May 7, 2013

Making a Good Move

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


  1. This is really not connected to this post, but I am wondering if you live in a parsonage, is the land line in your name or the church's name? Thank you!

  2. Those are some good suggestions. My husband is at his third appointment. As far as I know, we aren't being moved this year. However, I've been thinking a lot about our next move. We've had our first child during our current appointment, which I know will make the next move very different that our previous ones. I'm curious about Indiana's mandatory program for those moving. How does it work to have a mandatory program for spouses? I'm just curious, because I could see the potential for conflicts with spouse's work schedules, childcare issues, graduation parties that time of the year, etc. While I could definitely see the value in such a program, I could also see some spouses having resentment about being "forced" to move and also "forced" to attend a meeting. Personally, I'd like to make connections with other pastor's wives but have had some really bad experiences with conference and district events in my 10 years as the spouse of a pastor. One was so uncomfortable that my husband promised that I'd never have to attend another conference or district event again! ;)

    @Melissa. At our current parsonage, the land line is in our name, but they keep the same number from pastor to pastor. At my husband's first appointment, we had a land line in our name that they also kept the same number from pastor to pastor (I think). However, the church office line rang into our home as well. That was sometimes convenient and sometimes not. Someone called at 6:00 a.m. one morning to tell me that they liked my husband's sermon!

  3. Melissa, the land line is in the church's name, but we pay the bill. We get a discount because the church But we've also had it in our name in other churches. Just depends how the local church does it. But all the other utilities are in our name and we pay the bills. Kathy

  4. I'm the "anonymous" from above who was curious to learn more about the "Making a Good Move" seminar. I have been checking back for a reply and was still wondering about it today. So, I did a Google search to find more information. I thought I'd share the following from the conference website, in case any one else was curious too. It looks interesting.

    "Bishop Mike Coyner and Dr. Doug Anderson will lead the "Making a Good Move" seminar for all clergy moving to new appointments this year. The seminar is scheduled to begin Friday May 17 at 2 p.m. (ET), running into the evening for clergy and their spouses, if available. Spouses may arrive at 3 p.m. (ET). Dinner will be included on Friday evening.

    The seminar will continue on Saturday May 18 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (ET) for clergy and representatives from the Pastor-Parish Relations Committee of the new appointment church. Lunch is not included on Saturday. The seminar will be held at Plainfield UMC; 600 Simmons Street Plainfield IN, just west of the Indianapolis International Airport.

    The purpose of this seminar is to help clergy, spouses and the PPRC begin their new appointments and get off to a good start. Topics of the seminar include:

    Leaving Well "Saying Good-Bye"
    Your First Impressions
    Your Leadership Choice
    Your Leadership Results
    Your Teamwork with Pastor-Staff Parish Relations Committee
    Your First Sunday
    Your First Week
    Your First Few Months
    Your First Conflict
    Your Spiritual Survival Kit

    There is no charge for this seminar."