January 5, 2010

Consultation and Christmas Cards

Dear Friends,

Many of our spouses have already had their consultations with their DS, at least mine has. And soon the PPRs and SPRs will vote whether they want us to return another year. In addition, in our conference there is a long string of mid-year moves. Since we are appointed in June and begin the process all over again in January, it should be no suprise that pastors and spouses can think about moving all the time! If I think about it too much, the whole thing provokes a lot of anxiety. So over the years, I just steer clear of all the appointment gossip. I wish I could simply grasp the whole moving thing with joy, but to me it just reeks of insecurity.

The one thing that does help in dealing with the uncertainty is remembering all those Christmas cards. Like you, each year we get bunches of cards and letters from friends and former church members. It's fun seeing their kids grow up as we get cards from year to year. I have to remember that I wouldn't know most of those people if we hadn't moved to their church.

How about you? Statistics say (in our conference) that about one third of us move every year. How do you live with moving? I know of one spouse who said that she and her family refused to move and that her spouse could just commute. (Actually, I have heard that more than once.)
What words of advice and encouragement can you give to help those spouses new to the process? How do you prepare your kids?


Kathy is an editor and hates to move, even though she hasn't moved as often as many.


  1. Well... I'm sure it has been quite different for us all. What unique situations and places we all come from...

    I married a UM minister when my sons were 8 and 15. (I was a minister's daughter but not UM so our family was not required to move) We were settled in our/their own home and the boys didn't understand why there was a need for a move. The church we were appointed to had just purchased a new/different parsonage. I felt torn between being a good new partner in ministry with my new husband and/or allowing my children to continue to live in their own/old neighborhood. When facing the decision to move or stay...I tried to look at it as if we were all an "original' family. Wouldn't the children just have to understand that Dad's "company" is relocating him?
    Many have to understand.
    But this wasn't Dad.
    This was a new "Step-Dad."

    "Why do we have to move", they would all ask?

    My home was only about 20 miles from the new appointment.
    We couldn't ask the church to allow us to stay there when they had purchased a parsonage so close and convenient to the church, could we? We didn't even ask.
    Why start a new appointment on the "wrong footing?"
    We chose to move.
    I took a leave of absence from my high pressured mortgage lending/ commission sales job and spent the summer helping us all adjust to the move. I offered to take my youngest back to his old neighborhood to play with old friends but he just chose to be sad and mad. He couldn't understand why we had to leave our own home to live in one that belonged to someone else. Why are all the walls painted beige? Questions like that. He just didn't know. Didn't understand it. It didn't make any sense to him at all.
    I'm so glad the boys were all able to go to their same old schools.
    That was GREAT and helped things alot!
    I tried to remain optimistic. positive. supportive.
    What about all the possibility of new friends? experiences? opportunities for growth? After all, I told them...a bonus is ... you can walk home when church is over. No need to wait around until everyone leaves anymore! No more driving to church in separate cars.

    Leaving the familiar I find is usually somewhat scary.
    And painful. The losses we experience are definitely painful.
    But, losses are also a big part of everyday living.
    Of life. Right?
    When I look back, I see many ways I wish I could have done
    things differently, better, with more understanding, etc....
    But, really, don't we all see things a little clearer later?

    Well, this I'm sure about ...
    If I could have done it differently then,
    of course, I would have!

    So... at least I know God sees our heart and our motives.
    Don't we all really want to be the best wife, mother, daughter, sister, preacher's wife, etc. Well... actually, I guess we already are.
    I'm just my own unique "in need of grace" version of that today!
    Tomorrow is a new day...

    My prayer continues to be... Dear Lord, continue to grow me up
    in You that I may be all You created me to be!

  2. Faith, it's situations like the one you describe that makes me wish churches understood what their "free housing" really meant for pastors' families. Saving money is nice, but the baggage is often not worth it.

  3. My wife is the Pastor in our Family. We didn't find out where her first appointment was going to be until AC in June. We were expected to be ready to move July 1. Only problem was the pastor she was replacing refused to move because he didn't care for his new appointment. So for six weeks my family traveled four hours one way each weekend so my wife could preach. We didn't move into the house until mid-August. I couldn't move with my family because the Bishop/Cabinet had given us so little notice that my request for a transfer could not be processed in a timely manner.

    I can't begin to tell you have frustrated I was, as a father and spouse, at moving my family to an isolated rural community with no day care, afterschool program or offers of help from the congregations (3 Point Charge). I was not able to join my family full time until November 1st. The 'home' we were moved to was small, cramped, in bad repair, poorly heated, and on a major highway.

    My wife was not wanted as a female pastor and the congregation (a majority) had no hestitation in showing their dislike. My children were the only children of color in the entire school; which consisted of only one school.

    If it had not been for our perserverance in our faith; we would have walked away from the life of a clergy family within the first three months! I have found, generally, that the church as a whole is unsupportive of their clergy or their clergy families. Perhaps, and I mean no disrespect, the ability of the church to move their Pastors in the past has been because of a lack of respect for the family/spouse of the clergy?

    Thank you for the ability to "rant." I hestitage to tell my wife all of my frustrations because she has enough as clergy.


  4. Thank you for "ranting," Joe! That's what this forum is for. The hardships you describe are real, reflecting an outdated system in which pastor's spouses (almost always wives) didn't work outside the home. You are better than I at withholding your frustrations from your spouse!

  5. I came to the role of pastor's spouse later in life. Getting an inside view of the workings of a church nearly caused me to turn in my UM membership. Church folk have tested my faith. I have been appalled at the outright meanness of some of the parishioners. And don't get me started on the conditions of the parsonages. Being married to a pastor has been one of the most challenging experiences of my life.

    That being said, it has also been a phenomenal blessing. Yes, my faith has been tested and as a result my faith has grown stronger and stronger. And yes, there are some church folk who can be quite infuriating, yet I have also met some of the most loving, caring, passionate, faithful parishioners who touch my heart and soul in the most profound ways. And yes, there are many times I wish my hubby had a "normal" 9-5 work day job, however when I am with him as he prays with a grieving family, shares the joy of welcoming a new member to church and preaches the powerful Word of God, a gentle calm settles in my heart for I know that he is following God's call. And I know that it is an honor and privilege to support him in this call. And in the quiet of my prayer closet God reminds me supporting my hubby's call as a pastor is my calling.

    I have discovered being a pastor's spouse is not for the faint of heart. Lots of prayer, connection with other spouses, scheduling time away from the church, balancing church/family time, keeping a good sense of humor and finding a "safe" space to vent about frustrations/disappointments are critical for me in this spiritual journey.

    Thanks for allowing me to vent ; )

    Peace, k

  6. My husband (the Pastor) has been a part-time local for six and a half years. He has been feeling the calling to full time ministry for several of those. He decided to go back to school at the local community college and is loving it. We will be moving for the first time in June to an appointment near Martin Methodist so he can continue his education. I am very concerned on many levels. I have taught for nineteen years in the same small rural school in the community I grew up in. We will also be leaving behind both our families and taking our four and five year olds into a new community with no family support, that we have come to count on since we had the children. Any advice would be welcome and prayers would be appreciated.