Mark Emory Graham (1996)
The Vergers' Guild of the Episcopal Church (VGEC) was founded in 1989 at St. George's Episcopal Church in Nashville, Tennessee. On January 11, 1992 the 8th Bishop of Atlanta, Frank K. Allan called the vergers of Atlanta together to form a Chapter of Vergers affiliated with the VGEC, which would become the second local chapter of the national guild.
On May 22, 1992 St. Bartholomew's - Atlanta hosted a Service where newly elected Chapter Officers were installed. The first officers of our chapter were:
Chapter Director - Pete Withers - Holy Trinity - Decatur
Assistant for Education - Mark Stevens - St. Bartholomew's - Atlanta
Assistant for Communications - Les Pounds - All Saints' - Atlanta
Secretary-Treasurer - Shirley Banks - All Saints' - Atlanta
In 1996 the Chapter was formally named the "Mark Emory Graham Chapter." Graham, a verger at All Saints' Episcopal Church in midtown Atlanta, was a founding member of the VGEC and served as its Treasurer until his untimely death. He was instrumental in promoting vergers in the diocese and in the founding the local chapter. Graham was the principal author of the first Verger Training Manual offered by VGEC.
On May 27, 2004 the 9th Bishop of Atlanta, J. Neil Alexander, designated the Mark Emory Graham Chapter as an auxiliary of the Diocese of Atlanta, serving its people in the ancient and honorary function of verger in its liturgies, worship, and ceremonial occasions, and thereby entitled to all rights, privileges, and responsibilities thereunto appertaining.
The Mark Emory Graham Chapter has continued to grow to become the largest and the most active chapter in the VGEC.
There are over 235 active vergers serving in 56 parishes in the Diocese of Atlanta. The MEG Chapter is one of the largest in the VGEC; over 70 of our vergers are paid members. We believe we are among the most active chapters, providing resources and support to the parishes in middle and north Georgia.
Our bylaws include a Mission Statement which is: "The mission of the Chapter is to promote and support vergers in their ministries throughout the parishes in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. The Chapter will create an atmosphere of fellowship to provide opportunities to welcome and assist any verger within the Diocese. The Chapter will be a resource for the exchange of information vital to vergers in performing their duties as well as training when requested. The Chapter will also maintain a close and enduring connection with the National Vergers' Guild of the Episcopal Church."
The MEG Chapter conducts two Diocesan wide meetings annually. The business meeting is conducted at our Summer Assembly Meeting in June. We have a mid term Winter Assembly Meeting in January. One of our Bishops attends every Assembly meeting. The meetings are hosted by local parishes and are rotated among the vast geography of middle and north Georgia so that every verger in the Diocese has an opportunity to attend a meeting reasonably close to their home. The Board of Directors establishes a theme for each meeting and seeks speakers to further this theme.
The vergers of the MEC Chapter are active participants in the life of the Diocese. At the Annual Diocesan Council, vergers serve as tellers during the business meeting, lead the worship service and perform other duties as directed by the Bishop and staff. Vergers also serve as hosts for several Diocesan meetings whenever called upon by the Office of the Bishop. Recently we served the Hearts to Serve Outreach Conference and served as vergers and ushers at the Annual Holy Week Renewal of Ordination Vows lead by Bishop Wright. The MEG Chapter teams with the Diocesan Liturgical Commission to host the Bi-Annual Acolyte Festival.
A major activity is helping individual parishes to establish active and capable teams of vergers, devoted to assisting the clergy by relieving them of tasks which interfere with their pastoral role. There is no one scenario which can apply to all parishes, or to the particular styles of ministers, so an individual program of training has to be established for each parish concerned. The Training Chair coordinates with other vergers to provide effective training when requested by a parish.
All vergers in middle and north Georgia are encouraged to become Chapter Members and actively partipate in all functions of the chapter.