You see us preceeding the procession, carrying a staff, and moving around during the service at Saint Marks. The staff is called a verge, it is a symbol of our job and from which we get our name. Proceeding the procession is the most visible part of our job, but most of our work is done behind the scenes.
Verging is a ministry of coordination and assistance (and sometimes fixing things during a service). I liken it to being a butler as in Downton Abbey. Others have called it a choreographer, teacher, daycare worker, coordinator, trainer, tech guy, emergency services, doer, and fixer.
One of the hidden jobs of being a verger is coordinating and working with all of the teams that make for the great services at Saint Marks. These include the clergy, staff, acolytes, altar guild, lectors, ushers, greeters, visitors, and more. We help with any special service needs and work to see that the service is smooth and ideally uneventful.
Other than carrying the verge, it is working with everyone to put together a special service and then see everything fall into place at the service.
I think it is the combination of being a jack of all trades and keeping alert to the small things. We need to know where everything is, what is needed, and how to do things. I am still discovering where light switches are.
There are several. One is the peaceful beauty of compline; sitting in the choir pews with the space lit only by candle light and hearing gregorian chants filling the space. (insert advertisement for the compline services during Lent). Another is memorable due to the excitement. For example, the wax in one of the candles in the Advent wreath becoming too hot...we had a very large flame. We had to lower the wreath and put it out during the Gospel Reading.
Who are our Vergers? Jeanne Hinks, our Master Verger grew up at Saint Marks. She was an acolyte under the Verger and Acolyte Director Wm. “Bill” McCullum. Like many of us, acolyting and Bill was youth ministry at Saintt Marks. After Bill’s very sudden death in the 80’s, Jeanne took over the program with Nancy Hirschfield. Jeanne is our historian, knows every banner in the cathedral and is the glue that holds both of these programs together.
Jay Christopherson who grew up going to Ascension Episcopal church in Stillwater MN, became a verger with Dennis Christian and Jeanne, and is now our Dean’s Verger.
Georgianna Smith is our Deacon’s Verger and knows everything about the Altar Guild and nuances of liturgy.
Emmanuel Wilson is our newest member. Emmanuel is a lifelong Anglican/Episcopalian and we are blessed to have him and his family find a home here at Saint Marks. Emmanuel is now our Acolyte coordinator with Jeanne, and is our Acolytes Verger. I could not be more proud of their liturgical skills, ability to work and teach both youth and adults, calm presence under pressure and passion for the Gospel. ....ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus,