This is a list of FAQs for the Vergers 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 CEGV 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.
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 gown.
The 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 1400 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 cost to join the Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church as a regular member is $40.00 per year or $200 per year for a parish group of vergers. The rate for students or retired vergers is $20 per year, and lifetime memberships are offered for a one time payment $500. All memberships are available for purchase at the Guild Shop Online Store. Memberships are open to all interested people both lay and ordained. See Become a Member for more information.
The easiest way to become a member of the Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church to purchase a membership online. You can also use less new-fangled methods of joining by seeing the Become a Member section.
The official training course for the Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church is the "Course of Training as a Verger." See the Training section for more information and visit the Guild Shop Online Store training department for training purchasing options.
See Annual Conferences for information about the next VGEC Annual Conference.
With the advent of electronic communication, we have eliminated the production of a paper newsletter and now have a blog called the Vergers Voice which you can sign up for free (all members of the VGEC are automatically signed up). We also rely on the vergers.org web site, and all of our social media outlets like Face Book. Be sure to "Like" us today and join over 1,500 other verger friendly people online.
Yes! There is the Church of England Guild of Vergers (also known as the CEGV). There are also many VGEC Chapters around the country which are organized by geographical region around Dioceses and Parishes. For more information, click HERE.