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Episco-Fact #52
July 9, 2017

How would or should someone address the clergy at St. Francis?

The address for clergy is governed by some interesting guidelines, and, as usual, those of us in the Anglican Communion are governed by Scripture, Tradition, and Reason.

The Bible is not clear about what people who are governed by Holy Orders (i.e. Deacons, Priests, and Bishops) should be called. That means, as good Anglicans, we have some discernment to do, and as good Anglicans, we can comfortably use the titles that have accumulated over time.

As reform Christians, we do not need to have titles. We know this is less formal, but our theologies envision our holding our office as being ordered as the baptized and ordained around the distribution of the sacraments, not as the "alter Christus." At the table, we are the Presiders around which the Eucharist is celebrated by all. Therefore, adults will never go wrong calling us by our first names.

We are also blessed to be Pastors of the people who, like Jesus, care for God's faithful. The title of Pastor, or more commonly in the Bible, under-pastor, is ancient and honorable. You will never go wrong, I think, to call us Pastor David or Pastor Tracey.

Our priestly function is no longer to offer sacrifices of animals, fruits, or wine, but to offer sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. Therefore, our priestly titles would normally be Father and Mother, for David and Tracey, respectively.

It is here where confusion sometimes sets in. I understand that the Reverend Penelope Bridges preferred to be called Mother Penny, as the parental counterpart to the male address. Many former Roman Catholic women have the context that Mother N. is the title of a female religious who is not ordained but had taken vows. Because of that sensitivity and because they do not want to adopt Fr. (though some do), women choose their formal address as either Rev. (grammatically a salutary honorific), or Pastor, which is a title. Tracey is one of the former.

In the Bible, there are categories of leaders that are now part of our vernacular with interesting new connotations of meaning. In the New Testament, there were those who waited upon the widows and orphans of the diaspora (i.e. waiters whose Greek title is deaconus), Deacons; the elders of the community who help the overseer, whose title is Presbyterus, Priests; and the overseers of the community called Episcopas, Bishop. For general information purposes, A deacon is called Deacon N., and is addressed as the Reverend N.N. when writing to them. Bishops are Bishop N and are addressed as the Right Reverend N.N. in a letter.

So, for St. Francis, informal and peer to peer, we prefer David and Tracey, more formally, and adult to child or to the newly introduced, we prefer, Fr. David and Rev. Tracey.

 

The Rev. David Lucey

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