The Mark Emory Graham Chapter of the Vergers’ Guild of the Episcopal Church met for its Winter Assembly during a beautiful winter day on February 24, 2018, in Milton, Georgia. We were hosted by St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church and we were treated to scrumptious breakfast burritos, donuts, juice and coffee. We were afforded an opportunity to visit with old friends and make new friends. Thirty-seven vergers, clergy, and guests participated in the gathering. Four vergers joined the MEG Chapter for the first time by paying Chapter dues.
We gathered for Eucharist with The Reverend Reginald Simmons, Rector of St. Aidan’s, both Celebrating and Preaching. Charles Higgs, Director of Music Ministries, led the St. Aidan’s choir with inspiring hymns and music.
The service was held on the Feast Day of St. Matthias the Apostle. Fr. Reggie Simmons delivered a topical sermon centered about the notion that Vergers are called by Christ to lead the people of the Church. His inspired proclamation of the Good News in Christ was very well received by those in attendance and entreated the MEG Vergers to consider their ministry as indeed a Christian Vocation, a calling.
Information and Fellowship:
After our group photo was taken, the Vergers removed their vestments and returned to the Nave for the Keynote address titled “The Future of the Episcopal Church” given by The Rev. Canon Lang Lowrey, Canon for Christian Enterprises, Diocese of Atlanta. He delivered some sobering data about the decline in Episcopal Church USA membership. The bad news: we can't blame this on the Anglican Church in North America (only 5,200 members) or our politics. The good news: we can't blame our liturgy! The decline seems to be caused by conflict between rectors and congregants: rectors and vestries, and intra-congregational conflicts. The path to growth seems to be clear – evangelize, diversify, and commit to a Christian notion of radical hospitality.
The Cathedral Bookstore, thanks to Kerith Lee, made available a wide selection of reference materials and books to aid Vergers in their ministry. Sales were brisk; clearly our members value continued learning to become better Vergers.
We continued our fellowship with lunch. Vergers were asked to bring their verges to display to the attendees.
Continuing Ed and Service Project:
Continuing our tradition of supporting a local ministry Vergers brought in baskets full of backpack supplies to support the Backpacks of Love Ministry supported by St. Aidan’s. In addition, the offertory was designated for them too. Mr. John Ray addressed the Vergers about this ministry. The ministry is an effort to alleviate food shortage on a local basis. Referrals for this program come from social workers in the area. An ecumenical network of volunteers springs into action to provide backpacks filled with groceries. John's real message: This stuff isn't rocket science. Just get started, see a need, and fulfill that need!
Business of the Chapter:
The remarkably short business meeting was called to order by Chair, Phillip Knight. The opening prayer was “The Vergers Prayer” led by Martha-Sue Blythe. Financial and Committee reports were presented and by MEG Chapter Board members. The Chair reminded everyone of upcoming events including the Renewal of Vows Service and Annual Conference Tellers. Also, Grace Episcopal Church in Gainesville will host our Summer Assembly 2018. Our Assembly adjourned early with a closing prayer led by Kay AnderSon. For a provisional copy of the Assembly Minutes, click here.