Use of the Reverend

—-Envelope or address block on letter or email:
—-—-The Reverend (Full name), (post-nominal for order if applicable)

—-—-—-Which looks like:

—————-The Reverend James O’Neil, SJ
—————-Our Lady of the Springs
—————-12345 Catholic Way
—————-Gallatin, TN 67890

—————-The Reverend Calvin Trentham
—————-Sumner Bible Church
—————-12345 Protestant Way
—————-Gallatin, TN 67890

—-Letter salutation:
—-—-Dear Pastor/Father/Mother/etc. (Surname):

—-—-Pastor/Father/Mother/etc. (Surname)

—–Also on this page
———-Pastor and Spouse
—–—–Pastor and Pastor

How to Use The Reverend

The Reverend is a courtesy title used when addressing a Christian cleric such as a pastor or priest. It is the standard courtesy title used in Protestant denominations and is one of the ranked courtesy titles used in hierarchical denominations such as Episcopal, Orthodox and Roman Catholic. In these latter denominations there are stepped courtesy titles for other clerical ranks. Confirm the rank, then check the specific listing (in the list on this page at right) to find the correct form of address.

—-In writing the Reverend is used before a (Full Name) or (Initial[s]) + (Surname). Examples of correct forms include:
—-—-The Reverend Mark M. Phillips
—-—-The Reverend C. M. Phillips

—-‘The Reverend’ describes an individual: The person is a reverend person. It is always followed by a person’s name:
—-—-Correct: The Reverend Mark M. Phillips
—-—-Correct: The Pastor of Grace Church
—-—-Incorrect: The Reverend Pastor of Grace Church

—-In these hierarchical denominations, in direct oral address, one switches over to Pastor (Name), Father (Name), or Dr. (Name), etc.:
—-—-Father Phillips
—-—-Pastor Phillips
—-—-Dr. Phillips

—-In less hierarchical denominations and independent congregations ‘Reverend’ is frequently used as an honorific in the manner of ‘Pastor’:
—-—-Reverend Phillips
—-—-Rev. Phillips
—-Use this form in conversation or in a salutation.
The Reverend (Full Name) cab be used in writing but more formally use the Reverend (Full Name) on an envelope or address block of a letter.

The Reverend Around the World

Outside the U.S., and especially in Commonwealth and former-Commonwealth countries, The Reverend and other courtesy titles are combined with honorifics such as professor or Dr. or with personal titles such as ‘sir’ or ‘lord’ to create compound honorifics.
—-—-The Reverend Dr. (Full Name)
—-—-The Reverend Professor (Full Name)
—-—-The Reverend Sir (Full Name)

Combining a courtesy title and an honorific is a British style.

In the USA, it is sometimes used this way – the Reverend Dr. (Full Name) – by Protestant clergy (e.g., the Episcopal Church) which frequently models its forms of address after British styles.


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

Use of  “Reverend+(Name)”

You suggest the Reverend.  But I frequently I hear TV journalists address clergymen as Reverend Smith or simply as Reverend. Right? Wrong?
—————-– BH in Maryland

Dear BH,

‘Rev.’ is a shorthand version of The Reverend. And indeed Rev. (Name) is the preference of some, but not all, clergy. Use it when you know it is their preference. If you don’t know their preference, it is always appropriate to ask.

‘Rev. (Name)’ is most often used in conversation or a salutation. In writing use ‘the Reverend (Full Name)’.

—-In formal communications in writing use:
—-—-The Reverend (Full Name)
—-——–The Reverend John Smith

—-The conversational form (and what you use in a salutation) is:
—-—-Pastor/Father/Dr./etc. (Surname)
—-——–Pastor Smith
—-——–Father Smith
—-—-—-Dr. Smith

—-But not all communication is formal. The familiar, informal, version is often:
—-—-Pastor/Father/Dr. (Given name)
—-——–Pastor John
——–—-Father John
——–—-Dr. John

This last one is the equivalent of being on a first-name basis.

– Robert Hickey 

Forms of Address: How a conversation begins can have a huge impact on how the conversation - even the entire relationship - develops.

How to Address a Pastor and Spouse

How does one address an invitation’s envelope to the Reverend and his wife?
—-—-—-—-—-– Susan Copper 

Dear Ms. Hensley:

—-#1) If ‘the Reverend’ is a man and his spouse uses (Mrs.) + (same family name), then traditionally her given name does not appear:
—-—-The Reverend William Lambert
—-—-and Mrs. Lambert

—-#2) If ‘the Reverend’ is a man and she a different surname … then her full name appears:
—-—-The Reverend William Smith
—-—-and Ms. Linda Blake

—-#3) If ‘the Reverend’ is a woman, his full name appears whether he uses the same or different surname:
—-—-The Reverend Linda Lambert
—-—-and Mr. William Lambert

—-—-The Reverend Linda Blake
—-—-and Mr. William Smith

Combining Names | The Reverend and Mrs.:  You see this style used but, use it only when space is an issue. When person is the Reverend – they get their name as unit – not combined with anyone else’s name. Officials love their names spelled out fully. While not incorrect it is less formal.:
—-—-The Reverend and Mrs. William Lambert

—-#4) If the spouse has her own rank, courtesy title, or some special honorific, and does not have higher precedence, then both get their full name:
—-—-The Reverend William Lambert
—-—-and Dr. Linda Lambert

Probably more answer than you wanted … but I hope it is useful.

– Robert Hickey 

Related Posts:
Couples: Private Citizens
Couples: Christian Clergy
Couples: Rabbis
Couples: Military
Couples: U.S. Officials
Couples: Same Sex


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

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:

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


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

When Should You Use the Forms on this Page?

You can use these forms of address for any mode of communication: addressing a letter, invitation, card or Email. (If there are differences between the official and social forms of address, I will have mentioned the different forms.)  The form noted in the salutation is the same form you say when you say their name in conversation or when you greet them.
___What I don’t cover on this site are many things I do cover in my book: all the rules of forms of address, about names, international titles, precedence, complimentary closes, details on invitations, place cards, all sorts of introductions, etc. I hope you’ll get a copy of the book if you’d like the further detail.

Not Finding Your Answer?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  If you don’t see the official you seek included or your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, Sometimes I post the question  – but always change all the specifics.

— Robert Hickey 


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”