Worship

The Vergers

A Verger is a full-time staff member of Saint Thomas Church who assists the clergy and lay ministers in the conduct of worship. A verger's main ceremonial duty is to join liturgical processions as they move about the church. Yet, vergers play a very prominent role in several ways "behind the scenes.” They help in parish administration, in planning the logistical details of services, in coordinating Sextons and Security, and in discreetly shepherding the Clergy through our liturgies. A verger does not typically take any speaking part in the service itself. The verger wears a gown and carries a virge (their staff of office).

The office of verger has its roots in the early days of the Church of England's history. The Order shares certain similarities with the former Minor Orders of Porter and Acolyte. Historically Vergers were responsible for the order and upkeep of the house of worship, including the care of the church buildings, its furnishings, and sacred relics, preparations for liturgy, conduct of the laity, and grave-digging responsibilities. Although there is no definitive historical examination of the office of verger, evidence from Rochester, Lincoln, Exeter, and Salisbury Cathedrals points to the existence of Vergers even in the twelfth century.

The office's title comes from the ceremonial rod which a verger carries, a virge (from the Latin virga, "branch, staff, rod”). The Maces of State used in the House of Lords and the House of Commons of the British Parliament are examples of another modern use of the medieval virge. In former times, a verger might have needed to use his virge to keep back animals or an overenthusiastic crowd from the personage he was escorting, or even to discipline unruly choristers.

Our Verger Department includes Aaron Koch, Head Verger, and Ben Williams, Verger.

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