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Drop Your Robes: Anglicans Could Make Vestments Optional at Some Services

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 01/31/16

From The Guardian: 

Church of England clergy may be allowed to wear casual clothes during services so long as they are “seemly”, in a move which would sweep away centuries of tradition. Members of the church’s synod, or ruling body, are being consulted by bishops on a change to church law which requires clergy to wear certain robes at specific services, including holy communion, weddings and funerals. Among the proposals being considered is making traditional vestments optional, as long as such a move “would benefit the mission of the church”. For weddings and funerals, the agreement of the bride and groom or deceased’s family would need to be obtained. A consultation paper being circulated to synod members said: “Where the minister departed from the normal requirements as to vesture, the dress adopted by the minister should be seemly.” The rules governing clergy dress at holy communion, morning and evening prayer on Sundays and at “occasional offices” – weddings, funerals and baptisms – require the minister to wear a surplice or alb with scarf or stole. A surplice is a loose, white knee-length vestment worn over a cassock. An alb is similar, but ankle-length. A stole is coloured; a scarf is black. London vicar Christopher Hobbs proposed the changes to church law at last July’s synod, which resulted in the current consultation. The move was not “a charter for shell-suits”, he said at the time, but a reflection of the changing nature of some church services. “For holy communion there is no flexibility. It makes no difference if it is café-style in a pub, outside in a field, in a hotel lounge or lobby. Surplice and alb is required, with scarf or stole,” he said.

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