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The Clerical Collar by Pastor Jim Brown

posted Feb 23, 2017, 12:21 PM by Bowmansville UMC

Some folks have asked about my clerical collar or shirt I wear, I just thought some information might help.

The collar has always been and still is the dress code for Protestant preachers and lawyers in Europe.

In days past, these individuals wore black and chose a white sweatband (cravat) to wear around their necks for the purpose of riding on horseback.

This became personified in the UK by John Wesley, founder of the Methodists, who rode on horseback the length and breadth of England preaching the Bible.

It was also the normal mode of dress for the Protestant Churches of Europe and it was not until the turn of the eighteenth century that the Catholic Church adopted it also.

It was never a Roman Catholic style of clergy dress code before that time and not one picture of a Pope or member of the clergy can be seen wearing one. Sadly, today most fundamentalist Protestants and particularly those from other nations erroneously think that the clerical collar is a Roman Catholic instituted style of dress code for their clergy and that Protestants should not wear it, because it represents the Roman Catholic Church, "religion" and "tradition". This type of thinking is wrong. The clerical collar is a Protestant clergy dress code.

But where did it come from and how far back can we trace its origin and more importantly its scriptural importance?

Today, when you look at the clerical dress of the majority of religions, you will see that the leadership attire is very similar. The adaptations in headgear may be different but the style of robe and neckband are ostensibly the same. Because the Judeo-Christian faith is born out of middle eastern customs, the origin of Christian clerical attire can be narrowed down to a very definite style.

The thirty ninth chapter of the book of Exodus describes in detail how the Lord commanded Moses to make "the garments of ministry". Again in the book of Leviticus in the eight chapter and verse thirteen, tunics were brought for ministry.

Modernist Christian anti Semitic, anti Jewish "replacement theology" in churches has denied the God given institutions in the "spirit" of the Old Testament ceremonial law and replaced it with a variety of man made interpretations concerning ministerial dress code, or covering, before God when conducting Worship, is of importance and reverence in His presence.

And from the UMC web site: Most United Methodist clergy do not wear the clergy collar or shirt, although many have both items. Many of our clergy would never under any circumstances wear a collar probably because they feel the collar would "put off" the laity or because they resist any association with "priestly" images.

Some would wear the collar in very formal, ecclesiastical settings or in hospital or social witness situations, where being identified as an ordained person could be helpful. There are a small number of clergy who wear the shirt "to bed" meaning, they wear the collar almost all the time when they are on duty. There are good arguments for not wearing and for wearing the collar. United Methodist clergy are free to choose whether or not to wear the collar.

The full collar is a white plastic band that attaches to the shirt with chrome collar buttons. The more comfortable tab shirt has a plastic strip inserted into both sides of the shirt collar.

These days, many shirt colors are available from church supply houses, although black is the "standard" color for the working pastor. Purple or maroon is reserved for bishops, and these colors should not be worn by other clergy.

In the United Methodist Church, we have licensed local pastors who are considered clergy, although they are not fully ordained. It is appropriate for these pastors to wear the collar in carrying out their pastoral duties.