This is a list of FAQs for the Verger's Guild of the Episcopal Church.
If you have additional questions or comments about this section, please contact us.
What is a verger?
I am thinking about starting a verger ministry in my own parish. Where do I start?
Where did vergers originate?
Are there really vergers today?
What do VGEC and CEVG stand for?
What do vergers wear?
What is a virge?
What is the Vergers' Guild of the Episcopal Church?
What is the purpose of the Guild?
What is the cost to join the Guild?
How do I join the Guild?
What is the official Guild Verger's Training Course?
When and where is the next scheduled Guild annual conference?
Is there a Guild newsletter?
Are there other Guilds in addition to the Vergers' Guild of the Episcopal Church?
Where can I get more information?
A verger is a person within the Church who assists the clergy in the conduct of public worship. It is said that the Verger serves the church in a ministry of welcome and the duties of the Verger vary from parish to parish. Vergers can be full-time or part-time, paid or volunteer. Their duties can be purely ceremonial or include other responsibilities such as parish administration, leadership of the worship committee, sexton, etc. He or she may serve in other capacities throughout the church; such as Sacristan, Acolyte Master, Sexton, Chalice Bearer, Lay Reader, Usher, Protector of the Procession, Doorkeeper, Grave Digger, Master of Ceremonies or anything else that the parish requires. The Office of Verger dates back to the Middle Ages when the Verger was the "Protector of the Procession." He led the Procession into the Church or Cathedral, clearing the way for the Procession and protecting it from vagabonds and animals that tried to attack it. Today, in many parishes and cathedrals you will see a Verger ceremonially leading the Procession. The Verger wears a gown and carries a Virge (staff of Office) to help clear the way, and point the way for the procession. For more information see: The About Us section, Verger on Wikipedia. We have a page dedicated to this topic located at Starting a new verger Ministry.
The role of the verger has its roots in the earliest days of the Church's history. It shares certain similarities with the former minor orders of "porter" and "acolyte." Generally speaking, in the olden days, vergers were responsible for the order and upkeep of the house of worship, including preparations for the liturgy, the conduct of the laity, and grave-digging. Although there is no definitive historical survey of the office of verger, evidence from Rochester, Lincoln, Exeter, and Salisbury Cathedrals indicates the existence of vergers as far back as the 16th century. A familiar sight today in parishes large and small, vergers have maintained the buildings and furnishings of the Church for many centuries. The Church of England Guild of Vergers (CEGV) was formed in 1932 as a fellowship of vergers within the Anglican Communion. For more information, see History of Verging and Vergers and in the About Us section. Yes! The contemporary role of the verger is experiencing a rapid expansion within the Episcopal Church and in the Anglican Communion world-wide. Differing from the Church of England, where vergers are often full-time paid employees of the Church, vergers in America are more often volunteers with a special calling to the ordering and conduct of the Church and the Church's liturgy. Clergy have come to appreciate the ministry of vergers within their parishes. Vergers can relieve the clergy of the burden of liturgical detail so that they can concentrate on their duties to preach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments. No longer found only in cathedrals and large parishes, vergers are an asset to any worshiping community regardless of size or tradition. It is said there is a verger in every congregation, whether one has been identified as such or not! For more information, see The Verger Today in the About Us section. Also see our membership map of over 1,000 Guild members. VGEC stands for the Vergers' Guild of the Episcopal Church and CEGV stand for the Church of England Guild of Vergers. Verger paraphernalia can be as varied as the duties of the verger! We have a "Processional Gear" department in the Vergers' Guild Shop online store that has a basic virge and chimere for sale. The basic vestment of a verger is a black cassock. In some places, the cassock may be of another color such as purple at many cathedral parishes. In some parishes the cassock is not worn at all. Over the cassock (also known as street clothes), when performing a ceremonial function, the verger might wear a gown. One type of gown is sleeveless and resembles a bishop's chimere; the other is cut more fully and resembles an academic gownThe virge is the staff that a verger carries in procession. The Vergers' Guild Shop online store offers a "Basic Virge" for purchase that is a great way to start out in the ministry of verger. The name comes from the Latin "virga" which simply means a rod or staff; hence, a "verger" is one who carries a staff. The virge can trace its history back to the ceremonial maces carried before civic and ecclesiastical dignitaries. The Maces of State used in the House of Lords and the House of Commons of the British Parliament are examples of another modern use of the medieval symbols. Originally used to clear the way for processions (and control unruly choristers!), its use is now principally honorific. The size, style, and shape of a virge varies from place to place; but one end typically has a cross or other Christian symbol mounted on it. A longer variation of the virge is called the "beadle" originally used to lead academic processions. For many years, the few vergers scattered around the United States associated themselves with the Church of England Guild of Vergers. Then in 1988 an informal association of American vergers numbering about twenty, began to establish a network of mutual support and fellowship. One year later in 1989, thirty-two vergers gathered in Nashville to formally establish the Vergers' Guild of the Episcopal Church on the feast of Saint Andrew. Since then, membership has continued to grow to over 1000 vergers across the country, with many having attended one of the annual conferences held by the Guild. Furthermore, diocesan chapters of the Guild have been organized in Miami, Atlanta, and Dallas, and others are in the formation stages. The Guild is an eclectic group of men and women who share a special vocation and ministry in Christ's Church. The purpose of the Vergers' Guild of the Episcopal Church, as stated in the bylaws, is:
With the advent of electronic communication, we have reduced the production of a paper newsletter. We rely on the vergers.org web site, and all of our social media outlets substantially. We also have a free email newsletter called V-Happenings which goes out periodically to everyone who signs up for that service. Please sign up for V-Happenings today! Occasionally we still produce the paper version of the Verger's Voice and the annual VGEC Year Book has a 10-page summary of the year.
Yes, there is the Church of England Guild of Vergers (also known as the CEGV).
There are also many chapters of the Guild while are listed in our Links page from the Resources section. More information on the various Guild chapters is coming soon. There are also individual vergers scattered around other Churches throughout Anglican Communion including those in Australia, Canada, Belgium, Jamaica, Ireland, New Zealand, and many other locations world wide.