Karl Bohnstedt has been the Verger at Christ Church for eight years. He was appointed to this role when we were still meeting at St Michael’s. The purpose was to relieve our Rector, Michael White, of certain duties and details as we moved back to our historic buildings.
The history of the Vergers dates back to the middle ages when the Verger was the “Protector of the Procession”. He would lead the way, making room for the procession through town streets to enter the church. At that time, churches and cathedrals often did not have pews as we use today. Parishioners would be milling about. The Verger would carry a virge (mace) which was essentially a club and would literally clear the way if necessary. The requirement to clear a way for the procession no longer exists. So, virges have become more ceremonial.
Vestments vary based on parish. At Christ Church, they consist of a black cassock, fascia (belt) and chimere (vest). Karl carries the virge on special occaisions as an optic to tell the congregation that something unique is going to happen.
A Verger is a lay minister who assists the clergy in the conduct of public worship. Duties vary based on parish. But, generally, the Verger is a “Master of Ceremonies” with much of the role being “behind the scenes”. This ministry allows the clergy to be more focused and centered in prayer, knowing that Karl is tending to the details of our worship experience. A working knowledge of the church’s liturgy and traditions is essential. Arriving up to an hour prior to the procession, Karl checks all aspects of the service and worship space. From checking the readings to working with the Altar Guild; coordinating the lectors and with Samantha McKean on acolytes. Starting with the procession, the role is more ceremonial with mastering the various movements of people and the elements we use. The successful result is the service runs smoothly.
Karl sees this ministry as his calling. Along with Sunday services, you will see him at various other services such as funerals where he will be either the Verger or some other role. Karl is relied upon in some role for most services during Holy Week and Christmas season. Karl schedules the Lay Eucharistic Ministers. He is an important part of our ministry and life together, and we are thankful for his service to us all.