Anglican Church votes to let clergy dress down during services

The Church of England's General Synod has voted to let clergy ditch their vestments and wear casual clothes during services.

The new Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby arrives for his enthronement ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral, in Canterbury, southern England March 21, 2013. | REUTERS / Dominic Lipinski / Pool

Synod members say priests should be allowed to wear what they want to make the Church of England more accessible to the modern community. In a nod to this perception, the church's ruling body has given its clergy the green light to dress down during services and opt instead for jeans and casual shoes, the Telegraph reported.

While debating on the motion, Synod members brought up concerns that clergy might be pressured into conforming to themed weddings. Luke Miller, the Archdeacon of London, recalled a story about a priest who was asked to wear a purple stole during a wedding, pointing out that the color was usually worn during funerals.

However, the concerns about themed outfits were addressed by clauses which stipulated that the clergy must wear an outfit "suitable for a minister of the Church of England ministering divine service."

Leyland vicar Alistar McHaffie welcomed the vote and said the motion would reflect society's changes "in the way of informality." He also said the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, had worn trainers to the synod years ago, although the latter said they were "walking shoes."

In a July 5 entry on his blog Psephizo, General Synod member Rev. Dr. Ian Paul explained why Church of England bishops need to stop wearing mitres. He said the mitre looked "daft" and is uncomfortable, plus it symbolizes absolute authority over the people, as described in the Old Testament.

In addition, Dr. Paul said the mitres belong to the past and only serve to alienate the younger generation. It conveys the message that the church is still enclosed inside its "bubble of self reference," detached from the modern concerns of its members. For these reasons, Paul said it is now time for the Church of England to ditch the mitres.

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