Tuesday, April 1, 2014

On clergy attire

An alert reader sends along this paragraph from the US Army's new regulations regarding uniforms. St. Paul, of course, famously drew the analogy between the service of the minister and a soldier's service under his commanding officer. There is much common sense here that applies to the clergy and our attire both in worship and in day to day ministry.

 1–1. Purpose
The Army is a profession. A Soldier’s appearance measures part of his or her professionalism. Proper wear of the Army uniform is a matter of personal pride for all Soldiers. It is indicative of esprit de corps and morale within a unit.
Soldiers have an individual responsibility for ensuring their appearance reflects the highest level of professionalism. Leaders, at all levels, have a responsibility for implementing and applying the standards contained in this regulation to ensure the best interests of the Army, including our shared traditions and customs. This regulation prescribes the authorization for wear, composition, and classification of uniforms, and the occasions for wearing all personal (clothing bag issue), optional, and commonly worn organizational clothing and individual equipment uniforms. It prescribes the uniforms, awards, insignia, and accouterments authorized for wear. It also provides general information on the authorized material and design of uniforms and the uniform quality control system.



  1. But since this is 'Merica, we all know everyone will ultimately do what is right in his own eyes, and in an effort to appeal to the common man, to be "one of the guys" clergy will continue to dress down and thereby avoid those "awkward" conversations when they are out in public about, you know, God and stuff.

  2. "You ought really put on your clerical coat when you go out to preach," he said.

    Torvik blushed. Was there to be more criticisms?

    "It's not laziness or indifference. It's a matter of principle."

    "That doesn't make it any better. Would you respect an officer who as a matter of principle appeared at maneuvers in mufti? Or a Salvation Army soldier who doffed his uniform when his corps was assembled in the market square?"

    Torvik was becoming irritated. "You must certainly understand that I want to come as an ordinary human being." But the rector continued his argument.

    "Then you are sailing under false colors. You are no ordinary person. You have been ordained by the Church as a servant of the Word. You have been elected and called by the Christian congregation as Ödesjö to be its pastor. You get support from the fields which godly forbears donated for the pastor's upkeep. It is pure dishonesty to take the money, if you want to be just an ordinary person."

    "You are bound to misinterpret everything, Olle. You know very well that I don't want to make myself great through my office. I only want to remind myself and others that what a pastor is comes, not because of his office, but because of what he is in himself."

    Bengtsson straightened up and laughed.

    "You are the proudest man I ever met, Gösta. What are you in yourself? A sinner. Do you really enter the pulpit because you think it is because of your piety, your faith, and your prayers you are called to be the leader for the Christians at Ödesjö? Then you might as well stay home. If you expect to continue to preach, you had better do it because you have been appointed by God to do so and have his Word to hold fast to. And that Word remains just as holy a word, though a poor servant with many shortcomings proclaims it." . . .

    "I am a poor and unworthy servant," [Torvik] said.

    "Then you had better put on your clerical coat, Brother. Do not come any longer as the remarkable Gösta Torvik, but come instead as the humble servant of God's Word at Ödesjö."

    Torvik still wanted to contradict. But the clerical coat did command respect. People respected it, though it was perhaps in a way a respect for the Word. . . .

    Hammer of God, 254-5

  3. You can easily spot the most fearless and truly evangelical pastors: they wear their clericals on the airplane.

  4. Ironically, we have the liberals in the LCMS to thank for the repristination of clericals in the LCMS. From Walther to JAO Preus, the confessionals didn't wear them.Funny how things have flip-flopped (for the better).
    I wear mine when I am doing business involving the church:
    1. Meetings
    2. Home Visits
    3. Hospital visits
    4. Prison Visits
    5. Divine Services
    6. Traveling on Church business
    7. Church functions NOT requiring BBQ grills, fishing poles or high-powered firearms :)

    1. Just a note: Walther should not be included in these remarks. He in fact did advocate the wearing of the clerical coat, etc. when performing pastoral duties.

  5. Seriously how many people recognize pastors because of their uniform, how many conversations might be had becuase of it? The piece above from Hammer of God really nails it simply, theology made obvious.

  6. Well, it is a Biblical truism that the betrayer who spurned his Office chose to wore a necktie, or a closely related item anyway; and thence went out and spilled his guts. My observation ... on a blessed occasion or two ... is that the bearer of the collar, in public, can by such means encourage the poor and troubled to spill theirs.

    It is all rather marvelous and profoundly moving, to see the unloosing of tongues and the grace flowing forth in response, as such opportunities come calling. While those who labor to tread out the corn should not be muzzled (cf. 1 Timothy 5:18), some of the most opportune and timely treadings are expedited by a yoking, or collar.

    Your (unworthy) servant,
    Herr Doktor

  7. As a member of the laity, I would never ask my pastor why he doesn't wear a clerical collar. It would put him on the defensive right away. I just assumed it was and is a matter of freedom-neither commanded nor forbidden. However, I find it quite ironic that must Sundays from the pulpit we are urged to share the Gospel with others.Yet my pastor, who would have an easy introduction to most anyone IF he wore the collar, doesn't wear one.

    In Christ,

  8. The world is falling apart, and Daniel's power of the holy people is being actively broken in the courts, even in these United States. In such formidable circumstances, calling for a ringing confession of our Hope, there is no adiaphora. But if a clergyman wishes to hide his Office in such a challenging world, and to meld with the laity so as to immediately assure others "I don't know the Man, and listen closely ... I don't even have a Galilean accent," I suppose one can point to an apostolic tradition of a sorts.

    Your (unworthy) servant,
    Herr Doktor

  9. I find that when I don't want to wear my collar in public, it is usually because of fear. I fear the reproach of men; I fear being seen as a representative of Christ; and I fear having my life be examined by others. When I don't wear the collar, I feel free to act however I want. So, I consciously and conspicuously wear the collar because it reminds me that I can't be a pastor one minute and not one the next. I can't step in and out of the office. I am ordained to the Office of the Ministry. I don't have the luxury of being inconspicuous.

    My people appreciate the fact that I bear the sign of my office in public. They appreciate it when they see me come to their birthday and anniversary celebrations and other events bearing the sign of my Office. It is a silent reminder to them that Christ is blessing them with His presence.

    1. Fr. Paul, you speak as a true shepherd of Christ's Church!


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