Walter Mace Chapter
Verger's Guild Of The Episcopal Church
Diocese of Texas
Servitas in cultu et cultus per servitatem
Service in Worship and Worship through Service
About Vergers
The Lay Ministry of Verger

The role of the Verger is largely dependent on the vision of the Rector. Since the Verger serves at the discretion of the Rector it is that vision of how the service is to be conducted that dictates the amount of presence the Verger has. Most of the work that is done is behind the scenes.

 Where does the Verger fit in and how can the position be best utilized? Does a small church even need a Verger? Verging in a smaller church offers unique opportunities that may not be afforded in a larger church. Based upon the vision and needs of the rector, the Verger may serve as; chalicer, server, intercessor, acolyte master, lector, worship leader, altar guild member, Eucharistic visitor, greeter, usher, sound engineer, repair person, and a member of the church staff. It also means that the Verger may or may not be seated in the chancel because of space constraints. This should not diminish the view of the Verger’s job. The priority is to give the person sitting in the pew the best possible setting to have their personal relationship with God, participate fully in corporate worship, and an atmosphere devoid of distraction.

At some churches the Verger suits up in chimere and black cassock only on high holy days. The Verger may or may not be seated within the chancel area. On normal Sundays the Verger may wear a black cassock and surplice and processes in behind the torch bearers. Seated just outside the communion rail, the Verger positions himself to respond to the needs of the altar party.The priest can summon their verger with a quick glance if things go awry. 

So where does the Verger do most of their work? Our job is mostly in the preparation. Simply put, the Verger’s job is to give the celebrant more time to focus on the spiritual aspects of the service. From the unlocking of the doors until the cleanup of the nave is finished there are a myriad of tasks to be done. The Verger’s manual lays out how things are done. Each church will have its own customs and traditions. Each priest will bring their own style and temperament. All of which directly influences the duties that need to be carried out.

Developing and staying with a routine works. Follow checklists and always look for differences. Resolve them with the celebrant and things will flow smoothly. Pictures of the retable or credence table setup and the altar setup are very helpful. Know which banners and paraments are used for each season or occasion. A picture of them in position makes sorting and hanging easier. If checklists for the different seasons are in place, updates and changes can be made relatively easily when they are needed.

Another tool which is very helpful is an outline of the service with all roles and positions described and a detailed summary of those positions. One of the things that give people angst is going before the congregation and not being fully prepared for the task required. After three years of seminary and a few years of experience the priest can usually celebrate a service with little or no difficulty; and they think nothing of it. When a Lay person is recruited to perform a specific ministry it makes them uneasy until they have done it several times. The position description that is in the Vergers manual becomes a very valuable tool. It gives, for example, the prospective Licensed Eucharistic Minister an insight of what is expected. It should be thorough enough to outline not only what they will do, but also everything that is going to be taking place around them.

Now that you have followed every checklist, processed in, been keenly aware of the celebrants movements, looked for a dropped wafer, and have completed another corporate worship, where has that left you spiritually? Spiritual development for the Verger can be problematic in middle size churches. More time is spent between services preparing for the next service. At some point that hour and a half between services will be entirely consumed preparing for the next service. The opportunity for attending Sunday school simply will not exist. That void must be filled either by attending other bible study classes or courses such as Education for Ministry. Education for Ministry is a four year course, administered by the School of Theology at Sewanee, and taken at your local parish. Classes start with the Old Testament and by the fourth year, cover contemporary liturgy. Local churches may also provide a forum for spiritual development. Whatever choices are made, the only wrong choice is to not continue with some form of continuing development.

Attending Diocesan Verger workshops affords an opportunity for dialog and keeping current on what others are doing in their own parishes. Training meetings offer short classes to stimulate thought, explain procedures and view resources that other parishes may not have. The Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church also offers an annual conference that has worthwhile classes focused on stimulation of ideas and information.

At the personal level a period of time should be set aside daily for centering. Contemplative prayer or daily devotions should follow. The Book of Common Prayer offers Devotions for Individuals and Families. Forward Day By Day and the internet offer opportunities to find daily devotions also.

The ministry of a Verger is very much focused on liturgy and making it flow smoothly. Unless the Verger is willing to continue a course of study and practice the discipline of daily prayer, the charges given during the investiture of the Verger;"Do you acknowledge and confirm a commitment to Christ our Lord, by regular attendance at worship, and by knowledge of the duties of your calling, to exercise to the best of your ability the office of Verger" and "Will you strive to keep the dignity of this office and to be a witness of God call to love and serve," will never be completely fulfilled.

The Officers and members of the Walter Mace Chapter invite all persons in the Diocese of Texas
, Lay or Cleric, interested in the ministry of a verger to our quarterly meetings. We welcome dialog with Rectors and Vicars in starting the ministry of a Verger in their churches.