I have been asked by the Ministry Commission to write an article here to explain the fact that the honorific title of “Reverend” was not used for me at the Anniversary Service. I must explain that this is entirely at my own insistence, and is a matter of personal conscience.
The title “Reverend” meaning literally “one worthy of being revered” was a medieval title of respect that in the fifteen century began to be restricted to clergy. This was despite Jesus’ specific condemnation of special titles for religious leaders (Matthew 23:6-12). As someone who considers himself a follow of Jesus, I feel the use of such titles runs against Jesus’ teaching, which warned against the love of status and religious pomposity. This is the main reason I don’t feel like I can use the title.
Also, as a Unitarian I am committed to the inherent and sacred worth of all people, and I feel designating some as more worthy of being revered than others is inconsistent with this belief. As a Minister I believe I am defined by my professional training, spiritual calling and accountability. This makes me able to offer spiritual leadership, but it does not make me inherently more sacred or worthy than anyone else.
This is a difficult thing for me to say, because it is difficult to say it without sounding critical of my friends and colleagues in the Unitarian ministry. I do not mean to be. But after much prayer and thought I have decided that I must take this position for myself. Thank you.