How to Address Clergy and Religious Officials?

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    Christian Orthodox       
    Christian Orthodox        
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Admiral, Texas Navy   
Adventist Minister       

Archbishop, Catholic        
   Christian Orthodox        
Archdeacon, Episcopal        
Ambassador, Goodwill
Ambassador of one country
   to another country      
Ambassador of the U.S.
   to another country
   by a U.S. citizen       
Ambassador of the U.S.
   to the U.K.  
American Indian Chief        
   U.S., State / or           

Assistant Secretary
Associate Justice,
   U.S. Supreme Court          
Associate Justice of a
   State Supreme Court
Attorney General           
Attorney General,
Attorney, U.S.         
Australian Officials    
Awards, Name on an

Baron, Baroness           
British Officials,
   Royalty, Nobility     
Brother, Catholic
   Christian Orthodox          
Bishop, Catholic            
   Christian Orthodox         
Bishop, Episcopal        
Board Member     
Brigadier General       
Business Cards      

Canadian Officials    
   USA, USAF, USMC     
Certificate, Name on a 
    Federal Reserve      
Chaplain in the
    Armed Services        
Chaplain of Congress          

Chargé d’Affaires         
Chief Executive Officer 
Chief Judge          
Chief Justice,
      U.S. Supreme Court 
Chief Justice, of a State
      Supreme Court             

Chief of Police          
Chief of Staff     

Chief Operating
City Manager
Clergy & Religious
Club Official          
Colonel, Kentucky      
Colonel, USA, USAF,
    or USMC     
Commissioner, Court     
Commodore of a         
      Yacht Club         
Congressman, U.S.               
Congresswoman, U.S.   
Consul and or
   Consul General   
Corporate Executive         
Counselor (Diplomat)      
County Officials       
    U.S. Military
    U.S. Officials
    Private Citizens    
    Same Sex

Dalai Lama          
Dean, academic            
Dean, clergy            
Deceased Persons        
Degree, honorary      
Delegate, U.S., State

Deputy Chief of Mission
Deputy Marshal

Deputy Secretary      
    Pro Tempore      
Diploma, Name on a   

District Attorney
Doctor, Chiropractor     
Doctor of Dentistry
Doctor of Medicine              
Doctor, Military           
Doctor of
   Veterinary Medicine          
Doctor, Optometrist   
Doctor of Osteopathy            
Doctor, Other Disciplines     
Doctorate, honorary      

Elect, Designate
Pro Tempore      
Esquire, Esq.       

First Names, Use of
   Formal / Informal     
First, Second,
   Third , etc .        
First Lady, Spouse
   of the President of
   the United States 
First Lady, Member
    of Her   
    White House Staff      
First Lady, Spouse
   of a U.S. Governor
   or Lt. Gov.    
First Lady, Spouse
   of a U.S. Mayor    

First Lady
   of a Church      

First Lieuten
Former Officials    

Gay Couple      


Goodwill Ambassador      
Governor General         
Governor, Lieuten
Governor, Lt., Spouse   

Governor, Tribal Council          
Governor, U.S. State       
Governor, Former    
    Spouse of     
Governor's Staff,
    Member of
Governors, Board of 

High Commissioner    
Honorable, The
Honorary Ambassador       
Honorary degrees
Honorary doctorate
Honourable, The

Indian Chief         
Inspector General    
Interim Official   
   Writing &  
    Writing &

Judge, former     
Judge of US City

     County or State     
Judge, US Federal            
Junior, Senior,
    I, II, III, etc

Justice, Associate

     Supreme Court

Justice, Associate

     Supreme Court


Late, The
   (deceased persons)
Lesbian Couple    
Lieutenant Colonel,     
   USA, USAF, USMC      
Lieutenant General,
   USA, USAF, USMC      

Lieutenant Governor    

Major General,
Man, business
Man, social
Marquess / Marchioness
Married Women       
Marshal for a
   Judicial District, U.S. 
Mayor, U.S. City   
Mayor, Canadian City    
Mayor Pro Tempore
Mayor, Vice    
   Protestant Clergy       
   Christian Orthodox     
Most Reverend, The        
Mother Superior
Mr. (Social)      
Mr. (Business)      
Mrs., Ms. (Use, Social Forms)      
Mrs. vs. Ms.     
Mr. & Mrs. / Couples   

Name Badges or Tags     
Nobility, UK/British
Nobility, Other & Former     
Nun, Catholic
Nun, Orthodox

Officer, Police     

Pastor, Christian Clergy  
   Christian Orthodox  
   Ecumenical Patriarch
   of Constantinople  
People with Two Titles      
Petty Officer
Place Cards            
Plaque, Name on a    
Police Chief
Police Officer                     
Pope, Catholic
Pope, Coptic
Postmaster General         
Presbyter, Orthodox
President, corporate
President of
    College or
President of a
President of a
    US State Assembly 
President (current)
   of the U.S.A.          
President (former)
   of the U.S.A.     
President of the
    U.S.A., spouse of  
    of the U.S.   
Priest, Catholic          
    Christian Orthodox 
Priest, Episcopal        
Prime Minister
   & Academics         
Pro Tempore,
   Elect, Designate    


Ranger, Texas        
   U.S., Federal           
   U.S., State            
Reservist, Military      
Retired Military
   1. Formula For
       How to Address     
   2. Use of Rank by
       Retired Military    

   3. Q&A on
       How to Address
       Retired Military   
Reverend, The
Right Reverend, The         

Same Sex Couple      
Salvation Army    
School Board Member
   U.S. Department,
   Member of the Cabinet
   of Defense, U.S.       
Secretary, Assistant       
Secretary General
   of the U.N.            
Senator, U.S., Federal       
Senator, U.S., State         
Senator, Canadian       
Senior, Junior,
     I, II, III, etc.         
Senior Judge 
Sergeant at Arms
Seventh Day
     Adventist Minister       
Sister, Catholic       

Solicitor General      
Speaker of the U.S.
   House of
Spouse of the
    President of the U.S.       
Spouse of the
    Vice President
    of the U.S.           
Spouse of an
    Elected Official            
State Attorney     
Surgeon General          

Texas Ranger        
Titles & Forms of
    Address, Useless?        
Tombstones, Names on
Town Justice
Town Manager       
The Honorable     
Tribal Officials     
Two Titles,
    Person With

Under Secretary       
US Attorney
US Federal Officials
US State Officials     
US Municipal Officials

Venerable, The        
Veteran (not Retired)         
Very Reverend, The         
VFW Officer/Official    
Vice Mayor       
Vice President
    of the U.S.
Spouse of the
    Vice President
of the U.S.
Vice President-elect
    of the U.S.      
Viscount and/or

Warrant Officer       
White House Staff    
Woman, business        
Woman, social        

Yacht Club Officer      


How to Address
Clergy and Religious Officials

Questions & Answers, Frequently Asked Questions, and Blog

Site updated by Robert Hickey on 23 March 2020

How to Address Clergy if You are Not a Member of the Denomination?

How to Address a Pastor who is Also a Chaplain?      
How to Address a Pastor who is a Professor?       
How to Address a Pastor who Is Also an Attorney?
How to Address a Pastor with a Doctorate?       
How to Address a Pastor & Her Husband?       
How to Address a Pastor & Her Military Husband?       
How to Address a Pastor & His Professor Wife?       
How to Address a Pastor & His Pastor Wife?       
How to Address a Rabbi & His Rabbi Wife?       

How to Address a Muslim Teacher -- a Shaykh?        

How to Introduce the Pope?            
How to Address a Roman Catholic Bishop?        
Is a Roman Catholic Bishop Addressed as "Your Excellency"?       
How to Address a Roman Catholic Deacon?          
How to Address a Superior"?        

How to Address a Retired Protestant Pastor?       
How to Address a Retired Roman Catholic Priest?       

Do Clergy Introduce Themselves with an Honorific?               

How to Address Clergy If You Are Not Comfortable
Using the Titles Used by Those In Their Denomination?

        I have been trying to determine the best way to address the head of the Greek Orthodox Church here in my area. Herein lies my dilemma: because of my personal beliefs and convictions, I am not comfortable with using titles such as Your Eminence or Father, when addressing the Metropolitan in person or in writing.
         I asked him what people call him who are outside the Orthodox Church and do not adhere to the use of those honors. He said, “whatever they prefer.” Obviously, I am left with a dilemma. He is a board member for our organization, I want to be respectful, not appear too familiar with him, and yet maintain my own sense of correctness for my beliefs. Do you have any thoughts in this?
        -- C.H. 

Dear C.H.:
      I have lots of thoughts on this.
      It's standard practice when addressing an official in a hierarchy to use their traditional forms of address. 
      Even non-subjects address the Queen of the UK as Your Majesty.  Citizens from Illinois address the governor of Wisconsin as The Honorable Scott Brown.  Military officers are addressed by rank by civilians.  All in court address the judge as Your Honor. 
      I would agree that if a reference book suggested (and Roman Catholic style books do) you should close a letter to the Pope as Your humble servant, ... it would be appropriate for someone who is not Roman Catholic to switch over to something like Very Respectfully. But everyone addresses the Pope as Your Holiness.
      If as an official of an organization you intentionally don't use the standard forms for his office, I would say it's likely to be interpreted as an insult by your organization -- to him personally, his office, and his denomination.
     Maybe you can find out what the policy is of your organization about addressing board members who are clergy or have special forms of address?  That way if you make a personal decision you will know how in advance if it aligns with the policy of your employer.
      -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Roman Catholic Deacon

How to Address a Roman Catholic Deacon?
         Having attended Catholic school for many years, I was sure that we had had some deacons/seminarians in high school who were called Reverend Mr. ___. With some Googling I have found this is the correct form of address used for a deacon who is preparing to be ordained a priest, who is called a “transitional deacon.”
        What do you think of this advice? 
        So my question today is how to address a deacon on the outside envelope. We are addressing some some beautiful Crane’s wedding invitations that have to be just perfect!

                  – Chris Wilder, Syosset, New York

Dear Ms. Wilder:
       People I've consulted with in the Roman Catholic hierarchy say there are two types of Roman Catholic deacons — Permanent Deacons who are not addressed as “The Reverend.” … and Transitional Deacons {seminary graduates on their way to becoming priests} who are addresses as "The Reverend".  So that would suggest you will need to find out which type of deacon you are inviting.
              Outside envelope for an invitation:
                     The Reverend Mr. (Full Name)
              Inside envelope for an invitation:
                     Deacon (Surname)
              Outside envelope for an invitation:
                     Deacon (Full Name)
              Inside envelope for an invitation:
                    Deacon (Surname)
       In formal address, use The Reverend … not just Reverend. It is a courtesy title used just like The Honorable ... with a The and always preceding a full name.
       The use of  The Reverend + Mr.  is unusual in the United States. The American tradition is to use just one courtesy title or honorific before the name. E.g., a Navy Captain who is also a physician is not addressed as “Captain Dr. (name).” or a member of the House of Representatives who is an PhD would not be "The Honorable Dr. (name)."
       Double titles
are typical in the UK, and when people tell me of such a form ("Reverend Mr.”), I always wonder if their source isn’t a British (Church of England) style guide?  While I’ve seen The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. here and there … it is not what they use that at The King Center in Atlanta. They use The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  He was a The Reverend and he held a doctorate, but used one honorific or courtesy title at a time.
       Note to other readers: I am interested in hearing from you if you have an opinion.  (See two of the notes below from others.)
       — Robert Hickey

Dear Mr. Hickey,
       As a deacon, I can tell you that in the Diocese of Trenton (and other NJ dioceses I believe), there are two standards:
              Permanent Deacons are addressed: Deacon__________
              Transitional Deacons are addressed The Reverend Mr.________
       I believe this is fairly consistent throughout the US.
              – Deacon Kevin

Dear Mr. Hickey:
       Get real – why are we splitting hairs? In the Roman Catholic church we do have “transitional” and “permanent” deacons – but the ministry is the same. Therefore you address either deacon the same. Formal address is The Reverend Mr. _____. In conversation it is simply Deacon _____. The transitional deacon will go on to priestly ordination and formally become The Reverend _____ and in conversation be addressed as Father ____. Permanent deacons remain as they were. Same ministry – same title – no difference – only the length of time in that ministry.
              – Deacon Dale

How to Address a Retired Roman Catholic Priest?
    We are working on our Honor Roll of Donors and do include our donor’s title in their listing.  I actually came across your website a few days ago and used the information on the site to clarify a retired military question I had.  I bookmarked the page and went back to it when I came across the retired Priest (actually a Monsignor) who is a donor.
How should I handle him?
         -- Valerie

Dear Valerie:
     Clergy continue to be addressed as clergy when they retire. So while a retired monsignor might be identified in an introduction as being "retired from (a specific job or position)" -- his forms of address stay the same.
     I have all the forms of address for a monsignor ... business, social, place cards, introductions, conversation ... in my book on page 287.

          -- Robert Hickey

Is a Roman Catholic Bishop an Excellency?
     How do I address my (Roman Catholic) bishop? Is he Your Excellency? Are there more and less formal forms of correct address?
                   ~ Barbara Montgomery

    I taught catechism for years and when the kids prepared for a visit by the Bishop for confirmation they were always told to say Your Excellency or Bishop (Name).
                   ~ P.D.

Dear P.D. and Ms. Montgomery:
    In conversation it's correct to call the bishop Bishop (Surname).
    A Roman Catholic bishop is not an Excellency -- he's a Most Reverend. So when you address an envelope, write The Most Reverend (full name) and on the second line Bishop of (diocese).

      The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops suggests to address bishops with the courtesy title the Most Reverend.  See how they list their member bishops ON THIS PAGE ... their advice makes sense.
     Excellency is the courtesy title used with the accredited representative (ambassador) of one head-of-state to another head-of-state. The term was invented and established at the Conference of Vienna in 1814 for that purpose
    So a papal nuncio ... the accredited representative from His Holiness to a foreign head-of-state is addressed as His/Your Excellency ...
because he holds the rank of ambassador.
    It is not used correctly when addressing bishops in general.
-- Robert Hickey

How to Introduce the Pope?
Dear Mr. Hickey.
     I will be meeting the Pope. If I introduce him, would you say, "May I introduce the Holy Father, Pope Francis" or would you say, "May I present His Holiness" and not use Francis in the introduction?
                   ~ Meeting the Pope

Dear Meeting the Pope:
    (All this is covered on page 282 in my book.)
    The Holy Father is so high he is never introduced to anyone: i
ndividuals are presented to The Holy Father. He requires no introduction: anyone about to meet the Pope already knows who he is.
     When he enters a room he is announced .... an aide says so all can hear  "His Holiness" ... and that's it.
     You will be introduced to the Pope. In that case the introducer would say "Your Holiness may I present (name of the other person)."
     When acknowledging the introduction, his name is ever used: He is addressed in conversation as
"Your Holiness."
     This not using the name is the rule for most all the very high officials.  For example, the Queen of the United Kingdom is never addressed as Queen Elizabeth ... she is always addressed as "Your Majesty" 
The President of the United States is addressed as Mr. President in direct conversation: not President (Name).
                       -- Robert Hickey

FYI: To see an interesting news story about a mistake by the President of the United States in addressing the Pope, cardinals, and bishops, click here.

Is a Bishop Addressed as Your Grace?
     Your site says bishops and archbishops are addressed in conversation as Bishop (Name) or Archbishop (Name).
      Bishops and Archbishops are NEVER addressed in conversation as
Bishop So-and So or Archbishop So-and-So. They are properly addressed as Your Excellency or simply Excellency. In Ireland, according to their custom, Bishops are addressed as Your Grace; however, even in this case, Bishop is not used in conversation. Your book state only nuncios are referred to and addressed as Excellency. This is not the case. 
                   -- SM in California

Dear SM in California:

     Addressing bishops as Your Grace is a British form of address. In the Church of England bishops are granted the precedence of a Duke ... and dukes and thus by courtesy ... Anglican bishops – are addressed as
Your Grace. [In the United States, the American branch of the church – the Episcopal Church in the USA – addresses its Presiding Bishop as the Most Reverend (Full Name) and its other bishops as the Right Reverend (Full Name). Both, in conversation or a salutation are Bishop (Surname).

       His/Her/Your Excellency is a courtesy title used by accredited diplomats who have presented their credentials to a foreign head-of-state as the single designated representative from another head-of-state. So the Papal Nuncio (who would always have the rank of bishop) is addressed as Your Excellency ... but other bishops are not.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops says that U.S. Catholic bishops are correctly addressed as the Most Reverend (Full Name) and Bishop (Surname).
             -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Professor Who is Also a Pastor? 
       How would one address the envelope to a reverend with a PhD who is a professor at a Christian university? Should I use The Reverend Dr.The Reverend PhD?
       -- Gail Ann in Michigan

Dear Gail Ann:

        In the USA we follow a simplified form when addressing someone with multiple roles in their life ... in the manner appropriate to the role they are to us at the moment.
        Therefore, if you are contacting him as clergy use:
                The Reverend Luther Heritage
                Dear Dr. Heritage
        Addressing him as a professor use:
                Luther Heritage, PhD
                Dear Dr. Heritage
        As an example of someone else who hold more than one title is Colin Powell -- who was a United State Army General and subsequently the Secretary of State.
                As a retired U.S. Army General he is entitled to be addressed as:
                        General Colin Powell, USA, Retired
                And as a former Secretary of State, an post appointed by The President and approved by the US Senate, he is forever entitled to:
                        The Honorable Colin Powell
                He is either .... but never both .... so he is never:
                        The Honorable General Colin Powell
       -- Robert Hickey

How to Address Retired Protestant Clergy?

     I’ve used your site several times recently and it’s extremely helpful.  Thanks for providing such a comprehensive reference. My current questions:
     1. How do you address protestant clergy?  For example, do you still use “Rev.” or “The Rev. Dr.”  to address a retired minister?
     2. Does a person’s personal preferences matter in forms of address?  For example, the minister mentioned above writes but uses no forms of address with his signature.  When you respond, do you use his professional honorific or a standard like “Mr.”?
         -- Higgins Clinton

Dear Mr. Clinton,

    Clergy continue to use "The Reverend" for ever.  It never expires.
    I would always do the envelope formally:
        The Reverend James Wilson
                        ... that form of his name is for the post office.
    Also there's a rule that in writing one does not give oneself an honorific .... so the minister not signing his name on a letter as "Pastor James Wilson" make sense. I don't sign my name "Mr. Robert Hickey" ... but that is how others would address me.
    Is that what you mean?
    I would formally address him in a salutation as something like "Dear Dr. Wilson"  .... or if I was on a first name basis "Dear Jim"

    -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Female Pastor & Her Husband?
      How do I address a sympathy card to our female pastor and her husband on the death of her husband’s son from a previous marriage?
    -- nskcomstock

Dear nskcomstock,
    Most formally on an envelope your Pastor is listed first since she is The Reverend (Full Name) and he is a Mr. (Full Name). People with courtesy titles rank higher than people without them.
     And because she has a title ... she gets her whole name as a unit ... not mixed in with her spouse's name. So avoid anything resembling The Reverend Allyson and Mr. Wilson Smith
... which is really bad.  
     And assuming they use the same last name ... the most formal would be:
          The Reverend Allyson Smith
               and Mr. Wilson Smith

     In the salutation you could use the form you think she prefers in conversation ....
          Dear Pastor and Mr. Smith,
          Dear Dr. and Mr. Smith,

     Or if you are on a first name basis use:
          Dear Allyson and Wilson,

               -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Two Pastors?
    What is the proper way to address a letter to my pastor and his wife is also a pastor? Thank you in advance.

         -- Susan Wise

Dear Ms. Wise:
     I cover how to address two pastors in Chapter Nine: Joint Forms of Address.
You didn't mention if they both use the same last name ... so I will assume the do.
    And I will also assume you address each as Pastor (surname) in conversation rather than Dr., Father, or something else.
    That said ... on the envelope ... address it to "your pastor" first ... and put the name of his or her spouse on the second line:
        The Reverend Clinton Jones
            and The Reverend Susan Jones

    On the salutation to both use:
        Dear Pastors Jones,

      -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Two Rabbis?
       How would I address and invitation to Rabbis that are husband and wife?
         -- D.K.

Dear D.K.:
        The most formal way would be to list them both fully .... first one ... then the other.
                Rabbi Joel Pine
                and Rabbi Julia Pine
                2141 Wilson Boulevard
Silver Spring, Maryland 20987
        Which one you put first will depend on the topic on which you are writing:
               * If it's an invitation to her and he is on the letter as her spouse
                          .... she'd be first
               * If it's to him or to them together use the Mr. and Mrs. order
                          .... list him first.

      -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Member of Clergy Who is Also an Attorney?
       How do you address an Episcopal Deacon in the U.S. who is also an attorney?  In The Episcopal Diocese of Kentucky, deacons are normally addressed, “The Rev. ABCD.”  Deacons who have a PhD are addressed, “ The Rev. Dr. ABCD.”  Normally an attorney will not use “Dr.,” but will use “Esquire” or Esq.” as a post nominal title.  Can you advise?  This would be for an written address.  Thank you.
        -- H. Engle

Dear H. Engle:
        The rule is that if one has a courtesy title ... you don't get anything after the name.  
        So if you put "The Reverend"  "The Very     Reverend" "The Most Reverend"  "The Honorable" "Your Excellency" before a name ... they don't get anything after their name. 
        Many members of Congress are JD's  .... but none are:
                The Honorable (full name), JD 
        They are simply:
                The Honorable (full name)
        So a deacon who you are addressing as a deacon is
                The Reverend (full name)
        If you are addressing him as an attorney at his law office address the envelope as:
                (Full Name), Esq.
        You suggest that "The Reverend Dr. (Full Name)" is typical.
        I'd say I see it now and then, but actually is what called the "compound form" ... a  form based on the British style (and the German's do it too) in which one includes everything to which one is entitled. Your full name basically being your resume. For example an accomplished person might end up with:
                His Excellency The Right Reverend General Dr. Sir (Full name), CBE
        In the USA we use a simplified form in which we only use what's pertinent to the conversation.  So military doctors are never Captain Dr. (Name)  ...... Senators are never Senator Dr. (name) ..... Mayors are never The Honorable Dr. (full name).  You would see all of those if you follow the British style.
        I see the compound forms most typically in the USA among Episcopalians ... who are probably using British etiquette books.  I am not saying they are wrong ... but its a form that is not consistent with what's done in forms of address used in other organizations in the United States. That form would be:
                The Reverend (Full Name)
        on the envelope or letter's address block. And he or she held a doctorate it would be
                Dr. (Surname)

How to Address a Pastor and Her Military Husband?
     My question has to do with addressing envelopes.  Our Pastor, Alyson Smith, of the Presbyterian Denomination, is married to a retired Lieutenant Commander, USN, Richard.  He is to be awarded his PhD soon.  Regardless of the degree, I have not been able to find out how one is to address an invitation, card, or letter to the two of them, together.
         --- Bobbi Sue Minton

Dear Ms. Minton:
I have an entire chapter on joint forms of address in my book for just this type of situation. I am guessing you are addressing him socially, so ... socially his name is written:
        Lieutenant Commander Richard Smith
    As a member of the clergy, her name is written:
        The Reverend Alyson Smith

    Regarding his PhD.
In the US academic post nominals are never used with a rank. So he can be Lieutenant Commander Richard Smith (or Commander Smith in conversation) or Richard Smith, PhD (or Dr. Smith in conversation if he wants to be address as "Dr.") but never Lieutenant Commander Richard Smith PhD.

    Usually holders of PhD's don't use Dr. (name) unless they work in academia or research. E.g., the holder of a doctorate in French who teaches would use
Dr. (name) .... The holder of a PhD in finance who works at a bank wouldn't. But ultimately it's his option how he is addressed.

    An active duty or retired military person has higher precedence than a civilian so is listed first. So in most circumstances the joint form would be:
        Lieutenant Commander Richard Smith
            and The Reverend Alyson Smith

    BUT if she is the invited guest ... and he is invited as her escort, then as the guest her name would appear first:
        The Reverend Alyson Smith
            and Lieutenant Commander Richard Smith

    I have spelled out "Lieutenant Commander" every time above, to avoid the whole issue of how to abbreviate his rank. I cover that in my book on pages 94-98 (service-specific abbreviations) if you need that information.
                  -- Robert Hickey

How To Address a Pastor and His Wife?
     How do I address a note to a pastor and his wife when both hold PhD's and she is a college professor?
     -- Lucy Hendershott, Great Falls, Virginia

    How do I address a pastor and his wife when she's doesn't have a special title?  She uses Mrs. or maybe Ms.
     -- John Price Buchanan, Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Dear LH and JPB:
    I include forms for every different type of formal joint address in my book. On social correspondence (as opposed to official correspondence mailed to their office)  you don't use academic or any other kind of post-nominal initials. So no PhD.
    Put each name a line of its own ... so each gets their full name just right
            The Reverend Dennis Winslow
                and Dr. Marilyn Winslow

        The Reverend Dennis Winslow
                and Mrs. Winslow

    Clergy goes first. A person with an advance degree is lower than a member of clergy.
    Traditionally when a wife has a special honorific ... like "Dr." or a military rank she gets her full name.
when a wife uses "Mrs." and the same family name -- the wife's given name does not appear.
     If you want the full name of the pastor's wife to appear, then you have to get inventive. Today many women are perfect fine with "Ms." all the time. Thus a more contemporary form would be:

           The Reverend Dennis Winslow
                and Ms. Marilyn Winslow

    You definitely want to avoid:
         The Reverend and Mrs. Dennis and Marilyn Winslow
      And finally regarding:

            The Reverend Dennis and Mrs. Marilyn Winslow
     The form Mrs. (Her Given Name + Surname) is disliked by some women who follow the rule that it is the form for a divorced woman who could not be Mrs. (His
Given Name + Surname) anymore so subsequently uses Mrs. (Her Given Name + Surname).
                -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Pastor with a Doctorate?
       I need to mail something to my pastor, Rev. Calvin Cole who has received his doctorate. How do I address the envelope or even introduce him?
        -- Marsha Talltree

       Is is appropriate to use two titles together such as Rev. Dr. The clergy and other staff at my church refer to our pastor as Rev. Dr. B. W. McClendon. He has a PhD and is also a Pastor of our church.
        -- Mrs. Brown

Dear Ms. Talltree and Mrs. Brown:
    In the U.S. the tradition is a simplified style to use one thing before a name or one thing after a name. Not both. 
     With a pastor with a doctorate these are the traditional forms:
   On the envelope or address block on a letter:
           The Reverend (Full Name)
     If you want to use the degree, then nothing before the name:
        (Full Name), D.Div.
     In a salutation (and conversation) switch over and use an honorific:
             Dr. (Surname)
    We follow this style when formally addressing U.S. elected officials who are The Honorable (Full Name). When we address them as the Honorable we do not also include Dr., Mayor, Senator, Professor, Mr./Ms./Dr. or anything else before their name. One thing before or after, not both.
This is in contrast to the British who do include every honorific and post-nominal all at once:
The Reverend Dr. (Full Name).
In the U.S. you see the British Style used by some clergy, notably the Episcopalians – probably influenced by the Church of England. Other non-Episcopal clergy use the compound style too, so I am not saying you don't see it: You do. I am just saying it's not stylistically correct.
      If you know it's their personal preference -- use it.  It's always courteous to address an individual in the form they prefer regardless of whether or not it is by the book.
    NOTE: When the correspondence is formal ... use The Reverend rather than just Reverend or Rev.  Sometimes clergy use simply Rev. as an abbreviated honorific, preferring to be addressed as Rev. (Name). It's definitely not everyone's preference, but it's each person's option to be addressed in the manner they prefer.
    My mother's pastor says he likes to be orally addressed as Reverend Bob, so I address him as
Reverend Bob. 
In writing I would use The Reverend (Full Name).
   In a conversation or salutation, if I did not know his preference, I'd use Pastor (Surname). That's widely acceptable and works for all the Protestant denominations. As far as I know no one is offended by it.
          -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Muslim teacher -- a Shaykh?
    How do you address (in a e-mail) a Muslim religious teacher who self-identifies himself as a “shaykh”?
      -- Paul in California

Dear Tonyalee:
     Shaykh is a form of address used by some Shiite Islamic clerics. Both Sheikh and Shaykh (and many other variations) are attempts to write the Arabic word in phonetically English. It's sort of equivalent to Catholic clergy using Father or protestant clergy using Pastor. On a e-mail you could address him as:
        Dear Shaykh (surname),
           (Text of your letter)
        Paul (your last name)

    My book has a section that includes forms for the highest to lowest Shiite and Sunni Islamic clergy ...which is as far as I know the only book in English to include them.
                    -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Military Chaplain?
     Robert, Regarding the form on you site: We actually have chaplains with a another title: Chaplain (Colonel) John Smith, USA, PhD.

         -- Chaplain Matt in DC

Dear Chaplain Matt:
     1) A post-nominal abbreviation for an academic degree is never used with a rank:
             Never Colonel John Smith, USA, MBA 
             Never General John Smith, USAF, PhD
             Never Admiral John Smith, USN, MD
     2) In DOD guidelines branch-of-service post-nominals abbreviations are correctly combined with Ret. or Retired. Thus USA, Ret. and USA, Retired are both O.K., but that's it.
          -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Pastor Who is Also a Chaplain?
     Regarding my pastor, who is also a military chaplain:
     I must write a sentence in our summer worship schedule for the church newsletter regarding the pastor's “Godspeed Celebration” we are holding before his deployment to Afghanistan. Which of these would be considered correct? Are any of them simply not correct at all?
    The Rev. (full name), chaplain of the ..., Indiana Army National Guard.
    The Rev. Lieut. Col. (full name), chaplain of the ....
    Lieut. Col. (full name), chaplain of the .... and pastor of ....

Is there another form that would be more preferred?

                -- Lynn Harriman, Indianapolis

Dear Ms. Harriman,
    I think you are saying he is the pastor of your church ... AND he is also a chaplain?
    There is a tradition in American forms of address that we only give a person one title at time.
    ** As a chaplain he'd use the form I have on Chaplain Armed Services
    ** As you pastor he'd use the form I have on Pastor
    Your first option is the most formally correct for you at his church:
           The Reverend (full name), (degrees held)
    If it's a sentence you can include more information ..
            The Reverend (full name) is a Chaplain of the Indiana Army National Guard holding the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
    And when he's on active duty with the National Guard they will use his chaplain form of address and note is also the pastor of your church.
            -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Non-Military Chaplain?
How do you address an ordained chaplain ... not a military chaplain?
       -- Kris Burden

Dear Ms. Burden,
Chaplains who are not active-duty military are addressed in the style of their denominations/religion … and identified as a "Chaplain"
              The Reverend John Smith
              Chaplain, University Chapel
              University of North Carolina
              Greensboro, NC 12345

              Rabbi John Smith
              Chaplain, University Chapel
              University of North Carolina
              Greensboro, NC 12345

       It probably isn't even necessary to include chaplain on the envelope since the Post Office doesn't need his job title to deliver the letter.  So that could be left off.
       In the salutation address him or her with the honorific of their denomination …. Or as "Chaplain".
              Dear Father Smith,
              Dear Pastor Smith,
              Dear Chaplain Smith,
              Dear Rabbi Smith,

       -- Robert Hickey

Do Clergy Ever Give Themselves an Honorific?
    I trust you’re doing well?  I’m envious that you’re in NYC!  I’ve been doing a few seminars here and there and have been having a lot of fun.  I have a question that hasn’t come up yet, but I had lunch today with a rabbi and a minister, so it made me think.   Are the titles Pastor,  Rabbi and Father considered to be honorifics and as such shouldn’t be used when referring to oneself?

         -- Loren -- Protocol School Grad in West Virginia

Dear Loren:
     I love the idea you are thinking about these things!
     One does not normally give oneself an honorific.  I wouldn't write my name or introduce myself as Mr. Robert Hickey.
     But sometimes professionals do give themselves an honorific ... e.g., a doctor entering an exam room will introduce himself as Dr. Wilson since it is useful for the patient sitting in a backless paper gown to know what the function is of this person entering the room.
     "Dr." does that.
     So a Rabbi, Pastor, or Father might well do it when in a situation when they are in their professional mode. It provides useful info to the person he is greeting -- especially if not in "uniform."
     But that same Rabbi, Pastor, or Father might not do it when their status as clergy was not pertinent ... like when meeting the neighbors at his sister's when visiting her at her house.
     Some clergy do think they are always in their professional mode and are always
Rabbi, Pastor, or Father. But, I know a Father Sheehan who introduced himself as Tom Sheehan at family events ... thus inviting the others to call him "Tom."
          -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Superior of a Religious Order?
I'm writing a letter to the Provincial Superior of a religious order - I'm not sure what the salutation should be - Dear ____________:   Could you answer this question?
  Any ideas?   Thanks so much for your help.
         -- Lisa W.

Dear Lisa W.:
     I include that form on page 289 of my book. A superior of a Roman Catholic order is addressed in a salutation as:
    Dear Mother (name):
    Dear Mother:

          -- Robert Hickey

Not Finding Your Question Answered?
(1) At left is a list offices/officials covered and (2) below are other topics covered in my blog. Between the two I probably have what you are looking for.
     But after checking both lists if you don't see your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day (unless I am traveling.)
      If I think your question is of interest to others, I will post the question & answer – but I always change the names and specifics.
      -- Robert Hickey

Mr., Miss, Jr., III, & Names        
Married Women       
Deceased Persons         
People with Two Titles
Post-Nominal Abbreviations and Initials         
Sequence Post-Nominal Abbreviations: Sr., Jr., etc.    
Couples: Private Citizens / Joint Forms of Address 
Couples: U.S. Military / Joint Forms of Address     
Couples: U.S. Officials / Joint Forms of Address      

Former Officials            
Professionals and Academics        

United States Federal Officials, Currently In Office             
United States State Officials, Currently In Office              
United States Municipal Officials, Currently In Office             
       All About The Honorable with U.S. Officials         
       Former United States Officials of all types             
United States Armed Services
       Addressing Active Duty Personnel              
       Addressing Retired Personnel      
       Use of Rank by Retired Personnel      
       Use of Rank by Veterans      

Tribal Officials 
Clergy and Religious Officials           
Canadian Officials         
Australian Officials          
British Officials, Royalty, and Nobility        
Diplomats and International Representatives
Foreign National Officials and Nobility        

Author's Name on His/Her Book       
Business Cards, Names on
Introductions, Names in
Invitations: Names on
Invitations: Names of Armed Service Personnel on        
Name Badges & Tags            
Names on Programs, Signs, & Lists            
Naming a Building or Road            
Place Cards            

Plaques, Awards, Diplomas, Certificates, Names on    
Precedence: Ordering Officials 
Tombstones, Names on      

Site updated by Robert Hickey on 23 March 2020


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Robert Hickey is the author of Honor & Respect:
The Official Guide to Names, Titles, and Forms of Address
Published by The Protocol School of Washington®
Foreword by Pamela Eyring

Available in   Hardcover   /  Kindle   /  Apple Book

Copyright © 2020 Robert Hickey.     All Rights Reserved.
Book Photo: Marc Goodman.