November 4, 2010

Hospitality Spice

I go through periods where I really like to clean. Somehow, getting rid of old or unused items is a symbolic way to open more space for new thoughts and ideas. Last weekend when I was sorting articles and pamphlets, I found my old SPICE cookbook. Many years ago (over twenty) there was a clergy spouse publication called SPICE. I was one of the writers, and I was on the board of directors which included women (back in those days, most pastors were men) from various denominations.

The cookbook, published in 1989, was a year long project with recipes solicited from spouses all over the country. I thumbed through the yellowed pages, where I found suggestions for a parsonage open house, a Christmas Eve gathering at the parsonage after the last service, recipes to prepare for those attending church meetings (supplied by the pastor's wife), and potluck meals for over twenty (prepared by the pastor's wife).

Interestingly, I participated in most of these events. For many years, even with two small children, I had an open house for the church and/or churches that Mike pastored. I was told early in Mike's ministry that open houses were "really a good idea to help the people get to know the parsonage family in a relaxed setting" and most important, especially if the parsonage was in need of repair or updating, getting people in the house might increase the possibility of changes happening.

I did all of the baking and prepared the punch. I used the glass plates and cups from the church and asked a teenage girl to arrive about thirty minutes early to tend the children and pour the punch. Mike was always a good support, helping with last minute cleaning and vacuuming. I really enjoyed having people in the parsonage and fortunately all were very appreciative of the hospitality Mike and I extended.

Times have really changed since 1989, I haven't had an open house for many years nor have I prepared refreshments for a church meeting. These expectations are long gone. I did wonder, however, if there are any pastor's spouses who have such events in places where they live, or if you extend other gestures of hospitality toward church members?

(Sadly SPICE ceased publication in the '90's because of financial difficulties, even though the Alban Institute stepped in with grant support.)

Jacquie Reed, Fishers, Indiana


  1. Like you, I used to host an open house at the parsonage, because I like to entertain in my home and I thought the congregation should know where the pastor and family lived. But I don't do so much anymore; however, we still host new members and various home-type meetings when appropriate. In fact, for the last one my husband had (last week), as one of the home meetings to talk about the new building program, I was out of town. But I like to host freely and not feel compelled because somebody thinks it's expected.

  2. At one of our churches, I hosted a tea party for the ladies every year at Christmas. I loved doing it. Our next church was too large and our house (not a parsonage) was far too small. This year, we are planning to have an Open House. In small church communities, I don't think the practice is outdated. We also host several more informal events through the year that we invite family, friends and church people to attend. We love having an open home.