By Paul Davison
St. Christopher’s – Perry
Former Training Officer of the MEG Chapter
The Rev. Scott Petersen, rector of All Saints’ Church in the nearby city of Warner Robins, asked me to verge at his installation of January 8, as they had never had a verger in recent memory (if ever). I was very happy to serve, but there were some challenges. Although I had served at my own rector’s installation last year, now I would serve at a church that was unfamiliar in front of parishioners who neither knew me personally nor the ministry of the verger. (Introducing the ministry of the Verger was a reason Fr. Petersen asked me to serve and for my acceptance.)
I asked him to provide me a copy of the service ahead of time and to set up a meeting at the church so I could see it for the first time and that we could walk through the service. Although there were no problems with the service itself, there were some “technical details” which hadn’t been considered. For example, the rector is given symbols of his ministry. What does he do with them? (Answer: he gives them to the Verger, who puts them on the altar.) In any service, details like that are part of the Verger’s skill set and when you aren’t as familiar with the place or people, working through them ahead of time is vital. Having experience with doing an installation service with Bishop Wright didn’t hurt. For example, it is his practice that the new rector, not him, be the Celebrant.
On the day, everything flowed well. (Anything that didn’t was discreetly covered over, in the best Verger style.) The service was well-attended, with guests including most of the clergy of the Macon Convocation, the mayor of Warner Robins, the base commander and head chaplain at Robins AFB, and other local clergy. I led several processions, including escorting a lector to the lectern and leading the offertory procession. I found a way to work incorporate one of All Saints’ Ushers, who has the potential to become a Verger (fingers crossed). The service was very moving and well-received and Fr. Petersen told me afterwards that having a Verger available was a great benefit. Bishop Wright seemed pleased to have a Verger available, especially when he could hand me his gift from the parish—a large wrapped bottle!
I hope that this introduction to the ministry of the Verger will encourage at least one member of All Saints’ to see a call to become a verger. I advised Fr. Petersen that the Chapter would be very happy to help with any training he required.