On the Verge: Our New Verger Ministry

by Carolyn Baker

A verger is a lay minister who assists the clergy with worship, especially organizing processions. Historically, dating back to the Middle Ages, the verger led the procession from the town square to the church. He would use his virge (mace) to literally clear the way of obstacles, when needed, so the procession could proceed.

We are blessed at St John the Divine with beautiful worship services that require the participation of a great number of our members. There are many details to attend to before and during each service. The clergy need to be available to listen to pastoral needs and prepare their hearts and minds for worship. The verger will relieve them of the need to deal with various questions and concerns about the service. Some have described the verger as a liturgical stage manager.

They will also be a valuable part of our hospitality ministry. Often newcomers will approach someone in a vestment with questions. They will stand out in their black cassock and grey chimere ready to assist and answer questions.

We will begin utilizing our verger ministry Sunday, September 11, in both church services. There will be one verger assigned to each church service. We have eight recently trained vergers who have volunteered to serve in this ministry. The verger team will be commissioned on September 25 in the church at 9:00 a.m. and will be presented at the 11:15 a.m. service.

Chimere: A long sleeveless gown of silk or satin, open down the front, gathered in at the back between the shoulders, with slits for the arms.

Header photo by the Rev. Greg Buffone, used with permission

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