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

Professor of Divinity

London and Home Counties

Gresham CollegeFounded 1597 Gresham Professor of Divinity Gresham College has provided free public lectures for over 400 years in the City of London and now operates worldwide via the internet. Fo...  Read More

Signup for job alerts
Top feature

Finding life over death

Finding life over death

Denise Inge, who died on Easter Day this year, discovered that her home was built over a charnel house. This prompted her to write a book exploring the challenge of living well in the face of mortality  Subscribe to read more

Question of the week
Are foodbanks an effective way of dealing with poverty?

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

Fighting inequality and corruption in the world

Efforts are being made to combat corruption and sharp practice in global finance. Peter Selby has seen this at first hand  Subscribe to read more

Fri 21 Nov 14 @ 18:23
This week's @churchtimes caption competition (£) http://t.co/7MLykjnfbO http://t.co/e2W7Dcex09

Fri 21 Nov 14 @ 18:11
Church leaders condemn murder of American hostage http://t.co/qvOo6JbXHX