Recently, I started wearing a clergy shirt and collar during the work day and when I serve in ministry settings outside of the office. Since this is no longer common among Protestant pastors, I thought it might be helpful to explain my reasoning to those who might wonder. The first thing I want to point out is that this practice is Protestant in origin and started with a pastor named, Rev. Donald McLeod from Scotland in the late 1800s. Though we share the same first name and heritage, those are not the reasons I follow the practice.
The primary reason is for quick and clear communication of my pastoral role. This is particularly helpful during hospital visitations and emergency situations. While the St. Luke people know who and what I am, others in the community and those who may be attending a funeral may not know until I go forward to speak. The secondary reason is because I have lost 60 pounds in the last couple of years and I do not want to buy a bunch of new clothes.
It is my hope that by wearing the clergy shirt and collar, I may clearly present a pastoral presence in dark and difficult places to those who are in need of pastoral care. I will stand with those who need reassurance of God’s love. I will stand in protest against social and racial injustice. I will stand for our Wesleyan traditions of holiness, love, and grace in Jesus’ name. Though I am flawed, I am God’s. So, I will stand up, I will stand out, and I will reach out in Jesus’ name.