Friday, 17 June 2011

Approachable but not available.

Should clergy identify themselves by wearing a dog collar as they go about their daily routines?
I know some clergy prefer not to wear a clerical collar during the day. When he first was ordained, The Curate had thought he would be one of these clergy. He found that there seemed to be a congregational expectation that the curate should put his neck on the line and be identifiable.

The Curate and I have settled into the new parish and, for the first few weeks The Curate was on holiday so obviously he did not wear a collar. We walked the streets regularly with our dogs and people smiled and said hello to us. We knew we had arrived in a very friendly parish. 
Once The Curate was back at work, the collar went on and he stepped out of our drive with our dogs and immediately he was engaged in conversation by a neighbour.The day continued in a similar way, with many engrossing conversations - the dog collar had identified him as connected to the church. The difference between when he is or isn't wearing a collar is quite marked. The Curate said it seemed as if it said he was 'available'!. I have told him quite categorically that he is not 'available' but he might be 'approachable'!


Kiss Me Kate said...

My ... the curate is quite handsome!


Shirlwin said...

From the point of the Curate's wife [I pointedly left out 'reluctant' feeling this was not the proper place for its inclusion] of course there is a huge difference between approachable and available! Seriously in this modern age when it appears 'the church' is often considered 'old hat' The Curate is in a privileged position and that others approach him is a huge plus.

Red said...

I have had very lenghty conversations with my VC about this. I am of the 'I will not be wearing a collar every day' camp,because whilst I agree that to some ot is an invitation to talk, to others it is a barrier and those are the people I want to reach. I also think that if people really need help God is quite capable of steering them in my direction anyway and indeed that has happened already and I not in ministry yet!
It is an interesting debate though, I know people can feel quote strongly about it!
glad you're settling in..
red :)

Thecurateswife said...

The Curate was very much determined not to wear a collar - like Red, people approached him BC (before collar)and he got alongside people in everyday situations. But it must depend where you are. Some places he would be putting himself at risk to wear a collar at certain times and in others - it opens doors. The youth worker he worked with, was surprised how quickly they would open for The Collared Curate - particularly in places the youth worker had been trying to access.People do see him as 'safe' with the collar.