11 Awesome Professional Development Opportunities for Clergy

Clergy serve in one of the only licensed professions with no requirements for continuing education at all. Does that mean that your professional development should end with your M.Div? No! Going to conferences is an important way to network, skill-build, and keep your passion for ministry fresh.

Are you negotiating for a new job? Try and get your church to give you a line item for continuing ed. Five days and a thousand dollars a year is not an unreasonable ask, and if you arrange your trip so that you’re back in time for Sunday morning, your congregation will hardly know you’re gone.

But how should you spend those treasured professional development dollars? Here are a few ideas, in loose calendar order. Continue reading

Vestment Shopping for the Liturgically Challenged, Part 4: Chasubles and Other Extras

Welcome to the final segment of the Rock That Collar vestment guide! Today, we tackle chasubles, amices, and some other extras that you probably don’t need to buy. It’s still nice to know what they’re for.

almy-chasubleChasuble. A chasuble is essentially a great big tablecloth with a hole for the head.In Catholic and Episcopal (and sometimes Lutheran and Methodist) tradition, you wear it over your alb and stole for the consecration of the Eucharist. The moment when you put on the chasuble communicates something about your theology of worship: Do you believe that the entire worship service is consecratory, including the Liturgy of the Word? Don your chasuble before the service begins. Do you believe that only the Liturgy of the Eucharist is consecratory? Throw that bad boy over your head at the offertory. But make sure you have someone appointed to help you because it’s easy to get lost under a chasuble. You do not want your entire congregation watching as you thrash around inside it, trying to find the head hole so that you can claw your way out. Continue reading

Vestment Shopping for the Liturgically Challenged, Part 3: Geneva Gowns & Academic Regalia

Welcome to Part 3 of the Rock That Collar vestment guide! Today, we wander down, down, down the mountain of churchmanship, away from the Summit of Lace, past Chasuble Ridge, through the Meadow of the Alb, until we get to the Geneva gown.

You will find Geneva gowns (also called pulpit robes) on ministers in many churches that trace their heritage to the Reformation. You might need one if you are Methodist, Baptist, Congregationalist, Presbyterian, Unitarian, or any variation on these. How do you figure out which kind to buy? And what’s with all the accessories? Let’s take a look. Continue reading

Breaking News: Trade Court Rules That Snuggies Are NOT Vestments

Alert reader Ellen tipped me off to an important Court of International Trade ruling last week. The question on the table: For tariff purposes, are Snuggies considered apparel or blankets?

The judge rejected the Justice Department’s attempt to compare the Snuggie to priestly vestments or scholastic robes, which also have wide-armed sleeves and flow loosely around the body. Barnett said that unlike robes, the Snuggie opens in the back, and unlike ecclesiastical garments, it does not have closures.

Justice has spoken, friends. No Snuggies at the altar.

Read all about it at Bloomberg BNA.

In other breaking news … follow Rock That Collar on Facebook and Twitter!

Vestment Shopping for the Liturgically Challenged, Part 2: Choir Dress

During my first year of ordained ministry, my church held a service of Advent Lessons & Carols. My boss told me to wear “choir dress,” which I earnestly hoped meant “the same thing as the choir.” I skulked down to the choir room, donned a spare set of robes that looked like about the right size, and returned upstairs.

My boss nodded and said, “Looks good. Just go get your tippet.”

Ever full of guile, I said, and I quote:

“What’s a tippet?” Continue reading

Rock That Collar: Featured on Beauty Tips for Ministers!

I’m a longtime fan of Beauty Tips for Ministers, a blog by PeaceBang, otherwise known as my fellow Massachusetts clergywoman the Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein. She writes about clergy image and style, offering plenty of beauty tips but also so much more:

So you can only imagine my pure giddiness at being featured on BTFM. Continue reading

Vestment Shopping for the Liturgically Challenged, Part 1: The Basics

Oh hey, Reverend. You’re looking pretty sharp in your new capsule wardrobe. Now it’s time to think about vestments.

In certain Christian traditions, vestments are not a part of the ballgame, and you will be expected to preach and lead worship in your street clothes. If you are a pastor in such a church, good for you! Go ahead and spend your vestment budget on distressed jeans instead.

For the rest of us, the vestment universe can be a dizzyingly complicated, frighteningly arbitrary, and VERY EXPENSIVE place. If you’re just starting out, how much of this stuff do you really need? What do you have to buy for yourself, and what will your church provide for you? And when do you wear it all? Continue reading

Clergy Starter Capsule Wardrobe


You get the phone call you’ve been waiting for. You sign the paperwork. You circle the start date on your calendar in bright red ink.

This is it! Your very first clergy job! Congrats, Reverend!

Then, still in the warm afterglow of that glorious call, you look in the mirror.

If you have been a full-time seminary student for the last several years, perhaps you are wearing your one pair of jeans, which are starting to wear through in that spot where your bike seat makes contact with your inner thigh.

Or you might be in your Study Pants. You know exactly which pants are your Study Pants: These are sweatpants, leggings, or yoga tights whose proper sphere is the home. Those Study Pants have helped you meet many a deadline and kept you cozy through many a late night. You know you’re not really supposed to wear them to class, but, uh, all the undergrads are doing it. Continue reading