junction” in recognition of the numerous churches in the vicinity. The Cathedral is recognized as the second largest Episcopal congregation and the largest Cathedral congregation in the United States with approximately 7,000 members.

The Cathedral of St. Philip is named in honor of St. Philip the Evangelist, a deacon in the early Christian Church, and is the see of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. Originally begun in downtown Atlanta, St. Philip’s moved to the present location in 1933 with the building of a gray wooden structure known as the "Pro-Cathedral" that served the congregation as its house of worship while construction of the Cathedral took place. The completed Cathedral was consecrated in 1962. Renovation of all existing structures and the addition of a large new wing and a glass atrium adjacent to the Narthex took place in 2004. A few years ago, a beautiful outdoor labyrinth was installed in front of Lanier House, next to the Cathedral, that is open to all of us who may find a few moments of contemplation.

On Thursday evening, buses will transport all conference attendees from the Marriott Marquis to the Cathedral. On arrival, we will experience the unmistakable aroma of genuine Southern barbeque cooked on premises, accompanied by all the traditional trimmings. For those requiring gluten free or vegetarian meals, it will be imperative to indicate this in your conference preferences. If you need help with your conference preferences, contact [email protected].

Another Southern treat, bluegrass music, will serenade us as we enjoy dinner. Following this wonderful time of food and fellowship, we will move into the nave for the Office of Choral Evensong beginning at 7:00pm with Bishop Keith Whitmore officiating and offering the opening homily of the conference. We will also have the exceptional and award-winning Cathedral Schola as the choir.

Not to be missed is the Cathedral Bookstore which will be open the entire evening. In addition to the items you may wish to purchase for yourself or friends, the store will have an ample supply of the choir’s recordings, books written by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, and Bishop Alexander’s book, "Celebrating Liturgical Time." Both authors will be available to autograph any purchases later in the Conference.

Guild guides and Cathedral ushers will be available throughout our activities Thursday and Sunday to assist with directions at the Marriott Marquis, to help in the boarding/unloading of buses and to offer assistance while in the Cathedral. Following the dinner and Evensong, we will return by our buses to the Marriott Marquis.

On Sunday morning, we will have the privilege of participating with the good folks of the St. Philip’s parish in honoring their patron saint. This will mean spectacular music and liturgy with The Very Rev. Samuel G. Candler, Dean, as Celebrant and The Right Reverend Robert C. Wright, tenth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, preaching.

It will be necessary for all vergers to vest Sunday morning at the Marriott Marquis before boarding buses for transportation from the hotel to the Cathedral. On arrival, we will gather to process into the nave. Vergers will enter during the voluntary and sit as a group in reserved seating in the transepts.

After the liturgy, vergers will remain in place in the transepts and once the nave is cleared, we will gather in the chancel for the official Annual Conference group photo. The buses will then return everyone to the Marriott Marquis for immediate check out of the hotel and departure. Late checkout will be available for those requesting this in advance.

Did we mention that Atlanta has one of the most beautiful autumns in the country? The entire Atlanta Conference Host Committee cannot wait to personally say to everyone who comes, "Welcome to Atlanta, y'all!"

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.

Abstract: During the VGEC Annual Conference in October, the Cathedral of St. Philip will host two days of events on Thursday and Sunday. Cathedral verger, Beth King, tells us about the Cathedral and provides detailed information about what to expect.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Stick a Fork in Me, I'm Almost Done!

Duke DuTeil, Treasurer of the VGEC, has been cooking the books since 2010. Here he is also cooking communion bread for the 2012 Annual Conference in Lakeland, Florida

By Duke DuTeil, VGEC Treasurer and Training Advisor, [email protected]

Friends, it has been a joy serving as your Treasurer for the past six and a half years. I was elected to fill an unexpired term at the Annual Conference in October 2010. There have been many ups and downs as the guild has grown and we integrated to a computerized financial tracking system. While I have thoroughly enjoyed my tenure on your board, my time is soon coming to a close.

Don’t panic, I’m not quitting mid-stream, I’m not dropping out of the guild, and I plan to remain as the Training Advisor for the foreseeable future. However, I will be stepping down as your Treasurer when my board term expires at the 2018 Annual Conference in Denver. While this is a year and a half away, we need to start thinking about our next Treasurer NOW!

One of the things I learned as I came onto the board is the difficulty of learning how the guild functions, its policies and guidelines, and integrating myself into the board while trying to stay on top of the new financial obligations as your treasurer. While it is second nature to me now, know that it was a tough start. It really would have been a blessing had I had a year to serve on the board; to learn its ins and outs before jumping into the Treasurer’s job. This is why I strongly believe that we need to start thinking about a successor now. And that process starts with you!

In the coming weeks you will be hearing from the Nomination Committee. They will be soliciting nominations for individuals to stand for election to the board at the 2017 Annual Conference in Atlanta. I challenge you to think hard and pray about who might a good fit for the board now and would be able to step up into the Treasurer’s role when I step down in the fall of 2018.

Remember, we are looking for someone who is: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent. Oops, wrong organization. We should be looking for someone:
  • Possibly with a banking or accounting background
  • With a small business management background
  • Who can spend about 20 hours a month with our banking and accounting system
  • Who can control the off the wall spending habits of certain board members (not to mention any Scott Austin Smiths by name)
  • Who has to know, or be willing to learn, how to use Quicken
  • Who is computer literate and comfortable with using new web-based technology and tools
If you think this might be you, here are some things you ought to know about the job:
  • You will spend a joyous amount of time working with Quicken
  • We operate the treasury through a Bank of America checking account with 3 savings accounts
  • Five board members have debit cards and you will get to have fun tracking down receipts from them
  • You get to spend a bunch of time each week in the Guild Shop Shopify account reconciling shop deposits into the operating account
  • PayPal needs to be reconciled and funds transferred monthly
  • You will have me as a backup (if you can find me, I’m retired with 20 grandkids)
  • You will never hate and love a job more than this one.
If you are thinking about someone for this position or think it might be you and want to talk, email me at [email protected] and we will set a time to get together.

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.

Abstract: Duke DuTeil, current Treasurer of the VGEC, will complete his board term and tenure as Treasurer in 2018. It's not too early to start thinking about who will replace him in that role. What is the job really like and what are the characteristics of a good treasurer for the VGEC?

Monday, May 8, 2017

VGEC Board Meets in Atlanta: Progress Update for 2017

The Board of the Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church met in Atlanta on April 24 and 25, 2017 at the Cathedral of St. Philip. Photo by Bill Monk - [email protected]

By Scott Smith, President VGEC Board of Directors [email protected]

We all know personally that much of the work of the verger and other liturgical servers is behind the scenes making sure everything is set for worship services. Most parishioners and visitors in our churches do not realize just how much work goes into liturgical preparation. The same absolutely is true for the VGEC board and the work of the many committees serving the guild.

The VGEC board met with members of the 2017 VGEC Annual Conference Host Committee at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta, Georgia last week and made a lot of progress on a number of goals. Our goals for 2017 are:
  • Produce Annual Conference guidelines to help streamline conference planning
  • Continue improving MMS v1 (Membership Management Services) and build requirements for MMS v2
  • Improve the VergersVoice.org blog and focus on committee development and content management
  • Develop Diocesan Convention Kits with materials that we can use to spread the good news of the verger ministry within our own Dioceses
  • Work on Membership and Parish audits to actively reach out to members and potential members; launch new membership cards
  • Design and launch the new, “I am a verger, count me in!” marketing campaign for 2017 and 2018
  • Create and develop the Governance Committee to focus on transparency and business continuity
I asked each Board member and Chuck Dale, the Chair of the Atlanta Committee, to provide a short description on their personal observations during the meeting and also to report briefly about their areas of committee responsibility. Have you ever known a group like this to do anything "short" or "brief???" They no doubt laughed at me for asking this because I am probably the worst offender. Ok, here we go in alphabetical order...

Cheryl Cantrall, Vice President and Membership Committee Chair

I think we have great news from the VGEC spring board meeting! For a few months now we have been working on creating a “Credit Card” type of membership card for the VGEC. The idea was presented in detail at this meeting and we are now moving ahead with the project. It will replace the printed certificates we now send when membership is renewed. Members who wish to still have a printed certificate will be able to login to their membership.vergers.org account and easily print out a hard copy certificate. We are working to have the cards ready to be sent out by the Atlanta Conference. Look for a blog post about that very soon! Look in your mailbox soon for your membership information letter which will be sent via postal mail to all members. These are mailed so everyone can update their information for the directory, make sure there are no changes in information, and for those who like to renew their membership with paper. We are also always looking for ways to add new members! If you know of vergers who are not members, please ask them to join with the “Free 6-month” trial membership. We have had great success with increasing our membership with this "try before you buy" plan! Contact me at [email protected].

Vyonne Carter-Johnson, Governance Committee Chair

At this meeting, the Board continued to define the areas of oversight for our newly-formed Governance Committee. It has such an austere sounding name that we certainly hope to give it some heart! The purpose of the committee is to ensure that the VGEC is operating within the guidelines set forth in the Governing Documents of the organization which include the Articles of Association and the Bylaws. We are already making progress in making sure that the board has followed through with all open issues from prior meetings and we are working on validating and expanding our committee structures. It is a true honor to serve on the Board and represent the guild members. Contact me at [email protected].

Chuck Dale, 2017 Annual Conference Host Committee Chair

The Atlanta Host Committee was very pleased to welcome the VGEC board to Atlanta and we greatly appreciated the opportunity to interact with the everyone there. Joining us from the Atlanta Chapter was Phillip Knight, Martha-Sue Blythe, Yolande Collins, John Haeger, Beth King, Bill Monk, and Ruth Anne Tatum. We reported that conference registrations are brisk; we anticipate the largest gathering of vergers in the history of the VGEC! Hotel reservations at the Marriott Marquis are being booked at an even faster rate. Already 75% of the room block set aside for us has been committed. The Atlanta Host Committee has begun an effort to find additional rooms. We encourage all vergers to book hotel rooms right away. At the meeting, we reviewed the conference agenda in detail. We drilled down into many of the details together and had productive exchanges of ideas to enhance the experience of all vergers attending. It was indeed a pleasure to work with the board and believe that the VGEC members can all be proud of their board who take their roles seriously and together function seamlessly for the benefit of vergers everywhere. Contact me at [email protected].

Duke DuTeil, Treasurer and Training Committee Chair and Advisor

We have made progress on making sure that our board meeting minutes are updated at archives.vergers.org, so watch there for full details of the meeting when they are approved. We spent a good amount of time looking at the finances of the guild. We looked at how the fiscal picture informs other aspects of the guild and where needed we made some operational changes. Some of those changes will be transparent, others will become visible as we roll them out. We will detail all of those changes in future blog posts. All in all, this was a very good board meeting and a great chance for some face to face time with the hard-working MEG Chapter of the VGEC in preparation for the Annual Conference in Atlanta in October. I hope to see you there! Contact me at [email protected].

Darin Herndon, Technology Manager

Three phrases from the mid-year board meeting, my first, are anchored in my mind. First, "I can't believe how much we have gotten done." Second, "$10-15 to ship a bumper sticker?" And third, "Given the other changes we made, we're coming to think your idea is better." It was a full weekend with a packed agenda. Even with the agenda to keep us on track, the president mentioned that at times in the past the board would spend so much time on certain topics that others had no time at the mid-year meeting because we ran out of time to discuss in person. So, before we even started, a set of items were identified that had to be discussed and that group was tracked as a running list. In the end, multiple board members made the same comment about how they could not believe how much we covered. Of particular note during the meeting, I was able to observe the board begin discussing a topic from the perspective of how it had been handled in the past and, through constructive dialog, talk ourselves into taking an approach already offered by the host committee in Atlanta. While it is natural for anyone to start with rubrics and "how we have always done it," the board moved past that to adopt a better solution from outside the board because it was the better solution. So, for my first face-to-face board meeting, I am spoiled because I will measure all board meetings against this one for how much it accomplishes, how it takes responsibility, and how it is open to solutions from any part of the guild. Contact me at [email protected].

Terry Hughes, Annual Conference Committee Chair

Our meeting in Atlanta was really productive and we resolved a large number of outstanding issues. The Atlanta Host Committee did a great job updating the board on their progress with finalizing what is going to be a very unique and amazing conference in October. A major focus of our committee's work has been developing the “Annual Conference Guidelines” one of the board's goals for 2017. A draft form is now available for those preparing to host conference and to those who are thinking of hosting a conference. Contact me at [email protected].

The Rev. Walt Kindergan, Associate Chaplain

One of the items that we wanted to give a bit more attention to at our next conference is to provide the opportunity and a place for private prayer or to meet with one of our chaplains. As a guild of ministers in the church, we have always been a people of prayer in whatever we do. However, as we continue to grow and our conferences expand, we want to be sure to afford an opportunity for prayer or conversation as we also attend to the business of the conference. Working with the Atlanta Conference Committee, we plan to have a small chapel near the main business area where anyone can rest in quiet prayer or meditation, or also meet with a chaplain if that is desired. Our Chaplain, the Rev. Canon Matthew Corkern, and I also hope everyone will keep other vergers in their prayers all year long using our online Verger Prayer List at vergers.org/prayer. Contact me at [email protected].

Margaret McLarty, Immediate Past President and Episcopal Relations Chair

This recent gathering in Atlanta was a very exciting time as we plan for the our next Annual Conference in October. We all know that this conference will be exceptional. The host committee has done a wonderful job in preparation and I can hardly wait to have our Presiding Bishop Curry join us. I think he will lovingly and pastorally challenge us personally and organizationally to live into our ministry of verger in today’s church. In other matters, the board continues to analyze how to best provide information and resources to our members as efficiently as possible. Our training course is a major resource for introducing and preparing members for our ministry. The Guild Shop will continue to provide supplies and verger items for our members as cost effectively as possible. Communication is an important priority for the guild and is always at the forefront of board discussions. Finally, the Nominations Committee is constantly looking to find and solicit participation from our membership in guild activities, and I encourage any member to become active in the work of the guild. My participation continues to be one of the most personally meaningful attributes of my verger ministry. I hope to see you in Atlanta!! Contact me at [email protected].

Barry Norris, Guild Shop Committee

This is my fourth year on the board, and I believe that it was the most productive board meeting that we have had. It was a day and a half of good discussion and decision making; and some of that discussion of course had to do with the Guild Shop, located online at shop.vergers.org. Our goal is to operate the shop on a break-even basis and with today's shipping charges, this has become very difficult. We will be making changes this year making sure that the shop is indeed budget neutral. We also will be making some changes to how the shop operates at the Annual Conference. The cost of shipping the stock of items to the Annual Conference for the Guild Shop to have all sizes and styles available for purchase just is not cost effective, especially since about half of the merchandise has to be shipped back to the supplier. This year at the Atlanta Conference, the Guild Shop will have a supply of the smaller, less expensive items for sale, such as the lapel pins, seal badges, lanyards, bumper stickers, and decals. We will have samples of the clothing and larger, more expensive, items and a computer will be available for you to order items to be shipped to you. Contact me at [email protected].

Richard Parker, Secretary and Chapters Committee Chair

I had a great time in Atlanta where we met with a lot of the folks who are working together to host the 2017 Annual Conference in October. To say that this is a hard-working group is a major understatement and we are all very excited about what they are doing and how they are doing it. I am very pleased with the Governance Committee and what we are doing to make sure we are living into the bylaws of the guild. We are trying to do our part from the Secretary's office making sure that the minutes of ALL meetings are available in the guild archives immediately after they are approved. We are also working hard in the Chapters Committee to make sure that we help develop the Diocesan Kit that we have been talking about for some time. All in all, this was a great meeting and it is always a pleasure to meet face to face with the group. Contact me a [email protected].

Michael Sanchez, Communication and Technology Committee Board Liaison, Social Media and Web Site Manager

The Communications and Technology continues to work behind the scenes to provide our membership with a first-rate experience! We are in the final steps of mailing the Annual Conference postcard and we have been working with the Annual Conference Committee to put together guidelines for conference hosts, which helps us solidify policies and procedures that have been communicated by verbal tradition for years. Now they have been written down and it's much more official! We are working with the Membership Committee on the Membership Card project that you'll be hearing more about in the weeks to come. Finally, we are helping with one of the board's goals by helping to get a Diocesan Convention Kit created so that members can have materials to display at their diocesan conventions. This is a cross-committee project and we play a major role. We are looking forward to providing this resource to the entire membership! Contact me at [email protected].

Scott Smith, President

It's kind of neat how my last name gets me all the way down here to the end of this blog post! Obviously, I agree that this was one of the more productive mid-year board meetings we have ever had. I really want to thank every board member who made this trip to Atlanta on their own dime in support of the VGEC. This is a huge, and often thankless, commitment to VGEC and I think we need to recognize that. I also want to thank each and every one of the 2017 Atlanta Annual Conference Committee members who were able to attend and also those who could not. This is an impressive group of vergers dedicated to making this conference a huge success. Finally, I cannot be more excited about the hard work being performed by all of the many committee members in the VGEC. We have a truly awesome guild and we are able to do amazing things when we work together! Contact 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.

Abstract: Your VGEC Board of Directors had a productive mid-year meeting in Atlanta and want to tell you about their work behind the scenes. Perhaps you might want to serve on one of the many VGEC committees or the board? There is a lot going on in the Vergers Guild and many ways to get involved!