How to address a Pastor



ON-LINE GUIDE TO
FORMS OF ADDRESS
* * *
BLOG: Robert HIckey
Answers Questions
From On-Line Users
* * *
VIDEO of Robert Hickey
* * *
About the book:
HONOR & RESPECT

Abbess,
    Christian Orthodox       
Abbot,
    Christian Orthodox        
Accountant        
Acting Official       
Adjutant General     
Admiral
        

Admiral, Texas Navy   
Adventist Minister       
Alderman
        

Archbishop, Catholic        
Archbishop,
   Christian Orthodox        
Archdeacon, Episcopal        
Archimandrite        
Architect
Archpriest        
Ambassador, Goodwill
Ambassador to your country
   from a foreign country      
Ambassador of the U.S.
   by a U.S. Citizen       
American Indian Chief        
Assemblyman
   U.S., State / or           

   Assemblywoman            
Associate Justice,
   U.S. Supreme Court          
Associate Justice of a
   State Supreme Court
Astronaut      
Attorney
         
Attorney General           
Attorney General,
       Assistant   
Attorney, U.S.         
Australian Officials    

Baron, Baroness           
British Officials,
   Royalty, Nobility     
Brother, Catholic
         
Brother,
   Christian Orthodox          
Bishop, Catholic            
Bishop,
   Christian Orthodox         
Bishop, Episcopal        
Board Member     
Boy        
Brigadier General       
Business Cards      

Canadian Officials    
Candidate    
Captain,
   USA, USAF, USMC     
Cardinal
             
Chairman
    Federal Reserve      
Chairwoman      
Chancellor      
Chaplain in the
    Armed Services        
Chaplain of Congress          

Chargé d’Affaires         
Chief Executive Officer 
Chief Judge          
Chief Justice,
      U.S. Supreme Court 
Chief Justice, of a State
      Supreme Court             

Chief of Police          
Chief of Staff     

Chief Operating
   Officer          
Child
           
Chiropractor     
City Manager
   
Clergy & Religious
    Officials     
Club Official          
Colonel, Kentucky      
Colonel, USA, USAF,
    or USMC     
Commandant       
Commissioner, Court     
Commissioner
         
Commodore of a         
      Yacht Club         
Congressman, U.S.               
Congresswoman, U.S.   
Consul and or
   Consul General   
 
Consultant      
Corporate Executive         
Councilman
    Councilwoman      
Counselor (Diplomat)      
Countess     
County Officials       
Couples     
    U.S. Military
    U.S. Officials
    Private Citizens  
Curator        

Dalai Lama          
Deacon         
Dean, academic            
Dean, clergy            
Deceased Persons        
Degree, honorary      
Delegate, U.S., State
            

Dentist             
Deputy Chief of Mission      
Deputy Marshal          
Designate,
Elect,
    Pro Tempore      
Diplomats      

District Attorney           
Doctor, Chiropractor     
Doctor of Dentistry
          
Doctor of Medicine              
Doctor, Military           
Doctor of
   Veterinary Medicine          
Doctor, Optometrist   
Doctor of Osteopathy            
Doctor, Other Disciplines     
Doctorate        
Doctorate, honorary      

Earl            
Elect, Designate
  
Pro Tempore      
Emeritus/emerita
     
Eminence     
Emperor    
Engineer    
Esquire, Esq.       
Etiquette    
Excellency           

Family     
Fiancee      
Firefighter    
First, Second,
   Third, etc.        
First Lady, Spouse
   of the President of
   the United States 
First Lady, Member
    of Her   
    White House Staff      
First Lady, Spouse
   of a Governor
   or Lt. Gov.    
First Lieutenant
   
Flag Protocol     
Former Officials    
Freeholder       

Gay Couple      
Geshe

General
    USA, USAF, USMC
Girl       

Goodwill Ambassador      
Governor General         
Governor, Lieuten
ant
 
Governor, Lt., Spouse   

Governor, Tribal Council          
Governor, U.S. State       
Governor, Former    
Governor
    Spouse of     
Governor's Staff,
    Member of
     
Governors, Board of 

High Commissioner    
Honorable, The
          
Honorary Ambassador       
Honorary degrees
Honorary doctorate
   
Honourable, The
   
 
   

Indian Chief         
Inspector General    
Interim Official   
Introductions       
Invitations
  
   Writing &  
   Addressing  
Invitations
   
Military:
    Writing &
    Addressing

Judge, former     
Judge of US City or

        US Count     
Judge, US Federal            
Junior, Senior,
    I, II, III, etc.       

Justice, Associate

     Federal
     Supreme Court

Justice, Associate

     State
     Supreme Court

King     
Knight      

Late, The
   (deceased persons)
       
Lawyer      
Lesbian Couple    
Lieutenant      
Lieutenant Colonel,     
   USA, USAF, USMC      
    
Lieutenant General,
   USA, USAF, USMC      

Lieutenant Governor    
     

Major
   USA, USAF, USMC  
Major General,
   USA, USAF, USMC   
Man, business
          
Man, social
         
Marquess / Marchioness
 
 
Married Women       
Marshal for a
   Judicial District, U.S. 
Mayor, U.S. City   
Mayor, Canadian City    
Mayor Pro Tempore
     
Mayor, Vice    
Medic      
Minister,
   Protestant Clergy       
Miss      
Monk,
   Christian Orthodox     
Monsignor       
Most Reverend, The        
Mother Superior
    
Mr. (Social)      
Mr. (Business)      
Mrs., Ms. (Use, Social Forms)      
Mrs. vs. Ms.     
Mr. & Mrs. / Couples   
   

Name Badges or Tags     
Nobility, British
       
Nobility, Other     
Nun, Catholic
  
Nun, Orthodox
Nurse           

Officer, Police     
Optometrist     

Pastor, Christian Clergy  
Patriarch,
   Christian Orthodox  
Patriarch,
   Ecumenical Patriarch
   of Constantinople  
People with Two Titles      
Permanent
     Representative        
Petty Officer
      
Pharmacist     
Physician
        
PhD     
Place Cards            
Police Chief
Police Officer                     
Pope, Catholic
  
Pope, Coptic
      
Postmaster General         
Post-Nominal
    Abbreviations    
Presbyter, Orthodox
   
President, corporate
President of
    College or
    University   
President of a
    Secondary
    School      
President of a
    US State Assembly 
President (current)
   of the U.S.A.          
President (former)
   of the U.S.A.     
     
President of the
    U.S.A., spouse of  
President-elect
    of the U.S.   
Priest, Catholic          
Priest,
    Christian Orthodox 
Priest, Episcopal        
Prime Minister
       
Principal      
Professionals
   & Academics         
Professor
     
Pro Tempore,
   Elect, Designate    
Psychologist      

Queen

Rabbi               
Ranger, Texas        
Representative,
   U.S., Federal           
Representative,
   U.S., State            
Reservist, Military      
Resident
    Commissioner 
Retired Military
   1. Formula For
       How to Address     
   2. Q&A / Blog On
       Use of Rank by
       Retired Military    
 

   3. Q&A / Blog on
       How to Address
       Retired Military   
Retiree        
Reverend, The
      
Right Reverend, The         

Same Sex Couple      
Salvation Army    
School Board Member
     
Second
Lieutenant        
Secretary,
   U.S. Department,
   Member of the Cabinet
Secretary
   of Defense, U.S.       
Secretary, Assistant       
Secretary General
   of the U.N.            
Senator, U.S., Federal       
Senator, U.S., State         
Senator, Canadian       
Senior, Junior,
     I, II, III, etc.         
Senior Judge 
      
Sergeant       
Sergeant at Arms
          
Seventh Day
     Adventist Minister       
Sheriff       
Sister, Catholic       
Solicitor General      
Speaker of the U.S.
   House of
   Representatives.           
Specialist       
Spouse of the
    President of the U.S.       
Spouse of the
    Vice President
    of the U.S.           
Spouse of an
    Elected Official            
State Attorney     
Surgeon General          

Texas Ranger        
Town Justice      
Town Manager       
The Honorable     
Tribal Officials     
Two Titles,
    Person With

Under Secretary    
US Attorney
       
US Federal Officials
     
US State Officials     
US Municipal Officials

Venerable, The        
Veteran (not Retired)         
Veterinarian
           
Very Reverend, The         
VFW Officer/Official    
Vice Mayor       
Vice President
    of the U.S.
Spouse of the
    Vice President
   
of the U.S.
Vice President-elect
    of the U.S.      
 
Viscount and/or
   Viscountess        

Warrant Officer       
Widow
     
White House Staff    
Woman, business        
Woman, social        

Yacht Club Officer      


   

How to Address a Pastor
The Reverend is a courtesy title that describes a person. As a courtesy title like the Honorable our Your Excellency it always precedes a full name.
      Sometimes
The Reverend is shortened by some to Reverend (or Rev.) and used as an honorific like Mr./Mrs./Ms./Dr. before the name. This is not the most formal form, but is the preference in some congregations. If you know an individual pastor prefers simply Reverend (Name) -or- Rev. (Name) -- use it: it is always courteous to follow the preference of the individual.
      However, the forms I show below are the most traditional and formal.  Forms for just about every other type of clergy is can be found here .

 
              -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Pastor with a doctorate

Envelope, official:
    The Reverend (full name)
          (Church)
               (Address)


Letter salutation:
    Dear Dr. (surname):

 
How to Address a Pastor without a doctorate

Envelope, official:
    The Reverend (full name)
        (Church)
            (Address)

Letter salutation:
    Dear Pastor (surname):


FYI, here is what's come in to the Blog that relates to this office/rank.
   For recent questions sent in, check out Robert Hickey's Blog.

   For specific offices/ranks, check out Robert Hickey's On-Line Guide.


How to Address a Pastor?
      I would like to send an African Methodist Episcopal Zion Pastor a letter requesting that my organization visit his church on a selected Sunday to close a weekend celebration of our anniversary.  How should the greeting read?  (for example,  Greetings Rev---- in the name of the Father)  is this appropriate of should I just say Dear Rev._________?

             -- Maryann Lee

Dear Ms. Lee:
        I give the best forms for protestant christian clergy on  http://www.formsofaddress.info/Pastor.html
        Address him as "The Reverend (full name)" and "Pastor (surname)" as noted there.
        I have never encountered a member of the protestant clergy who did not like that form, unless they also hold a doctorate and prefer "Dr. (surname)"
        While many clergy use "Rev." like "Mr./Mrs./Ms" ... but not all do, and some object to shortening "The Reverend" down to simply "Rev.".   So I suggest you not use "Rev. (Name)" unless you know it is his personal preference.

 
  
            -- Robert Hickey

Addressing Clergy as Pastor (Name) on a Mailing Label?
      I am preparing a mailing list for regular correspondence in the United States. I have a few protestant pastors to whom I will be sending periodic newsletters. All of them go by Pastor (first name). I noticed on your website concerning how to address clergy that you told everyone to use The Reverend when addressing envelopes. Since none of my pastor friends call themselves Reverend, I was wondering if it was permissible to address them as "Pastor (David Jones)" or "Pastor and Mrs. (David Jones)" instead of "Rev. and Mrs. (David Jones)".

              -- Jennifer (Desiring not to offend)

Dear Jennifer:
    You write .... "none of my pastor friends call themselves The Reverend"
    It makes sense that none of them call themselves The Reverend.
    The Reverend
... The Honorable ... and ... His Excellency ... are all courtesy titles used by others when addressing the person  ... are not used by the person themselves.
    For example, if you write to your U.S. Senator he/she would be The Honorable (full name) ... but when they sign their name ... they don't use
The Honorable as part of their name.
    I always suggest the most formal form of address ... which is the form to which I find the fewest people object.  The most formal way to address an envelope to most a protestant cleric is:
        The Reverend (First Name) (Surname)
               Name of Chruch
                      Address

    A letter's salutation is the same form of their name you would use in conversation:
        Dear Pastor (Surname)
            or if they have a doctorate:
        Dr. (Surname)
            and of course the Episcopalians use:
        Father/Mother (Surname)

You write .... All of them go by "Pastor (first name)"
    If you know them as Pastor (first name) ... then you are on a first name basis with them.
    I am not (so far) ... so I'd call them Pastor (last name) until they asked me to call them Pastor (first name)
    My mother's pastor likes to be addressed as Pastor Jim ... and I call him that so in conversation.
    But I'd still address mail to him as The Reverend James Ensor.

You write .... "Rev. and Mrs. (David Jones)"
    It is not unusual to encounter Rev. used as an honorific like Mr., Mrs., Ms. or Dr. ... such as in ... Rev. (Last Name)  But it's a form I'd use only if I knew it is their personal preference. Many pastors don't like it ... and complain to me in e-mails about it all the time!
    The formal way to write the pastor and spouse who uses the same last name as the pastor .... would be to keep the person with the title's name as a unit and not mix it with their spouse's name:
        The Reverend David Jones
            and Mrs. Jones
                Address

 
  
-- Robert Hickey

How to Address Retired Protestant Clergy?

     I’ve used your site several times recently and it’s extremely helpful.  Thanks for providing such a comprehensive reference. My current questions:
     1. How do you address protestant clergy?  For example, do you still use “Rev.” or “The Rev. Dr.”  to address a retired minister?
     2. Does a person’s personal preferences matter in forms of address?  For example, the minister mentioned above writes but uses no forms of address with his signature.  When you respond, do you use his professional honorific or a standard like “Mr.”?
         -- Higgins Clinton

Dear Mr. Clinton,

    Clergy continue to use "The Reverend" for ever.  It never expires.
    I would always do the envelope formally:
        The Reverend James Wilson
                        ... that form of his name is for the post office.
    Also there's a rule that in writing one does not give oneself an honorific .... so the minister not signing his name on a letter as "Pastor James Wilson" make sense. I don't sign my name "Mr. Robert Hickey" ... but that is how others would address me.
    Is that what you mean?
    I would formally address him in a salutation as something like "Dear Dr. Wilson"  .... or if I was on a first name basis "Dear Jim"

    -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Female Pastor & Her Husband?
      How do I address a sympathy card to our female pastor and her husband on the death of her husband’s son from a previous marriage?
    -- nskcomstock

Dear nskcomstock,
    Most formally on an envelope your Pastor is listed first since she is The Reverend (Full Name) and he is a Mr. (Full Name). People with courtesy titles rank higher than people without them.
     And because she has a title ... she gets her whole name as a unit ... not mixed in with her spouse's name. So avoid anything resembling The Reverend Allyson and Mr. Wilson Smith
... which is really bad.  
     And assuming they use the same last name ... the most formal would be:
          The Reverend Allyson Smith
               and Mr. Wilson Smith

     In the salutation you could use the form you think she prefers in conversation ....
          Dear Pastor and Mr. Smith,
          Dear Dr. and Mr. Smith,

     Or if you are on a first name basis use:
          Dear Allyson and Wilson,

               -- Robert Hickey

How to Address the Husband of a Pastor?
       What is the proper title for a husband of a pastor? Would it be First Man?
               -- 3019881523

Dear 3019881523,
     What a pastor's husband would be called would be by the tradition of the congregation. But that said .... I have never encountered a congregation with a special title for the husband of their pastor. He would be Mr. or whatever honorific to which he is entitled.
     In my observation, among traditionally black protestant congregations they DO call officially call the wife of a pastor First Lady and they DO use the title as an honorific:
          In writing ... First Lady Nancy Smith
          In conversation .... First Lady Smith
     But .... I have never observed this pattern used in white protestant denominations.

                -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Pastor with a Doctorate?
       I need to mail something to my pastor, Rev. Calvin Cole who has received his doctorate. How do I address the envelope or even introduce him?
        -- Marsha Talltree

       Is is appropriate to use two titles together such as Rev. Dr. The clergy and other staff at my church refer to our pastor as Rev. Dr. B. W. McClendon. He has a PhD and is also a Pastor of our church.
        -- Mrs. Brown


Dear Ms. Talltree and Mrs. Brown:
    In the U.S. the tradition is a simplified style to use one thing before a name or one thing after a name. With a pastor with a doctorate these are the traditional forms:
  
            The Reverend (Full Name)
              (Full Name), D.Div.
     In a salutation (and conversation) switch over and use an honorific:
 
             Dr. (Surname)
 
    We follow this style when formally addressing our elected officials as The Honorable (Full Name). When we address them as the Honorable we do not also include Dr., Mayor, Senator, Professor, Mr./Ms./Dr. or anything else before their name.
    
This is in contrast to the British who do include every honorific and post-nominal all at once:
The Reverend Dr. (Full Name).
In the U.S. you see the British Style used by some clergy, notably the Episcopalians – probably influenced by the Church of England. Other non-Episcopal clergy use the compound style too.  If you know it's their personal preference -- use it.  It's always courteous to address an individual in the form they prefer regardless of whether or not it is by the book.
    NOTE: Formally use The Reverend rather than just Reverend or Rev.  Sometimes clergy DO use simply Rev. as an honorific, preferring to be addressed as Rev. (Name). It's not everyone's preference, but it's their option to be addressed in the manner they prefer.
    My mother's pastor says he likes to be addressed as Rev. Bob, so I address him as
Rev. Bob.

   In writing I would use The Reverend (Full Name).
   In a conversation or salutation, if I did not know his preference, I'd use Pastor (Surname). That's widely acceptable and works for all the Protestant denominations. As far as I know no one is offended by it.
          -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Pastor Who is Also a Chaplain?
     Regarding my pastor, who is also a military chaplain:
     I must write a sentence in our summer worship schedule for the church newsletter regarding the pastor's “Godspeed Celebration” we are holding before his deployment to Afghanistan. Which of these would be considered correct? Are any of them simply not correct at all?
    The Rev. (full name), chaplain of the ..., Indiana Army National Guard.
    The Rev. Lieut. Col. (full name), chaplain of the ....
    Lieut. Col. (full name), chaplain of the .... and pastor of ....

Is there another form that would be more preferred?

                -- Lynn Harriman, Indianapolis

Dear Ms. Harriman,
    I think you are saying he is the pastor of your church ... AND he is also a chaplain?
    There is a tradition in American forms of address that we only give a person one title at time.
    ** As a chaplain he'd use the form I have on Chaplain Armed Services
    ** As you pastor he'd use the form I have on Pastor
    Your first option is the most formally correct for you at his church:
           The Reverend (full name), (degrees held)
    If it's a sentence you can include more information ..
            The Reverend (full name) is a Chaplain of the Indiana Army National Guard holding the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
    And when he's on active duty with the National Guard they will use his chaplain form of address and note is also the pastor of your church.
            -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Pastor and Her Military Husband?
     My question has to do with addressing envelopes.  Our Pastor, Alyson Smith, of the Presbyterian Denomination, is married to a retired Lieutenant Commander, USN, Richard.  He is to be awarded his PhD soon.  Regardless of the degree, I have not been able to find out how one is to address an invitation, card, or letter to the two of them, together.
         --- Bobbi Sue Minton


Dear Ms. Minton:
   
I have an entire chapter on joint forms of address in my book for just this type of situation. I am guessing you are addressing him socially, so ... socially his name is written:
        Lieutenant Commander Richard Smith
    As a member of the clergy, her name is written:
        The Reverend Alyson Smith

RANK WITH A POST-NOMINAL ABBREVIATION
    Regarding his PhD.
In the US academic post nominals are never used with a rank. So he can be Lieutenant Commander Richard Smith (or Commander Smith in conversation) or Richard Smith, PhD (or Dr. Smith in conversation if he wants to be address as "Dr.") but never Lieutenant Commander Richard Smith PhD.

USE OF DOCTOR
    Usually holders of PhD's don't use Dr. (name) unless they work in academia or research. E.g., the holder of a doctorate in French who teaches would use
Dr. (name) .... The holder of a PhD in finance who works at a bank wouldn't. But ultimately it's his option how he is addressed.

WHOSE NAME IS FIRST?
    An active duty or retired military person has higher precedence than a civilian so is listed first. So in most circumstances the joint form would be:
        Lieutenant Commander Richard Smith
            and The Reverend Alyson Smith

    BUT if she is the invited guest ... and he is invited as her escort, then as the guest her name would appear first:
        The Reverend Alyson Smith
            and Lieutenant Commander Richard Smith

 
    I have spelled out "Lieutenant Commander" every time above, to avoid the whole issue of how to abbreviate his rank. I cover that in my book on pages 94-98 (service-specific abbreviations) if you need that information.
                  -- Robert Hickey


Not Finding Your Question Answered?
Below are other topics covered in my blog and at right is a list of officials, Between the two I probably have what you are looking for.
     After hunting around a bit, if you don't see your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day (unless I am traveling.)
      If I think your question is of interest to others, I will post the question & answer – with your name and any personal specifics changed.
      -- Robert Hickey

USE OF NAMES & HONORIFICS   
Mr., Miss, Jr., III, & Names        
Married Women       
Deceased Persons         
People with Two Titles
Post-Nominal Abbreviations and Initials         
 
Couples: Private Citizens / Joint Forms of Address 
Couples: U.S. Military / Joint Forms of Address     
Couples: U.S. Officials / Joint Forms of Address      

USE OF SPECIFIC OFFICIAL TITLES        
Former Officials            
Professionals and Academics        

United States Federal Officials, Currently In Office             
United States State Officials, Currently In Office              
United States Municipal Officials, Currently In Office             
       All About The Honorable with U.S. Officials         
       Former United States Officials of all types             
United States Armed Services, Active Duty             
       Addressing Retired Personnel      
       Use of Rank by Retired Personnel      
       Use of Rank by Veterans      

Tribal Officials 
           
Clergy and Religious Officials           
Canadian Officials         
Australian Officials          
British Officials, Royalty, and Nobility        
Diplomats and International Representatives
           
Foreign National Officials and Nobility        

SPECIFIC SITUATIONS
Business Cards       
Couples        
Etiquette
            
Flags and Anthem Protocol             
Introductions
            
Invitations: Writing & Addressing
        
Invitations: Just Armed Service Personnel        
Name Badges & Tags            
Names on Programs, Signs, & Lists            
Naming a Building or Road            
Place Cards            

Plaques, Awards, Diplomas, Certificates    
Precedence: Ordering Officials 
         
Thank You Notes             


Site updated by Robert Hickey on November 15, 2014

Back to directory of titles  /  See who is using Honor & Respect

For forms of address for invitations, place cards, name badges, introductions, conversation, and all other formal uses, see Honor & Respect: the Official Guide to Names, Titles, and Forms of Address.

Copyright © 2014 Robert Hickey.     All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Marc Goodman.





All information on www.formsofaddress.info is copyright © 2014 by Robert Hickey.
The Protocol School of Washington® is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Honor & Respect is dedicated to Dorothea Johnson, Founder of The Protocol School of Washington®