Pastor Nollie is wearing a pulpit gown!

Today, in Pasig Covenant Reformed Church, for the first time as a pastor, I wore a pulpit gown. As I entered the worship place this afternoon, many were smiling, or surprised, or maybe didn’t know how to react. I’ve been thinking of doing this for a long time, but I don’t have one. But yesterday, I was finally able to borrow from another pastor, and since we have an Installation service and a Baptism service, it was a fitting occasion for wearing one.

We had a couple of first-time visitors today, and what might they be thinking? Has Pastor Nollie gone Roman-Catholic-mad, wearing a pulpit gown, in addition to singing Gloria Patri, reciting the Apostles’ Creed and Lord’s Prayer, and saying the Sursum Corda? On the contrary, a pastor wearing a pulpit gown goes a long way back in church history. As Pastor Michael Brown of Christ United Reformed Church in San Diego, California writes in “‘Why Is the Pastor Dressed Like Harry Potter?’—Why the Pastor Wears a Robe,” wearing a pulpit gown during a worship service benefits the church in four ways:

1. The pulpit gown emphasizes the office, not the man. It draws our attention away from the man, his personality and his personal taste in clothing, and reminds us of the office that Christ—not man—has appointed.

2. The pulpit gown is a distinctly Protestant practice, not Roman Catholic. They were originally worn by ministers in the ancient church, and again by Protestant pastors from the time of the Reformation … These robes were different from those of Roman Catholic priests … elaborate and ornate robes with complex symbols known as vestments.

3. The pulpit gown was removed by revivalism. Consequently, we have what we have today in modern evangelicalism: radical informality in worship, not to mention radical ignorance in doctrine and radical need for another reformation!

4. The pulpit gown adds to the reverence of our service. Why is it that we expect judges to wear gowns when they are in the courtroom, but we want our ministers to wear business attire [or worse, shorts and t-shirts] when they lead worship?

It’s time for me to buy a Genevan gown.

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