Monday, 1 February 2016

Clerical wear!

Listening to Giles Fraser this morning discussing our "uniform" on the radio brought back several weird moments in my life.
The first time I wore my dog collar in public was the day I walked to the cathedral for my ordination as a deacon. I was nervous. I felt as I walked that everyone was looking at me! They weren't of course....there were hundreds of us walking along the narrow streets!
I got used to wearing the collar fast after that and it didn't take me long to order some coloured shirts to support the small plastic strip that defines our role in society!
My tutor Julia snorted the first time she saw my pink shirt! In those days it was fairly unusual!
Now I never think about it when I put one on! I only wear one if I'm working...but it does make a difference as to how people treat me.
If I'm driving anywhere around here people tend to give way to me if the collar is visible. But they know me and my car well so this tends to happen anyway!
We are the only profession where our calling is a definite statement.
You only recognise a doctor if he's wearing a stethoscope. I can think of no other instant recognition device.
As for our robes....I wear my alb more than either of the black cassocks that hang in my room. The polystyrene alb can be rolled into a ball that shakes out easily as I reach the church...
Buying my own stoles were a major expense when I first started...but I enjoyed the shopping for these and always enjoy fitting the right stole to the right occasion.
I suppose it's a throwback to different times now. I can think of many reasons for getting rid of them but for most of us, especially those like me who joined up late in life it is an appearance of grace that we value....even as they dig into our necks on occasion!



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2 comments:

  1. I like seeing clergy in the full rig (plastic collar too). not just because it makes them easily identifiable in a crowd, but because they (generally) add a figure of authority in a rabble.
    Somehow there is a feeling of 'safety' and 'reassurance' in the robed and collared clergy.
    As to the colours of shirts etc., I have heard many scathing remarks (often by clergy) about those who choose to wear something other than black. Personally, I like colour as long as it isn't too garish -orange or lime green for example.
    When Shane was our rector and David our curate there was quite a variety of beautiful stoles and chasubles to brighten our days.
    Vive le differerance say I.

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  2. I don't agree with Giles Fraser. I think that Vesting for services is a must, unless it's totally informal and there won't be a blessing.

    I find it unworthy of a Cleric, who took a funeral, without even wearing a Stole? I know that in some circles that might be acceptable, but what signals does it send to the family of the deceased?

    And wearing a dog collar for clergy, opens up opportunities for meetings and conversations, which might not happen in other circumstances, particularly for people who might be hurting, or vulnerable for any other reason.

    I remember the impact of the Chaplain Andy Sewell in my chaplaincy placement in Bristol - people stopped and talked with him on the street (he's a City Centre Chaplain) and his progress from place to place was a series of conversations and meetings. I heard all sorts of questions, even someone asking him whether they could get married in their local church.

    Mobile expressions of God's work and place in our communities.

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