The Reverend: Wikis


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The Reverend styles
The Reverend
The Very Reverend
The Right Reverend
The Most Reverend

The Reverend is a style most often used as a prefix to the names of Christian clergy and ministers. There are sometimes differences in the way the style is used in different countries and church traditions. The Reverend is correctly called a style but is often and in some dictionaries called a title, form of address or title of respect.[1][2] The style is also sometimes used by leaders in non-Christian religions such as Judaism and Buddhism.[citation needed]

The term is an Anglicisation of the Latin reverendus, the style originally used in Latin documents by the Roman Catholic Church. It is the future passive participle of the verb revereri (to respect) which may be taken as a gerundive or a passive periphrastic, therefore meaning [one who is] to be respected/must be respected. The Reverend is therefore equivalent to The Hono(u)rable or The Venerable.[citation needed]

It is paired with a modifier or noun for some offices in some religious traditions: e.g., Roman Catholic bishops are usually styled The Most Reverend (reverendissimus); Anglican bishops are styled The Right Reverend; some Reformed churches have used The Reverend Mister as a style for their clergy.



In traditional and formal English usage, both British and American, it was and is considered incorrect to drop the definite article, the, before Reverend. When the style is used within a sentence, the begins with a lower-case letter. Common abbreviations for Reverend are Rev., Revd, and Rev'd. Except in formal situations, it is common in American usage not to use the when Reverend is used as a title or form of address (i.e., before a name). When the term reverend is used alone without a name as a third-person reference to a member of the clergy, it is treated as a normal English noun and therefore requires either a definite or indefinite article (e.g., We spoke to a/the reverend yesterday.).[3]

As Reverend is traditionally considered an adjective it is still often considered grammatically incorrect to form the plural Reverends. Some dictionaries[4], however, call the word a noun, possibly because of the current widespread plural usage. When several clergy are referred to, they are often styled individually (e.g., The Reverend John Smith and the Reverend Hank Brown). In a list of clergy, however, The Revv is sometimes put before the list of names, especially in the Roman Catholic Church in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The Reverend is traditionally used with first names (or initials) and surname (e.g., The Reverend John Smith or The Reverend J.F. Smith). Use of the prefix with the surname alone (The Reverend Smith) is considered a solecism in traditional usage (although The Reverend Father Smith or The Reverend Mr Smith are correct though somewhat old-fashioned uses). In some countries, Anglican priests are often addressed by the title of their office, such as Vicar, Rector, or Archdeacon.

In some churches, especially Protestant churches in the United States, ordained ministers are often addressed as Pastor (as in Pastor John or Pastor Smith). Some other titles, such as Canon, may be used together with the Christian name or both names, for example, Canon John or Canon John Smith. However, Pastor is more correct in some churches when the minister in question is the head of a church or congregation.[citation needed]

Male Christian priests are usually addressed as Father or, for example, as Father John or Father Smith. However, in official correspondence, such priests are not normally referred to as Father John, Father Smith, or Father John Smith, but as The Reverend John Smith. Father as a title is used for Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Old Catholic and many Anglican priests.

Some female Anglican or Old Catholic priests use the style The Reverend Mother and are addressed as Mother.

In the 20th and 21st centuries it has been increasingly common for reverend to be used as a noun and for clergy to be referred to as being either a reverend or the reverend (I talked to the reverend about the wedding service.) or to be addressed as Reverend or, for example, Reverend Smith or the Reverend Smith. This is considered grammatically incorrect, as it is the equivalent of referring to a judge as an honorable or an adult man as a mister.[citation needed]


The Reverend may be modified to reflect ecclesiastical standing and rank. Modifications vary across Christian traditions. Some examples are:


  • Deacons are styled as The Reverend, The Reverend Deacon, or The Reverend Mr/Mrs/Miss.
  • Priests are usually styled as The Reverend, The Reverend Father/Mother (even if not a religious) or The Reverend Mr/Mrs/Miss.
  • Heads of some women's religious orders are styled as The Reverend Mother (even if not ordained).
  • Canons are often styled as The Reverend Canon.
  • Deans are usually styled as The Very Reverend.
  • Archdeacons are usually styled as The Venerable (The Ven).
  • Bishops are styled as The Right Reverend.
  • Archbishops and primates are styled as The Most Reverend.

Roman Catholic

However, none of the above are usually addressed in speech as Reverend or The Reverend alone. Instead, deacons are addressed as Deacon; priests are addressed as Father; honorary prelates as Monsignor; bishops and archbishops as Your Excellency (or My Lord for bishops and Your Grace for archbishops in the United Kingdom and some other countries). The style is not used with patriarchs, cardinals or popes, as they have other styles unique to their positions.


In some countries, such as the United States, the term Pastor (such as Pastor Smith in more formal address or Pastor John in less formal) is often used rather than the Reverend or Reverend. The Reverend, however, is still often used in more formal or official written communication. The United Methodist Church in the United States often addresses its ministers as Reverend (Reverend Smith).

Among Southern Baptists in the United States, Reverend is formally written but the pastor is usually orally addressed as Mister (such as Mister Smith) or, in more traditional instances, Brother (Brother Smith), as New Testament writers describe Christians as being brothers and sisters in Christ. [Mat. 12:50]


  • Deacons: Commonly styled Deacon and their last name (such as Deacon Smith)
  • Elders: Commonly styled Elder and their last name (such as Elder Smith)
  • Pastors: The Reverend is usually written, but the person is commonly orally addressed as Pastor and their last name (such as Pastor Smith).
  • Priests:[6] The formal style for a priest is either The Reverend or The Very Reverend, but for male priests the title Father and the person's last name are frequently used (such as Father Smith).
  • Bishops: The style The Reverend Bishop or simply Bishop and the person's last name are most frequently used (such as The Reverend Bishop Smith or just Bishop Smith).


In some Methodist churches, especially in the United States, ordained and licensed ministers are usually addressed as Reverend or Pastor, unless they hold a doctorate, in which case they are often addressed in formal situations as The Reverend Doctor. In informal situations Reverend or simply Pastor is used. Also, Brother or Sister is used in some places. Use of these forms of address differs depending on the location of the church or Annual Conference.

Methodist bishops are referred to as Bishop, not Reverend Bishop, Your Grace or other forms of episcopal address used in other episcopal (bishop-led, connectional) churches. The reason for this is that bishops in Methodist polity are not ordained to the higher office but remain elders who are simply appointed to the ministry of a bishop.[citation needed]


The moderators of the General Assemblies of the Church of Scotland, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and the United Church of Canada, when ordained clergy, are styled The Right Reverend during their year of service and The Very Reverend afterwards. Church ministers are styled The Reverend. Moderators of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) are styled simply The Reverend. By tradition in the Church of Scotland, the ministers of St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh, (also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh) and Paisley Abbey are styled The Very Reverend.

Restoration Movement

Like some other groups that assert the lack of clerical titles within the church as narrated in the New Testament, congregations in the Restoration Movement (i.e., influenced by Barton Warren Stone and Alexander Campbell), often disdain use of The Reverend and instead use the more generalized designation Brother. The practice is universal within the Churches of Christ and prevalent in the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ but has become uncommon in the Disciples of Christ, which use The Reverend for ordained ministers.[7]


  • A deacon is often styled as The Reverend Deacon (or Hierodeacon, Archdeacon, Protodeacon, according to ecclesiastical elevation), while in spoken use the title Father is used (sometimes Father Deacon).
  • A married priest is The Reverend Father; a monastic priest is The Reverend Hieromonk; a protopresbyter is The Very Reverend Father; and an archimandrite is either The Very Reverend Father (Greek practice) or The Right Reverend Father (Russian practice). All may be simply addressed as Father.
  • Abbots and abbesses are styled The Very Reverend Abbot/Abbess and are addressed as Father and Mother respectively.
  • A bishop is referred to as The Right Reverend Bishop and addressed as Your Grace (or Your Excellency).
  • An archbishop or metropolitan, whether or not he is the head of an autocephalous or autonomous church, is styled The Most Reverend Archbishop/Metropolitan and addressed as Your Eminence.
  • Heads of autocephalous and autonomous churches with the title Patriarch are styled differently, according to the customs of their respective churches, usually Beatitude but sometimes Holiness and exceptionally All-Holiness.

Oxford University

The Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University is formally styled The Reverend the Vice-Chancellor even if not a member of the clergy.


Most Jewish ministers of religion have the title Rabbi, which denotes that they have received rabbinical ordination (semicha), and are addressed as Rabbi or Rabbi Surname. It is, however, not essential to be a rabbi to practice as a Jewish minister of religion. In particular, few cantors (chazzanim) are rabbis, but many have authority to perform functions such as witnessing marriages. In this case they often use the style The Reverend; more usually, however, a cantor is called Cantor or Cantor Surname.

Notes and references

  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Catholic Forms of Address
  6. ^ In most European Lutheran churches (as well as some in America) most clergy are called priests rather than the American tradition of pastors.
  7. ^ Frank S. Mead, Samuel S. Hill, & Craig D. Atwood, Handbook of denominations in the United States (12th edition) (Nashville: Abingdon, 2005), ISBN 0687057841; Douglas A. Foster, Paul M. Blowers, Anthony L. Dunnavant, & D. Newell Williams, eds., Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004), ISBN 0-8028-3898-7.

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