This Monday, I have an interview on the local news station to talk about Tribal Church and the recent televangelist scandals.

So, what would you say? Any profound thoughts on the latest religiose dramas? The probe?

And, what would you wear? Would you don a clergy shirt? I’m Presbyterian. I usually wear my collar on two occasions: for worship services (including funerals and weddings, of course) and for protesting. Sounds strange as I write…but there it is. Should I add a third occasion to the list?

For you pastors, do you wear one? Why do wear it? When do you wear it? Is there an underlying theological meaning to your collar-wearing or non-collar-wearing practices? And for those of you who aren’t ministers, what do you think of our clerical garb?

photo’s by mark stuckert and entitled “2000 Years of Progress”

9 thoughts on “WWYD?

  1. Never have and probably never will, but then most clergy around here, unless they’re catholic never seem to wear them.

    Part of my reason is the whole ‘priesthood of all believers’ thing; it really sets one apart from the rest of the clan if you wear it.

    On Sundays, unless its communion or baptism or a holiday of sorts, I don’t wear a robe or a stole either.

    Another related question is what do your parishioners call you? By your first name? “Pastor,” “Rev.?” What do you encourage or discourage? Perhaps that’s another blog post for you.

  2. My reason for starting to wear a collar was a practical one; theology didn’t have much to do with it.

    I was officiating an outdoor wedding in July, and it was going to be hot, REALLY hot. The thought of putting on the black robe was enough to make me tell the couple they weren’t meant for each other. However, showing up in a suit and tie seemed too “civil ceremony.” Now I wear the collar for weddings and funerals. The last protest I went to was in my own house, and I still didn’t get what I wanted on the pizza. I don’t think a collar would have helped.

    I could see it going either way for your interview. It’s not fair, but for some it might automatically add credibility; for others, it might take some away.

    Either way, give ’em Hell.

  3. I wear collars for funerals and protests and middle of the night run to the hospitals. It basically just makes the process of identifying me easier, and smooths out all those authority issues. I wish I had worn collars more often when I was really young. It just would have shut down a lot of the “you’re too young” and “are you the pastor’s wife?” questions–or at least reduced them a bit, I think. I think you’re fine to wear one into an interview for that reason–it makes your vocation clear. It’s something like a police officer wearing his uniform to an interview–is he expecting to do a traffic stop on the way? not any more than you’re thinking there might be an emergency communion service–in both cases the “uniform” forces people to look at you within the context of what you do. And if you don’t look like what they expect, well, that can be fun, too.

    I see the priesthood of all believers thing, but what is has come down to for me is this: wearing a collar/robe is an outward wearing of my Christianity, of my specific vocational and personal commitment to it. It opens up questions and comments (hostile and friendly) that it would not otherwise open up. And to me that is scary. I remember going places after church when I worked at a church that did the collar every sunday thing, and being aware that people responded to me differently, but you know what? that’s part of the deal, I think.

    I guess I realize that some people think it’s making you look like a better Christian, more of a Christian, but I have not felt that way (I don’t think the Judge is a better American than me because he is wearing a robe–I just think that this is his particular job at this time.)

    Good luck on the interview.

  4. Jim,

    People call me Carol. There are a whole lot of PhD types in our congregation, and no one goes by Doctor. The MDs don’t either. It’s pretty intentional, because of our D.C. culture. No introduction goes by in this town without a full resume attached. We want to be a place where you don’t have to have an impressive work and educational history to feel valued. So, we start with nixing our titles.

    The downside to this approach is that I don’t always know what people do for a living, and I’m just finding out a lot of this stuff now–two years into the pastorate. So, I often find myself saying, “Really? She does that??” when I really ought to know.

    The kids call me “Pastor Carol.”

    What are you called?


    Your comment reminds me of a class at our seminary where students had to wear their collars for a month, and never take them off. It was so that students could get used to their pastoral identity. It was a very meaningful experience for a lot of them.

  5. I wear my collar for weddings, funerals, and (usually) Sunday worship. Some Lutherans were them all the time, others not at all. There are a lot of pieties out there. I might wear a collar for an interview. Although now that I think about it, I didn’t wear my collar when I was on local TV for about 30 seconds. (I was interviewed re: the death of John Paul II) (what do protestants think?)

    What would I say? “I’m not them.” To me, the whole spending thing is a stewardship issue. But Wyld just reminded me that a lot of people don’t know what “stewardship” means. Is a Rolls Royce really the best use of the funds that God and other people have entrusted you with?

  6. I have always viewed my robe as an academic gown – the symbol of one educated in the preaching of the Word – but not a priestly garment because in our tradition there is the “equality” of pastors and the people of God – taking the priesthood of all believers very serously. As a result while comfortable wearing a robe in worship I am just as comfortable with a suit or casual attire. All of which leads to why I don’t wear the collar as in our culture it is seen as the clothing of the professionally “religious.” I want very much to communicate spiritual depth is not reserved for the “professional” pastor. A caveat – on a mission trip to Malawi all of us who were pastors wore collars because it was something expected of all “Abusas” (pastors) – and not to do so would have offended the saints! Blessings – Stan

  7. Stan,

    It does depend a lot on context…. I had a Presbyterian friend in S LA who always wore the collar, because in his strongly Roman Catholic area, he wanted to make the statement that his parish was no less valid.

    Brian says it’s good for women, but not necessarily men. Which is also interesting to think about….

  8. I am Presbyterian and I wear a collar primarily when I am wanting to make a statement that I am clergy where it might not otherwise be known. I’ve found that wearing my collar to the hospital, especially if the hospital is large or is not in the town where I am serving, does help open doors and avoid questions about my authority. I also have worn a collar when I am going to be in a group that is largely Catholic, Lutheran or Episcopalian and I want to affirm that I, too, am an ordained minister. As for robes, I almost always wear them to preach. I find it helpful both spiritually (“putting on the mantle” and practically–the focus is on the office and not my fashion choice for the day. I do like the idea, though, of wearing the collar instead of a robe to preach if it is just too hot to think of putting on a robe!

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