February 15, 2010

And so it begins...

After four years in a rural appointment six miles south of the Kentucky border, but in Tennessee, it looks as though we may be moving this June.

This will be only our third move in nearly 20 years of ministry, though we are second career and had plenty of moves before Mike entered the ministry. I say that we “may move” because, as anyone who has ever been involved with the appointment system knows…it isn’t really over until the bishop reads the appointments out at conference or you see the moving truck in your driveway (whichever comes first.) The UM appointment system is a many-splendored thing—a combination of art, science, and the Holy Spirit. Some appointment cycles go relatively smoothly—some seem designed to make as many clergy and churches unhappy as possible in a single cycle. I think it may be best to know as little as possible about how it really works—sort of like politics and sausage-making.

A life-long United Methodist, I am in the dark about exactly how our cabinet moves through its process but you won’t find me unduly critical of “the itineracy” itself. I am interested here in the experience of the clergy spouse as things unfold—the journey between the beginning of the process and the first Sunday in the new church.
What I intend to do over the next five months or so is to reflect on this pilgrimage from January to June from where I am sitting as a clergy spouse and hope that others will join in and offer some reflections of their own.

So here we are…we don’t really know if we will be moving; we don’t know where we may be going if we do; we don’t know whether we will be moving closer to our work (My job is in Nashville); or further away; we don’t know if that future congregation will be happy that their current clergy person is leaving or sad….the truth is…we all know very little…but it has already begun for us and for our congregation.

Moving through the next months with as much grace and faithfulness as we can while dealing with grief issues, the stress of not knowing, the feelings of those around us (the members of the congregation, our families, our co-workers, etc.) many of whom want answers we will not have for quite awhile—that is what I will be posting about.

You are invited to join in…maybe it will help to keep the “moving crazies” away for as long as possible. I am already beginning to clean out my basement…not in any organized fashion yet, you understand…just setting aside some things that I know need to go to Goodwill (or the dump). It makes me feel as though I am doing something, because, eventually there will be so very much to do and so little time after so much waiting…meanwhile…let us hear from you.

Keep the faith, Becky


  1. We are pretty sure we are moving because my husband is going to school at Martin in the fall and changing from part-time to student. I am trying to figure out how to pack not only a houseful of stuff, including toys for a four and a five year old, but also nineteen years of teaching material. I know I need to start but this is our first move away from family. We love and are loved by our two churches and will miss them tremendously, they have been good to us.
    I want this to be a positive experience for my kids and I know we will be blessed if we willing follow God's will. I am just scared of the unknowns, job hunting for me, school for the kids, living in a parsonage, and new churches. I ask for your advice and counsel but mostly for your prayers.

  2. Dear Mary, Perhaps this will help a little. Every year, whether we move or not, I clean out the closets and drawers. So I can be nearer throwing away what I don't need to pack. In the past, I've also had a yard sale.
    Another thing is to contact the pastor into whose parsonage you'll be moving (when possible)and go see the house, neighborhood, and schools. For me, the more I know ahead of time the better.
    Whenever we've moved, I've tried to keep as many things the same as I can for the kids. For example, we've always had all our doctors in Nashville, which is pretty much centrally located. I realize there's a lot more, like what to do with the kids while you pack, but perhaps this is a start.

  3. Here's an article for clergy who are moving. Healthy Pastoral Moves http://bachdevelopment.com/bach4b.html

  4. We've been a clergy family for 10 years now and I still find myself wondering about our 'move' status for at least 5 months of the year! I think it's just part of the deal for UM clergy families. The waiting is ever present.

    Moving with school age kids would be new to me, too, should that happen this year. I'm not expecting it, but I don't rule anything out. If you have a sense of the District you'll be in then start looking around NOW for possible clergy spouse connections. These folks rock and are a great source of information. They know the schools, day cares, sports teams etc. that are likely to be important in your future.

    I'll be praying for you and your whole family as you begin your next adventure. :)

  5. The DS's wife meant with me following our first appointment. She gave me the best "words of wisdom". She said that being a Clergy Spouse is like being on a roller coaster, she said to just sit back, hold on and enjoy the ride, because God is in control. (And I hate roller coasters!!)

  6. In other words, she lied?

  7. I don't know- it has been a terrifying experience! Not really- but I must say I don't know what's around the next corner.

  8. I think the whole moving thing would be less difficult if we spouses found ways to support each other. Currently, I live in a military community (Clarksville). We can say all we want about the military, but one thing they do very well is support each other. We can take a lesson from them. Perhaps we could share helpful insights about various communities, schools, grocery stores, whatever, where we've lived. In my experience there is something great about each community if you know where to look.