I have started wearing a clerical collar in my ministry. I had a discussion with Bishop Eaton as well as my Bishop, Jim Dunlop who both see no reason why Deacons can’t wear the clerical collars. Why am I wearing this? Partly because I am using it as a discussion piece on the role of the Deacon as well as for my DMin project. Many of our communion partners, such as the Episcopal Church, have their deacons wear the clerical collars. Catholic Deacons have been wearing them as well. Many deacons in the ELCA are beginning to wear clerical collars for the following reasons:
1. It identifies us as rostered leaders in the church. This is, theoretically, helpful for the same reason other uniforms are helpful. If you see a lady walking up to your house with a box, it helps to know that she’s from UPS. If you are having a heart attack, you may want to grab the guy who’s wearing scrubs. While the black and white garb have historical significance in our community, most people today will not recognize the black and white dress as a symbol of a church’s rostered leader.
2. While the budded cross does represent the wearer as a Deaconess in the ELCA, again that alone is usually not helpful for letting people know my roster in the church. It may alone just be seen as a nice piece of jewelry.
While many say it shouldn’t matter what you wear, I agree. But it is also helpful in emergency situations – people know they can approach me for help and when I enter an emergency room, I am quickly identified as a church leader. The collar is also helpful for visitors to our church. Since most people recognize the collar, they can approach me with questions.