Each year the Indiana Annual Conference holds a mandatory program for all pastors and spouses who are moving. Our bishop, Mike Coyner, leads the two day session. Bishop Coyner meets with clergy and spouses for part of the first afternoon. Then, two other spouses and myself, take the spouses for a separate time of gathering.
We begin with a reflection, then introductions. The rest of our time together is guided by the following questions:
1. Where are you currently living? Where are you moving?
2. How do you feel about the move?
3. What adjustments do you anticipate as you and your family settle into the new home and congregation?
4. If you have children, how old are they, and how are they responding to the move?
5. How has the current clergy family helped prepare you or your congregation for your coming?
We are intentional about making sure each person has an opportunity to talk. We finish by reviewing these suggestions offered to make a move go smoothly.
1. Intentionally continue whatever you do to stay connected to God. Even if you have to shorten the time usually spent reading the Bible or resting in silence or prayer, the daily grounding you receive will be a reminder of God's presence.
2. Keep a routine as much as possible, especially if children are involved. A routine can offer structure when there is chaos all around.
3. Recognize that moving involves grief for you, and the congregations you serve and will serve. There are breaks in meaningful relationships. Anger, sadness, disappointment, fear, anxiety, as well as excitement are often present. Realize these responses are normal and allow time to work through those that occur. Several months of grieving may occur.
4. Be patient with yourself. Adjustments take time. 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, cannot be accomplished in one day. Celebrate small steps you make each day.
5. Share feelings about the move with your spouse/children so you can support each other.
6. 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.
7. Invite friends to your new church, house/parsonage, and community. Seeing familiar faces after a move can be uplifting.
8. Clean the parsonage thoroughly before leaving.
9. Recognize there are stages in life that are more difficult to move than others.
10. Take time to become acquainted/familiar with persons/ministries in the new church as you decide where to serve and when to begin.
11. Exercise regularly. A YMCA or fitness center can offer fun ways to manage stress associated with a move as well as a place to meet new people. If finances are limited, a walk is refreshing...and free.
12. Establish a new routine to add familiarity and structure in new surroundings.
13. Consider welcoming the new minister's family by leaving a note to greet them in the parsonage. Provide basic information/directions to important places such as the grocery store, pharmacy, and a couple of restaurants. If the incoming family has children, offer them to see the parsonage or to attend Bible School (if Bible School is in June, moves in the Indiana conference are effective July 1.)
The Make A Good Move program is on Friday, May 17. I am looking forward to meeting the new group of persons who are moving.
Jacquie Reed (with Julie Pimlott), Fishers, Indiana, and Greensburg, Indiana