How Pastors Can Reclaim the Role of Spiritual Parent

I don’t wear a collar, but "Father" is still the best description of my calling.
How Pastors Can Reclaim the Role of Spiritual Parent

My closest friend is an Anglican priest. When he travels and speaks, he wears a clerical collar. When he celebrates the Eucharist and delivers homilies, he wears a robe. My wardrobe is a little different. I am a Presbyterian pastor who throws on a hoodie when I travel. I’ll wear a suit jacket when I preach, if I am asked to. My friend and I have grown to respect, and even cherish, the differences in our particular styles of ministry. Still, one of those distinctions has always left me feeling a bit envious: people refer to him as “Father.”

When someone mentions the title “father” in a religious context, it often brings to mind only Catholic or Anglican priests. I think that’s unfortunate. The title was used for clergy throughout centuries of church history. It became one of the casualties of the Reformation, when reactions to the papacy forfeited many aspects of ecclesiology worth saving. Beyond this history, I realize there are additional obstacles that ...

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