Celebration of hats shines at St. Mark

Participants in the Ladies in Hats celebration await the judges decision at St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church on Sunday, June 12.

Celebration of hats shines at St. Mark
June 16
05:00 2016

Photo by Timothy Ramsey



The tradition of women wearing decorative and flamboyant hats has deep roots inside of the African-American church across many denominations.  The hats were part of the tradition of putting on your “Sunday best” and looking as good as you can from head to toe.

However, in recent years women wearing hats has become somewhat a thing of the past.

To help breathe life into this centuries-old custom, the missionaries of St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church held its annual Ladies in Hats celebration last Sunday, June All missionaries from surrounding area churches were invited to take part.“We have been having the ladies in hats for over 40 years.  Many ladies do not wear hats, and we try to let them know that in the church, you should be covered,” said First Lady Hattie Fulwood.  “We thought it would be beautiful to bring it back and let the young people know hats are still here.”

Some of the women in attendance brought along their young children in an effort to expose them to the joys and history of women wearing hats during church service.

According to the church, the history of women wearing hats during service began during the times of slavery.  The hats tradition began with the Apostle Paul’s decree that women should cover their heads during worship as stated in 1 Corinthians 11:15. Women of color also wore scarves and veils during the early days of the tradition. The act of women covering their heads was seen as showing respect for God as well as adding flare to their fashion.

There are deep rooted rules to the hats that women wear, such as the hat should never be wider than your shoulder or darker than your shoes, sequins are only to be worn at night, and Easter should be cream colored or a pastel shade. “I started wearing hats when I got married and started going to church and started seeing women in hats,” said Lenner Jefferies, Forsyth County Missionary President.  “Once I saw women in hats, I thought it was the proper thing to do.  I’m striving to pass the tradition to the younger generation, but my daughter will not wear one.  Most young people don’t wear hats for some reason.”

The hats the women wore during the service were judged in a number of categories, from most prettiest, smallest and largest hat, to the most unique and odd hat.

Many of the women seemed to have carried on the tradition from their mothers or women in the church.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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