Thursday, 8 August 2013

Clerical titles

Someone called me Reverend this morning....a small thing but it dawned on me that I am seldom addressed in this way. In church, in school, in the community I am always addressed by my name with no adornments.

If you knew me personally that would make absolute sense....

If I had to be addressed with conviction, it might well be laughing reverend or nearly reverend .

It's not that I'm not reverent because I am but it's not evident in casual conversation.

It got me thinking of the whole business of a titles.

We jump from Reverend to Right Reverend with nothing much in between. Maybe some more shades of address could be usefully employed.

Almost Reverend. Quite Reverend. Possibly Reverend.

On the upper slopes of ministry as well as Right Reverend there might be Very Reverend, except I think very might be being used already for something. August Reverend. Inspiring Reverend, Totally Reverend. I am sure a committe somewhere could be put to work for decades to find just the right nuances to cover all eventualities and then we should all know where we stand!

In the meanwhile feel free to add your own adjectives....but keep it clean!


  1. It's a strange thing, titles (or rank) sometimes identify a person.

    In my Army career, I held every rank from Private to Major, rank and status are quite important with clear demarcations between Junior Ranks (Pte to Cpl) Senior Ranks (Sgt to WO1) and Commissioned rank. Junior Officers (2Lt to Capt) and Field Officers (Major to Lt Col) and General Officers (Col to Gen).

    Each post or step up the slippery ladder of success was different but Warrant Officer get you to be addressed as Sir by those junior to you and Mr (or Sgt Maj, RQMS, RSM) by those senior to you.

    When you get commissioned it's like joining a private club. Officers use Christian names socially and in the Officers Mess the only one addressed by rank is the Commanding Officer (Colonel). Knowing the rules is mandatory to avoid embarrassing either yourself of the person addressed. If you an officer out of the factory (RMAS) you learn these unwritten rules there as an OCdt and you learn manners and all of the expected behaviour. When you are commissioned from the Ranks, you learn by a process of osmosis - listening carefully, observing people and deciding what of the social bits you need and what you can safely ignore.

    Than you retire? All of a sudden those titles mean very little unless you've been a General or something like it. You are entitled to style yourself Major(Retired) etc, but these days, people who do so are few and far between.

    But, I notice that a retired Priest retains the title of Reverend (or other title) for life. Even if they are no longer in active ministry, they remain defined by the mark of their Ordination. I wonder how many old soldiers are marked in the same way? I probably am, after all, it was 43 years of my adult life - how could I not become institutionalised and much as I resist it, it still comes back and kicks you occasionally. Particularly in the discernment process - but that's a different story of identity being decided by committee.

    1. That's an interesting point. We do keep our titles and take them to the grave......some others do too I think.....our local doctor for instance!