May 10, 2012

Plan on a Good Move

With General Conference over, it's time to focus on reality. For about a third of us, it's time to move. And because moving is just a part of our lives, we might as well focus on doing it well.

Making a good move begins--no surprise-with planning. The first step of planning, in my experience, is getting out the family calendar to map out who has to be where when. You can also do yourself a favor by talking up the family who is
following you. You might consider leaving the new spouse a list of names, locations, and phone numbers of the local schools, drug stores, groceries, etc. Consider leaving the area phone book where the new spouse is sure to find it. And you might send the new spouse a card to wish them well.

If you are excited about leaving, try not to show it. There are always people in the congregation who really love you and will be sad to see you go. Remember that the UMC is really like a family; you never know who will move into the new church neighborhood or whose mother attends your new church or which kid will grow up and want your spouse to do the wedding--all these things have happened to us.

If you are sad about leaving, that's ok, but don't overdo it; and try not to ruin it for the next family. The Church isn't very good about transition from one clergy family to another. Some take steps to help the clergy person, but most don't help the spouse or family. While most people will say, "Just be yourself" when leaving, I'd say, "Be your best self."

The same holds for the kids. But in our experience, kids handle change pretty well. But you may have to have a conversation about staying in contact with friends from the previous church. With Facebook and other social networking, it will be hard for kids not to stay in touch. But you might want to talk through some of the issues, so that the next family has a chance to bond and make new friends.

If you have experiences or wisdom you'd like to share, please take this opportunity to help.

Grace, Kathy


  1. My deceased husband served three churches and one term as DS in his 47 year ministry with UMC. So, I have limited moving experience. However, I do have a tip that was shared by a clergy spouse of another denomination early in our marriage. When you are asked how people can help you get ready for a move, tell them to hire a cleaning service to come in after you leave. In our conference, I have a reputation as the person you want to follow because the parsonage is immaculate. One of the results of this service is that church members will not then share the condition of the ovens or other places that don't get cleaned often.

  2. This isn't really related to this post, but I wasn't sure where else to ask...maybe it could be posted at some point for discussion. Anyway, here it is - do you ever feel like you need to talk to a pastor and don't know who to call? Like you can't talk to your husband as a pastor and have him listen to you like he would any other parishioner?

  3. Absolutely. When I was first married I tried to talk with my husband and his response was, "I'm not your minister. I'm your husband and lover." It was boundary setting and a boundary that was maintained throughout our 49 years of marriage. If you are looking for spiritual guidance, my suggestion is to find a spiritual director. Someone outside of the UMC might be helpful for you to talk with.

  4. My problem is that I don't want to move. I think the new church will be good for my spouse, but we are moving to a very small town from a metropolitan area and a large church. I loathe moving into the fishbowl of a small town and having to give up the house we own and move back into a parsonage. I hate that the AC said regarding me that I could just commute to any number of towns within an hour's drive for a job. They didn't consider, of course, that I don't want to commute. That I don't want to lose that time with our children. But I have to remember that the clergy family isn't their concern, they will do what they think is right for the church. I have A LOT of anger right now. I've agreed to show up on Sunday morning for an hour and "be seen", but that's it.