Last weekend my husband and I were invited to meet a friend for dinner following a pastoral installation service. I have to admit that I have never had a chance to attend very many installation services, and so it was nice to be asked to attend this service.
Installing a pastor in a new congregation is a special event, and many fellow pastors make a point of attending installations services to provide support, encourage, and to pray for the newly called pastor. The service is rich and meaningful, with each pastor in attendance selecting and reading a scriptural text over the new pastor.
This installation service had 15 pastors in attendance to pray, encourage and support the newly installed pastor. That is a lot of pastors gathered in one place! And a lot of red pastoral stoles.
Whenever I visit a church, it has become a habit to have my camera in tow. One never knows what interesting things might be found, or what opportunities might present themselves for picture-taking. And on this particular Sunday afternoon, I had a new camera lens that I was anxious to try out. We walked into the church a few minutes prior to the beginning of the service, when we were greeted by a member of the congregation, and I was asked to take pictures for them following the service. Of course it is a delight and honor to be asked, and one always holds their breathe and humbly says a little prayer, “Please, let the photos turn out decently well………..it looks like I might know what I’m doing with this big camera, but in reality, I don’t!” And so up to heaven goes the little heartfelt plea that my focus is good, the framing is decent, and the lighting cooperates so at least one photo turns out well.
Thankfully, in answer to prayer, the photos did turn out well enough! And now that I am back home and reviewing the photos, I can again enjoy the wide variety of red stoles that were worn at the installation.
One of the easiest and best ways to see and enjoy the wide variety of stoles is the “pre-photo” photos. As all of the pastors are gathering prior to taking the more formal photos, these “pre-photo” shots allow one to see the garments being worn with the stoles. There were a few pastors wearing a cassock/surplice with the red stoles, but of course albs were the most popular selection. Many of the albs had lace inserts at the lower hem and sleeve edges. Most albs were worn with a white cotton cincture, while one cincture was red. Some stoles hung free over the cincture, while other stoles were held in place with the cincture.
As for the red stoles, most did not have any tassels or fringe at the bottom. The lower edge was a plain simple hem. Many had symbols of doves and flames. Several of the stoles were shorter in length, as befits a pastoral stole. Pastoral stoles tend to be narrower at the neck and widen slight at the lower edge. Can you spot the pastoral stoles in the above photo? Some of the stoles were very wide, and others were a medium width. Most of the stoles were made of a plain solid colored fabric with embroidery. One was a metallic brocade with embroidered appliques. The embroidery can be at the ends of the stoles, on the chest, along the length of the stole, or at the chest and hem. The variety is limitless. And I am pleased to say, one stole in the mix was made by me. It is always very humbling and an honor to see a pastor wearing something that was made by the work of my hands to the Glory of God.
Within the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the red stole is used at Pentecost and on Reformation Sunday during the church year. It is also tradition that red stoles are worn at the installation services of a pastor. So, if one is wondering if that red stole that has been around forever needs replacing, but is hesitant because it is used only two times per year, well here is a good reason to remember that they can be worn more than twice in a year!
Solo Dei Gloria
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