Lenten Discipline

Late Tuesday night as I was preparing for the Ash Wednesday service, I was still trying to figure out what I was going to do for Lent. Give something up? Take on a service project of some kind? I just didn’t know. Then, came this message via Twitter “Considering wearing my collar daily as Lenten discipline, but can’t bring myself to embrace it. I’d rather quit Coke. Prolly means I should.”

When I read that, I thought “I could do that. I have a collar. That might be interesting.” As I considered it, I also thought about the Episcopal clergywomen in our area.

The afternoon of the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday was the first day I joined a group of Episcopalians for a Lectionary study. Part of the conversation that day touched on the former lack of ordination for women in the diocese which is currently changing.  Once ordained, Episcopalians wear a collar. United Methodist ministers can wear a collar but many, if not most, don’t.

In the swirl of thoughts late on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, as I contemplated just what I was being called to for a Spiritual Discipline this Lent, I realized that I take the ability to wear a collar for granted. I have had a least one clergy shirt for most of the years I have been in ministry but I rarely have worn it. I was struck by the thought that I have had a barely-worn-taken-for-granted clergy shirt hanging in my closet while others in this area who have been denied ordination would love to be in a position to wear a collar. So, as a part of my Lenten discipline and in solidarity with my Episcopalian sisters called to ordained ministry in the area, I am wearing a clergy collar for Lent.


I had the collar on when we went to Whole Foods after the Ash Wednesday service. The young man who was our checker quietly asked, “Are you a priest?” He was so quiet the first time that he had to ask again just barely louder. I said, “Yes. I’m a United Methodist pastor.” “Oh,” he replied. “I’ve never seen a woman priest before.” Then we chatted for a little bit. It’s the longest conversation I remember having with any checker in a long time. And it was about church stuff!

I hadn’t really considered the collar to be a conversation starter or “outreach” tool. But I now realize that it does serve to raise awareness. I know lots of clergywomen who shop at Whole Foods. I bet that checker has seen more clergywomen than he knows he has. They just didn’t have on a clergy collar so he didn’t recognize them as clergy.

Maybe the collar is a good choice.


About Sarah The Vicar of Hogsmeade

I'm an United Methodist clergywoman with two daughters. I read. I geocache. I look for excuses to laugh. My Ph.D. is on Clergywomen and Grief.
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5 Responses to Lenten Discipline

  1. kathrynzj says:

    I find my aversion to clergy collars comes from those in seminary who wore them with (in my opinion) way too much pride in their calling. But I wonder if that is just an excuse because in public I don’t want people to know what I do. Out of embarrassment? I don’t think so, but I’ll definitely have to do more thinking about it.

    Keep us posted on how it goes!

  2. Songbird says:

    You almost make me wish I had one, but I don’t.

  3. jO says:

    So… How did it go?

  4. Pingback: Wearing a collar during Lent year 4: the beginning | The Vicar of Hogsmeade

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