I have a unique position in the church today. I used to be a Rector of a large church in North Dallas. (Christ Church in Plano, TX). But I am no longer a Rector. Instead, I have the good fortune to hang out, teach, coach, and encourage a lot of Rectors. During this challenging year, most of this has been on the phone and via Zoom. Our Rectors have done a great job! They have shown creativity, resilience, leadership, and faithfulness! Most have gone above and beyond. I’m sure many will be thinking about a Christmas gift to express their gratitude and affection. But what do you get a Rector as a gift? What do clergy like to receive that they don’t already have?
Given my three decades of experience as a Rector and my role in the life of dozens of Rectors, I have compiled a Christmas list for laypeople to use in considering what to give.
Two more qualifiers.
- I am assuming you really want to give your Rector something of substance and not just a greeting card assuring him or her of your support.
- I suppose some of these gifts might well be given to other priests and deacons in the church. I am not trying to exclude them. I am only trying to focus my attention on this one idea: What Your Rector Wants for Christmas.
1. Gift Cards
Gift cards are always helpful, but I would suggest that a $100 gift card for books is pitch-perfect.
Every Rector (I know) loves to read and the congregation benefits from their life-long learning. But you may not realize how expensive specialized theological and religious books are today.
- Christianity Today’s 2020 Book Award for Biblical Studies is Christobiography by Craig Keener. It’s a massive work on the reliability of the Gospels clocking in at $50 on Amazon.
- Last year we highlighted a new critical edition of the Anglican Book of Homilies. Last year, I pointed out that Rectors would love to have it, but the hardcover on Amazon is over $100 while the paperback is over $40. Checking back in this year, the hardcover on Amazon is slightly over $200 and the paperback is almost $50.
- Our friend Scot McKnight publishes a list of Books of the Year. For example, he lists a great commentary on Ephesians by Lynn Cohick that is just under $40.
Rector’s are trained to do things in moderation, but the one area where they do (and should) go crazy is in the area of books. These essential tools add up quickly. Help them go shopping!
2. Clergy Clothing
Most clergy need to have certain items in their closet for the work God has given them to do. They buy clergy shirts, clergy collars, robes, vestments, and such. None of these are cheap! A gift certificate in this area would be well appreciated. Plus, many of the clergy suppliers have really struggled in 2020. We want them to stay in business. So, helping in this area is a win-win.
By the way, for things like clothes or books, I would encourage you to give gift cards/certificates. These items are personal to your Rector and it makes sense that he or she should be left to make the final selection and purchase.
Here are a few well-known clothiers for clergy and ordained leaders.
- Almy and Wippell are well-known traditional companies.
- I do find that many of our young leaders are gravitating to these Fair Trade Clergy Shirts by Butler & Butler. They are ethically sourced and more tailored to fit.
3. The Book of Common Prayer
The Anglican Church in North America released the 2019 Book of Common Prayer about 18 months ago. So many of our clergy and churches have leaned on the new BCP during the pandemic. Many congregations began regularly streaming services from the Daily Office and got to know this new Prayer Book. Recently, a new Premium Leather edition has become available. Your Rector may be hesitant to purchase one if they have a functional pew edition, but they would love it and will use it! You can purchase it from Anglican House Publishers for $89.95. Don’t worry, if they already have one then they will re-gift it to their favorite curate! It will not go unused or unappreciated.
Finally, you may be looking to do something really big for a Christmas gift or a key anniversary in the life of the Church. Your Rector probably wants a few days of retreat with his/her spouse at a nice place of THEIR own choosing. We have spent so much time this year in our homes. Now, is the time more than ever that many of us need a change of scenery.
This is a wonderful thing for someone to give. Rectors are in the constant mode of “providing” for the members of their church. It is a joy and a privilege to do this. But from time to time it is certainly nice to go to a place where one can be provided for to rest and recharge.
You could even send them on a pilgrimage. I lead tours on a regular basis to the Holy Land and other places. We are hoping to resume these soon and these are trips that your Rector will love!
Most parishioners have a special relationship with their Rector. They will want to express their love and gratitude during Christmas through a gift. These are just a few ideas of what Rectors really want for Christmas. They are ways to help each Rector feel affirmed and appreciated for the work they do.
Get creative and be generous!