FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is a verger?
A verger is a person within the Church who assists the clergy in the conduct of public worship. A verger serves the church in a ministry of welcome and organization. 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, 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 section, Verger on Wikipedia.
I am thinking about starting a verger ministry in your parish. see New to the Ministry of a Verger.
Where did vergers originate?
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 section.
Are there really vergers today?
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 most 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, administer the Sacraments, and tnd to the pastoral concerns of their congregation. 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 section.
What do VGEC and CEVG stand for?
VGEC stands for the Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church and CEGV stand for the Church of England Guild of Vergers. Note that VGEC and CEGV are the same sequence of letters reversed.
What do vergers wear?
There is no set Verger regalia. It varies from congregation to congregation. The Verger in consultation with their Rector, Vicar, or Priest-in-Charge determine what regalia is appropriate for the liturgical style of their congregation. The basic vestment of a verger is a black cassock with a gray or black chimere. While a black cassock is the norm in most congregations, there are vergers that wear other colors. Purple cassocks are reserved for use in Cathedrals and Bishops' staff. Some vergers opt to wear a surplice and tippet in lieu of a chimere. Still other vergers do not vest.
Vergers bonnets, ruffs, and preaching tabs were commonly worn by European Vergers, but has gradually grown out of fashion in the USA.
What is a virge?
The virge is the staff that a verger carries in procession. The Vergers Guild Shop online store offers a "Basic Virge" and a "Fellow Virge" for those who have completed the VGEC Vergers Training Course. The purchase of a virge 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, its use today 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.
What is the Verger's Guild of the Episcopal Church?
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. 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 exponentially across the country. A number of the dioceses have formed diocesan chapters of the Guild with the concurrence of their bishop. More information about chapters of the guild can be found on the Chapters page of this website. See the Chapters section to see if there is a chapter in your diocese or to find information about forming a chapter in your diocese. The Guild is an eclectic group of men and women who share a special calling and ministry in Christ's Church.
What is the purpose of the Guild?
The purpose of the Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church, as stated in the bylaws, is:
To encourage, through the fellowship and work of the Guild, the sharing of ideas, skills, and pertinent information among the members;
To promote communication between members of the Guild at all levels as a way of maintaining the pastoral, administrative, and liturgical traditions of the office of verger in the Episcopal Church;
To provide mutual assistance by advice and counsel with on-the-job problems experienced by members of the Guild;
To organize and promote courses of training in the office of verger;
To foster a relationship between the clergy and vergers;
To be open to the needs and concerns of the laity.
What is the cost to join the Guild?
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 vergers retired from serving is $20 per year, and lifetime memberships are offered for a one time payment $500. All memberships are available for purchase Membership Management System. Memberships are open to all interested people both lay and ordained. See Become a Member for more information.
How do I join the Guild?
What is the official Guild Verger's Training Course?
The official training course for the Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church is the "Course of Training for a Verger." See the Training section for more information and to purchase the training course. The training course can also be purchased through the Guild Shop ,or for guild members, through Member Management System.
When and where is the next scheduled Guild annual conference?
See Annual Conferences for information about the next VGEC Annual Conference.
How do Vergers across the country stay in touch.
In the day and age of electronic communication, we have eliminated the production of a paper newsletter. We rely heavily on Facebook to stay in touch. Be sure to "Like" us today and join over 2,400 other verger friendly people online. We also feature Conference and Training videos on YouTube/VergerTV.
Are there other Guilds other than the Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church?
Where can I get more information?
Please contact us for more information!