How to Address an Episcopal Priest

_______Also on this page: How to Address a Priest & Spouse

How to Address an Episcopal Priest

—-Official Envelope: How to Address an Episcopal Priest
—-—-The Reverend (Full Name)
—-—-(Church/institution/etc.)
—-—-(Address)

—-Address block on the letter or Email:
——–
The Reverend (Full Name)

—-—-(Position)
—-—-(Church/institution/etc.)
—-—-(Address)

—-Letter salutation:
—-—-Dear Reverend Father:
—-—-Dear Father (Surname):
—-—-Dear Mother (Surname):
—-—-Dear Dr. (Surname):

—-Conversation:
—-—-Reverend Father
—-—-Father (Surname)
—-—-Mother (Surname)
—-—-Dr. (Surname)

See Related Anglican/Episcopal Posts:------Archbishop ------Bishop- ------Bishop, Presiding ------Dean ------Archdeacon ------Priest, Mother, Father ------Brother

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

How to Address Couples / Episcopal Priest

Shared Surname: One is Clergy, One is Private Citizen
Clergy is listed first. How to Address an Episcopal Priest

—-Envelope:
—-—-The Reverend Arnold Clarkson
—-—-and Mrs. Clarkson
—-—-(Address)

—-—-The Reverend April McLean
—-—-and Mr. Avery McLean
—-—-(Address)

Shared Surname: Both are Clergy, Man Higher Precedence:
The person with higher precedence is listed first. See NOTE below.

—-Envelope:
—-—-The Reverend David Jones
—-—-and the Reverend Alice Jones
—-—-(Address)

Shared Surname: Both are Clergy, Woman Higher Precedence:
The person with higher precedence is listed first. See NOTE below.

—-Envelope:
—-—-The Reverend Alice Jones
—-—-and the Reverend David Jones
—-—-(Address)

Different Surname: Both are Clergy, Man Higher Precedence:
See NOTE below.

—-Envelope:
—-—-The Reverend George Brent
—-—-and the Reverend Hilda Phelps
—-—-(Address)

Different Surname: Both are Clergy, Woman Higher Precedence:
See NOTE below.

—-Envelope:
—-—-The Reverend Alice Jones
—-—-and the Reverend Robert Warren
—-—-(Address)

NOTE: Precedence is technically never equal: One person was ordained before another, one holds a higher hierarchical office, etc. However as a practical matter, if the precedence is unknown or uncertain, the order in Mr. and Mrs. (man first, woman second) is typically followed for couples using the same surname.  If they use different surnames, then they’d most often be put in alphabetical order by surname.

– Robert Hickey

Forms of Address: How a conversation begins can have a huge impact on how the conversation - even the entire relationship - develops.

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

Mother (Name) is Cringeworthy

I am noticing regional differences in how Episcopal clergy in the U.S. is addressed. Bishops are easy, male or female. But what about a woman Episcopal priest?

In our community, ‘Mother (Name)’ appears to be cringeworthy. One is encouraged to use the priest’s first name, adding the honorific ‘Pastor’; for a woman. My observation is based on working with about ten women priests of a certain age over the past twenty years.
—-—-—-– MC

Dear MC,

There are many respectful forms of address. I don’t present mine to be the only correct form.

These forms I suggest (and include in my book) are based on advice the Public Affairs office of the Episcopal Church in New York – and their advice is that most of the women priests in the Episcopal Church go by ‘Mother (Surname)’ in conversation/direct address, unless they are ‘Dr. (Surname)’.

RE: regional differences. There are regional variations. These tend to be casual and informal. I focus on the formal forms – since those tend to be widely accepted and are the best option for all of us ‘outsiders’ to use when addressing officials in a hierarchy of which we are not a part.

Regarding use of Pastor – it is a good honorific to use with just about any member of Protestant clergy if you are unsure of what they personally prefer.  As far as I have observed, none of the protestant denominations object to it.

– Robert Hickey

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

When Should You Use the Forms on this Page?

You can use these forms of address for any mode of communication: addressing a letter, invitation, card or Email. (If there are differences between the official and social forms of address, I will have mentioned the different forms.)  The form noted in the salutation is the same form you say when you say their name in conversation or when you greet them.

Not Finding Your Answer?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  If you don’t see the official you seek included or your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, Sometimes I post the question  – but always change all the specifics.

— Robert Hickey 

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"