05 February 2009

A Year with My Preaching Gown

Roughly a year ago the parcel via Royal Mail arrived at the parsonage on a Sunday afternoon!  

When I first tried on the cassock, gown, and preaching tabs I was not too sure; it took me a good couple of months before I was fully comfortable wearing it.  For the first couple of months I wore a clergy shirt with a tab collar but soon tried to wear a regular dress shirt and four-in-hand or bow tie.  This method worked but it felt a little, no make that alot, goofy.  Finally I purchased a clergy shirt with a dog collar and found my stride.  This is what it looks like in black and white (yeah I know a little too much hair gel).  

The outfit is quite flexible though.  For Ash Wednesday I only wear the cassock with a burlap stole.  Suppose it is summer, I simply forgo the cassock and tabs and only wear the gown.  When I married my nephew and new niece this summer I did this and found it to function quite well.It took me a good spell before I finally settled on this style.  I am writing about it because I have yet to find any other Baptists provide a nice overview of proper preaching clothing (indeed, I avoided the tempting thrice alliteration).  

Downsides of this style.  1.  The combination of a clergy shirt with dog collar (which are impossible to fasten), cassock, and gown does tend to get a little warm - so make sure the sanctuary is not too hot, if folk do complain about the temp just say you are keeping your preaching fresh.  2.  You have to wear a clergy shirt and collar underneath the cassock for the preaching tabs to look good.  Therefore, you have to forgo wearing ties of any sort on Sunday mornings.  3.  Some folk will giggle at you when they first see you if they are accustomed to you in another robe or vestments.  I did, however, find that most folk really dig it.  4.  Price, yes it is expensive!  You could buy a bespoke suit for the price of this outfit, but like the rep. said to me: "it wears like iron, you will wear it your entire ministry and then pass it on to whomever."  

For a fuller description of how I came to this outfit I did write about it here.  

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