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Seminar will address importance of professional clergy image

Aug 19, 2011
By Leah Ellison Bradley

On September 26–27, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary is hosting an event that could be considered a modern-day metaphor for Karl Barth’s charge to “carry the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.” What’s Under Your Robe?: A Clergy Image Seminar is a tongue-in-cheek title for some serious conversations about how clergy relate to their parishioners and the rest of the world.

Harvard-educated Victoria Weinstein is the pastor of First Parish Unitarian Church in Norwell, Mass. Her blog, Beauty Tips for Ministers, is not only about how pastors "ought" to look, but about why it matters. A review of her blog, published by the University of Chicago’s online Sightings, said “As one reads [her] posts, and reads them more deeply, a distinctive pastoral theology begins to emerge, a theology that embraces the physical presence of women in ministry. . . . What keeps the blog from being either frivolous or harsh is Dr. Weinstein’s consistent recognition that female clergy occupy a professional and theological space that requires them to respond to a long and often critical tradition.”

She believes that if the mainline Church is to survive, its leaders must dismantle old paradigms such as Martyr, Enigma, or Saint, and help the church mature beyond its unsustainable expectations of its ordained leaders.

Weinstein is a pioneer in the subject of clergy image and self-presentation. In her words, “You can either project an image intentionally or you will most certainly project one unintentionally.” She says, “We live in a visual age, and the old attitudes that equate spirituality with lack of concern for outward appearance are naive and damaging to the Church. Modern ministers must understand their context and recognize that they represent the church visually as well as spiritually.”

This event will address such topics as the calling to ministry, self-esteem as incarnate beings, the deep resistance to attention to personal beauty as either an expression of frivolity or vanity, and self-care. Weinstein will also discuss the presentation of self: voice, body, hair, grooming, clothing, vestments and clericals, and how to dress for the various duties of ministry.

What’s Under Your Robe? offers insight for professionals in a variety of roles, and the event is not gender specific.

Register Online. For more information about this event, contact the Office of Alum & Church Relations, lbradley@lpts.edu, 502.992.9346, or 800.264.1839, ext. 346.

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