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Dressing the part

I’ve looked a little at how ministers appear as they do in the past, mainly to do with age. However I came across this today, which speaks of being dressed in a cassock and the the effect it had on the wearer. Also the fact that it is seen as a uniform, which is very much the reason I wear it, and that’s the answer to the question. Which is sometimes asked, and mainly when I’m ether wearing a clerical shirt and collar or in vestments. So I thought I’d put together some answers. Firstly however I’ll say that there is no required dress code for British Methodist Presbyters – however British Methodist Deacons being part of a religious order do have a uniform. However there is still the question of what to wear when “working”.

Why I tend to wear a clerical shirt and collar

Part of the ministers role is a public representative one; this means often being a public face on behalf of a local congregation or the wider church. And even today most people seem to recognise a clerical shirt and collar. So at the student lunch, or the church Coffee Morning I’ll wear it so folks can pick me out with ease. This also comes in useful when I’m around different parts of the circuit, people will see the collar and see a minister, and this can be the start of many conversations, a chance to reach out. So the shirt and collar to me is a uniform, something that signals to people what I am, and at times let them see the role rather than the person – much as with shop staff in uniform so you can spot them; a police man or a doctor in white coat.

Why I tend to wear vestments

So when leading services I can be seen at times wearing a black cassock, with white preaching bands, and sometimes a stole on.

So first the cassock, this was originally an overcoat, worn to cover up the every day clothes, and was till not that long ago standard outdoor wear for some clergy. I tend to wear a cassock to remind me that when leading worship I’m doing something out of the ordinary – and also to cover up the clothes I’m wearing be it smart or not. Also this presents a plain black image, so as not to distract with what I’m wearing. As one person put it, “It’s just a fancy boiler suit” and for me it is. It is something I put on to remind me of what I’m doing.

The preaching bands – the two strips of white cloth that hang down from my neck – are an extension of the clerical collar, and in part related to the neck tie. I tend to wear this as one would wear tie, to finish the outfit off. Also it is part of the traditional dress of Wesleyan Methodist Ministers, and acts as an expression of me placing my self within this traditions.

Finally the stole – the scarf like item – is one of the traditional symbols of ordination, and something shared with the wider church. This tends to be why I mainly wear it when leading sacramental service (Baptism and a the Lord’s Supper), or other special services (high days, weddings and funerals and so forth). Also the colour relates to the season of the year;

  • White for celebration – Christmas and Easter
  • Purple for penitence – Advent and Lent
  • Red for the Holy Spirit – Pentecost and times of renewal
  • Green for the rest of the time.

So part of why I dress as I do is to express a link with the wider church, and with the church tradition of which I’m a part. However there are also practical considerations, in not distracting and appearing in a respectable manner. Though as said, there is no right or wrong way for a Methodists minister to dress, and the verity of clothing that can be seen on ministers is as varied as the ministers.

If you would like further history of how some Methodist ministers have dressed; then Norman Wallwork’s “Blackbirds and Budgerigars” might be of interest.

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Posted by on September 1, 2015 in Ministry, Seen by the outside

 

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Church survival bag

A couple of weeks back I shared a post by God Life Church entitled Long Live the church. The original post viewed the decline in church membership like a disaster movie, with a plague spreading, and the need for humans to come together and do something.

Now those who follow such films and genre will know of the survival bag – a bag packed with the things to get through the asteroid stick, zombie apocalypses or what ever. S it got me thinking, what would I put in the Methodist Church is survival bag, the things worth taking with us.

  • The Class Meeting – the small groups that are intended for spiritual development, the deepening of faith and pastoral care. I’d put this in the bag because of all the above things. But also due to the origin of them, that it was a practical origin of collecting the penny to pay back the loan on the New Rooms. The ability to take something very practical and find a way to use it for the work is something important to me.
  • The Priesthood of All Believers – Now first this is not a case that everyone does everything, no it is a case that every one could do anything. The fact that in the church we are all equal, some are called to different tasks, and some do them, in this way it is not that every one does everything, but that they can. Also a key part of this is that access to God is not limited to a special few, but that all can and should interact with God.
  • Connexinalism – The interlinking of congregations and people. We are all working in the local, but people can support each other across the wider world. In this case the mutual support that can be seen here is important.

There are likely other things that would get put in the bag, what would you put in?

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2014 in Ministry

 

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Thinking about Connexionality

Within Methodism there is the concept of connectionality, that we are all part of the one (much as Paul speaks of the one body), and that as a church we do things locally, but also together. So here is a reflection on that:

 

Together

Supporting and sharing
giving from plenty
to where there is scarcity.
Supporting and sharing
going with skills
to where they are needed.
Supporting and sharing
holding and being
where they are.
Supporting and sharing
many places and people
coming together as one.

 

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2014 in Ministry, Poetry, Wheeel&Spoke

 

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End of the year reflection

A little over a year ago, I had the pleasure of listening to Rev’d Ruth Gee give her address as the newly installed President of the Methodist Conference, a few days ago I had the pleasure of hearing her give the pastoral address at the end of her year of office. And again as the opening address did, this one sparked off a poem. The poem for the opening address was “Expectantly waiting to glimpse God’s glory“, so here is the next one.

Do we … in every sense

Do we glimpse God’s glory
do we see God passing
do we notice glory all around
are our eyes closed?
 
Do we listen for the voice of God
do we hear God passing
do we hear the still small voice
are our ears stoppered?
 
Do we taste and know that God is good
do we taste God passing
do we only taste the ash
is our tongue scoured?
 
Do we smell the sweet, sweet fragrance of God
do we smell God passing
do we mask your fragrance
is our nose bunged up?
 
Do we feel God near
do we feel God passing
do we still know of your touch
is our feeling numbed?
 
We can see, hear, taste,
smell and feel God
despite all we do you are ever there
and love us in every sense.
 
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Posted by on July 5, 2014 in Poetry

 

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The Conference

The Conference

Gathered,
drawn together.
From all corners
and places.
To confer and
to discuss.
To try and come to
know the will.
To try and hear
the still small voice.
To try and understand
the purpose before us.
To try and see
through the glass darkly.
Coming to a mind
as best we can.
 
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Posted by on July 5, 2014 in Ministry, Poetry

 

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An account of the departing of the people called Methodist who had been gathered together to form the Conference

It was upon the third day in the seventh month that the people called Methodist who had been gathered together to form the Conference did depart, going to all the parts of the Connexion, unto each and every district from whence they had come. They went having connived to confer and consider, matters which where before them laid. Having conferred together on such matters as where duly presented to them, in the Agenda, it’s supplements, order papers, notices of motion – in both the first series; pertaining to the matters presented before they did gather, and in the second series; pertaining to matters presented before them that had not already been presented – and other such matters that emerged from the discussion and where deemed to be acceptable in the eyes of those to whom the task of deeming them so acceptable had been given. And from the matters that had been duly laid before them in accordance with those practices and customs which they held, the people called Methodist who had been gathered together to form the Conference did come to a mind on these issues, as to whether the where minded to give support or to resist those matters laid before them. At times those from among their number who had been called and appointed to the task of making the count of the people called Methodist who had been gathered together to form the Conference, where called upon to count the people called Methodist who had been gathered together to form the Conference, and then to give an accounting of those whom they had counted and how those they had counted where so minded. And all that the people called Methodist who had been gathered together to form the Conference had done, and where minded to have done, that which they commended, directed and encouraged was duly recorded and noted, to be drawn together within the Daily Record, which did record all that the people called Methodist who had been gathered together to form the Conference had done. And from which, with such other materials as drawn from the Agenda, it’s supplements, order papers, notices of motion – in both series, bring the first and the second – along with other materials as needed, would be formed the entry in the Journal of the Conference for that year, to show and give record of what the people called Methodist who had been gathered together to form the Conference had been minded to. So the people called Methodist who had been gathered together to form the Conference did depart from that place whence they had for a time come to dwell in. They did depart to return to the districts from which they had come, to take news of those matters of which they had considered and come to a mind upon to those who had sent them forth. And so that news may also be spread from such gatherings to the wider body of the people called Methodist, and also beyond it. The people called Methodist who had been gathered together to form the Conference did depart and return to being among the people called Methodist, until the time time would come again for some of the people called Methodist to gather as the Conference. And though much was done, much was considered, and from it there would be more to come and do, the people called Methodist as a whole, and those from among their number who where called and sent to form the Conference, knew that they needed to divine the call of God upon them, and know that as they did this they are, and where those to whom, with all others, the grace of God is offered. So in this grace the people called Methodist who had been gathered together to form the Conference did depart from that place whence they had for a time come to dwell, and came once more to dwell in those places from whence they had come out, those places where they had formerly dwelt and did regularly dwell. Thus endeth the account of the people called Methodist who had been gathered together to form the Conference of that time.

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2014 in Ministry, Wheeel&Spoke

 

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To what are we called?

This was inspired by the melding together of the addresses to the Methodist Conference of the President and Vice-President of the Conference.

To what are we called?

To what are we called?
To famine or feast
to good or bad years
To what are we called?
To city or wilderness
to multitude or hermitage
To what are we called?
To be in season and out of it
to highs and lows
To what are we called?
To word and sacrament
to be unheard or empty
To what are we called?
To witness and service
to be unseen or unknown
To what are we called?
To mission or holiness
to a scriptureless dichotomy
To what are we called?
To be in or of the world
to be in ways set aside
To what are we called?
To core and rule
to inspiration or spontaneity
To what are we called?
To many, to all and more
to be done by the grace of God.
 
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Posted by on June 30, 2014 in Ministry, Poetry

 

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