Colored vestments, such as the red shown here, commemorate liturgical seasons.
Colored vestments, such as the red shown here, commemorate liturgical seasons.

In the late 17th century, John Wesley and George Whitefield formed a movement within the Anglican Church that eventually became a Christian denomination in its own right, known as Methodism for its methodical approach to moral order. Methodism has much in common with other Christian denominations and borrows many of its traditions from its Anglican roots. One such tradition is the use of vestments with liturgically seasonal colors for the ministers.

Common Vest Colors

Traditionally, the celebrants in Methodism wear one of two long gowns, either an alb (always white) or a cassock (always black). Over this gown, ministers wear a white surplice (a loosely fitting, long shirt with open sleeves), and they also may wear a black and white clergy collar. Robes and stoles (large, draping ribbons) may also be worn, and these vary in color according to the liturgical season.

White

White is the most common non-ordinary color for robes and stoles. According to the United Methodist Church, ministers use white "for Christmas, Easter, All Saints Day, the first and last Sundays after Epiphany and the first and last Sundays after Pentecost." It is a celebratory color, reminding the faithful that it is a time for feasting and rejoicing.

Red and Purple

Ministers wear red to remind the people of special commemorations that involve the activity of the Holy Spirit. The celebration of Pentecost, for example, always involves the red variation of vestments. Purple, on the other hand, is a color to commemorate sacrifice, penance and mourning. Ministers wear purple for Lent and Advent, as well as for most funerals, services for the dead, and similar commemorations.

Special Colors and Ordinary Time

Apart from the special occasions noted above, the normal color variation for ministers' vestments is green. Ministers may deviate from the norm if they choose. A common tradition is to wear a special stole to commemorate their own ordinations.