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Wednesday, 19 June, 2002, 14:41 GMT 15:41 UK
Vicars campaign for casual dress
Vicar baptising a child
Traditional dress would be worn "where appropriate"
Vicars could get a style makeover if a motion presented to next month's Church of England General Synod is passed.

Members of the Southwell diocese in Nottinghamshire are asking for clergy to be given permission to hold services dressed in ordinary clothing.

Currently, vicars must wear cassocks and surplices to celebrate communion in Anglican churches.

But the Reverend Mark Tanner calmed traditionalists' fears, saying: "We don't see people actually wearing shell suits and trainers."


We want the freedom to make what we wear more culturally appropriate to our congregations

Rev Mark Tanner

He suggested vicars might choose to wear "smart suits, probably with a clerical collar".

The motion to change one of the canons of the Church of England stemmed from Mr Tanner's own Holy Trinity parish, and has since been adopted by the Southwell diocese.

"The idea originated because some of the members of the congregation said, 'Mark, it looks ridiculous that you are wearing all that clothing'.

"It made me seem to be apart from everybody else."

Mr Tanner says he personally sticks by Church law and continues to hold all his services dressed in traditional vestments.

But other vicars do already take general services in more casual dress - and bishops generally turn a blind eye.

Parish consulted

And Mr Tanner says any change would not be forced upon parishes who prefer a more formal atmosphere.

Vicars would only be allowed to abandon traditional vestments after agreement from their congregations and their bishops.

Nor is it likely weddings and funerals would be held by vicars in casual clothing.

Mr Tanner added: "We want the freedom to make what we wear more culturally appropriate to our congregations.

"It's my hope that it will be one part of a package that will make young people stay with the Church."

The motion will be presented by the Southwell diocese lay Synod member Andrew David at the meeting at the beginning of July.


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16 Nov 01 | England
14 Nov 00 | UK
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