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Church of England Clergy Permitted to Dress Down under New Rules

Church of England Clergy Permitted to Dress Down under New Rules

Church of England clergy members are now permitted to “dress down” at services reports Christian Today. The former rules regarding robes and vestments were loosened to adhere to shifting culture. 

At the General Synod conference in York, the proposal for clergy to dress more casually at typical services was approved; the Church of England now joins a variety of denominations including evangelicals, permitting church leaders to wear pants and shirts in place of formal robes. 

The proposal came from Rev. Christian Hobbs of the London Diocese who suggested that vestments were not necessary when some congregations meet in casual locations such as schools and cafes. 

 "There are some contexts where robes should be worn and some contexts where robes may not help in conveying the things we want them to convey. Sometimes they help the mission of the Church, in some contexts they may hinder the mission of the Church,” Hobbs said. 

Samuel Follett of the St. Albans Diocese explained that robes were first worn by clergy members so that the public would not be able to associate clergy members with a certain class. Follett agreed that donning vestments today might have the opposite effect and actually cause people to feel separated from the church. 

The decision was met with a mixed review. Philip McDonough, who serves as a lay reader for St. Albans said, “Not to use robes I think is slovenly and casual and it is a slippery route that we are sliding down.” 

Publication date: July 14, 2014