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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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Ministers in the world

I’ve been thinking about how the world sees those who are set by the church as ministers. And there is no clear view on this, as I’ve said before about the image of a young minister, also how ministers might think the world sees us. However much those who are ministers may think about what they do, and however much the church may have its ideas of ministers and what they are. The truth is that the media has more influence, so here are some TV ministers, and the views on them.

Take 10: TV vicars, priests and ministers

Six to watch: TV priests and vicars

So what do we think, some of these are historical figures, so not so relevant. But what I take from them all, is they are real people trying to do their best, and trying to follow the calling they have, dispute all else that is going on.

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2014 in Ministry, Seen by the outside

 

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Liminal Moments

Liminal Moment

We stand upon a threshold
ready to step over
to face the challenges that come
and all that tomorrow shall hold
To be changed from
glory into glory
entering into a history
and an ever going story
Responding to all
that came to each
of us in many
ways as a call
Joining with near and far
in time and space
the cloud that exists
in God’s grace.
 
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Posted by on July 5, 2013 in Poetry

 

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Great Adventure

Great Adventure

It’s a great adventure
where off to save the world
We’ve trained and trained
and through much strained
We’ve come this far
along past many a bar
 
It’s a great adventure
where off to save the world
Affirmed in our endeavour
for now and forever
With strength that is lent
for it be heaven sent
 
It’s a great adventure
where off to save the world
Declared by public say
Worthy are they
Upheld in all
comes the response call.
 
It’s a great adventure
where off to save the world
With the declaration ringing
as around us all are singing
In grace we can but stand
our calling in God’s hand
 
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Posted by on July 3, 2013 in Ministry, Poetry

 

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Some more poetic reflections

They But

They say the words,
But do they hear?
They do it all,
But do they know?
They take what’s given,
But do they receive?
They act it out,
But can they be?

 

Do you hear the small voice?

Do you hear the small voice
as once you did,
or has the storm
drowned it out?
 
Do you hear the small voice
as once you did,
or has the earthquake
long buried it?
 
Do you hear the small voice
as once you did,
or has the fire
burnt it out of you?
 
Do you hear the small voice
as once you did,
or is there no space
for quiet; in all you do?
 
In the still, the quiet, the fire, the earthquake, the storm,
hear the small voice as once you did.

 

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2013 in Ministry, Poetry

 

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Do we stand againt Distopia?

Something that has been bouncing around in my head, what is the church for. And I’m thinking in part that it is there to stand against a dystopian world, to be a beacon of light. More to come on this topic as I sort the sermon for Sunday.

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2012 in Ministry, Seen by the outside

 

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when is a minister not a minister

While in a near by hospital, and not there visiting congregation members, and dressed in every day clothes I popped my head into the hospital chapel for a few moments of quiet and prayer. As I walk in there are some folks already in, and they asked me if I was a minister or visitor. At this point my brain engaged quickly and worked out one of the folks was distressed, and that I could not provided any more than a few seconds of time. So answered that I was a visitor. In this I felt no guilt, and as I left I asked if they want to know where the chaplains office was – and then popped round to get the chaplain.

This got me thinking when is a minister not a minister. Ministry is not something for me that is a 9 to 5 job; and is more 24/7 vocation – even when I’m not “working” I still live as a Christian minister. I would say that there are times when being a minister mean not saying you are – as in the above example. However it doesn’t stop me being a minister, however at times for the needs of self/family/others it is important to keep a distinction between being in the role and being the role. I am a person who lives the vocation through the role; but I am also a person who has needs at times, and being able to take the collar off and walk along helps…

 

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2012 in Ministry, Seen by the outside

 

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