Use of the Reverend

How to Use “Reverend”

The Reverend is a courtesy title used when addressing a Christian cleric such as a pastor or priest. It is the standard courtesy title used in Protestant denominations and is one of the ranked courtesy titles used in hierarchical denominations such as Episcopal, Orthodox and Roman Catholic. In these latter denominations there are stepped courtesy titles for other clerical ranks. Confirm the rank, then check the specific listing (in the list on this page at right) to find the correct form of address.

—-In writing the Reverend is used before a (Full Name) or (Initial[s]) + (Surname). Examples of correct forms include:
—-—-The Reverend Mark M. Phillips
—-—-The Reverend C. M. Phillips

—-‘The Reverend’ describes an individual: The person is a reverend person. It is always followed by a person’s name:
—-—-Correct: The Reverend Mark M. Phillips
—-—-Correct: The Pastor of Grace Church
—-—-Incorrect: The Reverend Pastor of Grace Church

—-In these hierarchical denominations, in direct oral address, one switches over to Pastor (Name), Father (Name), or Dr. (Name), etc.:
—-—-Father Phillips
—-—-Pastor Phillips
—-—-Dr. Phillips

—-In less hierarchical denominations and independent congregations ‘Reverend’ is frequently used as an honorific in the manner of ‘Pastor’:
—-—-Reverend Phillips
—-—-Rev. Phillips
—-Use this form in conversation or in a salutation.
The Reverend (Full Name) cab be used in writing but more formally use the Reverend (Full Name) on an envelope or address block of a letter.

Use of

The Reverend Around the World

Outside the U.S., and especially in Commonwealth and former-Commonwealth countries, The Reverend and other courtesy titles are combined with honorifics such as professor or Dr. or with personal titles such as ‘sir’ or ‘lord’ to create compound honorifics.
—-—-The Reverend Dr. (Full Name)
—-—-The Reverend Professor (Full Name)
—-—-The Reverend Sir (Full Name)

Combining a courtesy title and an honorific is a British style.

In the USA, it is sometimes used this way – the Reverend Dr. (Full Name) – by Protestant clergy (e.g., the Episcopal Church) which frequently models its forms of address after British styles.

How to Address a “Reverend”?

Frequently I hear TV journalists address clergymen as Reverend Smith or simply as Reverend. I think these are incorrect. Am I wrong?
—————-– BH in Maryland

Dear BH,

‘Rev.’ is a shorthand version of The Reverend. And indeed Rev. (Name) is the preference of some, but not all, clergy. Use it when you know it is their preference. If you don’t know their preference, it is always appropriate to ask.

‘Rev. (Name)’ is most often used in conversation or a salutation. In writing use ‘the Reverend (Full Name)’.

—-In formal communications in writing use:
—-—-The Reverend (Full Name)
—-——–The Reverend John Smith

—-The conversational form (and what you use in a salutation) is:
—-—-Pastor/Father/Dr./etc. (Surname)
—-——–Pastor Smith
—-——–Father Smith
—-—-—-Dr. Smith

—-But not all communication is formal. The familiar, informal, version is often:
—-—-Pastor/Father/Dr. (Given name)
—-——–Pastor John
——–—-Father John
——–—-Dr. John

This last one is the equivalent of being on a first-name basis.

– Robert Hickey 

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

How to Address a Pastor and Spouse

How does one address an invitation’s envelope to the Reverend and his wife?
—-—-—-—-—-– Susan Copper 

Dear Ms. Hensley:

—-#1) If ‘the Reverend’ is a man and his spouse uses (Mrs.) + (same family name), then traditionally her given name does not appear:
—-—-The Reverend William Lambert
—-—-and Mrs. Lambert

—-#2) If ‘the Reverend’ is a man and she a different surname … then her full name appears:
—-—-The Reverend William Smith
—-—-and Ms. Linda Blake

—-#3) If ‘the Reverend’ is a woman, his full name appears whether he uses the same or different surname:
—-—-The Reverend Linda Lambert
—-—-and Mr. William Lambert

—-—-The Reverend Linda Blake
—-—-and Mr. William Smith

Combining Names | The Reverend and Mrs.:  You see this style used but, use it only when space is an issue. When person is the Reverend – they get their name as unit – not combined with anyone else’s name. Officials love their names spelled out fully. While not incorrect it is less formal.:
—-—-The Reverend and Mrs. William Lambert

—-#4) If the spouse has her own rank, courtesy title, or some special honorific, and does not have higher precedence, then both get their full name:
—-—-The Reverend William Lambert
—-—-and Dr. Linda Lambert

Probably more answer than you wanted … but I hope it is useful.

– Robert Hickey 

—-See These Related Posts:
—-—-Couples: Private Citizens
—-—-Couples: Military
—-—-Couples: U.S. Officials
—-—-Couples: Same Sex

How to Address a Two Pastors?

What is the proper way to address a letter to my pastor and his wife is also a pastor? Thank you in advance.
– Susan Wise

Dear Ms. Wise:

You didn’t mention if they both use the same last name … so I will assume the do.
And I will also assume you address each as Pastor (Surname) in conversation rather than Dr., Father, or something else.

That said … on the envelope … address it to “your pastor” first … and put the name of his or her spouse on the second line:
—-—-The Reverend Clinton Jones
—-—-and The Reverend Susan Jones

On the salutation to both use:
—-Dear Pastors Jones,

– Robert Hickey

Not Finding Your Question Answered?

—-#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)  After checking the list and reading the posts, 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 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, I will post the question & answer – always changing the names and specifics.

— Robert Hickey

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