Photo and article courtesy of  William O’Connell, Verger at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Owego. 

A Verger is a layperson that serves the Church in a ministry of organization, service and welcome. It is a position that is unique to the Anglican Communion and originated in medieval England. Evidence from Rochester, Lincoln, Exeter, and Salisbury Cathedrals indicates the existence of vergers as far back as the 12th century.

A Verger works under the direction of their Rector, Vicar or Priest-in-charge. Every church is unique and so is the role of a Verger in that parish. In Cathedrals or very large parishes, the Sacristan sometimes fulfills the Verger’s duties.

Some of those duties can include managing the Acolytes, Lay Minister and Readers and coordinating with the Altar Guild and Choir director or Organist. One of the most important tasks is managing of what was called “Sunday morning dynamics” (is the right color on the altar, are the Lay Ministers, readers and acolytes here or coming, are the books set properly, is the hymn board right, the doors unlocked and the sound system on, etc.) and helping out when things don’t go quite to plan. Sometimes, the Verger is called upon by their priest to help plan special services, write bulletins or customaries and guidelines. They are there to help the priest with many of the everyday and mundane things that keep a parish running smoothly. At special services, they also guide processions and visitors.
For more information, please visit

Chances are you have someone in your parish now that is fulfilling many of the duties of a Verger and may not even realize it. If so, the following information may help you.

The Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church is a non-profit group dedicated to the training and equipping Vergers to be active and useful in their churches. They have prepared a comprehensive training program for prospective Vergers in today’s churches which they make available for $65.00 and requires Clergy approval to register. It is available at

If you are interested in becoming a Verger, talk to your Clergy. If you want to learn more about the Guild or the details of what a Verger can do for your parish, please contact me at (607) 761-4764 or email at

  • Meredith Kadet Sanderson

    Bill, thank you for this informative article! Such a pleasure to learn more about this ministry and how people can be equipped for it.

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