Each year the Indiana Conference has a retreat for clergy spouses. This year the theme was 'Who Is Building Your House?' based on 2 Samuel 7:27-29. Our bishop, Mike Coyner, gave the opening address, "Ten Foundations for Your House." A summary of each foundation follows:
1. Faith - Faith has to be part of your own life, marriage, family. You may need faith supports beyond your congregation.
2. Fidelity - Your marriage is more important than your spouse's ministry. Be faithful to each other. Be your spouse's best supporter not another critic.
3. Family - Don't give your family short-shift because of ministry. Plan family time far ahead and get on your calendar.
4. Friends - Feel free to develop friendships and keep them after you move. Don't go back for pastoral duties but for friendships.
5. Flexibility - You and your family have to be flexible. Ministry is not a 9 to 5 job, but don't let it become a 5 am to 9 pm either. You can also use that flexibility for your own needs.
6. Finances - You and your family need a financial plan. You may need to be the one who handles your finances. Use a tax firm or tax person, it will pay for itself.
7. Furnishings - Enjoy your parsonage and make it your home. Respect and appreciate your house, but be honest too. Have an annual evening with trustees and SPRC chair. Furnish with flexibility and with an eye to the future.
8. Freedom - Ministry provides a lot of freedom, so use it. Freedom to have friends beyond one congregation. Freedom to know you are part of something bigger (UMC). Freedom to know you have immediate respect. Freedom to participate as you choose (old "pastor's wife" rules are dead).
9. Fun - Make your life and ministry fun. Take God seriously, but don't take yourself too seriously.
10. Future - Think long-term (parsonage, kids, your life). Think "legacy." Hope for the future and work for it.
The retreat was held September 16, 17, and 18 and was attended by 60 spouses, including one husband, from all over the state.
I felt that Bishop Coyner's foundations gave fresh energy to old, familiar topics in ministry.
Thank you God for times of retreat and renewal. Amen.
Jacquie Reed, Fishers, Indiana