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Clerical vesture and Anglican ecclesiology

07 February 2014


From Mr Roger Doe

Sir, - I am an Anglican, and my wife is, or was, a Baptist. Though we had our two children baptised as infants, we decided that the children would be involved with both traditions until they were able to decide for themselves. So they experienced alternately an Anglican parish eucharist with vestments and servers and a Baptist "family service" with the minister in a grey business suit.

Aged ten, our son asked to come with me to the eucharist every week, and, aged 11, our daughter did likewise. Now on holiday in Devon, we all attended an Anglican parish eucharist celebrated with similar dignity last Sunday, and today (1 February) my wife told me that she wished to be received into the Church. It was all about the dignity of the worship, including the robes.

Unless "robes" mean a crumpled surplice with "I-have-been-to" academic hood and funereal black scarf, robes have great meaning for young people. We suspect, however, that those who do not want to wear them are not thinking about their relevance as much as playing at being more Baptist than Baptists. Let us be proud of our Anglican tradition.

Roseland House, Saxonhurst Road
Bournemouth BH10 6JH


From Canon John Goodchild

Sir, - The Revd Dr Andrew Atherstone (Comment, 31 January) suggests that congregations be allowed to choose what clergy wear. But local expressions need to be combined with catholic awareness.

The robed minister who has been ordained and licensed by the bishop symbolises a congregation's part in the diocese, the world-wide Anglican Communion, and the history of the Church.

Members of a congregation might wish to express their faith in their own way, but a contemporary worship song should not be allowed to replace the Nicene Creed on every occasion.

The clergy's uniform gives assurance that they are trained and under authority, not just people claiming individual credentials or approved by a local group. The C of E is diocesan, not congregational.

39 St Michaels Road
Liverpool L17 7AN

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