The following is the fifth installment of my bulletin insert series:
Stoles - Often times you will see clergy wearing stoles in worship. Stoles are long narrow bands of fabric. Usually, the stoles are in the liturgical color of the season or day based upon the Christian year. (More will be said about the Christian Calendar and the symbol of colors in a later insert.). Sometimes they have various symbols embroidered on them.
Stoles may be worn over robes, albs, or cassocks & surplices. (More about the cassock and surplice in a later insert.) They are worn by those who have been ordained as a deacon or an elder (presbyter/priest). Since Bishops are also elders, they, too, wear stoles in worship.
However, the way in which deacons and elders wear their stoles is different. Deacons traditionally wear their stoles over their left shoulder like a sash. It is then connected under the right arm. Elders (including Bishops) wear their stoles around the neck with the ends hanging down the front and just below knees.
Whereas robes, albs and even cassocks & surplices may be worn by any of the baptized, clergy and laity, alike, liturgical stoles are visible signs that one has been called by God and ordained to lead the community of faith in the sacramental life of the Church. The stole represents the “yoke of Christ” which the elder has assumed by virtue of his/her ordination.
Information gathered from the following resources:
Collins, Ken. http://www.kencollins.com/
Hickman, Hoyt L. United Methodist Altars: A Guide for the Local Church. Nashville. Abingdon P. 1984.
Lang, Jovian P., OFM. Dictionary of the Liturgy. New York. Catholic Book Publishing Co. 1989.
Wall, John N. A Dictionary for Episcopalians. Cambridge/Boston, MA. Cowley Publications. 2000.
Wilson, Frank E. An Outline of Christian Symbolism. New York. Morehouse-Gorham Co. 1938.