New user? Register here:
Email Address:
Password:
Retype Password:
First Name:
Last Name:
Existing user? Login here:
 
 
News > UK >

Motion launched to alter law on vesture

Madeleine Davies

by Madeleine Davies

Posted: 03 Jan 2014 @ 12:24

CRE

Click to enlarge
Credit: CRE

IN BRINGING to the General Synod a private member's motion recommending a relaxation of canon law as it pertains to clergy vestments, the Vicar of St Thomas's, Oakwood, in north London, the Revd Christopher Hobbs, is aware that "it might be better to let sleeping dogs lie."

"Bishops never make a fuss about it, but potentially they could; so it would be better if the law was changed, in my mind, to reflect reality rather than just have it there on the books," he said last week. Although it may come as news to members of some congregations, who may be more accustomed to seeing their priest in a V-neck sweater than a surplice, canon law prescribes particular choices for the correct vesture of a minister.

Canon B8 states: "At the Holy Communion the presiding minister shall wear either a surplice or alb with scarf or stole." At morning and evening prayer on Sundays, "the minister shall normally wear a surplice or alb with scarf or stole." At the occasional Offices, "the minister shall wear a surplice or alb with scarf or stole." The PCC has a right to be consulted, and in a case of disagreement, the minister must refer the matter to the bishop.

Mr Hobbs's motion, which has attracted 115 signatures, calls on the Business Committee "to introduce draft legislation to amend the law relating to the vesture of ministers so that, without altering the principles set out in paragraphs 1 and 2 of Canon B 8, the wearing of the forms of vesture referred to in paragraphs 3, 4 and 5 of that Canon becomes optional rather than mandatory".

Last week, Mr Hobbs said: "In Evangelical churches, robes are often not worn. Usually, people are quite happy, and some of the newer people really don't like it when you wear robes. . . I do break the law sometimes, because in my tradition, most of us do. We feel bad about it, and that is why we would like it to be changed."

After confirming that he does wear robes every Sunday at his morning service, he suggested that a priest wearing robes could be an obstacle to those new to church.

He also told the Today programme on Radio 4 last week: "If you're really trying to talk about Jesus and bring people in who haven't been going to church, and they go along and they find the person's in unusual clothing and period dress, it's a kind of barrier for them to what's going on.

"In the New Testament, it doesn't say anywhere what ministers should wear. You just assume from reading it that they would wear what ordinary people wear."

Question of the week: Should it be up to priests and PCCs alone to decide what ministers should wear?

Job of the week

Principal

West Midlands

PRINCIPAL ST ALBAN'S ACADEMY Lead an outstanding high-profile school in Birmingham St Alban's Academy serves the Highgate area of Birmingham. It is part of the ARK Schools group, a network of ...  Read More

Signup for job alerts
Top feature

It’s not all religion’s fault

It’s not all religion’s fault

In her new book, Karen Armstrong argues that violence comes from a deep-seated 'warrior ethos' rather than from religion. She talks to Cole Moreton  Subscribe to read more

Question of the week
Should the seal of the confessional be absolute?

To prevent multiple voting, we now ask readers to be logged in. This is free, quick and easy, honestly. Click here to login or register

Top comment

Clergy are ‘more like Old Labour than New’

A survey commissioned to support debates on the future of the C of E yields some interesting results, says Linda Woodhead  Read More

Fri 31 Oct 14 @ 15:11
Canon Alan Billings, Labour Party candidate, elected Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire. http://t.co/iydy5Z0tDj

Fri 31 Oct 14 @ 14:53
'Positive action' is being taken to create a pool of women ready to be considered for the episcopate http://t.co/mDg7mlOLfo