Page last updated


Clergy On The Move
by Rev. Frank Schaefer

   It is that time of year again, when heaps of clergy people, especially those of the episcopal denominations, are on the move.  Sure there can be excitement about the move to a new parish, or a new manse, but nevertheless, moving is one of the hardest experiences and is often accompanied by many a tear.

  To clergy folk and their families it means being uprooted--perhaps once again.  Also, thousands of faith communities are losing their shepherd, their leader, their friend.  Of course, in a few cases, there may be rejoicing, both on the part of clergy folk and congregations, because of a currently mismatched situation.


Whenever possible, label each box with the room name and general idea of contents. It will save a lot of wear and tear on the nerves.

Remember to keep a separate suitcase or bag with items that you will need on moving day, that night and the next day. Then you don't need to worry if there are some minor or not so minor glitches.

Be sure to ask your movers about chest of drawers, etc; sometimes it's not necessary to pack up the contents in each drawer.

When you discuss utilities you may wish to give serious consideration to having the rectory/ parsonage/ manse phone in your name. The phone bill would come directly to you, you would pass on the part that the church pays, and the phone number is yours not the churches. While we're talking about phones remember that the parsonage phone is for your use. Except for EMERGENCIES, you should be receiving all church related calls at the office. This is good self care for you and your family and it demonstrates a clear boundary.

Don't be afraid to ask for help, most people appreciate being asked and can probably help in many different ways: providing a meal, watching young children, watching a pet, helping you pack, labeling boxes.

Share your Moving Story

   My prayers are with all of you who are part of the moving experience. Sometimes it helps to share about the pain (the grieving of our losses), the joy, and even the humor that surrounds the moving process.  For that purpose, I'd like to invite you to share your moving experience at the bottom of this column


I have just left my first call after two years. I believe it was the right thing to do. But the week after I left a parishoner called whose sister( another member) was diagnosed with colon cancer. She asked me to visit her sister in the Hospital. I told her that I couldn't continue pastoral duties at a church I was no longer at. I recommended she call the new senior pastor and that i would pray for her and her sister. There was a long cold silence on the phone and I just felt lousy. There was no explaining that was sufficient. After I hung up I called the senior pastor to update her to the situation and asked her to call this person. I did the right thing but it sure felt lousy.


Today I finish the fourth year of serving two churches in Maryland. I am starting my fifth year. It's the longest appointment I've ever had. It didn't look like things would go well in the beginning. When we moved here my wife was nursing a broken heel from an auto accident Easter night that totalled our new van. She supervised as about a dozen friends helped pack us up and helped us unpack in the new parsonage. My oldest son had just been released from a stay at a mental hospital. We only had five weeks to get ready and move, but I also had a very clear sense that the Lord wanted us at the new churches. Our parishioners have been very supportive and our ministry here has been fruitful. My kids who at first hated moving from the suburbs to the country love it out here. I'm sharing this to offer hope to all who have to move at the last minute and wonder what they're moving into. You never can tell how things will work out *S*


My family and I have just moved and it seems we were assigned our own guard of guardian angels on the way. We were driving up with two vehicles--our car and our small motor home. My wife was driving the car and followed me in the motor home. We had tied a mattress on the roof of the motor home, and as the wind got under it on the Interstate, the mattress was lifted up in the front. The strings in the front ripped and now the matress was dangerously bopping up and down with the gusts of the wind. I was completely unaware of what was going on and couldn't understand why my wife was honking behind me. I figured that she wanted me to speed up and so I did, when suddenly I look into the rearview side mirror and caught a glimpse of our mattress flying off the camper roof falling flat on my wife's wind shield. My wife could not see a thing as she stepped on the brakes. The entire time the matress stayed on the wind shield (of course, it didn't do that for me on the roof). She came to a complete stop and pulled over. Nobody was hurt, the car wasn't damaged, and the mattress didn't even touch the ground. Kind of comical, but certainly scary as it happened. Thank God for travel mercies extended to this preacher's family. God is good! All the time! (and what a story I had to share for my first sermon in the new parish)


My husnabd and I just made our first move as a clergy couple (we were married in January). We are at a much smaller town than before which was already causing me concern but we feel led here by God and so we went. I have a very dear pet, a cat named Moses, who is fat, neutered and just a week before the move declawed. The day of the move was terrible. Moses started to panic when the strange moving people were taking stuff out of his house, so I put Moses in his cage. He hates his cage and started to claw the wire door, opening up his wounds from the recent declaw. As soon as I saw the blood I panicked and raced the poor cat to the vet for a bandage and tranquilizer. This worked till we were halfway to the new house and Moses got his bandage off. I pulled my husband over and we took Moses out of his cage and wrapped him in a blanket where he stayed snugg in front of me the rest of the trip. Upon arrival at the house, I was thrilled to be there if only to put the cat in a safe room and know he was ok. I walked into the house first, quite frazzled carrying Moses in his blanket to meet two older ladies who were finishing up cleaning. The first thing they said after introductions was "We don't allow pets in the parsonage".One lady suggested I put Moses up for adoption. Needless to say I was not in any mood to even discuss rationally the position of my cat in the household. Fortunately things have gotton better since then, and it looks like they will have to accept Moses (we have the backing of the District Superintendent) But I think this will definately go down in our history book as a most infamous move!


MYSTORY I am a student pastor in my third year. Moving for me the last two times have been horrible. We moved in June of '97 and my wife of 18 years died of cancer July 22. I remarried and moved this year. My wife of 2 years died of a heart attack July 8th. In both, cases it gave the churches a chance to minister to me and the children.


I am a student pastor in my third year. Moving for me the last two times have been horrible. We moved in June of '97 and my wife of 18 years died of cancer July 22. I remarried and moved this year. My wife of 2 years died of a heart attack July 8th. In both, cases it gave the churches a chance to minister to me and the children.


I will never forget our move to my current charge. The moving van had left at 2:00 in the morning. Our dog and I were to follow with my vehicle at dawn. The car was packed to the roof. There was barely enough room for Midnight to sit on the front seat. He looked up as we went under every overpass. As we approached the Blue Ridge mountains, he began to take notice. He had never seen mountains before and seemed very curious about them. I noticed a house in the distance with smoke coming from the chimney. Suddenly, Midnight began to bark furiously at this house. He wouldn't stop until we passed it, when he began to absorb the vastness of the Shenandoah Valley and all therein. I am still amazed at his curiousity. I wonder what he was thinking when he saw the mountains and especially the smoke from the chimney.