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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

13 June 2005

Why White-robed Acolytes?

Q: Why do acolytes wear white robes?

The white robes worn by the candle lighters of many congregations come from a time when acolyte was an early stage toward becoming a Christian priest. Of course, this has pretty much changed throughout all Christianity, but the idea of the covering hasn’t.

A white robe or gown is used for the same reasons pastors normally wear the white alb or the surplice over a black robe: It signifies holiness, reminds us of the righteousness of God that covers us in baptism, and it hides our street clothes. Thus, the robe is there partially in order to turn our concerns away from how the person looks and toward appreciating how he or she fulfills a particular office or function in the Church.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.


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