The Church of England Guild of Vergers offers support to vergers in concrete and very practical ways. Many have spoken to me of how it feeds them spiritually, through its rootedness in Church tradition, fellowship and faith. To support the training of vergers, the Guild offers its own diploma embarked upon alongside responsible jobs. Vergers have a reputation for being the ultimate multi-taskers. Typically, they like to be busy. Nothing could have prepared vergers for the sudden halt to work at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic: the slow and cautious return to normality for some and the painful realisation that roles and jobs will disappear.
It is in times of crisis and tragedy that the friendships forged in the Guild come into their own. It is really important that each of us welcomes newcomers and reaches out to those in need. Using the Guild list of Prayer Intentions, there will be many people praying for you. It is all the more important now that you let your Branch or the Welfare Officer know of the prayers that are most needed and for whom.
Christian faith is central to the life of the Guild. A usual requirement of being a verger is to be a communicant member of the Church of England and a person of faith. Why? A familiar passage from Matthew’s Gospel comes to mind as one illuminating the verger’s witness: ‘’…Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.’’ (Matthew 5 v. 16)
On first reading, it is as if the argument between faith and works, instigated by the Protestant Reformation, settled permanently on works. Do vergers have a sure ticket to heaven? Well, there are a good many angels among you but a characteristic of vergers is humility. I doubt if there are any who would insist on it. Importantly, these words mean that obedient to our Lord, the light of Christ will shine in you and so will cause others to see that light too and want to glorify God. That light will shine in adversity as well as in times of plenty.
In your own quiet way, full and part-time, paid, voluntary and in interregnum, you are by your steadfast love, care and service giving glory to God. Honouring your unique ministry, I would like to add my voice to the many among you who will wish to welcome the newly appointed Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell as he takes his place alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury, as Joint President of the Guild.
The Rev’d Mthr Rosemary Durward, SMMS