What Should We Wear: Clergywomen, Clothing, and Calling Open Access

Hrynyk, Jennifer (Spring 2021)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/pv63g1419?locale=en


Worship is the distinctive factor of the children of God. The clergywoman’s charge is to facilitate an authentic worship experience for the worshipper, and what she wears to lead worship can either facilitate or distract from this worship experience. Clergywomen, therefore, have a responsibility to form a theological rationale for their worship. The project establishes a theology of authentic worship, discusses the history of vestments and clothing in worship, explores clothing and personal/pastoral identity (including impression formation, group identity, and behavioral impacts), addresses the complexity of women’s clothing in particular, and examines the challenges and benefits of wearing non-religious clothing to lead worship. The conclusions of the project are that the clothes worn to lead worship are themselves an act of worship, and clergywomen must consider what considerations are pertinent in decision-making. Five considerations are suggested and explored: Contextual, Personal, Purpose, Seasonal, and Vision. Drawing on surveys with over 1400 clergywomen and a local congregation, the research revealed a propensity for clergywomen to overvalue their own personal preferences and comfort, often to the detriment of the vision of their church.

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