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Scarf or Stole at Ordination? A Plea for the Evangelical Conscience

Scarf or Stole at Ordination? A Plea for the Evangelical Conscience

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‘I can only say that from my knowledge of the Bench of Bishops, which is considerable, I think it is inconceivable that any of the Bishops would press an ordination candidate, contrary to his conscience, to wear a stole at his ordination.’ (Archbishop Michael Ramsey in the House of Lords, July 1964)


Although Archbishops Ramsey’s declaration of liberty of conscience for Anglican ordinands may have been true in the 1960s, it is unfortunately not so today. Each year evangelical candidates in dioceses throughout the Church of England find themselves put under pressure to wear stoles at ordination.


After a brief survey of the place of stoles within Anglicanism, at the Elizabethan Settlement and the Tractarian Revival, this booklet focuses upon the history of stoles at ordination in the mid-twentieth century. Based on new research in the official papers of Archbishop Fisher and Archbishop Ramsey in Lambeth Palace Library, it examines the episcopal consensus and assurances of the 1950s and 1960s. It appeals for a return to the days of generous and inclusive Anglican attitudes, whereby every ordinand is given freedom of choice over whether to wear a scarf or a stole.

  • Author

    Andrew Atherstone is tutor in history and doctrine, and Latimer research fellow, at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford.

  • Info

    ISBN 978 1 906327 85 9

    39 pages