Slovak Lutheran preaching bands fabulousness

I wrote before that I was concentrating on lay-related matters for the next little while, with one noticable exception. This is it. I’ve made Geneva bands my schtick because it plays in so well with a gay male Protestant minister pun, and there aren’t a lot of those. You gotta use what you got.

When the Unitarian bishop of Transylvania and his assistant led communion at the 2003 UUCF Revival, I offered them the contents of my office closet (including what two past ministers left behind) for vesture: gowns, Geneva bands, and stoles. They only took the black gowns. As the Bishop put it, “we do not wear the Moses’ tablets.”

It seems bands are how you can tell a Transylvanian Unitarian from a Lutheran. A couple of weeks ago, for kicks, I decided to see what the Mittle Europa “Loo-trins” wear, ministerially. And I found them in Slovakia.

An English-language international church in Brataslava has a helpful page called “Things to know about Slovak Lutheran Liturgy” which includes details about the vesture:

  • black gown as used by the German Lutheran Church (academic robe from the 16th century worn by university professors) — called “luterák” (Luther Rock/Luther Skirt)
  • collar — two white-cloth rectangular strips symbolizing the two tables of the Decalogue — called “tablicky” (pronounced as “tublichky”)
  • white vestment worn over the gown on many occasions (by pastors only, not by chaplains) — called “kamza” (pronounced “kumzhah”)
  • stoles are not used, all robes are black-and-white

OK, there’s the reference to the tablets of the Ten Commandments again. Hmm. The gown is more like the cape like gown of the Transylvanian Unitarians, too. Has a nifty collar, too. I now want one. The kazma sounded nifty (and perhaps an alternative to cassock and surplice?) until I saw one. Looks more like a frilly duster of the kind that even my dear departed maternal grandmother wouldn’t wear.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Some event in 2005; you have to scroll a ways down.

Synod pictures from 2003, I think.

And then there are the pictures at the bottom of this page. Note that one minister is not dressed like the others. Purple shirt? Form fitting alb? No cape-gown, bands or duster. Obviously not from around there. She’s the Rev. Wilma S. Kucharek, the bishop of the US Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s Slovak Zion Synod, and I presume an honored guest. Kind of a shame that the ethnic vesture didn’t persist in the ELCA’s one ethnic synod.

Oh, and some Hungarian Lutheran ministers getting in on the fun. (See upper left hand corner.)

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

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