A verging success

December 01, 2015
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Shug Goodlow, Verger at Christ Church Cathedral, was about to attend the Vergers’ Guild of the Episcopal Church conference in Nashville, and had an idea. “We have so much to offer here, why not St. Louis as a conference location?” She considered it prayerfully; she talked with partner Doris about the big time commitment it would involve. With her support, and the additional support of cathedral Dean Mike Kinman and Vicar Amy Chambers Cortright, she worked up the presentation and took it to Tennessee to the assembly of the board of the Vergers’ Guild. She was up against four other locations, but she walked out of that meeting with the board’s vote of approval.

And then, the more than 2 years of preparation began! 

It culminated with the early October gathering of over 160 vergers held at the cathedral and the Union Station hotel. 

Shug is a natural organizer. “Being the oldest of 9 children was good training for having to coordinate a lot of different personalities,” she said. For Shug, it was a joyful endeavor, “It helps when you love what you are doing.”

Union Station was a great venue, and helped execute all Shug’s ideas, including a stunning hoop skirt for a woman handing out glasses of champagne at one of the receptions. “I’m a thinking outside of the box kind of person,” she added. The skirt full of glasses started out as almost a joke, but ended up a wonderful conversation piece, certainly unique in the annals of verger gatherings.

But there was much serious business as well, and many sessions on the intersection of verging with church topics. Cathedral members and clergy offered many topics, and more than a few vergers commented it was the most diversified program at a conference. Several late registrations as vergers far and wide began to learn of the depth of this gathering.

And, who would come up with having an Improv troupe at a vergers’ gathering...who would pair a gospel choir with Fredbird and a fried chicken dinner? 

“The cathedral family really came together to support this conference,” and Shug also gave kudos to Holy Cross Verger Mike Malone from Poplar Bluff, who helped with the organizing while working on his Ph.D. “Ed Mehler was always there, too.” Hesitant to single out some without giving credit to all, Shug did say she could not have done any of this without the generosity and graciousness of Doris for giving up so much time, so many all-nighters.
As they rounded the corner, the final procession of those vested vergers out from Sunday’s Eucharist at Christ Church Cathedral, Shug burst into tears. All that energy, all that gratitude.

Image of Verger Shug Goodlow leading in the Sunday procession which included those 160+ vested vergers at Christ Church Cathedral. This image and many more stunning shots, including the skirt of champagne glasses and the verger procession snaking around the block, as well as more detailed text accounts of the conference are

From the November 2015 edition of Seek: Voices of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri

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