The Reverend is a style used as a
prefixto the names of many Christian clergyand ministers. It is correctly called a style rather than a title or form of address. The style is also sometimes used by leaders in non-Christian religions such as Buddhism.Fact|date=July 2008
In English usage it is traditionally considered incorrect to drop the definite article, "The", before "Reverend". When the style is used within a sentence "The" begins with a lower-case letter. The common abbreviations for "The Reverend" are "The Rev", "The Revd" and "The Rev'd".
Although there is no distinct plural form it is not uncommon to find "The Reverends" used. This is grammatically incorrect since, in English, adjectives do not decline according to number. When a number of clergy are referred to they should be styled individually, e.g. "The Reverend John Smith and the Reverend Hank Brown". In a list of clergy, however, "The Revv" is sometimes put before the list of names.
"The Reverend" is traditionally used with Christian names (or initials) and surname, such as "The Reverend John Smith" or "The Reverend J.F. Smith". Use of the prefix with the surname alone ("The Reverend Smith") is considered a
solecismin traditional usage (although "The Reverend Father Smith" or "The Reverend Mr Smith" are correct though somewhat old-fashioned uses). So also with the use of the prefix as a form of address: in some countries Anglican priests are often addressed by the title of their office, such as " Vicar", " Rector" or " Archdeacon". They may also be addressed simply as "Mr Smith". In many Protestant churches, especially in the United States, ordained ministers are often addressed as " Pastor" (as in "Pastor John" or "Pastor Smith"). Some titles, such as Canon, may be used together with the Christian name or both names, for example, "Canon John" or "Canon John Smith". Orthodox and Roman Catholic priests are usually addressed as "Father" or, for example, as "Father John" or "Father Smith". This has also become more common for male priests in the Anglican Communion, especially since the Oxford Movement. Some female Anglican clergy use the style "The Reverend Mother" and are addressed as "Mother".
In the 20th and 21st centuries it has been increasingly common for "Reverend" to be incorrectly used as a noun and for clergy to be referred to as being either "a Reverend" or "the Reverend" ("I talked to the Reverend about the wedding service."). Clergy are also often addressed just as "Reverend" or, for example, "Reverend Smith" or "The Reverend Smith".
"The Reverend" may be modified to reflect ecclesiastical standing and rank. Modifications vary across Christian traditions. Some examples are:
Deaconsare styled either as "The Reverend", "The Reverend Deacon", or "The Reverend Mr" (males), or "The Reverend Mrs, Ms or Miss" (females).
Priests are usually styled either as "The Reverend", "The Reverend Father" or "The Reverend Mother" (even if not a religious). Less frequently, male priests are styled as "The Reverend Mr" and females as "The Reverend Mrs, Ms or Miss".
*Heads of some women's
religious ordersare styled as "The Reverend Mother" (even if not ordained).
*Canons are often styled as "The Reverend Canon".
*Deans are styled as "The Very Reverend".
Archdeacons are usually styled as "The Venerable" ("The Ven").
Abbesses, abbots and bishops are styled as "The Right Reverend".
Archbishops and primates are styled as "The Most Reverend".
* A transitional
deacon: "The Reverend Mr"
* A permanent
deacon: "Deacon" (in writing and in speaking)
Diocesan priests: "The Reverend"
Priests who are members of mendicant or monastic orders: "The Reverend Father"
* Priests with various grades of jurisdiction above pastor (
vicars general, judicial vicars, ecclesiastical judges, episcopal vicars, provincials of religious orders of priests, priors of monasteries, deans, for instance): "The Very Reverend"
Abbots of monasteries: "The Right Reverend"
Abbesses of convents: "The Mother Superior", with their convent's name following, e.g. "The Mother Superior of the Poor Clares of Boston" in written form while being referred to simply as "Mother Superior" in speech. [ [http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/forms-address.htm Catholic Forms of Address] ]
Supernumeraries apostolic, Honorary prelates, and Chaplains of His Holiness: "The Reverend Monsignor"
Bishops and archbishops: "The Most Reverend" in the United States and Ireland. In Great Britain and some countries of the Commonwealth, bishops are styled "The Right Reverend" and archbishops are styled "The Most Reverend".
However, none of these are ever addressed as "Reverend" or "The Reverend" alone. Instead, deacons are addressed as "Deacon"; priests are addressed as "Father"; honorary prelates as "Monsignor"; bishops and archbishops as "Your Excellency" (or "My Lord" for bishops and "Your Grace" for archbishops in the United Kingdom and some other countries).
In some countries, such as the United States, the term "Pastor" (such as "Pastor Smith" in more formal address or "Pastor John" in less formal) is often used rather than "The Reverend". "The Reverend", however, is still often used in more formal or official written communication.
The Moderators of the General Assemblies of the
Church of Scotland, the Presbyterian Church in Irelandand United Church of Canada, when ordained clergy, are styled "The Right Reverend" during their year of service and "The Very Reverend" afterwards. Church ministers are styled "The Reverend". Moderators of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA)are styled simply "The Reverend". By tradition in the Church of Scotland, the ministers of St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh, (also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh) and Paisley Abbey, are styled "the Very Reverend".
Eastern Orthodox Churches
*A deacon is referred to as "The Reverend Deacon" (or Hierodeacon, Archdeacon, Protodeacon, according to ecclesiastical elevation), while in spoken use the title "Father" is used (sometimes "Father Deacon").
* A married priest is "The Reverend Father", a monastic priest is "The Reverend Hieromonk"; a protopresbyter is "The Very Reverend Father"; and an archimandrite is either "The Very Reverend Father" (Greek practice) or "The Right Reverend Father" (Russian practice). All are simply addressed as "Father".
* Abbots and abbesses are styled "The Very Reverend Abbot / Abbess", and are addressed as "Father" and "Mother", respectively.
* A bishop is referred to as "The Right Reverend Bishop" and addressed as "Your Grace" (or "Your Excellency").
* An archbishop or metropolitan as "The Most Reverend Archbishop / Metropolitan" and addressed as "Your Eminence".
* Heads of autocephalous and autonomous churches are styled differently, according to their rank and seniority.
Vice-Chancellorof Oxford Universityis formally known as "The Reverend the Vice-Chancellor" even if he or she is not a member of the clergy.
Most Jewish ministers of religion have the title
Rabbi, which denotes that they have received rabbinical ordination ( semicha). It is, however, not essential to be a rabbi to practise as a Jewish 'minister of religion'. In particular, few cantors ( chazzanim) are rabbis, but many are empowered to perform such functions as witnessing marriages. In this case they often use the style "The Reverend".
Notes and references
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