In Favor of Clerical Collars

Perhaps no one who reads this blog has any problem with pastors wearing collars (even outside the Divine Service!). However, I know that some people do have various issues with the collar; for example, I have a good friend who does not see the reason for it.

Why do I wear one now, on vicarage, and why will I wear one when I am a pastor? Simply because it is a uniform that identifies the wearer as one of God’s called and ordained servants (or a servant-in-training). Ideally, it signifies one who speaks God’s Word, celebrates the Sacraments of Christ, and preaches forgiveness of sins to sinners.

I say “ideally” because there are those who have worn or who do wear the collar who do not deserve to. Those who have grossly abused their position of authority, or who have caused little ones to stumble and fall, or those whom God has not called give a bad name to all who have been, by the grace of God, faithful in their callings.
These exceptions do not invalidate the use of the collar; do we ignore all policemen because of some bad cops? Do we stop going to any and all doctors because some have committed malpractice? Are all soldiers evil because some have brought shame to their countries? All of these wear uniforms and they do not stop wearing their uniforms because of those who have misused their uniforms.

Finally, a question: why all the colors? Black is the color of the uniform (although, possibly, I could see the use of liturgical colors during certain seasons of the Church Year). They are not a fashion statement. Especially wrong is any shirt that could be called “Hawaiian”!

I realize that clerical shirts and collars are adiaphora. They are neither prescribed or prohibited by God in His Word. However, they are useful in practice; perhaps those who read this blog who are currently pastors would be willing to share how their collars opened them to conversations they would not have had otherwise.

Timotheos

Advertisements

30 thoughts on “In Favor of Clerical Collars

  1. I can really see what you say. As long as people dont try to make it a requirement; it does not prohibit wearing one if the pastor feels the desire to. I think you are right there have probably been many a conversation that would have not have happened had a pastor outside of his church not been wearing his “uniform”.

  2. I, too, have a friend who is uncomfortable with clerical collars. Why? To him, those who wear them seem arrogant. They seem to be seeking attention for themselves. If this is true, my friend is right to feel the way he does. But I don’t think it is true as a general statement. I think my friend had a bad experience with one person who wore the collar for the wrong reasons and since then has unfairly judged everyone else who wears them. Even when I wear mine, he thinks I am wearing it because I am seeking attention and it makes me feel important. To the contrary, I really don’t enjoy wearing my clerical at all in public. It is a cross. Some people give me strange looks. Some even give me hateful looks and I’ve received a few hateful comments (welcome to the Pacific Northwest!). Others want to talk to me. The collar seems to be an open invitation. Sometimes they only want to make small talk. But sometimes they want to talk about deep things. Sometimes they even want to talk about religion! Sometimes they even want to talk about Jesus!! Little do these people know, however, that I am shy and really uncomfortable talking to strangers about such deep things. But then again, that is precisely why I wear the collar. It forces me to talk to strangers about Jesus. It forces me to say prayers with strangers in the supermarket and at the gas station. It forces me to get out of myself and focus all attention on Jesus Christ. Because to those who come up to me and want to talk or pray, the collar doesn’t represent me. It represents Jesus and His Church. They don’t give a rip about me. They care about the One I represent. I don’t like wearing the collar in public, but I don’t wear it or not wear it for my own comfort. I wear it because it helps me bear witness to Jesus. I wear it because it reminds me of the vocation with which God Himself has charged me. And it identifies that vocation to others. It is a vocation that is not about me. It is about Jesus. So if anything, the collar doesn’t fill me with self-importance. Rather, it reminds me that I am nothing and Christ is everything. So I would have to gently disagree with my friend, though I love him very much. And besides, isn’t it my Christian freedom to wear the collar, just as it is his Christian freedom not to wear one? But whatever we wear, may we wear it to the glory of God and for the sake of proclaiming the Gospel.

  3. Yes, Joel. Most of the time, people think “RC” when they see the collar. No problem; if I have the opportunity, I tell them that I’m Lutheran, but otherwise, I just say hi, and go on.

    Tim

  4. “Yes, Joel. Most of the time, people think “RC” when they see the collar. No problem; if I have the opportunity, I tell them that I’m Lutheran, but otherwise, I just say hi, and go on.”

    I’ll bet it really throws them when they see you with your wife! 🙂

  5. We have speculated (my wife and I) that they think either that I, the benevolent priest, am providing transportation to a poor, single mother; or, I’m (obviously!) violating my vows. But I think many people can come to the more likely conclusion that I am pastor in a Christian church other than Roman Catholicism.

    Tim

  6. My supervisor wears a clerical vest each day, and so I followed suit. I typically wear either a plain white collar or my collar with a shirt-front (to match his vest). No one has ever called me “father,” or stared at me when I walk around with my wife and three kids. Of course, then again, it’s a small town, and he’s the only pastor in town who wears a clerical.

    It’s been a good witnessing opportunity–I mean, *really* good. It keeps you on your toes.

    -Rob Contra Mundum

  7. Here are a few anecdotal stories:

    The one day that I didn’t wear my collar was the one day that something drastic happened. It was the first day that I wore a t-shirt and jeans. Just as I was packing up to go home, a young girl came (20s) to the office and needed to be taken to the hospital. So, I drove her over there, and sat in the emergency room with her for a few hours. It was very awkward having to explaining to everyone that I was clergy. From that point on I make a point of having a shirt-front handy in the office at all times. It’s not necessary, but it sure helps when explaining awkward situations.

    Once day I didn’t wear a clerical, and one lady from the church made a comment, “Usually he looks like a pastor, but today he looks like a teenager.” At first, I thought, “Bah!” But then I thought about it a little bit. Being properly dressed for any profession is important. I guess I don’t see wearing jeans and a t-shirt as appropriate attire for a professional either (just my opinion).

    While out at lunch one day, a woman came up to me and asked, “I’ve been thinking about getting Baptized. What do I need to do?” She didn’t have any church connection. Go figure….

    Some people have made snide comments, or situations have been visibly tense. People judge you pretty quickly. I always keep in mind what a man I met on choir tour told me. He had a friend in Jerusalem who was an Anglican priest. When his friend walked around in some of the more conservative quarters of the city, it wasn’t uncommon for someone to come up and spit on him. The man would get angry, but the priest said to him, “Its ok. I just let it go. They spit on our Lord too.” That story has convinced me ever since that it’s not “power” that people have a problem with. It also convinced me that how you dress is a powerful testimony.

    But there are always pros and cons with any direction you take. I guess each situation is different….we are very inexperienced.

    I’ve always wondered: Do the “Fathers” here take offense at someone calling us “father?”

  8. A little bit of trivia: Don Novello from SNL was once arrested at the Vatican for wearing his “Father Guido Sarducci” costume in public. Seems it’s illegal there to impersonate a priest, the way it would be here to impersonate a cop.

  9. I was once told that this was illegal (impersonating clergy), to some extent, in many places–including the US. Does anyone have any facts?

    Church law is a very interesting (and not often enforced) subject. Maryland law books have some fairly interesting regulations on the practice of religion. I doubt that they are enforced, but I’m certainly not a lawyer.

  10. “… it is a uniform that identifies the wearer as one of God’s called and ordained servants (or a servant-in-training).”

    So which does a clerical collar identify?!? A called and ordained servant of the Word. . . or a trainee wannabe?

    Should a police cadet be allowed to wear a police uniform and badge that indicates that person is a policeman?

    Would it be okay if a graduate student wore a doctorate gown before earning a doctoral degree?

    May civilians wear a military uniform and insignia before they join the military?

    Would it be right for a non-physician to walk around in a hospital wearing a white lab coat with the name label including “M.D.”, and a stethoscope hanging from the neck?

    Should the police ignore a person seen walking down the road wearing an orange jumpsuit with large numbers printed on the back?

    Would you look forward to a worthwhile conversation with someone wearing a Gore-Leiberman 2000 t-shirt?

    Can my business card include “Nobel Laureate” even though I haven’t (yet!) received a congratulatory notice from Sweden?

  11. “So which does a clerical collar identify?!? A called and ordained servant of the Word. . . or a trainee wannabe?”

    Both. In that sense, it is different than other uniforms. The seminary didn’t give me anything to identify myself as a vicar, as opposed to a pastor. However, if the pastor (my “bishop”) gives me the okay, I am acting really on behalf of him, and not on behalf of myself.

    Are you asking because you don’t think vicars should wear collars, or because I wasn’t clear enough?

    As far as I know (Dana, correct me if I’m wrong), RC seminarians wear their collars to class, and at other times. Is there some sort of commissioning or such, prior to ordination as deacon or priest?

    Tim

  12. “Both. In that sense, it is different than other uniforms.”

    That has yet to be substantiated.

    “The seminary didn’t give me anything to identify myself as a vicar, as opposed to a pastor.”

    Within your congregation and when assisting in worship services, that responsibility is with the pastor and the congregation.

    Outside of congregational duties and particularly when you are in public, not accompanied by the pastor, you could wear a t-shirt or other clothing your seminary bookstore sells with the seminary’s name and logo. (For extra assurance you could also wear your student ID.)

    Such seminary-student-identifying clothing, of course, are not considered tax deductible uniforms.

    “However, if the pastor (my “bishop”) gives me the okay, I am acting really on behalf of him, and not on behalf of myself.”

    You are a trainee. Your “bishop” (i.e., your pastor) is not your bishop in an episcopal sense, because you are not a pastor (and the LCMS does not have a episcopal polity!). The pastor is your teacher, your mentor, your under-shepherd, just as he is for each member of the congregation. In your case he provides special training and he evaluates your conduct of your vicar duties. (The congregation may also do some evaluation.) If you wear a clerical collar in public when not doing the duties of vicarage, you are not “acting really on behalf of him.”

    “As far as I know (Dana, correct me if I’m wrong), RC seminarians wear their collars to class, and at other times.”

    So now we’re down to the Romanist wannabe reason (“The papists do it so why can’t I?”). The clerical collar worn by a Romanist trainee also signifies to the public that he is preparing for a vow of celibacy. Other people may recognize that the the collar represents loyalty to the Bishop of Rome. Will the Missouri Synod pastoral trainees want to have their collar signify those representations to the public?

    There are some cases when a professional “uniform” would be worn by a trainee who is not yet recognized or certified as that professional. One case is for protection and safety, when the uniform includes gloves, safety helmets, steel-toes boots, or protective vests, etc., for trainees in construction, heavy equipment operation, foundries and so on. Another case is when the uniform itself is required as part of the job for which the person is being trained, like a clown.

    A Missouri Synod Lutheran vicar wearing a clerical collar in public fits neither case… at least not intentionally. :-).

  13. I think you’re misinterpreting my comments, especially with regard to my question about RC seminarians.

    You said, “If you wear a clerical collar in public when not doing the duties of vicarage, you are not ‘acting really on behalf of him.'” When did I say that I wear my collar when “not doing the duties of vicarage”? I wear it when I visit people who are shut-in or in the hospital, not when I go to a movie or restaurant (except after church when I have no time to change). It seems that you assumed wrongly when you wrote, “Outside of congregational duties and particularly when you are in public, not accompanied by the pastor, you could wear a t-shirt or other clothing your seminary bookstore sells with the seminary’s name and logo. (For extra assurance you could also wear your student ID.)” Again, to be clear: I am NOT talking about wearing the collar just for the heck of it, or because I like it, or because I have nothing else to wear! That may apply to some people, but not to me; nor was that the point of this post.

    The only reason I’m asking about RC seminarians is to see what they consider the reason for wearing the collar all the time. It has nothing to do with me wanting to be (like) Roman Catholic seminarians or priests.

    You wrote, “You are a trainee. Your “bishop” (i.e., your pastor) is not your bishop in an episcopal sense, because you are not a pastor (and the LCMS does not have a episcopal polity!). The pastor is your teacher, your mentor, your under-shepherd, just as he is for each member of the congregation. In your case he provides special training and he evaluates your conduct of your vicar duties. (The congregation may also do some evaluation.)”

    Thanks for the explanation. I never said bishop in the RC, episcopal sense. That’s the reason I used quotation marks. It is fairly common usage to refer to vicarage supervisors as bishops, not in the sense of an episcopal relationship of bishop to pastor (I’m not, as you so ably remind me, a pastor), but as supervisor, mentor, teacher–the same things you note. You act as if I somehow did not know the role of my supervisor in my vicarage. Not the case.

    A bunch of straw men so you can argue against I don’t know whom.

    Tim

    • Lord have have mercy, If you are ordained to serve the Lord, then do his work, I don’t care what anyone thinks of my wearing clericals. I hang my hat at a Baptist church, but my calling as an independent minister is to bring the word of the Lord to humankind, Stop questioning everything and get to work doing what the Good Lord called us all as ordained ministers to do!!! (JESUS said, if they hate you remember they hated me first.) Thats enough for me. All the time you spend debating this issue souls are not being saved, and I believe this is what we are called to do!! Everyone is to busy judging others by their apperance or whatever. A word of caution: If you choose to wear clericals then be worthy and act worthy of such an HONORABLE calling, after all who is it that we represent, not catholics or protistants, or any denomination for that matter, but the Lord God himself. I end with this: (JESUS said,” If you don’t believe in me, at least believe in the work I do”). In the case of follwing JESUS and his commands, Their is an (I) in team because in the end that’s what it will be you answering to him alone. May the Peace of Christ be you!!!
      Reverend Kenneth H Kaigle Sr. Dr.D.

  14. “When did I say that I wear my collar when “not doing the duties of vicarage”?

    From your response to Joel, about wearing a clerical collar in public: “Most of the time, people think “RC” when they see the collar. No problem; if I have the opportunity, I tell them that I’m Lutheran, but otherwise, I just say hi, and go on.”

    And later when you stated: “We have speculated (my wife and I) that they think either that I, the benevolent priest, am providing transportation to a poor, single mother; or, I’m (obviously!) violating my vows. But I think many people can come to the more likely conclusion that I am pastor in a Christian church other than Roman Catholicism.”

    Should I instead have assumed that your wife accompanies you on your shut-in and hospital visits? Also, is it one of a vicar’s duties to leave so many people, as you indicated, with the mistaken impressions of being a benevolent (or errant) RC priest or a non-RC pastor?

    And, because you have previously acknowledged that the clerical collar is an adiaphoron, even for called and ordained pastors, many of whom wear it regularly in public, why do you restrict youself, as a vicar, to wearing a clerical collar to shut-in and hospital visits? Or why is it even needed for those occasions? I presume your pastor has either introduced you to the hospital staff and people you visit or has informed them that you will be visiting them before you show up at their bedside.

    Because clerical collars are adiaphora, one of their public (rather than congregational) uses, is in distinguishing the wearer from other people for specific purposes that often span denominational lines of the clergy who wear them. Many of these public purposes deal with pastoral functions recognized by the (secular) state, such as Romanist last rites, prayers or confessions with the dying or injured who request or are open to clergy, counselling the survivors of a tragedy, leading prayers in public functions, emergency baptisms, or adding “respectability” or “religious recognition” to a public or political event.

    In such circumstances, a vicar, with or without a clerical collar, would have no more God-given authority to perform such acts than any Christian would.

    Because the clerical collars go back perhaps to the 17th century in the Romanist Church and to the mid-19th century in the Anglican Church, there is hardly a significant tradition for Lutherans to stand on.

    Maybe Missouri Synod pastors (and vicars) should adopt the traditional clerical garb of Missouri Synod founder and pastor, F.C.D. Wyneken: yellow buckskin pants.

  15. Carl, are you familiar with and simply disagreeing with the practices of vicars in the LCMS? Or are you just voicing your opinions and concerns? Opinions are concerns are always valid. In respect to your last post and what I assume is your pseudonym, you show yourself to be knowledgeable with regards to the LCMS and its history.

    A vicar is a “vicar” of his overseer in every sense. The overseer is not his pastor in the narrow sense of the word, and the vicar is not a member of the congregation. Perhaps practices were different at some point in the past, but we do not live at that point.

    An argument that “trainees” do not wear uniforms is somewhat lacking. Medical students do in fact “look” like doctors even without “MD” after their name. Plebs and Cadets at military academies actually wear their uniforms more often in public than those who are of a higher rank. The same could be said of police cadets. A police cadet would never be accused of impersonating an officer simply because of his or her uniform. A cadet is not a civilian. Likewise, seminary students at times might look like pastors even without “Rev” in front of their names. This line of argumentation would only hold water in regards to someone who was “planning to attend the seminary one day,” and thus they decided to start wearing a clerical shirt.

    The purpose in asking a Catholic about their practice is to remind us that a clerical shirt does not, nor has it ever, meant “ordained priest.” This is true even within the Catholic Church. It is also true within nearly every church body that wears them, although I would hate to make such a broad statement in such a pluralistic world. Scores of church bodies and institutions have adopted this common designator for “clergy”…even some Jews. A clerical shirt is a vestige of the cassock, and the entire custom is rather recent across the board. Not to mention that styles change from place to place. There have been symbols of the clerical profession even when clerical shirts were not in vogue (or created). Though it is interesting to note that the missionary pastor of this church is pictured in one (from the 1890s). We know from historical writings and letters that clergymen could recognize each other, but the records of what they wore are not always complete or universal. This, of course, applies to vestments as well.

    I assume that you simply have a problem with the practice, Carl. So, if you’re a pastor, don’t wear one, and request that your vicar does likewise. If you’re a layperson, and it bothers you if your pastor or his vicar wears one, then go to a church that doesn’t use them. If you’re ordained and a worker in the LCMS, then do whatever you see fit. But you do not have any authority or right to have Tim comply to your wishes unless you are, in fact, his supervisor.

    To call anything that a church worker might wear a “uniform” or to argue about “colors and styles” is something to which I might object, but only if I were trying to create an argument with Tim. We don’t need to argue about such silly things.

  16. The title of Tim’s thread is “In Favor of Clerical Collars”, particularly on vicars (like himself). My comments have been more toward the antithesis, “Not in Favor of Clerical Collars, particularly on vicars”. I do agree that wearing a clerical collar is an adiaphoron. But like other adiaphora, its use depends on weighing its advantages and disadvantages for edifying the Church. And Tim himself has supplied a list of perceived advantages and disadvantages:

    Advantage: “it is a uniform that identifies the wearer as one of God’s called and ordained servants (or a servant-in-training).”
    Disadvantage: “Most of the time, people think “RC” when they see the collar.”
    Advantage: “it signifies one who speaks God’s Word, celebrates the Sacraments of Christ, and preaches forgiveness of sins to sinners.”
    Disadvantage: “they think. . . I’m (obviously!) violating my vows.”
    Advantage: “The seminary didn’t give me anything to identify myself as a vicar, as opposed to a pastor.”
    Disadvantage: “But I think many people can come to the more likely conclusion that I am pastor in a Christian church other than Roman Catholicism.”
    Advantage: “I realize that clerical shirts and collars are adiaphora.They are neither prescribed or prohibited by God in His Word.”
    Disadvantage: “Black is the color of the uniform. . . Especially wrong is any shirt that could be called “Hawaiian”!”
    Advantage: “if the pastor (my “bishop”) gives me the okay, I am acting really on behalf of him, and not on behalf of myself.”
    Disadvantage: “I realize that clerical shirts and collars are adiaphora. They are neither prescribed or prohibited by God in His Word.”
    Advantage: “I wear it when I visit people who are shut-in or in the hospital”
    Disadvantage: “We have speculated (my wife and I) that they think. . . I, the benevolent priest, am providing transportation to a poor, single mother. . .”

    Using Tim’s posted perceptions the balance doesn’t seem to tip toward wearing clerical collars, particularly for Lutheran vicars.

    In summary,
    1. The clerical collar does not adequately distinguish between a Lutheran seminarian and a called and ordained Lutheran pastor.
    2. The clerical collar does not adequately distinguish between a Lutheran seminarian and a (benevolent or errant) RC priest.
    3. The clerical collar does not adequately distinguish between a Lutheran seminarian and various (high church) Protestant pastors.
    4. Tim does not appear to be concerned about such inadequate distinctions (“No problem; if I have the opportunity, I tell them that I’m Lutheran, but otherwise, I just say hi, and go on.”).

    So if the vicar’s clerical collar is not really needed for the supervising pastor and the congregation, visiting shut-ins or members in the hospital, and if others including nonChristians readily misinterpret (with little opportunity for correction) the clerical collar, for whose benefit is the clerical collar actually being worn?

  17. Rob Contra Mundum wrote:

    “the vicar is not a member of the congregation.”

    It depends on whether the vicar joins that congregation or not. I asked a retired pastor who has supervised many vicars and he said some vicars kept their membership with their hometown (or near the sem) congregation; others, particular with wives, joined the congregation during their vicarage.

    “An argument that “trainees” do not wear uniforms is somewhat lacking.”

    Perhaps, but I didn’t make that argument. The uniforms of the medical students, plebs, and military/police cadets, are distinguished from the uniforms of their professional and qualified counterparts.

    “There have been symbols of the clerical profession even when clerical shirts were not in vogue (or created).”

    Yes, John the Baptist did wear clothing made of camel’s hair, but Jesus’s disciples did not.

  18. Carl,

    I don’t think that anything you wrote necessarily “tips” the “balance” away from wearing clerical collars.

    The biggest advantage is that wearing a collar might possibly give the wearer access to someone who would not otherwise allow a stranger to speak to them about Jesus. End of story.

  19. Carl,
    I think now you’re intentionally misrepresenting what I said, and I have only this to say:
    my original post really had nothing to do with vicars except the fact that I currently am one. I was arguing in favor of the collar generally and not specifically, and if you have a problem with the collar as a piece of clerical attire, perhaps you should state that problem clearly instead of whacking around the plant.

    Tim

  20. Tim,

    You accuse me of “intentionally misrepresenting” your statements and you claim that the “original post really had nothing to do with vicars except the fact that I currently am one.”

    Your unsubstantiated accusation is false, and your claim is not true. Your original post, in its second paragraph, stated that you as a vicar wear a clerical collar and that the clerical collar “uniform” alternatively identifies a “servant-in-training”. Furthermore in the 3rd paragraph you claim: “I say ‘ideally’ because there are those who have worn or who do wear the collar who do not deserve to.” Such a claim makes the question of whether non-called-and-ordained seminarians should wear clerical collars open for discussion.

    Before my comments were posted, two other posters specifically dealt with the issue of you, as a vicar, wearing a clerical collar. Your responses to them also discussed the resulting confusion caused by a clerical collar worn by a vicar compared to those worn by called pastors or ordained RC priests. And to another poster who presented his specific (supportive!) views of vicars (“trainees”) wearing clerical collars, you responded, “Couldn’t have said anything better myself”.

    Unless your blog’s policy is to only allow “yes-man” responses from posters, my dissenting responses to the issue of vicars (in general) wearing the uniform of a clerical collar, which you raised in your original post and in prior statements to others, are valid views and not a misrepresentation.

  21. Yours can be valid views; that doesn’t rule misrepresentation out.

    If I only allowed “yes-man” posts, I would have deleted yours a long time ago. You act as if I should not agree with commenters with whom I do agree, and that I should agree with you, with whom I obviously do not. You’re welcome to your opinions; do I have to welcome them as well?

    The most obvious instance of misrepresentation is your formatting of my comments into advantages and disadvantages, when I do not see them that way. There are not equal advantages and disadvantages, the balance to be decided in favor of one’s personal predilections. I obviously think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, hence the title of the post. You obviously find the opposite to be true, hence your arguments.

    You are mistaken when you list, from my comments, these as disadvantages:
    1. “Disadvantage: ‘Most of the time, people think “RC” when they see the collar.'” I don’t really care. It affects neither my job, nor how I do it.

    2. “Disadvantage: ‘But I think many people can come to the more likely conclusion that I am pastor in a Christian church other than Roman Catholicism.'” This is a disadvantage?

    3.”Disadvantage: “Black is the color of the uniform. . . Especially wrong is any shirt that could be called “Hawaiian”!'” Disadvantage how?

    4. “Disadvantage: ‘I realize that clerical shirts and collars are adiaphora. They are neither prescribed or prohibited by God in His Word.'”
    An adiaphoron does not a disadvantage make.

    You wrote: “1. The clerical collar does not adequately distinguish between a Lutheran seminarian and a called and ordained Lutheran pastor.
    2. The clerical collar does not adequately distinguish between a Lutheran seminarian and a (benevolent or errant) RC priest.
    3. The clerical collar does not adequately distinguish between a Lutheran seminarian and various (high church) Protestant pastors.”

    Again, none of these affect my job or how I do it. And there is a difference in roles between a seminarian and a vicar. You still haven’t grasped the fact that I do not wear it when I am not acting in my role as vicar. Am I in public with a collar? Only because hospitals are public places, and I have to drive on public streets to get there.

    Your final comment in that post was: “So if the vicar’s clerical collar is not really needed for the supervising pastor and the congregation, visiting shut-ins or members in the hospital, and if others including nonChristians readily misinterpret (with little opportunity for correction) the clerical collar, for whose benefit is the clerical collar actually being worn?”

    If this means that the collar is an adiaphoron (“not needed”), I have admitted as much. But it is not true that it is not useful. Those shut-ins and hospital patients whom I have visited readily know that I am there as a representative of Christ and His Church, whether they have met me before or not.
    As for those who might misinterpret my wearing of the collar, what difference does that make? We both know that people misinterpret things all the time; how does that change what I do or how I do it? You don’t like it. That’s fine. As Rob says, if your pastor wears one, speak with him about it. You are welcome to air your disagreements here, but you have not proven your point (except that you don’t like collars, vicars who wear them, and Roman Catholics).

    Finally, whom does it “benefit”? Those who might approach me with a question because of the collar; those who might request prayer because of the collar; those who simply like it when “a pastor or vicar looks like a pastor or vicar.” (I’ve met a number of the latter type on vicarage.)

    Thanks,
    Tim

  22. I only commment on this issue because you brought up the issue of plebs and cadets the US service academies. As a former midshipman at the US Naval Academy I can comment that the uniform the midshipmen wear is different from the uniform of officers in the Navy. However, midshipmen are in fact part of the military. They are just as much a part of the military as a seaman recruit or the Rear Admiral of the Navy. The only difference is the length of time they have served and the authority that they command. A seminary student is not part of the clergy, in no denomination that I am aware of do they consider un-ordained people part of the clergy.

    Secondly, as a seminary student myself I feel as though I can comment on the use of a seminary student wearing clerical garb. We are not allowed to wear the vestments of a pastor. During a worship service we are allowed only to wear an alb, or cassock and surplice. That does help provide some distinction between the seminarian and the pastor. Now in public there would be no distinction between a pastor wearing a collar and a seminarian wearing a collar. And this seems to be the problem.

    My question is this: Why are you wearing your clerical collar out in public? I can understand a pastor wearing the collar because it is part of the “uniform” ( i don’t like to think of it as a uniform, but since this is the language you have chosen to use i will use it too ). But why does a seminary student wear to class does he feel as though he needs to signify that he is a seminarian to his classmates? Why does he wear it to the grocery store, are you wearing it when you cut the grass, are you wearing it when you go to the movies?

    Lutherans have a different understanding of ordination than that of the RC. We do not teach that there is a fundamental change in a man when he is ordained. Instead it is just one of the vocations that he now is to fulfill. There is no universal uniform for being a dad or mom, son or daughter, husband or wife ( maybe wedding rings but these are western inventions, and not specifically christian by any means ) and according to Luther the vocations of the family are the most important. So, you are a husband first and all things follow after that. Any one can be the pastor of a congregation, if they call him, but only you can be the husband to your wife.

  23. Dings,
    I agree with you about wearing collars to class, or in public generally.
    As you can see from my earlier comments, I do NOT wear my collar in public, as in to restaurants or to the store (except in the rare situation where I am on my way back from church or visiting someone). I do not wear my collar to class, or when I work in the library, or whatever. I do not wear my collar when I visit my home congregation, unless I am preaching or participating in the service.
    So, I agree with you, and very few seminarians (if any) at St. Louis wear their collars to class or chapel. Only if they are participating, or they have some other good reason to wear it (i.e., they’re going to visit someone after class, etc.).

    Tim

  24. I have been looking to purchase some used clerical shirts since they are so expensive. If anyone knows where I can find one please email me thanks…

  25. I have nearly always worn a tab-collar shirt in my everyday activities as pastor of an independent, interdenominational church (I am ordained Independent Methodist). Yes, I have been referred to as “father” but that just gives me an opportunity to chat with people. It is a good witnessing tool and does open many doors otherwise locked. I do not understand the aversions with the collar, other than those who do not want to be mistaken for RC (and isn’t that a bit narrow-minded). The people in this rural northeastern Florida community are ready to accept my appearance and it seems to have a comforting effect – they know they can come to me in any situation and I do not judge nor discriminate due to actual denominational affiliation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s