Thinking allowed

Consultation on Vesture

A resolution was passed at the July 2014 meeting of the General Synod asking that the Canons be amended so that clergy vesture be optional rather than mandatory.

The House of Bishops has now put out a short (6-page) consultation paper on this topic which can be read here.

The paper asks Synod members whether they support the amendment of Canon B8 to accomplish this, and if so whether it should follow the approach they present:

  • In relation to the Holy Communion and Morning and Evening Prayer on Sundays, the minister would be able to depart on a general basis from the normal requirements as to vesture, provided that he or she had first ascertained, after consultation with the Parochial Church Council, that doing so would benefit the mission of the Church in the parish.
  • In relation to the Occasional Offices, the minister would be able to depart from the normal requirement as to vesture, provided that he or she had the agreement of the persons concerned to do so. It has been suggested that the requirement for the agreement of those concerned might extend to weddings and funerals but not baptisms on the grounds that the latter generally take place in a main Sunday service and should therefore be within the minister’s discretion. Since, however, the prescribed forms of vesture would remain the norm for all three occasional offices it would seem more straightforward if the rights of those concerned were the same in each case.
  • Where the minister departed from the normal requirements as to vesture, the dress adopted by the minister should be seemly and not such as to be indicative of any departure from the doctrine of the Church of England.

The consultation is aimed at members of the General Synod who are asked to send in their comments by 15 April, so if you have views on this matter you should send them to your diocesan representatives. Copying them to the Clerk to the Synod Jacqui Philips jacqui.philips@churchofengland.org may also help.

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