Kapp, Kerchief, Covering

We had an interesting discussion on the witness of headcovering on facebook. A video was offered for critique; many were impressed with the articulate and honest answers of the women interviewed. But two issues surfaced: I thought that the presentation was amateurish (okay, it is youtube) and hurt the credibility of the statements made; another person wondered why none of the women interviewed had covered for more than three years. All seemed to be converts to a group or church that covered. That may have been the focus of the presentation, but it wasn’t clear.

And in looking for other videos or presentations that promote headcovering, I found quite a bit of material that would leave the reader puzzled or perhaps thinking it was for members of certain faith groups and not others. Those Christian churches that have practiced covering for generations – particularly the Anabaptists and a very few Conservative Quaker meetings that continued – have little to say about it. Where are the testimonies of people who have covered for years, who have mothers and grandmothers who covered? And what about the testimony of women who have covered for many years, without much fanfare?

I am inviting all women who cover or who are led to cover to comment, with the goal of compiling those comments and thoughts into some presentation that can be used for teaching about covering.  I would like to see input from women who have just started covering, who have covered for a few years (myself included) and who have covered for many years. There are no wrong ideas or opinions in this, and we are not going to argue theology and discipline, just contribute personal experience and guidance.  Don’t worry about spelling and grammar; I will straighten that out.

Questions to consider:

Why do you cover? When did you start? Do you belong to a group that covers? How have other people reacted, positively and negatively?

You may include your name and geographic location. If you don’t want to, that’s okay.

What would be the best format for this? A blog post? A webpage? A video (eventually – we do not have the technology right now)? Would you want to refer other people to it if it was presented well? (That depending on my skills and any help that might be volunteered.)

Is there anything else that could be presented that would be helpful?

I am continuing to compile information for any updated post on modest/Plain dressing resources, and welcome more contributions.

23 thoughts on “Kapp, Kerchief, Covering

  1. Magdalena,

    Many of these ladies, I believe, may stay close to one another (in terms of the internet environment) in various groups or fora. I know women on such groups who have covered for nearly 20 years, some from covering backgrounds that are part of their inter-generational faith community, and many, many ladies from all walks who have come to covering in the last 7-10 years. Further to this, their number seems to be added to weekly.

    In the Yahoo groups environment, there are three key communities with considerable membership;

    ‘Prayercoverings4’ (a little more ‘liberal’
    and ‘Old Fashioned Christian Homemakers’ where well over half the membership from what I understand are coverers. These groups include the usual North American covering representatives but also count among their number Anglicans, Catholics, Orthodox, Open Brethren etc. The PC3 and OFCH groups have extensive reference material compiled by one of their member/moderators that is thoroughly researched a fantastic starting place.

    I cannot speak for Catholic fora, but there are a range of blogs in which covering is mentioned, two of these that I would recommend being http://www.teaattrianon.blogspot.com and http://www.catholicknight.blogspot.com (search for ‘mantilla’) I am not certain of the ‘yahoo groups’ communities out there for this Christian demographic and know what you mean about the quality or ‘ dubious nature thereof re Youtube presentations either concerning the asthetic quality of said presentations themselves (often with frightfully poor sound quality and dreadfully inarticulate speakers, not to mention the essoteric and sometimes incoherrent nature of their message.. Furthermore, there is NOTHING out there that represents in any dignified form we coverers outside of North America! many would simply look at said presentations and assume ‘just another ridiculous ‘yankee’ or ‘only in America!!’ I believe this harms the legitimate covering testamony and may account for a woefully low international representation upon groups of which I am a member. There are a few brilliant examples, two from tasmania in Australia , and ‘Kindred of the Quiet Way’ in the UK that go against this ethnocentric trend but that about sums it up.

    I myself came to covering first in 2001 upon my rebaptism and have covered more or less continually since then. In my case, my introduction to it was nothing more than Holy Scripture, prayer, and a niggling from the Holy Spirit that had slowly grown over the preceeding two years or so. My covering has gone through many permutations over the years (some would consider the ‘Katies Mercantile’ buncover not a covering at all, but in some instances, it is all I can do (though I far prefer the lace kerchief/triangle/small mantilla.

    Eastern Rite Christianity still has a healthy adherance to covering for corporate worship wearing either scarf or mantilla.

    Hope this helps.



  2. I have been covering for almost a year. The long drawn out story of how I came to this moment, began when I was in Pennsylvania on a field trip for my youngest son.
    We stayed in Lancaster, but churched in Philadelphia. The subject of the sermon was transformation. As I listened to the pastor and thought about the people in Lancaster, I felt a stiring in my soul.
    When we returned from that trip was when I started modifying my wardrobe. I felt wrong when I was wearing jeans and really felt the need to be in skirts. I also started researching headcoverings because I felt the need for some type of cover. I tried kerchief’s in the car and in the evening but it felt like sneaking around. It didn’t seem very satisfying. So then I went to bun covers. For me, bun covers work. I am a professional who would get laughed out of work if I wore a prayer cap. Scarf’s are really not my style either. Due to a need to balance my professional life with my personal life, I wear long dresses or skirts, blazers when I work and my hair always in a bun that is covered.

  3. jannon,

    Its wonderful to find a fellow bun coverer!! It is an elegant option that I believe fulfills the ‘Call to cover’ especially for those of us in situations at times where a more extensive option is simply not possible. We can cover more extensively during worship, Bible study, prayer or theological endeavours etc either corporately or privately. I admire the cap and veil wearers and I do wear a kerchief on my home range (extensive Islamic community that wears everything from the vaguest notion of hijab right through to fully enclosing covering including gloves… but with family or out of said home range, the BC is an excellent option for me. as a ‘plainesque’ dresser ( soft prints and a range of colours/styles) the BC works as well.

    If you want good Christian modest wear that would be perfectly sutable as professional wear also, take a look at
    though, thankfully, God willing, if/when I eventually wind up teaching or presenting on theology, we can get away with pretty much anything in said circles.

  4. Hello,
    I have been covering for 12 years. I had begun my relationship with Jesus Christ a year before and was reading the Bible for the first time; a bit from the Old and New Testaments each day. I had not reached the books of Corinthians yet and after confiding in a friend that I had this strange compulsion to pray with my head under a blanket, she advised me to look ahead to 1 Corinthians 11, which refers to subject. I read it and was stunned. Oddly, I had been raised Catholic and wore a chapel veil to church most mornings before school ( or a kleenex pinned to my head when I forgot my veil), but I never knew why we did it and the practice was stopped when I was quite young still. So, after reading 1 Corninthians 11 I felt sure in my spirit I was supposed to do this when I prayed. But in my busy role as a homeschooling mom, I tended to pray at the sink or anywhere I happened to be when the need to pray struck, so I began to feel convicted I should be covered at those times. And at the grocery, I loved running into other sisters from various churches in the area and talk about our faith. Further studies told me this was a form of prophesy, the telling forth of God’s Word, and the passage in Corinthians said we were to be covered when we pray or prophesied. I felt I should be covered at all times since I tended to partake in prayer and prophesy in no predictable way.

    I was the only person I knew of in this locale wearing a covering. The Amish were an hour South, the Old German Baptist Brethren, an hour North. I wore scarves at the first, as I was not yet plain. My husband was not sure I needed to, but he approved and even helped me to make coverings. He respected my conviction and eventually came to see it as quite relevant. I had some strange looks and one relative referred to it as the “rag” on my head, but nothing horrible. I think this is because I did not wear it with apology and I exuded that attitude. I had been asked about it a couple of times and I was happy to discuss it, which helped to put the curious ones at ease. Word gets around in small towns and I think that I disarmed people by my openness and my attempts to make people realize I was not putting myself above them in anyway. My intention was to spur women to study it for themselves and ask God to lead them. I have pointed out to people who have argued about it in my presence that many men and women in the past who we regard as great and weighty christians have never agreed on what this passage means. Therefore, I recommend we must follow our conviction in this by first developing one by pondering that passage repeatedly and while praying and talking to God while we do so, perhaps studying the language involved, and the history of headcovering and costume. Sooner or later, a conviction is born.


  5. I started covering about 2 years ago. For almost 3 years I felt God urging me to cover but I had never believed in covering and thought it unnecessary. I finally started covering off and on and did feel self conscious but I continued to pray about it and trying to find a cover that worked for me. I settled on kapps and now I am self conscious when not covered! As long as I am at home in my little Missouri town, no one takes notice of me. We have a large population of mennonite, amish and one or two other churches where the women cover. Only once when in a large town south east of us was I stared at. I just smile and go on!

  6. I am a Californian, born and bred, grandaughter of a MO farming family, descendant of Dunkard Brethren. I have covered for one to two years now, and at home, for a couple of years prior to gaining the courage to venture outside. I had been on the hunt for a new church, having left mine due to issues of not accommodating my very active child. I became Quaker about 6 years ago. Somewhere in my prayer times I became aware of a call to cover. It continued to persist like an itch which needs to be scratched. This became impossible to ignore any longer, so I began covering at home, going through familial jesting and lack of understanding on their part. I do know that covering is what I am called to, in such a myriad of inexplicable absurdities. Should I absent mindedly arise and not cover, in time I manage to realize I have a headache which instantaneously goes away without aspirin by simply placing on my kapp. Sounds so silly when I write it, but there are a gazillion ways in which I know I have become convicted to cover, and reminders that I need to should I not. Is it logical to be the only woman I see here cover? Perhaps not, but that is hardly the point. I am fortunate in that I work part time from my home so that covering does not present workplace issues for me. I doubt I would have had the courage to so go against the current cultural grain were I still in an office. I do find myself answering many questions as to why I cover. Suffice it to say, I feel so called. My great joy is to find that there are other women like myself who feel so called. Great is the Lord! I have now been blessed to connect with others like myself, and in them, I find a sisterhood I had sorely lacked. Thus, in a word, covering feels like home to me:)

  7. Why do you cover?
    The short answer, because I believe that god wants me to. The long answer is too long for this format.

    When did you start? Last Lent I started covering in church and when praying and I started wearing it more or less full time this summer. I cover outside the house, when I pray at home and when I talk about my faith. At home I do not cover all the time and never at night. I wear crochet caps, scarves and sometimes a headband or a bun cover. Caps are what I am most comfortable with on most occations however today I wear a headband.

    Do you belong to a group that covers? NO! I belong to the Swedish Church, an evangelical-lutheran church which is very ‘modern’ and I really an odd ball there.

    How have other people reacted, positively and negatively? Most do not react at all. Some stare but I usually look them in the eyes and smile at them. They usually either look away or smile back. I have gotten one ‘Why do you wear that thing on your head?’ at church on top of it all and I got so confused I just studdered and said ‘because I want to’. That is true but I really wanted to say something more substantial. One more person has commented he said ‘You wear that because of your faith, don’t you?’ and I said ‘yes’ and then we did not talk anything more about it. An old perhaps slightly confused older Somali man gave me an ‘assalam aleikum’ but I assume that was just a mistake, I don’t think people believe I am a muslim really. I got some looks at first at work and one of my friends at work seemed a bit uncomfortable first (I know she is a very strong atheist) but now she has also gotten back to ‘normal’. She never said anything but it was clear from her behaviour what she thought.

    Most of the time covering has not been hard. I work outside the home and no one at work has had anything negative to say about the covering however I am a bit scared what will happen if I quit and apply for work somewhere else. Will they understand? My family is not religious and around them I usually wear a small covering just to not offend them but they know I cover but I give them the opportunity to forget that if they like.

  8. “Why do you cover?” The Holy Spirit told me to. I covered for a few months before I was given a reason. I felt it was a test of faith to obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I hesitated to call it a prayer cover, and still do, because it wasn’t the result of reading Scripture.

    “When did you start? ” Several months ago.

    “Do you belong to a group that covers?? No, women of my faith don’t cover. . . I don’t think I’ve ever even seen a hat at church. One of these days someone will just have to ask and I’ll answer “personal revelation.”

    “How have other people reacted, positively and negatively?” In general people have been positive. At church they look, but I think they are a little afraid of asking why I’m doing it.

    When I go shopping every one stares until I get settled into one of the little electric carts for the disabled. I take off my huge bonnet that I wear because of sun allergy, and then I have another hat under that one! I knew that people would stare even at the bonnet. I have a large head, so I need a deep brim for keeping the sun off my face. I get fewer stares in just the cap than in the bonnet.

    I have noticed that Mennonite women and Muslim women who cover smile at me more and seem more comfortable around me.

  9. I’m going to start with when I started covering. I started about 2 and half years ago.

    Why do I cover? It all started when my husband, in passing, showed me a picture of mennonite women in a book who were covered. I said yeah, that’s nice and went on with what I was doing. Then a couple of months later I started feeling really uncomfortable with the way I was dressing. I never dress “showing skin”, usually jeans, cowboy boots, and a t-shirt. But it was summer and I had shorts on, when it really hit me. I was sitting with my friends, a group of women I’d known for 5 years, doing a Bible study in the park while our kids played. I just started fidgeting and feeling “exposed”. I know it was the Holy Spirit, otherwise I would have been just fine like all the other 27 summers of my life! That afternoon I went home and started searching scriptures, and the web. That day when my husband got home I said the girls and I are going to start wearing skirts. He said great! He was raised Evangelical Friends (Quaker), I was raised in a mix of Lutheran and Baptist churches (off and on). Within the next week I felt like God was saying to me.. You remember that picture of those women? That’s what I want you to do. I fought it off and on for over 6 months. I would argue… That’s not for me God. You can’t be asking me! Why?! You’ve got to be mistaken! I was pretty unsettled during that time. I knew God was asking it of me, and I also knew I didn’t want to have to do it. I knew NO ONE who covered. Yes, we live in an area of Southwest Kansas that does have women who do (in many different types of churches), but no one I knew did. I asked my womens Bible study ladies what they thought and was told it wasn’t for today. I got to thinking about that. What does God determine as “today”? If I’m going to believe the Bible is the unfailing word of God, then I have to believe He’s talking to me. I started out wearing a kerchief, but was associated with one of the churches. So then I started searching on-line to see what I could find. I ended up finding Plain and Simple Headcoverings. She has a great site with many different styles to choose from. So, I chose a small kapp that wasn’t affiliated with any of the churches around.

    Your next questions tie in with what I’ve already said, so I’m going to keep going with the “story”. LOL

    I had been wearing a covering for quite a few months when things started going (for lack of better words) “wrong” really quickly at the church we were attending. We felt we could no longer attend there because of what was being preached, and didn’t go anywhere the next Sunday. Well, that definitely wasn’t working for us and our 3 kids. A few weeks before we had passed a Church of God in Christ Mennonite church while heading out on a family outing. We decided that since the sign said “Everyone Welcome” we would try it. As my husband put it “What’s the worst that could happen? They kick us out? So what we don’t know them, so why would it matter if they did?” LOL I wasn’t so sure, but submitted to going. Boy was that ever a blessing!!! By the end of the service we felt like we had finally found “it”. The thing we had search church after church after church for. I felt free to wear my covering and was encouraged by all the other ladies who had been since they were saved.

    It’s like one of our ministers preached a couple months ago. When we ladies put on our headcoverings willingly and knowingly, It’s as if God has put His hand on our heads! We are protected by Him, and strengthened, and encouraged by Him. And honestly that’s how it feels to me. Like God has put His hand on me! There are days where I feel like I don’t need it, I’m not leaving the house I’ll just leave it off. But in no time I start feeling like I should go put it on. Like I’m only half dressed, exposed in some way.

    My family and my husbands family do not understand it, and think like may others that it’s not for today. God doesn’t require it of women of today. But they are Wrong, at least for me and many like me. He does require it of me! He asked me to do it for Him, and in my willingness has blessed me greatly.

    In the surrounding area, I don’t get any strange looks, or off remarks. Quite the contrary, people are friendlier, and men are more respectful. I was really surprised with that one! Never have I had so many doors held open for me in all my life! But, I did notice when we go to larger cities, a few hours away, that we do get looks. First me and with my dresses and covering, then the girls in their dresses. It doesn’t bother me like it used to, and the girls don’t even notice the looks anymore. And hopefully when they hear God calling and let Him lead their lives they will feel completely comfortable and natural in their coverings. It has been a blessing to me and I know it will be to them too. 🙂

  10. Thank you for such inspiring words. I feel compelled to cover, but have not yet started. However, I am finding more and more that I wear barrettes in my hair as a start. I plan to retire in a few years from my work as a local Parish priest; it is then I hope to cover.

  11. Why do you cover? When did you start? I couldn’t seem to not cover. Let me see if I can explain. About six or seven years ago I found that when I came in from outside (it was winter) I was VERY reluctant to remove my scarf. I couldn’t have told you why at the time but I felt half-dressed without it. It caused a bit of a stir in the house as I guess I looked like I had developed forgetful disease. Spring came and I still did not want to remove my scarf. I felt compelled to wear it or feel naked. Finally the Lord showed me in scripture why I felt so driven. I am someone who seems to need to be compelled to do a thing before I am given the reason or I will not submit to it and will run screaming the other direction. I am grateful the Lord knows how to handle this stuborn child. (me)
    Do you belong to a group that covers? When I began covering, we did not belong to any church. The search was on and the results were not positive. At the last church we had attended (for more than a year) before finding a covering church, the minister spoke from the pulpit with the hidden message that covering was no longer needed by Christian women. It was some time before we found a covering church and during that time we learned at home. We spent about a year in the covering church and then needed to move for personal reasons to another area. We were once again in a non-covering church. This time the Pastor understood why we were covered even if the congregation didn’t. We have just recently moved back to the covering church after 2 1/2 years away. What a blessing to see so many sisters and little friends for my almost adolescent daughter that look like us and share our convictions.
    How have other people reacted, positively and negatively? When I began to cover, I was surprised at how many doors were held open for me and how often my daughter and I were called “ladies”. It was often the roughest looking men who were being to gentlemanly toward us. I did have one incident when I was coming home from the corner store alone in the evening with my hands full of bags. A group of young males (not sure their ages …. late teens? early twenties?) were comeing toward me and began to say foul things. They used racial slurs and gave off a menacing air. I was very frightened as I realized that the neighbours that were usually outside were missing. I prayed as they circled around me in passing, still uttering foul statements. They even told me to go back to where I came from. Please understand that I am Canadian; born in Canada and this happened in Canada in the same city were I was born. Do we get stared at? Sometimes. It depends on were we are. Would I change this new life the Lord has given me? Not on your life. I know that the veiling will paint a large target on both my daughter and myself when the time of persecution comes but I will not take it off and deny my Lord.

  12. Oh! This is wonderful! I’d read a post or two of yours before, but I somehow managed to miss that you covered. And an Anglican, too– how cool!

    Why do you cover? I cover as a sign to myself that God is always above me– that I am not in control.
    When did you start? I am still discerning how/whether I am called to cover, but I started thinking about it only recently– less than a month ago.
    Do you belong to a group that covers?
    I do not belong to a group that covers– I’m Episcopalian.
    How have other people reacted, positively and negatively?
    Mostly positively– I worried my girlfriend for a while. I don’t cover in submission to a husband (because I’m gay), but I think she was worried it was an indication that I wanted to submit to a husband. For me, though, it is all about submitting to God.
    Everyone else, even friends of ours who are not religious at all, have been very tolerant and often accepting of it!
    People I don’t know often tend to stare, especially when I’m holding hands with my girlfriend in public. But I like to think of that as an added bonus– this way maybe people will learn that queer people can be religious too!

    Allie, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

    What would be the best format for this? I think a video would be wonderful!

    • That’s an interesting perspective. I take it your covering is in the Judaic tradition. I would gently recommend that you pray over that, if it is the case. I caution people against becoming involved in the messianic movement, or being influenced by it. I am from a traditional Anabaptist, Quaker perspective. Anabaptist girls (not married) cover in submission to parents, then in submission to husbands. Although we are, of course, always under submission to our Lord. I appreciate your enthusiasm, and will pray for you.

      • This attempt at modesty that I am doing for Lent is in the Judaic tradition. My covering isn’t. I don’t really know what tradition my covering would fit under. Is there a tradition that speaks of covering in submission to God and not in submission to men? I haven’t found one. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the submission to a husband aspect, but I don’t *have* a husband and have no intention of acquiring one.

      • So, I’m not really sure what you are doing. If you are covering in a tzniut fashion, it is to show obedience to your father or husband. If you are called to submit to God, without marriage, then you will live a dedicated, celibate life. That is the church’s teaching and we step outside it at great risk. When my husband and I were called to the Plain life, we were very careful to avoid behaviours and appearances that would cause shame or embarrassment to our Mennonite and Plain Quaker neighbours. They didn’t ask us to look like them, after all. We are mindful that we do not mislead others to say things like “Those Amish! I saw them in a bar downtown!” Are you sure that others will not be hurt by your choice of dress and public actions?

  13. Ah, it’s all good. Clearly I haven’t explained myself well. I will be mindful of not shaming other people, though– but it is my understanding that modesty and covering are practiced by all kinds of people, queer people included! And since I’ve never claimed to be anything than what I am –an Episcopalian who is using tzniut guidelines to deepen her Lenten practices– I’m hoping I’m pretty safe as far as misleading people.

    • I am definitely missing some piece of this. Episcopalians do not practice tzniut. We practice Christian modesty. If someone could mistake you for a woman under Conservative Judaic practice, that would be misleading. Biblical modesty is also modesty of behavior and a humility that sees oneself as a sinner before God. Did you discuss this at all with your priest?

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