Here we are...

Just off the Port Bow—a place of uncertainty, adventure, and insight. Thank you for your ears, eyes and hearts. I hope to bring compassion, grace and beauty to your day.

What do you call...? (Part II)

When you happen upon a newly retired minister/priest/rabbi/pastor how do you address him or her? Doctors, pastors (of all creeds), and politicians seem to have monikers which attach to their persons in perpetua. My father was known as Doc/Doctor Pete/Dr. Pierson decades after his formal medical career ended.

I have a bunch of clergy friends, retired and not, who have an ongoing identity of "Father this..." or "Pastor that...". Many of them continue to serve in their respective denominations in supply capacities which require them to suit up and show up in church. All well and good.

But, what about those retiring ministers who are ready to shed their identity attachments; who truly hope to close a chapter? What do you call them? They are not necessarily renouncing anything, changing their minds about anything, or forsaking anything. They are just at the end of a certain chapter.

Best thing to do is ask, I suppose.

"Now that you're retired, how would you like to be addressed?"

I noted in my previous post that the 'Once a Priest, Always a Priest' mentality of my denomination militates against the asking of such a question. The awkwardness is akin to that felt by the young man or woman in the presence of an elder they have known from childhood. You have always been Aunt Bessie, or Mr. Klopmeyer, I can't imagine calling you Bessie or Harold.

It is a matter of title earned and conferred. It is a matter of identity. (This is one has drawn comments from Jesus—"Call no man father..."—to Freud.) It is a matter of professional/societal role.

Some of these, it seems to me, are helpful and healthy; some are not. But that is another topic.

For me...you may ask if you wish. I can tell you now that I prefer to be called "Peter". I do recognize that like Aunt Bessie I may, in some people's minds, always be Father Pierson. In the end it is my issue. Call me what you like, "just don't call me late for...".

This business of how to denominate retired clergy is a small part of the whole cloud I find myself floating about in these days. I'll say more about the rest of the cloud in future posts.


What do you call it when...(Part III)

What do you call it when...?