Unused vestments?

Vestments which have not been used for a year are still hanging in the vestry wardrobe. They belong to the church, not to an individual, though maybe some were donated by an individual. What should be done with them?
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Comments

  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    If you’re in the Church of England you’ll need a faculty to dispose of them - if that’s the right thing to do. Why are they unused? Do you have a place to store vestments?
  • Thanks. They hang in the wardrobe or in drawers. Our priest does not use them. Will they rot if left hanging? Maybe a visiting priest eg holiday cover may wish to use them Nothing has been said at PCC.
  • When you say that your priest doesn't use them, is that because you have other suitable vestments which he does use?

    If your wardrobe/drawers are dry, there should be no real problem in keeping them safe, but might they perhaps be usefully lent to an indigent or poor parish which needs them?
  • If they belong to the church then the PCC can decide what they want done with them. And as someone said above, you probably would need some kind of diocesan faculty or permission to dispose of them, if that was the decision, because they are legally the property of the church and have to be appropriately accounted for.

    If they're old, and the donors no longer alive then it might be easier to do that; if a donor is still alive, common sense dictates they would need to be contacted.

    If it's a case that the current priest just doesn't want to use them, but potentially his/her successor might, the PCC would probably be encouraged by the diocese to hold on to them, assuming they're wearable.
  • If they're hanging in wardrobes/drawers unused for any length of time, and it's an old church, you might want to think about taking anti-moth precautions...
  • Shipmates have made suggestions relevant to CoE circumstances and their propositions are likely more realistic than mine. My own default response is that a delegation of parishioners, perhaps with the assistance of some of the rougher members of the community, should visit the priest and persuade them to use the vestments.

    If that's not deemed to be practical, then steps should be taken to preserve the vestments from deterioration, as kingsfold suggests.
  • I had to laugh at the suggestion of strong arm tactics at the Vicarage, but thank you for all your answers. Our priest chooses not only not to wear vestments but not to robe at all, for most services. He has not sought the approval of the PCC but probably the majority would be ok ( or not speak up, because he is “ so hurt” if anyone disagrees with him.)
    Yes, it may be possible to contact one of the donors, but the rest are unknown or dead. Who knows how long our priest will stay? We would not want to have no vestments for a future incumbent, so we would not want to dispose of them.
    Yes, I had thought that items in drawers would be ok, but am less certain about those hanging up so I think we need to look at alternative moth- proof storage.
  • I remember talking to someone who carved for old clothes in a museum and they told me that the way they cared and protected their antique dress collection was by having them cleaned every year or so. Of course their dresses were on display, not tucked away but you might look into that for the vestments that have been hanging.
  • Thanks for that thought.
  • Professional cleaner / dry cleaner would clean and seal into plastic on clothes hangers. We've some 40 year old things that look just fine through the plastic. Museum like I suppose.
  • Great, thanks.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    Apart from needing a faculty anyway if you want to dispose of them, some of them may be designed specifically to go with altar frontals, pulpit and lectern falls etc. If they are part of a suite in that way it’s more likely that you should keep them.

    We have some very old stoles which I never use because they are very tired and tatty, and because I have my own. They are stored in a purpose made wooden box, but I haven’t looked at them for a while.
  • Some of those items are in regular use, so yes, I think we should clean them and keep them.
  • Puzzler wrote: »
    I had to laugh at the suggestion of strong arm tactics at the Vicarage, but thank you for all your answers. Our priest chooses not only not to wear vestments but not to robe at all, for most services. He has not sought the approval of the PCC but probably the majority would be ok ( or not speak up, because he is “ so hurt” if anyone disagrees with him.)

    Unless canon law has changed recently, your priest is acting illegally in not wearing vestments unless he has gained the agreement of the PCC. Maybe as you say, they would not challenge him, but at least he could give his reasons for disregarding the traditions of the church (not to mention of the Church). It's not 'all about him'.
  • I'm still not certain if I was joking or not. Still, overly self-propelled clerics need to be brought down to earth and one likes to think that moral suasion and dialogue make the cosh so unnecessary.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    angloid wrote: »
    Unless canon law has changed recently, your priest is acting illegally in not wearing vestments unless he has gained the agreement of the PCC. Maybe as you say, they would not challenge him, but at least he could give his reasons for disregarding the traditions of the church (not to mention of the Church). It's not 'all about him'.
    That's probably true in respect of wearing the basic robes, but unlikely in respect of the sort of vestments that are likely to belong to the parish, to have been left hanging in a cupboard and that Puzzler is asking about. They are much more likely to be themselves the sort of vestments that were for a long time illegal and there was acrimonious litigation about in the C19 and early C20.

    Until the late C19, virtually no clergy wore anything other than cassock, surplice, black scarf and academic hood to take any service at all. That is still lawful for every occasion.
  • Too right, angloid. I seem to be the only one who cares about what is lawful, and am tired of sticking my head above the parapet, to be told, “we needed to change, we need to get new people in” as if that justifies everything.

    My understanding( though I have not managed to find this officially anywhere) is that, with the agreement of the PCC it is now no longer mandatory to robe. But this would be to further the mission of the church, where robes may be thought to be a barrier, eg cafe church, all-age worship, Messy church and other fresh expressions.

    Sorry, this has already been discussed on another thread.
  • Canon B8, which was changed to much publicity in July 2017 - Guardian article from 10 July 2017:
    2. Notwithstanding the provisions of this Canon no minister shall change the form of vesture specified in this Canon which is in use in the church or chapel in which he officiates unless he has ascertained by consultation with the parochial church council that such changes will be acceptable.

    3. At the Holy Communion the presiding minister shall wear either a surplice or alb with scarf or stole unless the minister has ascertained by consultation with the parochial church council that adopting some other form of dress will be acceptable and will benefit the mission of the Church in the parish. When a stole is worn other customary vestments may be added. The epistoler and gospeller (if any) may wear surplice or alb to which other customary vestments may be added.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited December 2018
    Any egregious priest, who wears only civvies, will in due course depart. The vestments (perhaps bought at sacrificial cost by people with a love for the church and its liturgy) will, hopefully, remain.

    It therefore makes sense to look after them in the ways suggested. If all else fails, caring parishioners could do what was done during the turmoil of the Reformation, and take things home to care for them there, in the hope of happier times returning....yes, I know that might be strictly illegal, but so is the priest's flaunting of canon law.

    (Sorry, I somehow missed Ck's post above - which does emphasise that the PCC must be consulted re any change of vesture.)
  • Thanks for the quotation. I knew I had read it somewhere at the time, but had not found it subsequently.
    Most of the people who object to the changes have already left. Others are unhappy but generally hoping that in the long run we will attract new people. A fair number of people are perfectly happy and couldn’t give a fig about robes or vestments.

    I think I shall have a quiet word with the Church Warden and see what he suggests as a way forward. Certainly the vestments should be properly cleaned and preserved.
    Thanks for the advice.
  • Puzzler wrote: »

    I think I shall have a quiet word with the Church Warden and see what he suggests as a way forward. Certainly the vestments should be properly cleaned and preserved.
    Thanks for the advice.

    A sensible idea - these fads and fashions change, as clergy come and go, and you might find a new incumbent, in a few years' time, blessing you for taking a longer view.

  • Puzzler wrote: »
    Thanks. They hang in the wardrobe or in drawers. Our priest does not use them. Will they rot if left hanging? Maybe a visiting priest eg holiday cover may wish to use them Nothing has been said at PCC.

    Whether or not they are of use to anyone else depends on many things, not least size!

    The first thing you should do is get them cleaned before putting into a garment bag - storing any clothing unclean encourages moths and other nasties (they're attracted by the human secretions apparently :yum: )

    Unless they were either bought with church funds or were a formal gift they are not covered by the faculty system - but since they are vestments you should try to dispose of them sensibly. Try advertising in your local Diocesan Newsletter or similar.
  • The parish I attended about 20 years ago faced a similar question. Many old, unused vestments, some damaged, the black set deemed no longer of use, some just too heavy and worn to be of good use. This was in TEC, so there was no need for a faculty other than approval of the Vestry. And the Vestry sensibly approved the scheme, not each item piece by piece. (Or we’d still be debating today!).

    We limited review of the cupboards to the Rector, me as Priest on staff, and the Sr. Warden who was, luckily, also head of the Altar Guild. We found an order of nuns in Central America who repurposed old vestments into something saleable, putting the funds raised into free schooling for girls from impoverished families. I checked their website after we’d sent our cast offs, and was delighted to see bits and pieces of our old vestments cleverly turned into orpheries and the like on new sets.
  • Size can be an issue. Our rose-pink chasuble has, of course, a matching stole, which Father Helping-Us-Out was, last Sunday, finding rather over-long. Fr H-U-O is an 'economy size' priest, IYSWIM.

    Our old fiddlebacks, mostly festal white/gold, IIRC, do, however, fit those clergy who are vertically challenged....
  • It needs checking whether these vestments are listed on the terrier. When a new priest in charge completed a detailed audit it was found that there were various missing things that had been listed on the terrier, including various vestments. Definitely the PCC should have been consulted before the vestments were disposed of - with PCC minutes to show what had happened to them rather than that they had been stolen some time in the past.
  • PoppyPoppy Shipmate
    I inherited some very old vestments when I arrived in this parish. They were hung on hangers which had damaged them around the necks and shoulder seams. We have had to buy new so the old ones have been retired to the vestment press.

    It might be sensible to clean and store the parish vestments flat as you don’t know how long your priest will be with you.

  • Yes, I agree, though I am not sure that we have anywhere suitable.
  • We are in Aus., so different rules, but in both our parishes we have found boxes of vestments, in our current parish, over 50 years older than the parish itself, some had been passed on to us, but never used. Some were dry cleaned and packed , like a wedding dress, others, like altar frontal 3 times the size of our modern communion table we are trying to find someone to take off our hands. Here the vicar usually has their own robes and stoles etc, outfitting my Dh for ordination was more expensive than outfitting our bridal party.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited December 2018
    Our present Father Helping-Us-Out has his own alb (very seemly it is, too - made by his Lovely Wife), and also some of his own stoles, though he's of the Evangelickal Perswasion, where such things are Not Common.

    OTOH, he's quite happy to wear our varied collection of chasubles and stoles, as required, (not all at the same time), though he hasn't (AFAIK) yet sported a maniple..... :cry:

    It is indeed true that clerical robes, stoles etc. can be VERY expensive, though, as usual, caveat emptor applies, and paying cheap may sometimes mean paying twice or thrice....

    BTW...Our late Churchwarden (RIPARIG) sourced, and paid for out of his own pocket as a most generous gift to the church, a fine collection of High Mass vestments in all the usual colours (plus Black for Requiems/Funerals, and a really gorgeous Azure Blue for Feasts of Our Lady). He had connections in India, and the vestments were made by a firm in that country - NOT, I hasten to add, some sort of ghastly sweat-shop, but an organisation recognised by the Indian Government as a fair and just employer.
  • I am afraid my skills are limited in terms of sewing clothes, but I did embroider by husbands stoles and we are of the Evangelical persuasion. Almost 20 years later they are still going strong. We quickly worked out that living in an area dependent on bore water during a drought would turn his cassock pink, so I used to take it to my FIL 100 km away to wash.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate

    OTOH, he's quite happy to wear our varied collection of chasubles and stoles, as required, (not all at the same time), though he hasn't (AFAIK) yet sported a maniple..... :cry:

    Maniples always strike me as a liturgical equivalent of turtles all the way down.

    Stoles are not seen in every parish in Sydney - references to stole parishes are a good indication of their churchmanship. Even scarves are becoming less common.
  • Are you sure that they are never used? Say for the funeral of a parishioner who didn't regularly attend the church (but was still a nominal Christian), jeans sweatshirt and trainers might not be appropriate.
  • Mark Betts wrote: »
    Are you sure that they are never used? Say for the funeral of a parishioner who didn't regularly attend the church (but was still a nominal Christian), jeans sweatshirt and trainers might not be appropriate.

    I have no difficulty in imagining a minister considering a sombre business suit and tie appropriate for a funeral. Whether I would agree with them is another matter.
  • I haven’t yet been to any funerals our priest has taken. At best he will wear cassock, surplice and scarf, but usually a dark suit, though for more informal occasions, black fleece, with jeans, and that includes Evensong.
  • The evangelical C of E I once went to was jeans/sweatshirt/trainers or Doc Martins for informal, suits for more formal - but proper cassock/surplice/scarf for funerals - that's why I asked. However "vestments" maybe doesn't include the low church attire I describe.
  • Our parish is very low church, Dh wears a clergy shirt with trousers and suit type jacket, which is one up on our predecessor who wore an ordinary shirt. He makes it a practise to ask family what they would like him to wear for furnerals etc and in 8 years has only had one request for robes.(Which he complied with). Of course context is everything, it was 35 degrees on Christmas Eve, our Bishop was only in purple shirt etc and our building is less than 20 years old and looks like, in the words of the Archdeacon, something out of Dr. Who, so really robes would look unusual. When we were in a rural setting in a 150 year old building, robes were far fa more appropriate.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    A couple of years ago, I was at a funeral at an Anglican church near here where the rector wore a dark blue sports jacket, light trousers multi-striped shirt and a red, yes a bright red, tie. Someone from the parish remarked that he'd dressed up for the funeral.
  • Gee D wrote: »
    A couple of years ago, I was at a funeral at an Anglican church near here where the rector wore a dark blue sports jacket, light trousers multi-striped shirt and a red, yes a bright red, tie. Someone from the parish remarked that he'd dressed up for the funeral.

    I think it's OK if that's what the family of the deceased want, but otherwise it's disrespectful.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    The family was not asked
  • LothlorienLothlorien All Saints Host
    I attended a wedding where my minister wore chinos and a Hawaiian shirt. Similar attire was worn at Cathedral in suburban Sydney by preacher. I use the term Minister as that is what he (!!) would have used
  • Gee D wrote: »
    The family was not asked

    Then I would call it disrespectful. I would have had something to say, had it been a member of my family.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    I'd be surprised if anyone at that church said what they'd prefer let alone be asked.
  • Gee D wrote: »
    I'd be surprised if anyone at that church said what they'd prefer let alone be asked.

    I suppose if the deceased was a member of that church, then perhaps it's understandable - it was just the "default" for them.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Exactly, just as at St Sanity you'd expect vesting in cassock-alb and stole for a straightforward funeral, adding a cope for a requiem eucharist.
  • I guess if the deceased was a member of the congregation then presumably they would know what the clergy would wear to funerals and services in general so would be ok with that.The difficulty would come if the deceased or family had no contact with the church and so didn't know what it was like when they booked the funeral etc.
  • I guess if the deceased was a member of the congregation then presumably they would know what the clergy would wear to funerals and services in general so would be ok with that.The difficulty would come if the deceased or family had no contact with the church and so didn't know what it was like when they booked the funeral etc.

    Exactly - which is a good reason for not disposing of basic robes.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    I guess if the deceased was a member of the congregation then presumably they would know what the clergy would wear to funerals and services in general so would be ok with that.The difficulty would come if the deceased or family had no contact with the church and so didn't know what it was like when they booked the funeral etc.

    I don't know what things are like in your husband's parish, but there are virtually no church funerals here where the deceased had no connection with the church. A quick glance at the death notices in the SMH shows an even higher proportion of crematorium funerals with no church input than there are weddings.
  • We are getting to that stage now, but he still gets requests via the funeral director for a clergy person at the funeral home, but I guess I was responding to the red tie incident, if you knew the minister you would expect not robes I guess in that context. Funerals are a mind field. One of our seniors groups spent a whole meeting recently writing out exactly y what they wanted at their funerals, not just hymns etc, but readings and even specified time of day etc. It remains to be seen if those left behind honour their wishes.
  • Oh and yes, not advocating disposing of robes, just dry cleaning them and having them correctly packed to preserve in case they are needed. And making sure they are kept fit for purpose.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Elizabeth Bennett, I very much doubt that the minister who took the service asked the family let alone discussed the funeral with the deceased. That seniors' meeting sounds a great idea. Who gets the lists?
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