Rev. Dr. Chuck Moffett
A recent cartoon shows two pre-schoolers watching a clergy person walk by, wearing his clerical collar. The boy asks the girl, “Why does he wear that silly looking collar?” The girl replies, “I think it protects him from fleas and ticks up to six months.”
The matter of “clergy collar” seems to be a topic of interest here at Bay Village, since in the last few weeks I have had several folks ask me why I wear the collar, especially since I am Presbyterian, not Roman Catholic. First of all, I can assure you that it has nothing to do with being “protected from fleas and ticks up to six months!”
While the clerical collar is most frequently identified with Catholic priests, who wear the black shirt with white tabs, it was a Scottish Presbyterian minister, Rev. Donald Mcleod, who created the detachable clerical collar in 1894. Part of his reason was to identify the Protestant pastors (full collar) as different from the Roman priests (full clerical gown). He also borrowed from the academic tradition of the day in emphasizing the teaching role of a pastor. The full round white collar is also worn by Episcopal and Lutheran clergy.
Why do I wear the clerical collar? Certainly not for show or for demanding respect; the wearing of the collar provides instant identification of my role, such as the uniform of a police officer, or the lab coat worn by a doctor. This is especially useful in hospital visitation, and in making rounds on the Health Center here at Bay Village where our community residents may not know my role. Rather than being a deterrent to open conversation, I have found on many occasions that strangers will approach me for support and prayer because the collar identifies me as clergy.
The collar reminds me, and others, that I am called by Jesus “to serve, not to be served.”