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Covering Testimony: Rachel Ernst

Head Covering Testimonies

Name: Rachel Ernst | Age: 25 | Location: Seoul, South Korea | Starting Covering: January 28, 2015

Rachel Ernst

1) Introduce yourself to our readers.

My name is Rachel Ernst and I am a newlywed army wife living in South Korea.  I come from South Carolina but spent my last two years in the US nannying in Washington, DC, where I met my husband, Richard.  I studied History and Music in college, and am currently pursuing a Masters in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary online, while also working part time at a remote editing job.  I grew up in the church, but began to grow rapidly in my faith in high school and college.  I took a year off in college and spent six months of that year serving at a Gospel-teaching school for beggar girls in South Asia, an experience which changed my life forever.  I have a heart for Muslim women, and love seeing them liberated and empowered by the love of Christ.

2) Where do you attend church? Tell us a little bit about it. Do others practice headcovering there?

I currently attend Covenant Church in Seoul, South Korea.  It is a Reformed, Gospel-teaching evangelical church shining a light in a prosperity gospel-driven country, and I absolutely love it.  Our head pastor is a Korean who went to seminary in the US and was ordained in the PCA, along with two other American elders.  The congregation is a hodge-podge of expats from all different walks of life, united in the Gospel.  There aren’t any other women who cover there, but I’ve never been to a covering church before anyway so it doesn’t bother me.

3) What led you to start covering?

A few weeks after my husband and I started dating, he nervously shared with me his interest in head covering and his convictions on 1 Corinthians 11. He was convinced he would scare me away, and he later told me that my openness to listen to him was the first thing that made him realize that he wanted to marry me. After all, neither of us had grown up around head covering – I’d only seen it in two areas growing up. My college town had a decent Mennonite community so I saw some there, and when I lived in South Asia I saw that most Christian women covered there – purely out of respect to their Muslim neighbors. (This was actually a major deterrent for me as I associated the practice so closely with Islam.)

After a lot of thought, discussion, and prayer, we established together that this was not something I could do specifically for him. After all, we were only dating! We were also living in Washington, DC at the time, one of the most liberal cities in the US. If I was going to start covering at church, I had to be ready and confident in my conviction, not timidly testing it out. I also needed to know I could defend the practice without referencing his influence for other women to take me seriously. I only wanted to cover if it was a way to honor God and the created order, not as a way to impress my boyfriend.

While I read many articles online and listened to some sermons, what truly convicted me was a handful of spiritual leaders in my life. I emailed several pastors and their wives that had shepherded me in the past, leaders I looked up to who had no connection to Rich at all. I told them I was struggling with the 1 Corinthians passage and wanted their best defence of why the church no longer follows this practice. I respected them, and figured they must have a good reason to dismiss this passage! Much to my surprise, I only got one passionate refusal to adopt the practice, with a very vague argument on the passage being metaphorical… The other responses all called it a Christian Liberty and told me that if I feel convicted on it I should do it! I was not expecting that at all, and knew at that moment what I needed to do. I covered for the first time that Wednesday at my small group, and it has been a huge blessing in my personal walk with Christ and now in my marriage!

4) What was that first Sunday like when you showed up in a covering?

I actually first covered on a Wednesday night to Bible study.  I wore a blue bandana, and honestly, no one really caught on that I was covering for a while, even though I soon transitioned into more obvious coverings soon after that.  No one really treated me any differently… One friend asked about it several weeks later, purely out of curiosity.

5) When do you use your covering?

I cover for corporate worship.  To me, that means any time I’m gathering with other believers to pray or study the Word.  Practically speaking, that’s usually Sundays, Wednesday mornings for a women’s ministry I’m a part of, Thursdays for our small group prayer time, and during practices for worship for any of these.  We also hold hymn sings in our home pretty regularly, which I cover for.  I prefer not to cover for purely social events simply because I want to set worship apart in this way.

6) What counsel can you give to women that do not cover out of fear?

Pray.  Find support.  Most importantly, find your identity in Christ.  I am happy with my covering timeline, because when I started to cover I was truly ready and not afraid.  Many of my initial fears were based in Scripture – my pastors didn’t endorse headcovering, so I didn’t want to go against them and break unity for what most consider a Christian liberty.  As I realized that most wouldn’t view headcovering as hostile, I was able to whittle those fears down until only fear of man was stopping me. Through God’s grace, I couldn’t allow the fear of man to stop me from following a creation-based command.  I encourage everyone, however, to work through doubts and fears.  Headcovering brings more joy and peace to those who’ve put in the time and learned what it means and why we do it.

7) What would you say is the best and the most difficult aspect about head covering?

My brother-in-law actually pointed out the best and most difficult part of head covering to me – the impact on husbands.  For me, head covering often feels routine and fun – after all, it’s another accessory to coordinate but not visible to me once it’s on my head!  For the husband, however, it is a constant, concrete sign during worship of his leadership responsibilities.  It reminds him who he is commanded in Scripture to be as a husband, but it also encourages him as he has a visible reminder that his wife trusts him to lead and care for her.  Women who are in a relationship should be very open with their boyfriend, fiance, or husband about headcovering, because it is a command that applies to them as well.

8) What kind of covering(s) do you use? Where did you get them?

The vast majority of my coverings come from Garlands of Grace.  I sometimes use scarves, but I find the GoG ones more comfortable.  I do have a nice velvet headband, a wedding gift from my sister-in-law, that I wear under most coverings (especially scarves!) to keep them from slipping, which I highly recommend.

Would you like to share your story of how you came to believe in head covering? Tell us about it here.

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