Vergers are traditionally members of the church laity who help organize and provide “behind-the-scenes” support during church services. The name comes from the now ceremonious wooden rod, called a virge, carried by the verger. The virge was once used to part an overzealous crowd and even keep unruly livestock at bay as the clergy processed in and out of the church. While HCFM’s sheep are more cute than insubordinate, the use of the virge has persisted as a symbol of the office.
Historically, vergers were responsible for maintaining church buildings, caring for sacred relics, and preparing materials for liturgy, or worship services. During a service, the verger leads the procession into the church and generally ensures that the service runs smoothly. A verger coordinates and facilitates the moving parts of a service by providing support and guidance wherever needed, all the while remaining as inconspicuous as possible. Here at HCFM, the presence of vergers allows all other offices and volunteers to focus on their role in the service without distraction.
The contemporary office of verger is experiencing a rapid expansion within the Episcopal Church. Differing from the church of England, where vergers are often full-time paid employees of the Church, American vergers are more often than not volunteers with a special calling to the ordering and conduct of the Church’s liturgy. Clergy throughout the Church have come to appreciate the ministry of vergers within their congregations. Vergers can relieve the clergy of the burden of liturgical detail so that they can concentrate on their priestly duties to preach the Word and administer the Sacraments. No longer found primarily in cathedrals and large parishes, vergers are an asset to any worshipping community.
If you are interested in becoming a part of this vital ministry, please contact Bob Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org