Original Research

The implications of the usages and theology of clerical dress in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa

Donald M. Williams, Wessel Bentley
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 56, No 1 | a2803 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v56i1.2803 | © 2022 Donald M. Williams, Wessel Bentley | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 September 2021 | Published: 27 June 2022

About the author(s)

Donald M. Williams, Methodist Church of Southern Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Wessel Bentley, Research Institute for Theology and Religion, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Using a theological literary study, this article argues that, while there have been significant shifts in the dress code of the ordained clergy of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, these changes are often driven by uninformed personal usages rather than theological principles. This leads to confusion in the usage of liturgical wear and vestments, resulting in marked differences between orders of ordained ministry and the separation of clergy and laity. Furthermore, the inconsistent and often contradictory ecclesiology of ministerial dress leads to tensions along ecumenical lines and does not promote image of the one body of Christ. This article argues that the Methodist Church of Southern Africa needs to revisit its ecclesiology relating to the ministry of the ordained, and for their dress code in their ministry to be relevant in Southern Africa.

Contribution: This article contributes towards the ongoing discussion in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa on the usage of liturgical wear and vestments in the practice of ordained ministry. It seeks to clarify the history of the use of clerical wear and other vestments, so that a common understanding and usage can be employed that will negate ecclesiological confusion and promote ecumenical relationships.


Keywords

clerical dress; ordination; Methodism; Methodist Church of Southern Africa theology

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