Here are a few suggestions that I have found helpful in the weeks preceding a move:
1. Intentionally continue whatever you do to stay connected to God. Even if you have to limit the time usually spent reading the Bible or resting in silence or prayer, the daily grounding you receive will be a reminder that God is present.
2. Keep a routine as much as possible, especially if children are involved. A routine can offer structure and security when there is chaos all around.
3. Recognize that moving involves grief. There are breaks in meaningful attachments that will take place. Anger, sadness, disappointment, fear and other emotions are often present with relocation. Realize that these responses are normal and allow time to work through those that occur.
4. Be patient with yourself. Adjustments take time, particularly if you are moving from a smaller town and church to a larger town and church. Learning how to navigate streets or how to get to church or making connections for yourself and your children, locating a doctor, dentist, a school, a job, the grocery store, the library etc., cannot be accomplished in one day. Take time to celebrate the steps you make each day.
5. Share feelings about the move with your spouse/children so that you can support each other.
6. Allow the new pastor and spouse in the previous church time to get acquainted with the congregation and settled in the community before returning for a visit.
7. Stay in touch with persons in the congregation or community with whom you feel close. Email, Facebook and other ways of electronic communication enable persons to stay connected much better than in the past.
8. Clean the parsonage thoroughly before leaving.
9. Invite friends to your new church, house/parsonage and community. Seeing familiar faces after a move can be uplifting.
10. Recognize that there are stages in life that are more difficult to move than others. Again be patient and invite God to help your adjustment.
11. Do everything you can to take care of yourself. Packing, moving, unpacking, adjusting to a new town/congregation/house/parsonage, finding a job, helping children find friends/school, require a lot of energy - physical, spiritual emotional. Light a candle to remember that God is present in these new surroundings. Ask for God's peace/strength/comfort/patience or whatever you need to dwell in your heart as you make your parsonage/house feel more like home.
12. Exercise regularly. Finding a YMCA or fitness center with various classes can offer fun ways to manage the stress a move often brings as well as a place to meet new people. If finances are limited, talking a walk can be very refreshing.
13. Find ways to connect with other clergy in the area. Over twenty years ago, Mike (my husband) and I decided that we were tired of being lonely and by ourselves on holidays like Memorial Day, Labor Day, and New Year's Day. So, we invited many of the United Methodist clergy/spouses/families who lived fairly close by to a Labor Day picnic. We provided the main dish and drinks and everyone else brought a vegetable or dessert to share. We still have our Labor Day picnic, with others hosting gatherings on Memorial Day and New Year's Day.
The Indiana Conference, where my husband is a pastor, has a confidential Clergy Spouse site accessible through Facebook. Persons often ask questions or share concerns giving others an opportunity to respond through this connection. Each year during annual conference, there is an established time and place where spouses can gather and visit.
Lastly, there is the annual clergy spouse 'refresher' a two night, two and a half day retreat usually held at a state park. There is a speaker, interest groups, and free time during which spouses can hike or participate in other opportunities available at the park. God I pray for all persons who are moving during the next few weeks. Thank you for the call to service in your name that each move represents. Help all remember that you are within and beside each one and that you have gone ahead preparing and blessing the new church/parsonage/home and ministry. Amen.
Jacquie Reed Fishers, Indiana