Thursday, 16 October 2008

Wycliffe theologian: Forcing clergy to wear robes "absurd"

Clergy should not have to wear robes during services because such rules are "absurd in the 21st century", according to a leading theologian.

Garments such as the cassock and surplice are a form of "power dressing" which reinforce class divisions and prevent the wearer getting the Lord's message across, said the Rev Andrew Atherstone.

In a report titled Clergy Robes and Mission Priorities he called on the Church of England to allow ministers and parishioners to decide what dress code was appropriate.

"The existing law, which makes robes obligatory for all, belongs to a bygone world. In the 21st century Anglican ministers must at last be given the freedom to decide their own clothing, in consultation with their congregations, based on their local setting," said Mr Atherstone, a tutor at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University.

"Robes can be a barrier to mission, a hindrance rather than a help." Read more

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David said...

As robes only have to be worn for communion, this is not a barrier to evangelism. What is the current practice for communion at home groups or on hospital wards or in residential homes etc. when robes would not be appropriate to the less formal setting?

John14 said...

I know of at least one parish in the Diocese of Peterborough, where they never use them! It is a strong Charismatic Evangelical parish that even for communion, you will see the clergy(there are two) wear only their clerical collars as any sign of their office. As a modern late 80's contemporary style with worship band maybe this fits in. Also the congregation are drawn in from various other Denominations where this is the norm.
There is a form of "Elitist" attitude with robes, even with the plain cassock & surplice variety. This rules are stupid & should be changed to "Guidelines". If we are trying to reach out to the unchurched, we do not need symbols, even those historically they are correct.
The robes are embrassed by all High church parishes and many of the "prayer book Evangelicals" but the Charismatic group do & will continue to do it their way, and that is why they are growing in numbers as well as faith in Jesus Christ more than any others.