From a new clergy couple, serving as co-pastors, we now begin life as a clergy couple serving different congregations. As of May 24, Ruth Ann is serving a new call at Mt. Zion Lutheran Church in Richfield, NC. Life for us is changing once again.
While many things remain the same - both work on Sunday, both on call 24/7, both have sermon and worship preparations to make during the week, many things are different. For one, we cannot operate on quite the same schedule. For example, as Ruth Ann buries a member of her new parish today, I am home housecleaning and working on tomorrow's sermon (and spending some time on the computer). Where for almost 6 years we have done almost everything together, now we have to learn to do some of things apart and on different schedules.
In one way, this is a return to how things were before seminary, when I was traveling over 50% of the year. Our schedules only rarely coincided, and then only with great planning. We will have to recover that intentionality in planning our personal lives that has somewhat gone by the wayside. Instead of planning everything for the church and using what is left over for ourselves, we will now have to carve out space for ourselves in the midst of planning for church. It also means that our opportunities to worship together - even as worship leaders - will be few and far between.
Being in separate places also creates issues with meals - how, when, and where do we eat? So far, we are managing to eat more meals together than apart, but we will have to go back to planning meals as to who is going to be available to cook. We are operating on different office hours, including some time at home for sermon prep so we can share our library (don't have duplicate commentaries), so scheduling study time and menus will have to happen soon.
Life as a clergy couple has its ups and downs, and certainly adds some complications, but then it also has the plus side of truly understanding what it is like to be a pastor - the long, inconsistent hours, late night phone calls, early mornings at the hospital for surgery visits, and the deep frustrations when God's people don't act like God's people.
For now, we will struggle along as we work out the new schedules and get used to having to prepare a sermon every week instead of every other week. We have to get used to saying "I" instead of "we" when talking about "the pastor(s)", and we have to go from sharing almost everything told to us so we can each be aware of situations in the congregation to sharing only public knowledge - even about members that we both know.
Many changes in the works, but most certainly God is active and working in our lives. Some things change, others stay the same, but God remains constant. For this we give thanks, especially when so much else is up in the air. So begins the next chapter in our lives.