“I had heard for years about the tremendous community outreach work being done at Calvary,” Chris recalls. “This was at the end of the tenure of former rector, Doug Bailey, and it was easy to see that a big transition was underway. But I knew that the heart and soul of this caring and nurturing church would remain.” Chris, who loves the worship traditions of the Episcopal Church, gradually found his calling as a Eucharistic minister and as a verger.
Chris finds that few at Calvary are aware of the role of the verger. He likens it to a combination of go-fer (as in go-fer more wine, we are running out) and sergeant-at-arms. For those who remember the 1970s TV program Fantasy Island, Chris points to the character Tattoo.
“Like Tattoo, it’s a verger’s responsibility to make sure the program, or service, goes off without a hitch (no pun intended). Vergers marshal the troops (Eucharistic ministers) before every service, direct them about their role and where to stand, and ensure that each part of the service flows as smoothly as possible. I might fetch a glass of water for a parched preacher, or read a lesson if needed. It’s exciting work, and I have to be ready to anticipate, recognize, and fix any situation that might arise during the service. At the beginning of each service I’ll instruct the usher to ring the bell, sort of like Tattoo’s famous phrase that started each episode of Fantasy Island: “Boss – zee plane, zee plane!”
Nicky is currently serving on the vestry, where she helps to oversee Calvary’s ministries including outreach and pastoral care. She helps out with the annual giving campaign as well. During her years at Calvary, she has been active in pastoral care, at one time serving as a liaison between the ministries and the vestry, and for ten years co-facilitating the Grief Support Group at Calvary. She was instrumental in creating the 2011 Parish Profile, and over the years has enjoyed Foyers groups as a terrific way to get to know Calvary parishioners and to introduce Chris.
“Calvary never stops surprising me,” says Nicky, pointing to the recent congregation-wide reading of the Bible, and enthusiasm around ministries such as Thistle Farms and Room in the Inn. “No matter what is going on in my life, I can always find people at Calvary generous with their wisdom, understanding, nurturing, and love.”
Adds Chris: “The community that is Calvary Episcopal Church is made up of one remarkable person after another, and we all weave our diverse talents and histories into one strong tapestry that can withstand any challenge. Every imaginable background is represented at Calvary. So many of our fellow parishioners are here because of losses of faith – whether with their former churches, religions, spouses, family members, or themselves, and I like to think of Calvary as a home for refugees of sorts. It’s a welcoming and healing place where love is generously shared and with no strings attached, no judgments passed.”
Their profile would not be complete without mentioning their 12-year-old daughter Maddie, who has spent her entire life at Calvary, where she sings in the Boys and Girls Choir and participates in Episcopal Youth Community activities. Nicky points out that four generations of her mother’s family were organists and choirmasters, a tradition that seemed to end after her mother, Sylvia Schively Robertshaw, was organist at St. James Episcopal Church in Greenville, Mississippi. So Nicky has found it particularly gratifying to watch daughter Maddie fall in love with choral music under the tutelage of Calvary Organist-Choirmaster Kristin Lensch.
Outside of Calvary, Chris finds a lot of satisfaction helping friends learn about the value of Subaru automobiles. “One of my goals in this position has been to broaden and refine my sales skills, and teaching about the outstanding quality and safety of Subarus gives me a lot of fulfillment,” he says. When not at work, Chris enjoys cycling and canoeing. Nicky, a longtime journalist and former restaurant critic who changed careers a few years ago, is grants manager for the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, an institution which, like Calvary, makes Memphis a great place to live. She enjoys gardening and reading.
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