Tanenbaum Resources

Addressing Religious Leaders

For business letters, much uncertainty can be avoided by using “Greetings:” instead of “Dear So-and-So:” as the salutation.

In general, if the religious leader has a doctorate (Ph.D., Th.D., D.Min.), this is indicated on the envelope in one of two ways: by inserting “Dr.” after the religious title (e.g., The Reverend Dr. John Smith), OR, by inserting the degree designation at the end of the name (e.g., The Reverend John Smith, Ph.D.).

Choose a religion from the list below to get started.

Afro-CarribbeanSpiritualities: Voudun Manbo Asogwe(female)

Hounjan (male)

Manbo AsogweHounjan Dear Manbo,Dear Houjan,

Dear Asogwe

Manbo Asogwe;Hounjan;
Afro-CaribbeanSpiritualities:Yoruba-Lukumi Babalorisha (men)Iyalorisa (women) BabalorishaIyalorisa Dear Babalorisha,Dear Iyalorisa Customs vary
Bahá’i No clergy; the host of a Baha’i gathering should be addressed just as s/he would be addressed in theworkplace.
Buddhism: Pureland Priest The Reverend Dear Sensei ;Dear Rev. Sensei
Buddhism: Tibetan Abbot; Lama; His EminenceHis Holiness Dear Rinpoche Your EminenceYour Holiness


Buddhism: Tibetan:Gelug lineage Lama (most lamasare also monks),

Abbot Geshey

(Doctor of Buddist




Lharampa (Doctor of


Philosophy of the

highest level)

His Holiness Geshey Dear Rinpoche Your EminenceYour Holiness


Buddhism: Tibetan: Kagyu lineage Monk; Abbot; Gyalwa Karmapa [head of this lineage] His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa [Abbot] The Venerable Rinpoche Your Holiness Dear Ven.
Buddhism: Tibetan: Nyingma lineage Monk; Abbot; Rinpoche [Head] His Holiness Rinpoche Your Holiness Rinpoche
Buddhism: Tibetan: Sakya lineage Monk; Abbot/Rinpoche His EminenceHis Holiness Your Holiness Rinpoche
Buddhism: Theravada Bhikku; Monk The Venerable
Buddhism: Zen Roshi Roshi Dear Roshi ; Dear Roshi Roshi; Sensei
Christianity: Anglican; Episcopalian
Priest (who may be functioning as a Rector; Curate; Vicar; Chaplain) The Reverend Dear Fr.* When the priest is a woman, practice varies. Some prefer “Dear Mother Smith”; others prefer “Dear Elizabeth.” Beginning a letter simply “Greetings” might be easiest. Fr. ; Fr. ;*Mother (or, according to her preference, see left).
Deacon The Reverend Deacon Dear Deacon Deacon ; or, Deacon
Bishop The Right Reverend Dear Bishop ; Your Grace Bishop; or Your Grace
Dean (of a cathedral or seminary) The Very Reverend Dear Dean Dean
Archdeacon The Venerable FN LN Dear Archdeacon LN Archdeacon; Fr. ; Fr.
Presiding Bishop The Most Reverend Dear Bishop -or- Your Grace Bishop -or-Bishop -or- Your Grace
Nun, Monk Sister, OSH**Brother , BSG**

(If also ordained, it would also be proper to write “The Reverend Ellen Francis, OSH”, and, “The Reverend Tobias Haller, BSG”)

***OSH and BSG indicate the order to which these exemplars belong

Dear Sister ; Dear Brother Sister; Sister Brother; Brother
Christianity: Church of Christ (not United Church of Christ) Minister Titles are not used; leaders are addressed as would anyone in the workplace.
Christianity: Ethiopian Orthodox Bishop or Archbishop His Holiness Abuna Your Holiness Abuna Your Holiness
Priest Qes Dear Qes Qes
Chief Cantor Marigeta Dear Marigeta Marigeta
Religious Scribe or Scholar Dabtarra Dear Dabtarra Dabtarra
Christianity: Jehovah’s Witnesses While the term “minister” is used, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that a clergy class and special titles are improper Brother Smith; Mr. Smith
Christianity: Latter-day Saints (Mormons) President (Apostle) President Gordon B. Hinckley Dear President Hinckley President Hinckley
Bishop Bishop Bishop Bishop
Elder (includes male missionaries) Elder Elder Elder
Female missionaries Sister Sister Sister
Christianity: Orthodox The hiearchy of each autocephalous Orthodox Church (and Middle Eastern and North African Catholic churches) has its own peculiar set of titles; there is no standard title for the head of a Church.
Archbishop His All Holiness Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople and New Rome, Ecumenical Patriarch Your All Holiness
Patriarch His Beatitude NAME #, Pope and Patriarch of Location Your Eminence, Your Holiness Your Eminence, Your Holiness
Archbishop His Beatitude NAME, Archbishop of LOCATION, Metropolitan LOCATION Your Beatitude Your Beatitude
Bishop The Right ReverendNAME, Bishop of Location Your Grace Your Grace
Archimandrite The Very Reverend Archimandrite -OR- Archimandrite Dear Fr.
Igumen; Abbot The Very Reverend Igumen -OR- Igumen -OR- The Very Reverend Abbot -OR- Abbot Dear Fr.
Abbess The Very Reverend Abbess Dear Mother
Hiermonk; Protopresbyter; Archpriest The Reverend Dear Fr.
Christianity: Pentecostal, Holiness Traditions Minister; some groups have an array of religious leaders with various titles, such as Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, among others. The Reverend -OR- Rev. Dear Pastor Pastor“Reverend” is used frequently, but is technically incorrect. (Technically, “Reverend” is an adjective, not a noun.)

Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist

Christianity: Protestants, Free Church (including Lutheran, Adventist, Baptist, Congregational, Methodist, Presbyterian, Assemblies of God, Disciples of Christ, Mennonite, United Church of Christ; many others) Minister The Reverend -OR- Rev. Dear Pastor Pastor“Reverend” is used frequently, but is technically incorrect. (Technically, “Reverend” is an adjective, not a noun.)
Bishop Bishop -OR- The Rev. Bishop Dear Bishop; Bishop
Christianity: Roman Catholic Pope His Holiness, Pope John Paul II -OR- His Holiness, the Pope Your Holiness -OR- Most Holy Father Your Holiness-OR- Most Holy Father
Cardinal His Eminence Cardinal Your Eminence Your Eminence
Archbishop Most Reverend Your Excellency Your Excellency
Bishop Most Reverend Your Excellency Your Excellency
Abbot Right Reverend (add religious order initials) Dear Father Father
Pronotary Apostolic Rev. Msgr. Rev. Msgr.
Priest Rev. Dear Reverend Father
Religious Order Priest Rev. (add religious order initials) Dear Reverend Father Father
Deacon Rev. Mr. Dear Deacon Deacon
Brother (monk) Brother Dear Brother Brother
Sister (nun) Sister Dear Sister Sister
Superior of Sisterhood Reverend MotherFN (add religious order initials) Dear Reverend Mother Reverend Mother
Christian Science No ordained clergy
Hinduism Priest (male) Swami Dear Swami Swami
Priest (female) Swamini Dear Swamini Swamini
Leaders very ‘high’ on the ladder of spirituality SwamijiGuruji

Guru Maharaj



Dear SwamjiDear Guruji

Dear Guru Maharaj

Dear Gurudev

Dear Mataji


Guru Maharaj



Secular or semi-religious, theoretical or philosophical leaders, or highly respected priests Panditji, Pandit, Acharyaji, Acharya, Shastriji, Shastri(same forms of use as above; word choice depends on region of India)
Common forms of address – always acceptable (male) (female) Shree, Shreeman, Shreeyut, SriShreemati, or Soubhagyavati
ALSO Mr. or Mrs. will always be acceptable in an American context
Female renunciates Sadhvi Dear Sadhvi Sadhvi
Islam Imam Imam Dear Imam Imam; Imam
Jain No official clergy. Serious believers become monks or nuns, called Sadhu (male) and Sadhvi (female). Non-initiates form the classes of laypersons. (Shravak and Shravika).
Judaism Rabbi RabbiOriental Jews (from Near Eastern countries) may call their rabbis “Hakam,” “Gaon,” or “Mori.” Dear Rabbi Rabbi; Rabbi
Cantor Cantor Dear Cantor Cantor; Cantor
Quaker/Society of Friends No clergy; a Quaker should be addressed just as he/she would be addressed in the workplace.
Scientology Minister Reverend, Executive Director of the Church of Scientology of Los Angeles (or whatever the person’s position in the church hierarchy is) Dear Reverend ReverendIf you are unsure of the person’s official title. Mr., Mrs., or Ms. is appropriate.
Shinto Priest The Reverend -OR- Sensei Dear Reverend; Dear Sensei Sensei;
Sikhism (No ordained clergy) Since Sikhs do not have an ordained clergy or a priestly class, these titles are used for both religious leaders and laity. Males: SardarFemales: Sardarni

Note: Often for males, “Bhai” can be used in place of “Sardar”.

If one wants to be extremely polite, as is the manner in Punjab, the Sikh homeland, then one would suffix the honorific “Ji” after the last name. This custom is observed most frequently in conversation.Generally, during normal conversation, the first or last names are not always used. Instead, one would use Sardar Sahib (for males) and Sardarani Sahiba (for females). Here one would not use “Ji” as a suffix since “Sahib” and “Sahiba” take its place instead.
Unitarian Universalist The Reverend Dear Pastor ; Dear Pastor“Reverend” is used frequently, but is technically incorrect. (Technically, “Reverend” is an adjective, not a noun.)
Zoroastrian Dastoor; Dastur Dastoor -OR-Dastoorji Dear Dastoorji Dastoorji; Dastoorji