2015 St. Louis, Missouri

VGEC Annual Conference: Thursday, October 1, through Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church will gather in the middle of the United States for our 27th Annual Conference in 2015! The Very Rev. Michael D. Kinman, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis and the Conference Host Committee from the Diocese of Missouri serve as your hosts for this exciting opportunity to learn more about the verger ministry, spend time in fellowship with vergers from around the US and the world, to enjoy a number of worship opportunities together, and to dance together at the banquet Friday night!

The Gateway City has plenty to offer with great food, shopping, entertainment and nightlife. Plan to "Meet Us in St. Louis!"

Conference Highlights
  • Keynote Address, "Who Do We Think We Are? Our Ancestry as Vergers” by James Armstrong, Head Verger, Carlisle Cathedral and National Chairman of the Church of England Guild of Vergers (CEGV)
  • Verger 101: Exploring the Verger Ministry for the New Verger
  • Verger 307: Advanced Topics for All Vergers
  • Verging in Depth: Holy Smoke! A detailed look into the ins and outs of incense
  • A discussion of The Role of Cathedrals led by the Very Rev. Mike Kinman, Dean
  • Early History of Black Anglicanism led by Sylvester Johnson, Ph.D.
  • Presentation on the history of Christ Church Cathedral with tour of the Cathedral and Reredos
  • Try your hand at improv with Not Quite Right Improv in an activity open to all registrants
  • Special events for spouses, partners and guests of conference attendees
  • Thursday evening Choral Evensong at Christ Church Cathedral
  • Morning Prayer each morning
  • Vergers Recognition Dinner and Dance
  • 3-D Video Light Show
  • Verger Exhibit Hall including the Vergers Guild Shop and Hospitality Suite
  • VGEC Annual Business Meeting and board elections
  • Festive Choral Eucharist with the Procession of Vergers and Christ Church Cathedral Choir. The Rt. Rev. George Wayne Smith, 10th Bishop of the Diocese of Missouri, celebrating and preaching

General Information


Thursday, October 1 through Sunday, October 4, 2015

Host Parish

Christ Church Cathedral is the oldest Episcopal congregation west of the Mississippi River and the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. The congregation was founded in 1819 and the building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was designed by Leopold Eidlitz and was built between 1859 and 1867 in the Gothic Revival style. It was one of the earliest churches influenced by the revival within the Episcopal Church of early Christian practices and styles, which was later influenced by the Oxford Movement originating in England.

Parish Location

Christ Church Cathedral
1210 Locust St., St. Louis MO 63103, USA
Phone: +1 (314) 231-3454

Conference Contact Information

Shug Goodlow, Host Committee Chair
[email protected]
Phone: +1 (314) 898-3482

Barry Norris, Registration Coordinator
[email protected]
Phone: +1 (215) 275-4631

27th Annual Conference Event Host Committee


Note: Conference registration is available NOW online through the VGEC Guild Shop using Visa, MasterCard, or American Express. 

Registrations made through August 1, 2015 are $200.00 per person. Registrations made after August 1st are $250.00 per person.

We hope that spouses/partners will also register for the conference to attend many conference events. The cost for all conference attendees (members and spouses/partners) is the same because the expenses (transportation, food, entertainment, etc.) is the same for everyone. For this reason too, we cannot price individual parts of the conference.

If you need assistance with your registration, please contact the Guild Shop at [email protected].

After registering online, you will receive a confirmation email as your transaction receipt. This email will also provide you with a link to specify your conference preferences. This will help us plan for space and accommodations for various events.


Cancellations made on or before August 31, 2015 will be fully refunded. After August 31, 2015, there will be a $50 cancellation fee. After September 15, 2015, there will be no refunds as all conference costs are set at that time. Click HERE to fill out a refund request form.

Please contact the Guild Shop at [email protected] for more information regarding registration, session preferences, fees, or refunds.

Conference Hotel - New Information!

The St. Louis Union Station-Doubletree by Hilton Hotel, our official conference hotel, has sold out. The alternate hotel, the Drury Inn Union Station, is directly across from the 20th Street entrance to Union Station and has free parking, free WIFI, and free breakfast among other amenities.

Drury Inn Union Station

Within walking distance to all the shops and restaurants of Union Station, this historic renovation puts you right in the heart of St. Louis. And it's pet-friendly, for an additional charge.

Hotel Contact Information

Drury Inn Union Station
201 South 20th, St Louis, Missouri, 63103, USA
Phone: +1 (314) 231-3900
Fax: +1 (888) 458-5771

Rates and Reservations-

Rates for VGEC start at $129.00 plus tax for one King Bed with a sleeper sofa.  For reservations click HERE or call 1-800-325-0720 and refer to group number 2255047. Based on availability, this rate is in effect from September 28-October 6th if you want to extend your stay.


Conference attendees will enjoy a 50% reduction in daily parking rates. Valet parking is available at a daily rate of $12 and Self-parking, located adjacent to the hotel on 20th Street, is available at the daily rate of $10. Both parking options include unlimited in and out privileges.


Note: This information is as of September 29, 2015.

If you cannot view the agenda below (some firewalls may block this content), click HERE to open the online version. If you still have trouble, please contact [email protected] and we will email a PDF copy to you.

Sessions and Events

Note: This information is subject to change.

The 2015 Conference of the Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church has a large array of interesting sessions and events which will contribute greatly to your overall conference experience.

Keynote Address-Friday, October 2, 2015 at 8:30am

James Armstrong, Head Verger, Carlisle Cathedral, United Kingdom

This presentation is taken from a study of the origins of the verger as documented in statutes, deeds and literature in an attempt to find the historical evidence of our title and role within the church. It is a quest I have been on for a good few years now, one which poses more questions than it solves, and one which I doubt I will ever finish, but at least we will be able to build on this skeleton as more information comes to light. I will include images I have found along the way both as a way of illustration but more importantly for your amusement.

Session 1: Friday, October 2, 2015 at 10:00am

Option 1: Verger 101 - Exploring the Verger Ministry for the New Verger

Led by Duke DuTeil, VGEC Training Advisor

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. Topics will include:

  • I thought being a Verger was all about wearing robes, holding virges, and processing through the nave...
  • What is meant by "Ministry of Welcome?"
  • Soldiering On: Dealing with mistakes so no one notices
  • Hands-On - Carrying the virge, what to wear when, serving in the background, working with your Altar Guild, volunteer coordination, being the boss/servant at the same time
  • Is the VGEC Training Course for me?

Note: Verger 101 is for newer vergers and for first-time conference attendees.

Option 2: Verger 307 - Advanced Discussion Topics for All Vergers                                                                                        

Led by Bob Mikrut, Head Verger, Church of the Redeemer, Bryn Mawr, PA and Cindy Ware, Head Verger, Christ Church Cathedral, Lexington KY

This session is for vergers in both small and large parishes. In this session, we will explore several one-paragraph life circumstances that propose some sort of dilemma for the verger (conflict in liturgical planning, dealing with an ornery rector, the demanding verger, a real-life crisis in the Nave, etc.) The circumstance will be explored in a plenary session, discussed in small groups, and reported back to the group.

Bob has been a member of VGEC since 2002 and was inducted as a Fellow of the Guild in 2003. He has been actively involved in the verger ministry in his parish churches in the Philadelphia area and Diocese of Pennsylvania. He started as a parishioner for 25 years at St. Paul’s Church, Chestnut Hill and initiated a verger ministry there, serving for 10 years. Bob has served on the Diocesan Liturgical Commission and acted as verger for the Diocese. He joined The Church of the Redeemer, Bryn Mawr in 2010 and immediately initiated a verger ministry there. He recently established a Junior Verger ministry at The Redeemer, selecting senior youth acolytes as participants. He has serves as a mentor to a number of those entering into the verger ministry in other parishes within the Diocese of Pennsylvania.

Cindy is a verger at Christ Church Cathedral in Lexington, Kentucky for six years. She has served for the past four years as Head Verger. She became a Fellow in 2011. Her duties include training and supervising their nine-person verger corps, and scheduling three verger, three lay readers and six eucharistic ministers for each of two Sunday services every week. She has formulated customaries and worked closely with the Dean of the cathedral in planning and executing all services, including regular Sunday services, and special services for Holy Week, ordinations, weddings, and funerals.

Session 2: Friday, October 2, 2015 at 12:45pm

Option 1: Verging in Depth - Holy Smoke!

Led by Scott Smith, President of the VGEC with special guests

This is an exciting new feature of the VGEC Annual Conference being introduced in 2015 in St. Louis. Each year, leading experts will facilitate an in-depth exploration and discussion of a topic of particular interest to vergers. This year's topic is incense.

Option 2: The Role of Cathedrals

Led by the Very Rev. Mike Kinman, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis

Throughout history, cathedrals have been and are many things. For more than a millennia, cathedrals have been places where the sacred meets the public square. They are places of congregational worship, a place for community gatherings, centers of education and the table around which congregation, diocese, city and region can gather for the common good.

Together we will explore the potential of cathedrals in the 21st century and the ways in which those potentials are grounded in the Eucharist and expressed in the ministries of truth-telling, Jesus-spotting and blessing. We will take an honest look at the challenges of sustaining these grand old buildings and the opportunity that challenge provides to once again become an indispensable part of urban life.

Session 3: Friday, October 2, 2015 at 2:30pm

Option 1: Using Social Media to Spread the Word

Led by Brendan O’Connor, Digital Missioner, Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis

"Church can't just be about Sundays, we need to be an active community seven days a week."

Brendan O'Connor, an Episcopal Service Corpsman, was hired by Christ Church Cathedral of St. Louis to be its first-ever Digital Missioner. His instructions were simple: "Take this cathedral space, and turn it inside-out for the broader community to see." With this succinct instruction, Brendan has expanded this dynamic congregation's social media presence through Facebook, Youtube, Instragram, Twitter, and the Blogsphere.

Through this process, he has striven to find ways not only to document and publicize the ministry of the Cathedral, but more importantly, grow the community within its pews. Join us for an entertaining discussion about the possibilities (and occasional pitfalls) of social media.

Option 2: The Partnership Between Clergy and the Verger Ministry

Led by the Rev. Amy Chambers Cortright, Vicar at Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis

A Vicar in a cathedral is the rector for the cathedral's regular congregation. Working with vergers, acolytes, and others who support and work in the liturgy,  Amy emphasizes the need to share experiences and opinions openly and to do so by carefully recognizing "...each other's communication style and message."  Vergers can be important "change agents" while moving from "traditional church" to the concept of "shared leadership."  How does respectful conversation lead the way to loving and caring in a time of change? 

 After graduating from Mount Holyoke College with an English degree,  Amy attended the General Seminary, graduating in 2004.  After ordination, she served in posts at The Church of the Incarnation in the Murray Hill neighborhood of New York City, and Calvary Episcopal Church in Columbia MO where she was priest-in-charge.  Amy was called to Christ Church Cathedral and became vicar in 2010.  She began her liturgical journey serving as an acolyte at the Washington National Cathedral when she was a student at the National Cathedral School in the mid-90's.  John Kraus was the Cathedral Head Verger at the time.  Amy says that John's gracious presence and manner set the foundation of her liturgical journey, and probably was the reason she went on to seminary.

Option 3: Including Youth in Worship: Moving From Tokenism to Partnership

Led by Elle Dowd, Diocesan Youth Missioner (for teens)

Oftentimes when youth are involved in worship they are relegated to a couple of roles...if they are included at all! What would it look like to include youth in all aspects of planning, preparing, and leading worship? Diocesan Youth Missioner Elle Dowd will speak about principles that can be adapted for your specific worship context, how to deal with barriers that may be inherent in including youth as partners, and most importantly, why it's worth the challenge.

Elle describes herself as a "religious studies scholar with interests in incarnational relational youth ministry, feminist theology, and global ministry." She graduated with honors from Iowa State University with a degree in Religious Studies and has served as a Christian Educator, pastoral intern, and Youth Coordinator at Episcopal and ELCA churches. She has led several mission trips to Jonathan's House for Orphans in Sierra Leone as their Sponsorship Coordinator.

Elle lives with her husband, Adam, and their 8 year old daughter, Alice, in St. Robert, Missouri. She is very excited to share her passion for youth ministry at the 2015 Verger's Conference.

Session 4: Saturday, October 3, 2015 at 10:15am

Option 1: Young Adults in Liturgical Service and Beyond

Led by the Rev. Mike Angell, Missioner for Young Adults (20s-30s) and Campus Ministries for the Episcopal Church

Session description coming soon.

Option 2: Philip Quaque and the Early History of Black Anglicanism

Led by Sylvester Johnson, Ph.D., Assoc. Professor of African American Studies & Religious Studies, Northwestern University

In the 1750s, one of the youths of present-day Ghana traveled to England to study Christian theology. His name was Philip Quaque (pronounced Kway-koo), and he became the first African to be ordained as a priest in the Anglican Church. After spending more than a decade in the British metropole, Quaque returned to his West African hometown and lived his entire adult career as an Anglican chaplain. His regular reports to the British office of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel constitute one of the largest collections of extant writings by a Black author of the eighteenth century.

Quaque's life and legacy reveal an important dimension of the African presence in the Anglican Church during the eighteenth century. In this lecture, Sylvester Johnson will discuss Quaque's career as an Anglican priest and what it reveals about the larger history of early Black Anglicanism.The presentation will be followed by a Q&A period.

Spouses, partners and guests of conference attendees are invited to attend this presentation.

Sylvester Johnson earned his Ph.D. in Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York City where he studied contemporary religious thought with James H. Cone. Before joining the Department of African American Studies and the Religious Studies Department at Northwestern University he served on the faculties of Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida and Indiana University in Bloomington. He has just written African American Religions, 1500-2000: Colonialism, Democracy, and Freedom (Cambridge University Press), which will be released this year. His Myth of Ham in Nineteenth-Century American Christianity (Palgrave 2004) won the American Academy of Religion's Best First Book Award in 2005. His articles and essays have appeared in a number of academic journals, including Religion and American Culture, Literature and Theology, and Church History. Dr. Johnson is a founding co-editor of the Journal of Africana Religions, a peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journal that publishes research on religion in Africa and the Black diaspora. He co-chairs the North American Religions section of the American Academy of Religion.


Each year, the VGEC provides up to 15 scholarships to cover $150 of the registration expense. The Mark Emory Graham Scholarship Fund of the VGEC will make these grants. They are intended to develop the ministry of the verger and will be considered for junior vergers, new vergers, or first time attendees, or those with a financial need.

Click HERE to complete an online scholarship application.

The president of the VGEC will review the requests and will contact each member making a scholarship request. The process is very easy, so if you are interested, please complete the form today.

The scholarship covers 75% of the registration fee but not transportation, lodging, or additional food or entertainment expenses.

Please contact the VGEC president at [email protected] or call 615.513.2500 for additional information.

Transportation and Maps

Airlines and Flights

Lambert-St. Louis International Airport has a large number of airlines that service the St. Louis area.

Transportation from Airport to Hotel

MetroLink (subway/rail)

MetroLink, the St. Louis light rail mass transit system, serves Union Station from its station directly below the train shed in the Union Station subway tunnel. The St. Louis Union Station serves the Red Line and Blue Line. It takes about 30 minutes to travel from Lambert-St. Louis International Airport's East and Main Terminals to Union Station Hotel via the Metro Red Line.

Go Best Express Shuttle  

The St. Louis Conference Committee is very pleased to announce that we have negotiated a discounted rate for airport to hotel shuttle service for the 2015 VGEC Annual Conference with GO BEST Express. To receive the discounted rate of $16 one way, $32 round trip per person, RESERVATIONS MUST BE MADE ONLINE IN ADVANCE OF ARRIVAL Use code VGEC2015 when making your reservation.

Standard rates of $22 each way per person, $44 round trip will apply for reservations booked on the spot at Lambert Airport or made by phone. Ready to make your airport transportation reservation for the conference? Let’s GO!!

Click here to reserve an airport shuttle seat using the incredible convention rate ($16 each way, per person). Please have your credit card ready, as a credit card is required and will be charged when you book.

Union Station Hotel does not provide complimentary shuttle service.


There is a 24-hour taxi service at its north entrance on Market Street. Approximate travel time by taxi, non-rush hour:

  • Downtown St. Louis hotels: 5–8 minutes
  • Lambert International Airport: 25–30 minutes
  • MidAmerica St. Louis Airport: 30 minutes
  • Gateway Arch/Laclede's Landing: 5-8 minutes
  • America's Center/Convention Center/Edward Jones Dome: 8–10 minutes
  • Midtown/Theatre District: 12 minutes
  • Central West End: 10–15 minutes

Gateway Transportation Station

The city's major transportation hub station, Gateway Multimodal Transportation Center, is located next to Union Station. It serves the city's rail system and regional bus system MetroBus, Greyhound, Amtrak and city taxi services.


The walking distance from the hotel (label A) to the church (label B) indicated by the blue line is a little under 1 mile or approximately 12 minutes. There is limited free parking available at the cathedral, metered street parking (free on Sunday), and a bank lot next to the cathedral that allows parking when the bank is closed.

Conference Communication

The VGEC uses these methods for communicating about the conference:

  • Twitter: We use Twitter during the conference to send out quick blasts of information. Follow twitter.com/vergerguild today! If you associate your mobile phone to your Twitter account, you can text FOLLOW @vergerguild to 40404 and you will receive text messages on your mobile phone during the conference.

  • The Verger's Voice blog: The vergersvoice.org blog will be covering all aspects of the conference before, during, and after. All members of the VGEC are automatically signed up to receive the blog. Click HERE for more information.


These links may be helpful in planning your trip.

If you find additional links that should be added here, please contact [email protected].

File Attachments

Files associated with this conference are available below. Please contact [email protected] if there are any modifications that might be made to this page which would be helpful. We appreciate all feedback!

Scott Smith,
Oct 9, 2015, 5:39 PM