Installation of Deneice Wood as Verger
On Sunday, July 31, in our 10:30 am worship, St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church will install Deneice Wood as Verger. We are excited about this new ministry that Deneice will enter. Deneice has served as St. Martin’s acolyte master for over 20 years.
What does a verger do?
St. Paul’s cathedral in Oklahoma City took care to explain what a verger does, looking back in history and at today.
A verger is a lay minister who assists clergy in the conduct of public worship. Their history begins in the Middle Ages when the verger was the “protector of the procession.” Since many medieval churches lacked pews, there was no obvious path for the procession to follow, and the mingling congregation would often bar the way. The verger would use his virge (Latin virga meaning branch, staff, or rod) or mace to prod and encourage the congregation to stand aside to allow the procession to pass. He might also use his virge to keep back animals or discipline unruly choir members. Early vergers had additional responsibilities, including care of the church buildings, furnishings, and relics, preparation for liturgy (perhaps the earliest altar guild), and grave-digging responsibilities. In smaller Anglican churches today, the responsibilities of a verger are often combined with that of the sexton. The typical vestments of a verger are a black cassock with fascia (a fringed ribbon of material placed around the torso above the navel with its end hanging from the left side), a chimere (a floor length, loose-fitting vest), and a jabot (lacy frills that decorate the front of a shirt).
~ Dr. Gil Haas (used with permission)
What we’ll see in worship is that Deneice will lead processions and accompany people within worship, always watching with an eagle eye, available to help and guide. What we won’t see is the biggest part of a verger’s job. A verger organizes the particulars of a service and keeps it running smoothly. A verger must know the details of different worship services and liturgies, plus know all the jobs of all the altar servers and be ready to fill in for a job.
The ministry of the verger is to serve the people of our church in many different ways so that we may worship our loving God. In that, we know, Deneice will use her grace and faithfulness and knowledge in new ways to the glory of God.