Sunday, April 22, 2012


It’s unclear to me who designs women’s clergy shirts, because they don’t appear to fit any actual women. My roommate is short and curvy; I am tall and angular, like a beanpole. Women’s clerics fit neither of us. Over the past few years of field ed and internship we’ve both learned tricks to looking professional despite the limitations. I layer all clerics under a sweater; my roommate gave up completely and invested in a dickey (a piece of fabric with a collar attached that fits around your neck and tucks under a shirt). I did also find one company that makes a line of “petite” clerics, though I’m 5’7”, so I don’t know what short female clergy do.

A couple weeks ago the junior class received their field ed assignments for next year. In excitement and preparation for their future ministry sites, two of the junior women came over to try on clerics and get a feel for what they liked. One of the juniors is tall, but curvy like my roommate. The other is short, but thin and angular like me. It was a fun evening of clergy dress-up as they raided our closets, trying on different sizes and styles, getting a sense of what worked and didn’t work. It felt like a strange passing of the torch, getting to share the wisdom we’d gained in several years of learning to make oddly sized clerics work for us.

I have learned a lot in the past four years of seminary. Much of that learning has come in the classroom, but probably an equal amount came from my colleagues. Tips and tricks passed on by word of mouth through generations of pastors; like keep peppermints in your pockets at a wedding (they help settle nervous stomachs) or that horse troughs make excellent full immersion baptismal fonts. After four years of taking in wisdom, it was fun to get to share some of my own and continue the chain of experience.

This is not a cleric, notice it fits. I made this by cutting the collar off a regular shirt and sewing a button on the back.

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