Why do pastors wear collars? — Chad, an ELCA member from Brooklyn, Wis.
Here’s what our pastors had to say!
Monica: Dear Chad — Great question! Wearing a collar depends much on personal preference and piety. I wear a collar because it helps to remind me of my calling as a pastor and of the ministry office to which I am entrusted. I am also more easily identified as a leader in the church and community when wearing a collar. As a very young, bi-racial, female clergy, I am sometimes overlooked or people think I can’t be a pastor — too young — too womanly — an ethnic minority serving in a predominantly black community — I’m not who people expect to answer the door introducing myself as “Pastor.” For me, wearing a collar is both spiritual and practical. But I wait for the day for more fashionable options.
Ron: I wear a collar because over time I’ve found that it probably helps open more doors than close doors. In many ways it is a uniform and a symbol. I hope that it signifies to another person “you can ask me for help.” I believe it also helps remind me of “who I am and whose I am.” In the United Kingdom clergy collars are often referred to as “dog collars.” I was first put off by that designation, but as I thought about it I rather liked it. My goal is to be as faithful as I have found dogs to be. In addition I like that bumper sticker which reads “wag more — bark less.”
David: I remain someone who wears clericals more often than not. I have outlined before some reasons why I do so [on my own blog]. However, the greatest reason is this: I want people who are looking for a representative of God and the church to be able to find me, and to find me easily.
But, you may say, people don’t really go looking for a representative of God or the church. And most of the time you are right. But when people get to the end of their rope, when people start feeling overwhelmed, they do. Or, to put it another way, people do not start looking for someone in a clerical collar until their need is great.
The analogy I’ve always used is police officers. If I am in need of help, I am much more likely to look for a police officer in uniform than I am a police officer in plain clothes. Granted, it is not often that I am looking for a police officer. But when I am, I need to be able to find one as soon as possible.
So too, clergy. It is may not be often that a person is looking for a pastor, but when they are, they often need to be able to find one as soon as possible.
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