Acolytes & Vergers

"Everything we do at St. Paul's is about worship." 
The Catechism of the Book of Common Prayer teaches that the ministers of the Church are "lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons," which means that the ministries of the church are not just carried out by ordained clergy (bishops, priests, and deacons), but also by lay persons, that is to say, the baptized who are not ordained, which is the majority of the Church's membership.
The Catechism goes on to enumerate the ministries of the laity like this:
  1. to represent Christ and his Church
  2. to bear witness to him wherever they may be and,
  3. according to the gifts given them, to carry on Christ's work of reconciliation in the world
  4. and to take their place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church.
All baptized Christians are charged with "being Christ in the world," as someone once put it. And this means not just believing certain things, or saying certain things, but living lives that signify Christ's reconciling work, bringing all things in submission to the Kingdom of God. On the surface, it might not look like this has much to do with our Sunday worship. But John the Evangelist has a vision of the end of time, when the Kingdom of God is made perfect on earth. In his vision, all the citizens of heaven and earth are engaged in one activity: worship. At St. Paul's, as in most Episcopal churches, everything we do works to foster the worship of our congregation and even the whole earth in a way that looks forward to that fulfillment that John saw.

What are Acolytes and Vergers? 

Acolytes are those members of our church who have prayerfully dedicated themselves to facilitating and participating in the worship of the Church. They do so by carrying the cross in our processions, visibly symbolizing the work of all Christians to take up their cross and follow Jesus. Acolytes also carry torches, visibly symbolizing the work of all Christians to let the light of Christ shine publicly in their lives. And they carry the Gospel, again representing the calling of Jesus' followers to teach and preach in his name. Finally, acolytes assist at the altar, helping the priest and deacon in the mass, the sacrificial offering of the Church that makes Jesus' sacrifice really present in our time and place. 
Vergers, like Acolytes, have dedicated themselves to the worship of the Church. They are those individuals who have taken responsibility of the various processions that are central to our sacramental worship. Vergers assist the priest and deacon of a parish by helping ensure that processions run smoothly, that unexpected occurrences that would otherwise distract the clergy are attended to. Significantly, vergers also assist by filling in gaps that are unique to their parishes. Amongst parishes that have vergers, no two have identical job descriptions!   
If you are interested in learning more about the ministries of Vergers and Acolytes, please reach out to one of our Vergers.