I was wondering what abbreviation is used in religious publications or writings when giving titles for the clergy. We have pastors, ministers, evangelists, elders, bishop, etc. What abbreviation can be used for these as title. i.e. Min. Peters Evan. Joseph Evans, Eld. Bob Jones, Bis. Phillip Coleman, etc.

  • Is there a particular denomination you have in mind? Not all church officials are clerics.
    – choster
    Sep 22, 2020 at 16:20
  • Anglican uses reverend: Rev. Jones. Catholic uses father: Fr. Jones. Others may use pastor: Pr. Jones. These abbreviations are a bit obscure but in the right context would be understood.
    – jla
    Sep 22, 2020 at 21:53

2 Answers 2


If you're referring to Christian faiths that use the term, there isn't an official abbreviation for the reason that "Elder" is not used as a personal title.

Some Christian denominations use the term "elder" because the biblical records of first-century congregations say that "older men" took the lead and did not accept "honorific titles". So whereas some denominations do say, for example, "the Reverend Smith" or "Father Jones", elders are not normally addressed using the title. They may be known as "an elder" in their faith, but in secular life use titles like "Mr" and would be called by their familiar name among people they know.

Also worth noting is that countries which recognise titles like "reverend" in place of other salutations do so only if the person is ordained as a minister of a recognised religion. Christian elders are not ordained into that position as such. "Elder" is relative term - that is, it recognises experience. Some such faiths consider all of their members to be ordained ministers, and elders are just appointed for their experience.

I quickly researched the use of the term in the Church of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), as I have seen their missionaries wearing name-badges that say, for example, "Elder Jones" on them. According to the Wikipedia entry on the church "The title "Elder" is not normally used as a personal title (e.g., Elder Evans, Elder Johnson), except by the LDS Church's general authorities, area seventies, and full-time male missionaries." So apparently their use of "elder" as a title is for internal use only and they do not use the term in secular life.

  • 1
    Not in secular life, but not just for internal use either. Missionaries who have come to convert me (male ones, that is) have always introduced themselves as Elder so and ao.
    – BobRodes
    Jan 19 at 0:04
  • 1
    @BobRodes I was aware they introduce themselves that way and wear little badges that say the same, and that is why I researched it. The subject of the original post was whether the term had an official abbreviation - like when you fill out an official form online and there's a dropdown menu with all the usual titles like 'Mr' and 'Mrs', with 'Rev' among them. The point is that, while reverends of some churches have their titles recognised by law, elders in the church of LDS do not. So, Elder Chappinni who called at my door a few years ago must have 'Mr Chappinni' on his credit cards.
    – Astralbee
    Jan 19 at 13:03
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    Oh, ok. We have a semantic dissonance around the term "internal." Your explanation makes perfect sense too.
    – BobRodes
    Jan 20 at 2:04
  • @BobRodes I would argue that, when they call at your door, they are there in a church capacity and using their title 'internally' to their organisation.
    – Astralbee
    Jan 20 at 8:47
  • Yes, I understand. And I submit that it is equally arguablethat if you expose the term to the general public by using it to refer to self on missionary house calls, you are using it "externally." The semantic difference is in what is internal and what is external.
    – BobRodes
    Jan 21 at 17:46

Generally, none of these titles are abbreviated as forms of address. Instead, some ministerial office holders may be addressed with honorifics such as "the Reverend", which may be abbreviated as "the Rev." Bishops are sometimes "the Most Rev." Others positions may not have a specific honorific at all and will simply be referred to as "Mr." or "Ms."

Another complication is the fact that the same title may not be used the same way in different religious denominations. "Elder", for example, is a very different position in the Presbyterian church as compared to the Mormon church.

Any given publication (religious or not) will almost certainly have a style guide that instructs its authors on how to recognize individuals with religious titles. The Associated Press has a style guide for religious titles, for example, which tells you when to use "the Rev." For a given religious publication, you'd have to refer to their own style guide. When in doubt about a specific clergy member, the best thing to do is ask them directly!

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