clothes ministers wear in an Episcopal worship service are called vestments. Why do they wear that stuff?
First, vestments lend dignity to a worship service/ The clothes then are
about the role the person fulfills in the worship service rather than their
personal taste in clothes, this is as true for the acolytes and other
servers as for the pastor. What do the items signify and where do they come from?
The main items worn are:
Strictly speaking, a cassock is not a vestment as they were
for quite a long time traditional street wear for priests. The long black
robe (sometimes red for acolytes and for special services) are usually worn
in a service under a white garment called a surplice. The photo at right
shows acolytes (kids assisting with the service) in red cassocks with
white surplices, the Lay Eucharistic Ministers (non-ordained members of the
congregation assisting in servings communion) in albs and the pastors in
albs with stoles. The pastor at right is Barb Gibson of Joy Lutheran, taking
part in a joint service with King of Peace.
This is the white robe worn by those serving during a worship service
(shown below on the priest at right). Wearing robes
is not just a quaint custom, it allows people who have come to worship without concern for
the clothes the pastor and others who are serving are wearing. It is about the role in the
service, rather than the whims of fashion.
This is worn over the shoulders of the pastor and other ordained persons
(shown at left).
Historically it comes from the Jewish prayer shawl and is a sign of leadership in the
service. Both deacons, priests, and bishops all wear
stoles. A deacon wears the stole over the left shoulder, across the chest
and tied under the right arm. Priests and bishops wear stoles around the
neck with the ends hanging in front. The color and design are selected to go with the season of
the church year.
This is a poncho like overgarment worn by priests (shown at right) during a communion service.
Historically it was the type of cloak or overcoat worn during the time when Christianity
became the official religion of the Roman Empire. The color and design of the chasuble,
like the stole, depend on the season.
Pictured above, the Rev. Frank Logue wearing a purple chasuble during the season of Advent. His daughter, Griffin, is serving as an
acolyte (or assistant in worship). She is wearing an alb.