St Peter's Verger
Even though the history of verging and vergers goes back over 700 years ago, today's vergers are laypersons who serve the church in a ministry of welcome. Often the visitor will see the verger in a simple cassock moving about the church preparing for worship. The verger is able to respond to any inquiry concerning the upcoming service, church facilities or current program offerings.
Each Verger is at the forefront of the Church’s ministry of hospitality, welcome, care (of people, buildings and sacred things) and outreach in one form or another.
The verger's logistical support allows the priest more time for pastoral and sacramental responsibilities.
The precise duties of the verger will be specific to each parish church and at St Peter's we were fortunate to have Judy Holden who was Verger for over 15 years.
I took up the post of verger at St Peter’s Church in January 2004 following my retirement as a Senior Lecturer in Nursing at the University of Manchester. During the preceding year, in preparation for retirement, I had conversations with Revd. Michael Robinson about how I could increase my involvement in church activities. At that time I had been a member of the Flower Guild, a sidesperson and leader of the Church Women’s Fellowship. As Eric Booth wished to relinquish his role as Verger, this seemed to be an ideal opening for me, one which I have never regretted. Being an active participant in church activities is an important means of demonstrating my faith.
So, what does it mean to be a Verger? The Oxford English Dictionary defines a Verger as:
i) an official in a church who acts as a caretaker and attendant, and
j) an officer who carries a rod in front of a bishop or dean as a symbol of office.
In practice, the caretaker aspect of the role means that I arrive at church at least an hour before the first service on Sunday to open church and St Peter’s House. So, I work my way around unlocking doors, switching on lights and the sound system and getting out articles needed for each service, e.g. service order sheets, books and communion silver, choir cross and wardens, staves. I reverse the process at the end of the service and end of the day. Caretaking also involves the laundering of altar linens and cleaning of silverware.
In addition, I complete the registers for baptisms, weddings, funerals and all other services. I am in attendance at all Sunday services and for baptisms, weddings, funerals and interment of ashes whenever they occur. Being in attendance means that I am part of the welcoming team, including clergy, wardens, sidespersons and welcomers who provide a helpful service to everyone who enters church. This is of particular importance for the people who come to St Peter’s for the first time and for those for whom it may be a once only visit, for a baptism, wedding or funeral.
The past nine years as verger have flown by and I hope to serve for many more years - though not the 50 years served by Mr Coombs!! I have always felt comfortable and at peace in the church and feel the presence of God guiding me through my everyday life and am thankful that the opportunity to serve was given to me.
Our current Verger is Alice Brown.
You will see Alice at most Sunday services wearing a black robe and welcoming you as you arrive or sitting at the back of church during the services. If you have any questions when you are in church please just 'Ask Alice' she will be happy to help. During the rest of the week you can contact Alice via St Peter's Parish Office by clicking here