Twice in Mike's (my husband) ministry, we were assigned to a church where the pastor died. One church, the pastor had battled cancer for two years. The other church, the pastor died suddenly on a Sunday morning.
Both places had unique challenges because of these events. Neither church had people coming by our parsonage/house to greet us on moving day. No meals were available during those first few days. We did not understand why persons in both congregations were distant and seemingly uninterested in welcoming us to the church and community. (Perhaps we were really spoiled by our previous moves where people stopped by the parsonage offering to help move boxes etc. and provide a couple of meals until I could get to the store.) We realized that at both places, the congregation was drained emotionally, physically and spiritually as they had cared for the surviving spouse and children for many, many months. They weren't ready to extend friendship and greeting to a new pastor and family as they were still dealing with grief.
Mike and I decided to wait patiently, once we realized the dynamics of our move, until the people were ready to befriend us. We respected their grief. Eventually, in both places, we felt more of a kinship with the congregation as time went on. We tell others that grief has no timetable, and remembering that each person was in a different place with his/her grief helped us relax and realize that the indifference we were feeling was not related to us. We grew from that first experience, and were able to apply that learning, when again, we followed a pastor who had died.
To be continued.
Jacquie Reed, Fishers, Indiana