Bishops’ Vestments

Pectoral Cross

The pectoral cross, usually made of silver or gold, came into general use by bishops in the 16th century. As the name implies, it is usually suspended at or near the pectoral muscles or breastbone, hung on a chain from the neck of the bishop. Some understand the pectoral cross as symbolizing the bishop’s call to protect and defend the faith, even to the point of martyrdom. 

The pectoral cross is the one symbol of the office of bishop that we hold in common throughout the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Normally, the same cross that was worn by the outgoing bishop is presented to the newly elected bishop as part of the rite of installation.

Craig received the North/West Lower Michigan Synod’s pectoral cross at his installation and wears it humbly. It has an amethyst stone, which is said to symbolize piety, humility, sincerity, and wisdom, and the names of the four persons who have served the North/West Lower Michigan Synod as bishop.  


On liturgical occasions, a bishop carries a crozier, which is a staff with a curved or hooked top similar in appearance to a traditional shepherd’s staff. The crozier is symbolic of the bishop’s responsibility to both shepherd or pastor and discipline the ordained ministers and the congregations of their synod. 

The North/West Lower Michigan Synod’s crozier was presented to the Office of the Bishop by Peace Lutheran Church in Gaylord and entrusted to Craig at his installation. It was updated by Jim Pike, carver of the original crozier, in 2014. People see in the hand the mitten of Michigan, Christ’s wounded hands, and our hands doing God’s work. 

A second crozier was made for Craig by Pastor Gary Bunge on the occasion of Craig’s second term as bishop. This crozier speaks of a bishop’s responsibility to the whole church of Jesus Christ. The Roman Catholic liturgy directs, “Receive the crosier, the sign of your pastoral office: and keep watch over the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit has placed you as Bishop to govern the Church of God.


Some believe bishops wear purple because it is the color of penitence and bishops are supposed to be reminders of that. Others believe that the purple color for bishops is derived from the ancient tradition of reserving purple for royalty and others in authority as purple dye was a rare and valuable thing in the ancient world. Lydia of Tyre was a “seller of purple” (Acts 16:14) . 

Yet, as we know, Jesus redefines royalty. Jesus tells a story about “a rich man who was clothed in purple” and neglected a poor man named Lazarus (Luke 16:19). The Gospel of John tells us that Jesus wore purple when he was crucified (John 19:2-5). Perhaps purple is best understood as a vsible reminder of the bishop’s and church’s responsibility to advocate for and be in solidatiry with the poor and suffering. 

Between his election and installation, Craig visited congregations and, without exception, someone in every congregation received and responded to him as a person who is blind and likely looking for some financial assistance. When Craig was introduced as bishop, a little awkwardness ensued and so to pastorally help with this, Craig wears purple. 


Since the Middle Ages, new bishops have received episcopal rings as a sign of the office. The ring is a symbol of the bishop’s faithfulness to God and the Church. The ring has either an amethyst stone or the seal of the synod or diocese inscribed on its face. The latter kind of ring can be used as an official seal on documents that call for the bishop to affix a seal in sealing wax. 

Craig’s episcopal ring was made by a jeweler from the congregation where Craig was baptized and confirmed, who ushered with Craig’s dad, and was presented to Craig at his installation by his mother. It bears a cross with an amethyst stone in the center, a crozier and amethyst on one side and the state of Michigan on the other. Centered in the cross of Christ, Craig is called to care for the flock and lead the North/West Lower Michigan Synod in proclaiming Christ and participating in Christ’s own ministry to the people of Michigan. 


Even in congregations that strip the Great Thanksgiving down to the Words of Institution, Craig is asked if he will wear a miter. The miter is a symbolic recollection that, “Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among [the apostles], and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak…as the Spirit gave them ability” (Acts 2:3-4). Thus, the bishop wearing a miter reminds us that the Holy Spirit unites the church, holds it together, and empowers it to proclaim Christ. In some traditions, a bishop receives a mitre during their installation as a bishop, when the Holy Spirit comes to the new bishop in the same way that the Holy Spirit came to the first disciples.

The miter is perhaps the most distinctive symbol of the bishop. Perhaps people asking whether Craig will wear one sense their need for a visible sign of the Holy Spirit’s presence and the Church’s unity. Craig takes this need seriously, and so has pledged to “make an extraordinary effort to be present throughout the synod.” Craig’s white miter was made to be worn when he presided at Christ Sudanese Congregation in Wyoming, MI, at the request of the congregation. 


The cope, shaped like an outdoor overcoat worn during ancient Roman times, is a cape or cloak that is semicircular and richly ornamented, with a clasp in front and a hood in back. It is worn over the alb and stole. The bishop usually wears a cope at non-Eucharistic liturgies or at the Eucharist when not presiding in place of the chasuble. Bishops sometimes wear the cope when performing Episcopal functions such as ordinations and confirmations. 

Craig’s red cope what made by Christine Allen, former secretary of the North/West Lower Michigan Synod and the mother of two of Craig’s students. Craig’s white cope (not pictured) was made to be worn when he presided at Christ Sudanese Congregation in Wyoming, MI, at the request of the congregation. 

Oil Stock

The bishop’s oil stock contains oil blessed at chrism services during Holy Week. It is used for baptism, confirmation, healing liturgies, and other occasions for anointing. Bishop Satterlee’s oil stock was created by Rebecca Aitken, who is married to Bishop Tom Aitken of Deluth, MN.