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Source: (consider it) Thread: Are young people put off church by vestments?
RainbowGirl
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Another Young One here. I'm twenty-five. I second the comments about us millenials wanting authenticity. I don't care what you wear, I've worshipped in churches where priests wear suits and churches that use the whole shebang. I like priests to be identifiable, but whether that's with a clerical collar or crosses on the corners of a turned down collar, it doesn't bother me. What I deeply dislike are the attempts to be hip and relevant. I'm not looking for a relevant church, I'm looking for a church with authentic faith.

The biggest thing to put me off of a church is when you attend a service for the first time and no-one makes eye contact with you or acknowledges you at all. Or worse, the ones who tell you how brilliant it is to have a young one but wouldn't you be happier at the charismatic/Pentecostal church down the road?

I'm also put off when, despite being a cradle Anglican I can't find where to collect books/pewslip, or even where to enter the church. On one memorable occasion I walked fully around a church building three times before I found the single very small unlocked door by which the congregation was to enter.

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Gee D
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I'm not aware of any evidence to support the common assertion that young people don't want a formal service/don't want vestments. The only evidence I know of is in Bob Jackson's work where he says that the real growth in church attendance by people in their 20s and 30s is in either cathedral attendance or in the more formal churches - this is UK specific of course. That strongly suggests that young people are not turned away by vestments.

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Jengie jon

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Firstly, I can see why anyone coming to church for the first time would find vestments strange. Probably would also be puzzled by the dress code of the congregation. Why do we largely dress as if going to a business meeting?

Secondly, I also do not think people who come for the first time expect church services to be just the same as everyday life. What most seem to prefer is to not feel as if the congregation thinks they have walked in from Mars.

Jengie

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Gamaliel
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There are two equal and opposite dangers ISTM. One Anglican parish here affects a studied informality that can be grating. The other has an incumbent who is upping the ante on liturgical niceties to the extent that they are driving people away ...

It worries me on both counts.

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Zappa
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quote:
Originally posted by RainbowGirl:
Another Young One here. I'm twenty-five. I second the comments about us millenials wanting authenticity. I don't care what you wear, I've worshipped in churches where priests wear suits and churches that use the whole shebang. I like priests to be identifiable, but whether that's with a clerical collar or crosses on the corners of a turned down collar, it doesn't bother me. What I deeply dislike are the attempts to be hip and relevant. I'm not looking for a relevant church, I'm looking for a church with authentic faith.

The biggest thing to put me off of a church is when you attend a service for the first time and no-one makes eye contact with you or acknowledges you at all. Or worse, the ones who tell you how brilliant it is to have a young one but wouldn't you be happier at the charismatic/Pentecostal church down the road?

I'm also put off when, despite being a cradle Anglican I can't find where to collect books/pewslip, or even where to enter the church. On one memorable occasion I walked fully around a church building three times before I found the single very small unlocked door by which the congregation was to enter.

oh, amen and amen

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Jengie jon:
Firstly, I can see why anyone coming to church for the first time would find vestments strange. Probably would also be puzzled by the dress code of the congregation. Why do we largely dress as if going to a business meeting?

My impression is that 'Sunday best' holds for older churchgoers (who are in the great majority, of course) but for hardly anyone under middle age. The exception would be ethnic minority congregations, where members like to make more of an effort.

IME occasional churchgoers often expect church to be quite a formal environment, perhaps because they're older and their reference point is church life from decades ago. But people who don't really go to church at all, which includes most younger people, might have a range of expectations.

Young people who are assimilated into church life are already extreme outliers, so maybe their preferences are unlikely to be replicated among unchurched people of the same age.

[ 17. July 2017, 09:32: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Angloid
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quote:
Originally posted by Nick Tamen:

quote:
Originally posted by Angloid:
Of course all sorts of worship are equally 'proper', but it is the Eucharist at the centre which gives meaning to the rest. The early Christians certainly met regularly - weekly at least - for the 'breaking of the bread'.

Absolutely. And yet until the Fourth Century, Christians celebrated the Eucharist without the use of vestments at all, much less vestments in the proper liturgical colors. Hard to see, then, how the proper celebration of the Eucharist requires (as Utrecht Catholic says) the wearing of them.
The early Christians were the early Christians. They didn't need signs to connect them to themselves. One reason for the traditional vestments (however much they have evolved over the centuries) is to do just that: to show that our worship is in continuity with theirs.

But of course vestments aren't essential. It's the reasons some people give for abandoning them that many of us question.

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L'organist
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My young ones howled with mirth when they saw this: as they put it, sometimes it was only analysing the ghastliness of material and/or design of visiting bishop's vestments that made services bearable.

Listen: vestments are what is known as workwear - that is uniform by another name. You are required to wear uniform whether you work as a bellboy in an hotel, drive a train on the underground or serve in HM forces. I have friends in the forces and they've all said there are days when having to kit up in number 1s is a major pain, especially the chap in the Blues & Royals who said that wearing a metal breastplate when the temperature is 30 degrees Celsius should be classified as torture; but they wear their uniform because they knew that was part of the deal they signed up to when they joined the navy/ army/ airforce. The same is true of those members of the clergy who now moan about vestments: they were part of the deal when you signed-up. You can may call it a vocation and you may have been "selected" for training but the bottom line is you did enter the priesthood voluntarily knowing that liturgical vesture was part of the deal.

As for those clergy who prefer not to wear the collar: how do they square that with their mission to be a visible presence of the body of Christ in the community?

As for the young: some young people find uniforms on police, fire officers, etc, equally off-putting - are we seriously suggesting that they too should go into plainclothes to spare the feelings of young who will, in all likelihood, be wearing their own (albeit informal) uniform of skin-tight jeans, rumpled T-shirt, bandanna, or whatever?

I suspect that the "young" concerned were approached along the lines of do you find people in church wearing funny clothes off-putting? to which they obligingly answered in the affirmative.

[ 17. July 2017, 11:10: Message edited by: L'organist ]

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Utrecht Catholic
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I fully agree with this statement,A Chasuble, vestment is a uniform of the church,and nothing else.
It is not for dressing up as some Evangelicals suggest.

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Enoch
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UC, a chasuble may be part the uniform if you are an Old Catholic. It isn't, if you are, say, Church of Scotland. Expecting other people to wear the uniform of your regiment rather than their own is akin to a Scottish soldier complaining that other parts of the army do not wear the kilt.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Angloid:
But of course vestments aren't essential. It's the reasons some people give for abandoning them that many of us question.

This. Yes. Thank you.

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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Chorister

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quote:
Originally posted by Nick Tamen:

Absolutely. And yet until the Fourth Century, Christians celebrated the Eucharist without the use of vestments at all, much less vestments in the proper liturgical colors. Hard to see, then, how the proper celebration of the Eucharist requires (as Utrecht Catholic says) the wearing of them.

The vestments of modern day priests do look, in many ways, like the robes worn every day in Palestine. Long, flowing, tied with a cord, etc. So the link stretches across the centuries.

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no prophet's flag is set so...

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Bishops wearing pointy hats and walking with giant wooden candy canes. I know what they are supposed to symbolize. But I also know what they looked like to me when I saw them for the first time at age 15.

The liturgy at the time used language like "crumbs underneath thy table" and "quick and the dead" at that time. All thought of returning quickly died for me. I didn't come back for 9 years. And that was because of a girl, none other.

You gotta play to your audience. There's no evangelism in tradition which plays only to an inner circle of gnostics. Perhaps in England you get in the know via your schooling or because you've an establishment church.

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Ecclesiastical Flip-flop
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When I was very young, aged 5, sometimes I was taken to Sung Eucharist, when the vicar vested in a certain way in the sanctuary and sometimes I was taken to Matins/Evensong, when the vicar robed in quite another way in choir. At that young age, this variation was enough to confuse me.

Yes, confused, but not put off, by my long past experience.

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Anglican_Brat
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This isn't per se about vestments in liturgy.

I started watching Father Brown and Grantchester, and I understood that both series are set in the Fifties. It seems that Fr. Brown and the Rev. Sidney, both fictional clergy, spend pretty much their waking moments in clericals, I imagine it was common back in the "good old days".

Fast forward to my seminary class, a few years ago, and my congregational studies professor tell us, that other than in formal worship, the ideal is to wear what your parishioners would suitably wear in a professional setting (i.e. business casual), he said, he very rarely outside of liturgy, wears a collar.

As a young priest, let me be blunt, that unless I wear vestments in liturgy or clericals, very few people would identify me as a clergyperson. My view, is that vestments and clericals are uniforms, in much the same way that professionals are expected to wear uniforms, i think clergy should have that mindset.

In the context of liturgy, it depends on the context. A Sunday High Mass in a Cathedral is very different than a beachside Eucharist on a weekday with youth. But generally speaking, on a Sunday, if a church places emphasis on beauty through the fresh flowers and the polished chalice and paten, why would't that same emphasis be placed on the vestments that the priest wears?

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Albertus
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[Overused]

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irreverend tod
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In answer to the original question, and after an unscientific canvasing of teenagers in the school where I work - they are not put off by vestments. About 90% of them have no church affiliation and no idea about what actually goes on in a church so I had to explain vestments. Most of them see no reason to even go into a church or if they do it is more likely to be a church which is untainted by the scandals that have hit the established churches.
Wearing 'funny clothes' is not going to make that much difference.

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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
]My impression is that 'Sunday best' holds for older churchgoers (who are in the great majority, of course) but for hardly anyone under middle age.

None of our retired in the congregation wear 'Sunday best' whereas most of our students wear suits.
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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Anglican_Brat:

As a young priest, let me be blunt, that unless I wear vestments in liturgy or clericals, very few people would identify me as a clergyperson. My view, is that vestments and clericals are uniforms, in much the same way that professionals are expected to wear uniforms, i think clergy should have that mindset.

Thanks, Anglican_Brat. Long may your opinion prosper.

My own priest wears clericals whenever he is "on duty". Paying a pastoral visit? Put clericals on - his parishioners want to see a priest. He also wears clericals shopping, and generally going about his business. He views it as both a sign of his calling and an indication that he is available to talk if he happens to encounter someone who wants to talk to a priest.

He doesn't wear clericals on his day off (when he doesn't want to be recognized as a priest) or if he's going out for the evening qua friend rather than qua priest.

I suspect attitudes towards clergy in clericals are rather driven by attitudes towards the priesthood in general. I'd expect business-casual wearers to tend to be low church types.

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Angloid:
But of course vestments aren't essential. It's the reasons some people give for abandoning them that many of us question.

This. Yes. Thank you.
I agree too. And those reasons aren't always just questionable. Sometimes, as I said in responding to the OP, the reasons are, I think, an effort to avoid harder questions and conversations.

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Arethosemyfeet
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quote:
Originally posted by irreverend tod:
In answer to the original question, and after an unscientific canvasing of teenagers in the school where I work - they are not put off by vestments. About 90% of them have no church affiliation and no idea about what actually goes on in a church so I had to explain vestments. Most of them see no reason to even go into a church or if they do it is more likely to be a church which is untainted by the scandals that have hit the established churches.
Wearing 'funny clothes' is not going to make that much difference.

This, I have to say, was rather my gut feeling. Of all the barriers to getting young people to come to faith, what church leaders are wearing or not wearing is unlikely to be high on the list of priorities.
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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Chorister:
quote:
Originally posted by Nick Tamen:

Absolutely. And yet until the Fourth Century, Christians celebrated the Eucharist without the use of vestments at all, much less vestments in the proper liturgical colors. Hard to see, then, how the proper celebration of the Eucharist requires (as Utrecht Catholic says) the wearing of them.

The vestments of modern day priests do look, in many ways, like the robes worn every day in Palestine. Long, flowing, tied with a cord, etc. So the link stretches across the centuries.
It is said that our church's vestments closely resemble the robes worn by government functionaries in 4th/5th century Constantinople.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
Bishops wearing pointy hats and walking with giant wooden candy canes. I know what they are supposed to symbolize. But I also know what they looked like to me when I saw them for the first time at age 15.

The liturgy at the time used language like "crumbs underneath thy table" and "quick and the dead" at that time. All thought of returning quickly died for me. I didn't come back for 9 years. And that was because of a girl, none other.

You gotta play to your audience. There's no evangelism in tradition which plays only to an inner circle of gnostics. Perhaps in England you get in the know via your schooling or because you've an establishment church.

I get your point, but the CofE's 'audience' is already older people, on the whole. Those younger people who are in the Church but leave have much deeper issues than what their clergy are wearing. The vast majority of young people here, though, have nothing to do with the CofE, or with any sort of organised Christianity. Clergywear alone won't make much difference to people who aren't there, and don't intend to be!

Regarding the general tone of this thread, I doubt that anyone would seriously suggest a wholesale abandonment of vestments in the CofE. It's a high status historical denomination as well as a state church, and a respect for tradition is probably a uniting feature among many of its regular churchgoers as well as its admiring outsiders. Maintaining the heritage is part of the CofE's unofficial job specification, so to speak, quite apart from the more principled arguments about why vestments are a good thing.

Nevertheless, considering that the CofE wants to hold on to its broad church credentials, I'm not sure why it should be wrong for some churches, taking into account their own context and mission, to be officially allowed to forgo the use of vestments.

I think the real fear is that casual dress among the clergy is associated with evangelicalism, and that the acceptance of casual dress is a symptom of the creeping influence of evangelicals in the CofE. IMO the answer to this is for the more visually traditional, theologically moderate churches, especially those outside the South East of England, to become more adept at creating their own distinctive ways of reaching the young (and everyone else) in their communities.

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Demas
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quote:
Originally posted by Anglican_Brat:
Fast forward to my seminary class, a few years ago, and my congregational studies professor tell us, that other than in formal worship, the ideal is to wear what your parishioners would suitably wear in a professional setting (i.e. business casual), he said, he very rarely outside of liturgy, wears a collar.

Assuming your parishioners do actually spend time in a professional setting.

'Business casual' is a very strange thing when you look at it closely. It is certainly not neutral in meaning. But I suppose it is historically suitable for Anglican ministers - it indicates a nice midway point on the class ladder, certainly not low but not too high either. Someone who advises, not decides. I can see Mr Collins arriving at Longbourn now in a nice, moderately priced suit with a single colour shirt, no tie.

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stonespring
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quote:
Originally posted by Arethosemyfeet:
quote:
Originally posted by irreverend tod:
In answer to the original question, and after an unscientific canvasing of teenagers in the school where I work - they are not put off by vestments. About 90% of them have no church affiliation and no idea about what actually goes on in a church so I had to explain vestments. Most of them see no reason to even go into a church or if they do it is more likely to be a church which is untainted by the scandals that have hit the established churches.
Wearing 'funny clothes' is not going to make that much difference.

This, I have to say, was rather my gut feeling. Of all the barriers to getting young people to come to faith, what church leaders are wearing or not wearing is unlikely to be high on the list of priorities.
But if young people associate church scandals and centuries of oppression of women/people of color/LGBTQI+ folk, etc., with vestments, then if they ever darken the door of a church, as you have said, they are more likely to darken the door of one that in terms of preaching and mission seems to be free of scandal and addressing the problems of modern society - and doesn't wear vestments - than one that is just as scandal-free and modern-day-conscious and does wear vestments. It's this whole idea that vestments are a badge of old white men trapped in their ivory tower - even when they aren't worn by old white men - that I find infuriating.
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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by stonespring:
But if young people associate church scandals and centuries of oppression of women/people of color/LGBTQI+ folk, etc., with vestments, ...

Do we have any reason to think they do?

One doesn't have to think of centuries of oppression when one can turn on the TV (or modern equivalent) and see it unfolding at the local Hobby Lobby. The people screaming at frightened young women outside the Planned Parenthood aren't wearing vestments. Pat Robertson doesn't wear vestments.

I can see no reason young people would associate vestments with toxic Christianity when the most ready-to-hand examples of toxic Christianity in their day-to-day lives do not wear vestments.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Chorister:
The vestments of modern day priests do look, in many ways, like the robes worn every day in Palestine. Long, flowing, tied with a cord, etc. So the link stretches across the centuries.

Not sure this is really true. Many, probably most, Palestinian men wear Western clothing.

Those who wear traditional clothing tend to wear something that is more like a Thobe or Egyptian Gallibaya - but there is a lot of variation of styles. Neither really are much like Anglican vestments, which appear to be much baggier and have a lot more folds.

I think it is unlikely that the Anglican vestments are anything to do with dress from the ME. Much more likely it is a mutated form of clothing from those worn in Rome.

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mr cheesy
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I don't think there is a particular problem with vestments in general. I think most people understand the concept of a uniform and that the person wearing it is doing a particular job eg policeman or nurse.

I think there is a problem when the dress code is unexplained or nonsensical or comic and when weird things happen which visitors are not supposed to find amusing.

But then I think the reverse can also be off-putting to a visitor; I think people in general and young people in particular are looking to understand the authority structures in a religious setting and are unconsciously trying to assess what is being said and who is saying it. The liturgy of non-conformists can be extremely hard to follow if one is not in the "in-crowd" and the leaders look like everyone else.

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mark_in_manchester

not waving, but...
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Nick Tamen said:

quote:
Sometimes, as I said in responding to the OP, the reasons are, I think, an effort to avoid harder questions and conversations.
I've wondered about this. If a priest / minister went out here (inner city) in a dog collar, I reckon they'd get tapped up for money 20, 30 times a day. With no dog collar, I could get tapped up 10 times a day - if I were wearing one then what, would I stop at everyone sat on the pavement - or not, and convey a different message?

Any priests here able to say how they handle that?

(I volunteer amongst homeless and ex-homeless in the security of a centre where begging (inside) is not allowed - so I have some insight into the reality of what's going on on the streets, including reasons why I would and would not want to give. But that's not what I'm asking about).

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Arethosemyfeet
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quote:
Originally posted by stonespring:
But if young people associate church scandals and centuries of oppression of women/people of color/LGBTQI+ folk, etc., with vestments, then if they ever darken the door of a church, as you have said, they are more likely to darken the door of one that in terms of preaching and mission seems to be free of scandal and addressing the problems of modern society - and doesn't wear vestments - than one that is just as scandal-free and modern-day-conscious and does wear vestments.

If anything, the chances are that the blank-eyed men in suits and/or open neck shirts and chinos are the impression of Christian bigotry that they encounter. Occasionally a cardinal's robes.

If you can exclude all other associations, you're back to the question of whether accessibility or otherness is going to work better in attracting and retaining interest that leads to faith.

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Gee D
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quote:
Originally posted by stonespring:

But if young people associate church scandals and centuries of oppression of women/people of color/LGBTQI+ folk, etc., with vestments, then if they ever darken the door of a church, as you have said, they are more likely to darken the door of one that in terms of preaching and mission seems to be free of scandal and addressing the problems of modern society - and doesn't wear vestments - than one that is just as scandal-free and modern-day-conscious and does wear vestments. It's this whole idea that vestments are a badge of old white men trapped in their ivory tower - even when they aren't worn by old white men - that I find infuriating.

I don't know from what part of the world you write, but both here and in the US the great scandals have been across all denominations (save here for the Orthodoxen, still apparently free) and religions - including one devised by the abuser.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
I think people in general and young people in particular are looking to understand the authority structures in a religious setting and are unconsciously trying to assess what is being said and who is saying it. The liturgy of non-conformists can be extremely hard to follow if one is not in the "in-crowd" and the leaders look like everyone else.

This is an interesting idea, but not terribly convincing.

If someone is standing in a pulpit, or are seated behind the pulpit, you know they're in authority. If they're standing by the door at the end, shaking people's hands, you know they're in authority. So-and-so may be referred to as the pastor/minister/vicar. Some churches have named photos of all the church leaders. Otherwise, church members will tell you who the minister is if you're unsure. So it's not that hard!

Maybe by 'authority' you're talking about authority figures. But it's the CofE's status above all that provides status for its clergy. The vicar is a figurehead and a source of advice and moral support. You need him or her for baptisms, weddings and funerals. But otherwise, the nice, tolerant, traditionally dressed vicar is hardly a greater authority figure than a casually dressed evangelical pastor.

BTW, most Nonconformist clergy do wear at least a dog collar. The Baptists may or may not be an exception. I've met a Baptist pastor who does wear one - but only when he's outside church!

It's the New Churches that most consistently (but not always) avoid dog collars. It works for them, but I agree that the role of a pastor in one of those churches is different from that of a CofE vicar.

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Albertus
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
... I've met a Baptist pastor who does wear one - but only when he's outside church!...

I met one who did just the same thing, his explanation being that 'my flock know I'm a minister, but people outside don't'- which makes good consistent sense if your theology is of the gathered church.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
This is an interesting idea, but not terribly convincing.

If someone is standing in a pulpit, or are seated behind the pulpit, you know they're in authority. If they're standing by the door at the end, shaking people's hands, you know they're in authority. So-and-so may be referred to as the pastor/minister/vicar. Some churches have named photos of all the church leaders. Otherwise, church members will tell you who the minister is if you're unsure. So it's not that hard!

I think this depends on the churches you've been to. I've had extensive experience in Evangelical churches (including Anglican ones) where the person standing behind the pulpit isn't in any kind of position of responsibility in the church for various reasons - visiting speakers, members of the congregation who are allowed to preach by the vicar, etc. I'm sorry to say that Anglican churches exist where those who occupy the pulpit are not really monitored very well.

I also know of churches, including Anglican churches, where the leader is known by their first name and who wears the same clothing as the rest of the congregation. If he is never introduced, visitors may not ever know who they are in relation to the leadership of that church.

Of course, YMMV.

quote:
Maybe by 'authority' you're talking about authority figures. But it's the CofE's status above all that provides status for its clergy. The vicar is a figurehead and a source of advice and moral support. You need him or her for baptisms, weddings and funerals. But otherwise, the nice, tolerant, traditionally dressed vicar is hardly a greater authority figure than a casually dressed evangelical pastor.
I know that and you know that. I suggest that someone walking in from the street with no idea what is going on might well focus on a guy in vestments in an Anglican church as an authority figure rather than some guy in a suit amongst a crowd of people in suits in an Evangelical church. Again, YMMV.

I appreciate that this is more complicated in Anglican churches where several people wear uniforms. But in the vast majority of Evangelical churches I've ever been to - which must be a lot over the years - the minister and/or leader wears a suit. As to deacons, elders, visiting speakers, even general members of the congregation who might be preaching in a one-off capacity.

quote:
BTW, most Nonconformist clergy do wear at least a dog collar. The Baptists may or may not be an exception. I've met a Baptist pastor who does wear one - but only when he's outside church!
I've not ever been to URC churches and very rarely Methodist churches. But I've been to many different types of Evangelical church, and outside of the Anglican church, none have ever worn any kind of dogcollar or vestment. The clothing has varied from very smart suits to t-shirts and shorts. Again, YMMV, but I believe it is incredibly unlikely anyone from the street will see someone in any kind of religious uniform (other than suit) in a non-conformist church.

quote:
It's the New Churches that most consistently (but not always) avoid dog collars. It works for them, but I agree that the role of a pastor in one of those churches is different from that of a CofE vicar.
I don't think so. Evangelical churches, particularly those associated with a Baptist, Congregational or Brethren background haven't worn dog collars for more than 50 years. Some never wore them.

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arse

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Albertus:
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
... I've met a Baptist pastor who does wear one - but only when he's outside church!...

I met one who did just the same thing, his explanation being that 'my flock know I'm a minister, but people outside don't'- which makes good consistent sense if your theology is of the gathered church.
And that you don't see yourself as a Priest offering a sacrifice on behalf of the people, but as someone "set aside" and recognised to lead worship and minister.

[Turns away from stable door to avoid entering DH territory].

[ 18. July 2017, 10:37: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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Albertus
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Yes, thank you for that amplification.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Evangelical churches, particularly those associated with a Baptist, Congregational or Brethren background haven't worn dog collars for more than 50 years. Some never wore them.

I think you misunderstood me.

My point was that most English evangelical churches are not 'Nonconformist' in historical terms. The Baptists are the most significant Nonconformist evangelicals, but the other evangelical groups, such as the Congregationalists, are tiny. The Methodists are URC (who don't normally identify as evangelical) are more numerous, and do have clergy in dog collars.

I'd wager that most evangelical congregations outside the CofE are now in the New Churches. I agree that their pastors don't wear dog collars on the whole.

You may be right that evangelical churches with non-distinctive clergy are confusing places for visitors. All I can say is, if that's a serious problem then they should be declining faster than the more traditional churches, but it's normally the other way round.

As I said, IMO churches should do what's right for them.

[ 18. July 2017, 10:49: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
I think you misunderstood me.

My point was that most English evangelical churches are not 'Nonconformist' in historical terms. The Baptists are the most significant Nonconformist evangelicals, but the other evangelical groups, such as the Congregationalists, are tiny. The Methodists are URC (who don't normally identify as evangelical) are more numerous, and do have clergy in dog collars.

I'm sorry I don't understand what you are talking about.

Your hairsplitting about whether Evangelicals are non-conformist is largely irrelevant. Most people who walk into a church from the street are likely to be going to one where there are no vestments unless it happens to be an Anglican or RC church.

If they walk into a Protestant church, they're even less likely to see someone in vestments because only a minority of Methodist and URC minister regularly wear them. And those are a minority of Protestant churches anyway.

If one walks into an Evangelical church (of many different kinds), the chances of the leader being identified by a collar or other vestment are vanishingly small.

Newer churches rarely have ministers with uniform, but even older Evangelical churches with a Brethren or Baptist root haven't had ministers with collars or vestments for at least 50 years.

It might be different in the URC or Methodist circles you move in, I concede. But I'd suggest those are so numerically small that the chances of someone walking into them from the street and seeing someone in vestments is negligible.

quote:
I'd wager that most evangelical congregations outside the CofE are now in the New Churches. I agree that their pastors don't wear dog collars on the whole.
I doubt that. But what does it matter anyway? We can agree that the Evangelical churches represent a large number of church buildings in this country and very few of them wear collars or vestments. Can't we?

quote:
You may be right that evangelical churches with non-distinctive clergy are confusing places for visitors. All I can say is, if that's a serious problem then they should be declining faster than the more traditional churches, but it's normally the other way round.
I don't think those thoughts necessarily follow on from each other.

quote:
As I said, IMO churches should do what's right for them.
You've said a lot of things which don't seem to stand up to scrutiny.

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arse

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irreverend tod
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Further discussion, and a lot of google translate with our EAL students. The unfamiliarity of the form of service is off putting , but they are quite curious about what we do.

The LGBT student said she's feel awkward given her perception of Christian teaching on homosexuality. I've just pointed her up the road the the massively inclusive URC church and refuted most of what they thought they knew.

It turns out that talking about faith in a non church context helps. I've just had 30 minutes of why do you...? questions

Also you can't be a vicar if you swear as much as me - so that's me told

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Most people who walk into a church from the street are likely to be going to one where there are no vestments unless it happens to be an Anglican or RC church.[...]

You've said a lot of things which don't seem to stand up to scrutiny.

But the CofE is the state church, the default to which most people turn, if they are minded to. Most religious weddings and funerals take place in the CofE. I would assume that most CofE clergy still wear vestments? The RCC has an even larger membership, so it's strange to dismiss it. The Orthodox clergy also have sizeable numbers.

Looking at the membership figures here (see page 4), there are fair numbers of non-CofE historical denominations around, so the idea that they and their vestment-wearing clergy are irrelevant is rather odd. More Presbyterians than I was expecting, but the list is for the whole of the UK, not just England.

So it seems that people who drift into a random neighbourhood church could easily come across clergy in vestments of some kind.

However, I fully admit that I don't mix in the same church circles as you. A world where considerable numbers of non-religious people turn up to random churches and get confused by unidentifiable clergy is not one I'm very familiar with. It's probably a regional thing.

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mr cheesy
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Sigh, yeah OK, you've experienced something therefore it must be the case for the majority of people.

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arse

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Pomona
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I would say that vestment-using churches in the UK are far and away the majority.

Let's face it, we all know the big Deceased Equine which keeps young people out of churches - I fear this is a deflection from churches who don't want to have to deal with it.

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Consider the work of God: Who is able to straighten what he has bent? [Ecclesiastes 7:13]

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Sigh, yeah OK, you've experienced something therefore it must be the case for the majority of people.

But as I said, I accept that your area is probably different from mine. I meant that.

I live in a large industrial city, on the fringe of suburbia and a more urban social environment. I'm not in London, the South East, a small town, a commuter belt village, or a far flung suburb. If you live anywhere like that then I can well imagine your experiences are different.

Ironically, my experience of traditional city Christianity might have a little bit more in common with the kind of small village whose old-fashioned churches are struggling.

Considering that indigenous English evangelicalism is often claimed to be quite middle class nowadays, the geographical setting is likely to be quite significant overall. And where there are more English evangelicals, it seems there are fewer clergy in vestments.

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venbede
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I wonder if the missing link in stonespring's argument is something like this:

Wearing vestments is camp and therefore gay. Gay priests abuse children. Therefore young (and prejudiced) people are put off places where prominent people are obviously not straight.

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Pomona:

Let's face it, we all know the big Deceased Equine which keeps young people out of churches - I fear this is a deflection from churches who don't want to have to deal with it.

Are churches that take the "modern" line on that particular pony overflowing with young people, then? Because I can't say that I've particularly noticed it.

My recent experience is mostly with the US rather than the UK, but if I compare my TEC shack (women and gay-friendly) with the RC place down the street, I don't see much difference in the demographics. (My eldest sings in the RC church choir from time to time, so I have a reasonable feel for their normal crowd.)

There's a Presbyterian place that's considering un-chartering its Boy Scout troop because the Boy Scouts have become a little less disapproving of homosexuality, and a non-denominational modern megachurch-style place that's gay-affirming (big posters with rainbow flags etc.) I know those less well, but I don't see much difference in their demographics either.

And then there's the local UUs, who are very socially active (take part in Pride events, organize volunteers to escort women to abortion clinics, ...). I don't think I'd really describe their syncretic practices as Christian (and nor would they, necessarily), but that's rather beside the point, which is that they have a similar demographic mix as well.

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Bishops Finger
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Sorry, but could you explain 'UUs', please? (I'm guessing Unitarian of some sort).

IJ

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by Bishops Finger:
Sorry, but could you explain 'UUs', please? (I'm guessing Unitarian of some sort).

Unitarian Universalist.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Pomona:
I would say that vestment-using churches in the UK are far and away the majority.

Er ... no. You need to include Baptist, Methodist, New Church, Pentecostal, Brethren, Salvationist, Church of Scotland (etc.) in your totals, as well as subtracting non-vestment wearing Anglicans. And remember that a Reformed "preaching gown" or even a Low Church surplice is not a vestment!
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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
And remember that a Reformed "preaching gown" or even a Low Church surplice is not a vestment!

Not terribly relevant if the question is putting off youth coming through the door. The youth aren't going to go, "Well, that's not properly speaking a 'vestment' so it doesn't bother me."

quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
quote:
Originally posted by Pomona:

Let's face it, we all know the big Deceased Equine which keeps young people out of churches - I fear this is a deflection from churches who don't want to have to deal with it.

Are churches that take the "modern" line on that particular pony overflowing with young people, then? Because I can't say that I've particularly noticed it.
Someone once bitten by a poisonous snake might not stop to ask the next snake if it's poisonous or not before shunning it.

quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
I don't know from what part of the world you write, but both here and in the US the great scandals have been across all denominations (save here for the Orthodoxen, still apparently free) and religions - including one devised by the abuser.

Not free, just not on the radar. We've had some scandals that ended in turnover at the top levels of one of our American jurisdictions (OCA). But we're not on anyone's radar so it went unnoticed by the press at large.

quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
If they're standing by the door at the end, shaking people's hands, you know they're in authority.

I know that. But I am a long-time churchgoer. Does our hypothetical unchurched youth know that? Consider what is perhaps to many youths the closest analogue to a church service: a music concert. The people at the doors as you leave are not the band or anyone important.

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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Zappa
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quote:
Originally posted by Nick Tamen:
quote:
Originally posted by Bishops Finger:
Sorry, but could you explain 'UUs', please? (I'm guessing Unitarian of some sort).

Unitarian Universalist.
Dissimilar to us TUs
(Trinitarian universalists)
[though our universalism is stretched by Unitarians
[Biased] ]

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and mayhap this too: http://broken-moments.blogspot.co.nz/

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