2017 VGEC Annual Conference
Thursday, October 12, through Sunday, October 15, 2017
The Vergers’ Guild of the Episcopal Church will convene in the Southeastern region of the United States for our 29th Annual Conference in 2017. The Right Reverend Rob Wright, the Right Reverend Keith Whitmore, and the Right Reverend Don Wimberly, Bishops of the Diocese of Atlanta, and the Mark Emory
Graham Chapter of the VGEC serve as your hosts for this once in a life time experience to “Draw the Circle Wider” by joining the largest gathering of Vergers from the United States, Canada, and the world ever assembled.
We are proud to announce that The Most Reverend Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church will join us on Friday, October 13, 2017, in service, in worship, and in conversation. He will celebrate and preach at a celebratory Holy Eucharist service. His Keynote Address will highlight the ministry of the Verger and its part to lead the Church in the Jesus Movement.
The capital of the State of Georgia, Atlanta boasts an estimated population of over 5 million people. The city rose from the ashes of the Civil War to become the cultural and economic center of Georgia During the Civil Rights Movement, the city earned a reputation as "too busy to hate" for the progressive views of its citizens and leaders. Atlanta has attained national and international prominence.
Atlanta is marked by rolling hills and dense tree coverage. The best time of year to visit this fair city is the fall. The weather is glorious! The highs are in the mid 60's to 70's with little rain. October is the best month of all!
Please visit the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau for more information about exciting Atlanta and surrounding areas: www.atlanta.net
Thursday, October 12, through Sunday, October 15, 2017
Mark Emory Graham Chapter (Diocese of Atlanta) of the Vergers’ Guild of the Episcopal Church
Conference Host Contact Information
Host Committee Chair
Host Committee Vice Chair
The Mark Emory Graham Chapter is well equipped to host the 29th Annual Conference. We have 34 active and creative Vergers on the Annual Conference Host Committee. Our chapter has been conducting meetings like the VGEC Annual Conference (albeit on a much smaller scale) twice a year for over two decades. Our goal is to provide the best experience possible for all attendees to the Atlanta Conference and hopefully greet the largest gathering of vergers ever at one time in one place!
The Executive Committee of the Host Committee pause in their deliberations for a group photo. The meeting was held in conjunction with VGEC Officers
registration begins January 2, 2017, online through the VGEC Guild Shop using
Visa, MasterCard, or American Express. Note: if you've not used our new online store (Shopify), then you'll need to create a Shopify account at checkout before you can purchase your conference registration or anything else in the Guild Shop store. Creating an account is fast, free, and easy!
Registrations made through August 31, 2017 are $225.00 per person.
Registrations made after August 31, 2017 are $275.00 per person.
Registrations must be made by Monday, October 2, 2017. All conference plans for transportation, food, and logistics must be set by that date. We cannot accept on-site registrations; they must be made online through the Guild Shop in advance.
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.) are the same for everyone. Similarly, 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 an E-Mail with a link to list your meal and other conference preferences. This may take up to 24 hours to receive, so please be patient.
Cancellations made on or before August 31, 2017, will be fully refunded. After August 31, 2017, there will be a $50 cancellation fee. After October 2, 2017, 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 – Atlanta Marriott Marquis
Atlanta Marriott Marquis
Hotel Benefits for all Vergers Attending:
Hotel Registration Process and Booking Website
Online and phone reservations will be accepted beginning on January 2, 2017.
A dedicated booking website has been created just for the VGEC Annual Conference so that you will be able to make, modify and cancel your hotel reservations online, and take advantage of any room upgrades, amenities or other services offered by the hotel.
To register on line, please click on this link.
If you wish to make your hotel reservations by telephone, please use the following dedicated Group Reservations phone numbers to make sure you can access the special block rates.
Reservations Toll Free: 1-866-469-5475
Atlanta Marriott Marquis may not be able to accept reservation inquiries on certain non-group reservation phone numbers or through their normal 800 number reservation lines.
Discounted Overnight Valet Parking (Regular price $35)
Atlanta is the primary transportation hub of the Southeastern United States via highway, railroad, and air. The Hartsfield–JacksonAtlanta International Airport is the world’s busiest. Vergers from throughout the world should be able to fly non-stop to Atlanta. Once at the airport, Vergers are encouraged to take our heavy rail system, MARTA, www.itsmarta.com, to the Marriott Marquis hotel. There is no need for Uber, Lift, taxis, limos or rental cars to get to the hotel.
The MARTA fare is only $2.50 one way. However, you must have a Breeze Card which costs an additional $2.00. Buying a Breeze Card in person is your best bet for same-day travel. This way you can start using your card immediately after purchasing it. Breeze vending machines are located at all MARTA stations. The Breeze Card is a long-term use card; is durable; allows the loading and reloading of various fares; and is meant to be kept for future use and reloading
MARTA trains are conveniently located near the baggage claim in both airport terminals. You do not even have to go outdoors, just take the escalator up to the trains. Take either the Red Line or the Gold Line. They depart every 15-20 minutes. Exit the train at the Peachtree Center stop (N-1 Station). Turn towards the direction of the train (north) and go up the escalator. After a few steps, there will be another escalator (a really long one). At the top, you are just 5 minutes (indoors) away from the Marriott. Go through the Food Court to the end, turn left and you’ll see the Marriott. When you reach the Marriott, you will be standing in front of the VGEC Registration Desk on the atrium level. Take the convenient escalator down one floor to reach the Hotel Registration Desk.
Throughout the day on Thursday, October 12 we will have Verger Guides/Ushers who will be clearly identified with the VGEC Logo stationed at strategic points at the Peachtree Center MARTA Station, at the escalators, and in the Food Court to help guide you to the Annual Conference Registration Desk.
We will also provide Guides/Ushers at the hotel and at all venues to assist attendees in finding their destinations. We will have a texting service available throughout the Conference to provide friendly reminders of when and where to get on the buses, when services and meetings begin, and whatever message we need to get to the attendees in a timely manner.
Transportation will be provided for all Registrants from the Marriott Marquis Hotel to the Cathedral of St. Philip and return for the Thursday and Sunday events. Transportation only for those requesting special transportation will be provided to and from the Marriott Marquis Hotel and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Conference transportation will not be provided for the optional Spouse/Partner/Guest Activities.
If you choose to rent a car prior to or after the Conference, rental cars are available at the Marriott Marquis Concierge Desk, at the Airport, or through the Rental Car Agency of your choice.
This information is under construction and is subject to change until October
Thursday: Catered Southern BBQ meal in Child Hall at The Cathedral of St. Philip
Friday: Hot lunch provided by Crossroads at St. Luke’s
Saturday: VGEC Reception and Banquet at Marriott Marquis
Venue – Friday, October 13, 2017
St. Luke's Episcopal Church
In the fall of 1863, while the War Between the States raged about Atlanta, Charles Quintard, a physician and priest, assembled a congregation which led to the establishment of St. Luke’s parish on Easter Monday in the year 1864. Like the Phoenix, the Christian symbol of the resurrection, the city and parish together rose from the ashes to vigorous new life. Now, more than 150 years later St. Luke’s, one-time Cathedral of the Diocese, is a thriving crossroads parish of over two thousand communicants.
Crossroads Community Ministries was born in the St. Luke’s kitchen and today includes its own kitchen and dining room, a health clinic and a mail room, and offers counseling services for the homeless.
Upon arrival at St. Luke’s until 11:30 am all Vergers will join in service projects in support of Crossroads Community Ministries for the unhoused.
Crossroads Community Ministries has the privilege of serving more than 4,000 men, women and children each year who experience homelessness on the streets of Atlanta. When faced with such crisis, access to the very basics that so many take for granted becomes a matter of dignity and even survival. The service projects are being designed in conjunction with the Executive Director of Crossroad and St. Luke’s to provide maximum impact in helping this very important ministry. Vergers will participate in a “sandwich build” producing 3000 sandwiches to be frozen and distributed to the homeless. Other Vergers will work on projects that will range from cleaning, to painting, to whatever is needed. More details on the service projects will be published in the “Vergers Voice.” Stay tuned.
We ask all Registrants to purchase and bring to Atlanta some basics that are needed each and every day by the homeless: toothbrushes, toothpaste, tissue, feminine hygiene products, bottled water, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, socks, underwear, diapers and baby wipes, clothing and shoes. These items will be presented at the altar during the church service that follows the service projects.
The Celebratory Holy Eucharist will begin at noon. Vergers will not process. There will be open seating for all Vergers and others attending the service. The service will be open to the Diocese of Atlanta and anyone else that wishes to attend. The only reserved seating will be for the Altar party, Choir, and invited homeless guests from various ministries in Atlanta. We anticipate an overflow attendance.
There will be a 100-voice choir representing the various parishes of the Diocese of Atlanta. This special choir will be led by Trey Clegg, a choir director known throughout the Episcopal Church. Be ready to hear inspiring Southern Gospel music. The Most Reverend Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church will celebrate and preach at this service.
Lunch, Keynote Address, and Bishop's Forum
Crossroads Community Ministries will serve us a late lunch. This will be the same meal that 250 homeless guests ate earlier in the day while we were performing our service projects.
Bishop Curry will give the Keynote Address. Afterwards, he has agreed to be with the Vergers to participate in the Bishop’s Forum, an informal question and answer session. Attendees are encouraged to formulate ahead of time meaningful questions for our Presiding Bishop.
After the Q&A session, Vergers are free for the remainder of the day and evening.
Venue – Thursday, October 12, 2017, and Sunday, October 15, 2017
Cathedral of St. Philip
St. Philip's is an Episcopal cathedral located on Peachtree Road in Buckhead (Atlanta) at what is popularly called "Jesus Junction." St. Philip's has become the second largest Episcopal congregation and the largest Cathedral congregation in the United States, with a membership of approximately 7,000. St. Philip's is named in honor of St. Philip the Evangelist, a deacon in the early Christian Church. The Cathedral of St. Philip is the seat of The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta.
In 1933, St. Philip's relocated to its present site. A gray wooden structure known as the Pro-Cathedral was erected and served the congregation as its house of worship while construction was begun on the cathedral. In 1962, the Cathedral was completed and dedicated. In 2004, St. Philip's engaged in a renovation of all existing structures and the addition of a large new wing and a glass atrium adjacent to the Narthex.
Buses will transport all Vergers and companions from the Marriott Marquis to The Cathedral of St. Philip. You will be greeted with the smells of genuine Southern Bar-B-Que. Several Guides/Ushers will be available throughout the evening to assist with directions. Everyone will be treated to a feast of BBQ and all the trimmings. We trust those requiring gluten free or vegetarian meals will indicate this need when registering. Diners will enjoy Bluegrass music as they line up for food.
The Cathedral Bookstore will be open the entire time we are at the Cathedral. In addition to the items you may wish to purchase for yourself or for friends, the Bookstore will have an ample supply of books written by Bishop Curry and Celebrating Liturgical Time by Bishop Alexander. You may purchase these books to be autographed by the authors later in the Conference.
Choral Evensong led by the Cathedral Schola will begin at 7:15 pm. The Homily will be preached by Bishop Keith Whitmore. Following Evensong, buses will return everyone to the Marriott Marquis.
All Vergers will vest at the Marriott Marquis before boarding the buses. Buses will transport everyone from the Marriott Marquis back to The Cathedral of St. Philip. Upon arrival, we will be formed to process into the Cathedral. We will enter during the Voluntary and sit as a group in reserved seating in the transepts. Holy Eucharist Rite Two will be celebrated by The Very Reverend Samuel G. Candler, Dean of The Cathedral of St. Philip. The Right Reverend Robert C. Wright, tenth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, will preach.
After the Liturgy, the Vergers will not process out, but rather remain in the transepts. When the Nave clears, we will gather in the Chancel for the Official Annual Conference Group Photo. The buses will return everyone to the Marriott Marquis to disrobe and check out of the hotel. Late checkout will be available for those requesting this in advance.
Venue – Saturday, October 14, 2017
Atlanta Marriott Marquis
All events for the day are scheduled for the hotel. You will not have to go outside, unless you want to. The VGEC has arranged for a quiet alcove of meeting rooms on the Atrium level for our meetings. The morning will start with Morning Prayer followed by the VGEC Annual Business Meeting. After a morning coffee break the first two workshop sessions will be conducted. Lunch will be on your own. You may eat at any of the restaurants in the hotel or walk a few steps to the food court for a variety of food options. The afternoon will feature the other four workshop sessions. After these sessions, you will be provided ample time for rest and relaxation or to meet with friends or to explore Atlanta.
Optional Spouse/Partner/Guest Activities
From 8:45 until 4:15 pm we are offering a host of activities near the hotel, but some a bit further away. The listing below under the heading Major Attractions provides details on the most popular destinations. We will provide discounted tickets for many of the venues. The Atlanta Convention and Visitor Bureau will be available at their information display in the Exhibit Hall Thursday from noon until 5:00 pm. Please stop by to gather all the information you need to decide what plans you would like to make for Saturday. Our Guides/Hosts will also be available Saturday morning to help you with last minute plans.
From 10:30 to noon the VGEC will offer two workshops. Verger 101 and Verging in Depth. Vergers are asked to attend one or the other session. Detailed descriptions of these workshops will be provided in the “Vergers Voice.” Lunch will be on your own.
The MEG Chapter will offer two exciting workshops that be of interest to all Vergers. There will be two sessions of each. The first session will be from 1:00 to 2:30 pm; the second from 2:45 to 4:15 pm. You will able to choose which you wish to attend first. The two workshops are as follows:
Lecture by The Rt. Rev. Neil Alexander, Dean Sewanee School of Theology, and the retired Ninth Bishop of the Diocese of Atlanta, on his recent book Celebrating Liturgical Time. This book is a must read for all Vergers. We recommend that you keep this in your library of reference books. Bishop Alexander has provided an excellent study of the fundamental shape of the liturgical year and offers the reader an insight into the spirituality of the liturgical calendar.
Discussion led by the Dean of the Cathedral of St. Philip, the Very Reverend Samuel Candler, member of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music of the Episcopal Church. Vergers will offer their views on the revision of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and The Hymnal 1982. The Very Rev. Candler will pass along your suggestions and comments to the Standing Commission.
Reception and Banquet
The Verger Reception will start at 6:00 pm in the lower lobby. Along with adult refreshments, you will have an opportunity to meet and greet the Bishops of Atlanta and other notables from our Diocese. This will be a wonderful social opportunity to become better acquainted with your fellow Vergers.
At 7:00 pm the doors to the banquet hall will open, inviting you to take a seat for a wonderful feast and the program that follows. The theme for our banquet will be “Hollywood of the South” and the preferred dress is “Hollywood Glam.”
Centennial Olympic Park
Centennial Olympic Park
The park is surrounded by many major Atlanta Landmarks: the Georgia World Congress Center, GeorgiaDome, College Football Hall of Fame, PhilipsArena and the CNN Center are all on the west side of the park and the GeorgiaAquarium, National Center for Civiland Human Rights, and the World of Coca-Cola on the north side of the park.
A key feature of the park is the Fountain of Rings, an interactive fountain which features computer-controlled lights and jets of water synchronized with music played from speakers in light towers surrounding it. Another feature is SkyViewAtlanta, a 200-foot Ferris Wheel. You may also take a Segway Tour of the Park and Downtown.
Centennial Olympic Park is a 14-minute walk (0.6 mile) down Baker Street west of the hotel. You may take the Atlanta Streetcar for $1.00; it has a stop at the Park, very close to the Ferris Wheel.
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site
Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site
The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site (US National Park) consists of several buildings including Martin Luther King, Jr.'s boyhood home and the original Ebenezer Baptist Church, the church where King was baptized and both his father Martin Luther King, Sr., and he were pastors. These places, critical to the interpretation of the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., and his legacy as a leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, were included in the National Historic Site when it was established on October 10, 1980.
The National Historic Site may be reached by taking the Atlanta Streetcar for $1.00
Each year, the VGEC provides up to 15 scholarships to cover $175 of the registration expense. The Mark Emory Graham (our Chapter namesake) 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.
Scott Smith, 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 $175 of the registration fee but not transportation, lodging, or additional food or other expenses.
Please contact [email protected] if you have questions about the scholarship or the application process.
Hope to see y’all in ATLANTA in 2017!
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