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Real Life Funny Parsonage Stories
by Pastors and their Families

We used to live in a manse that was integrated into the church building (not just attached, but integrated). My daughter had a corn snake, "Glider," at the time and one day found the terrarium open and Glider gone. We didn't quite know how to share with the congregation that there was a snake on the loose, but eventually it became known and, understandably, some people got very upset (I was wondering why the worship attendance suddenly dropped). Anyhow, looking back this seems rather humerous to us.

I think the issue of pets could also be a pro-housing allowance argument, as some churches have a no-pet policy for their manses....FYS

My husband had just graduated from seminary and we had no savings built up with which to purchase a home. One of the churches in the two-church parish to which he was called owned a parsonage which had been rented for almost thirty years. Because of long-standing issues, the parish really wanted us to live in the town which is halfway between their two towns but, after desperately seeking a decent house or apartment to rent, we begged them to let us consider moving into the parsonage.

After they heard tales about some of the HORRID places we'd looked at as possibilities to rent, (and hearing us promise that we would not make the church which owned the house the "favored child") the parish agreed to let us live in the parsonage and served an eviction notice to the people who had been renting it for all those years.

Ooooooh...the list of problems with this situation is almost endless so I'll just list a few points: 1. The colors of the paint. The living room walls were (I kid you not!) army fatigue green...the hallway was about the color of Gulden's brown bedroom was sort of a brownish-red (the only way to get a mental image is if you think of the color of dried blood)...the list could go on. And it was all painted on top of wallpaper so it was not possible to just repaint. Wallpaper would have had to be removed first. 2. The house was built in about 1910. Some electrical work had been done sometime in the late '60s but no one knew which outlets were wired to fuses in the attic and which were wired to the circuit breakers in the basement. When they brought in a professional electrician to rewire the whole entire house, even he was astounded that the whole wood-frame structure had not gone up in flames before then. 3. The church council kept assuring me that I would get to choose things like colors of paint for walls, flooring for the kitchen and bathroom, etc. I wanted white walls throughout and asked that neutral colors be used when they redid the countertops and floors. My husband and I explicitly said there were certain colors which were unacceptable to us. The committee of women who ended up choosing colors completely ignored us and chose all the colors we said we didn't like! The list of problems could go on...but is not worth expanding. In the end, after they began the work of renovating and updating the house, (which led to many battles within the congregation) the church finally decided that they simply could not afford the expense of all the required work. They ended up putting the house on the market....still with those horrid colors on the walls, holes left from the electrical work, etc.

And we rent a parsonage which belongs to a church from a completely different denomination in a neighboring town.

I was a preacher's kid and grew up in parsonages. When I was young, my mother would say, not entirely jokingly, "Don't bleed on the carpet! It's not our carpet!!"

For a few years we owned our own home. My mother would say, not entirely jokingly, "Don't bleed on the carpet! It's our carpet!!"

What's a kid to do??!! :-)

We once lived in a parsonage that was about 12 years old when we moved in. The predecessor was the first pastor to live there, and had been there for 11 years. The first winter, we started to smell sewer gas in the bathroom, but didn't know what to do about it. We never heard the gurgling that is supposed to accompany a frozen vent, but, nonetheless, the vent was frozen. A sewer man from the congregation showed us that we needed to climb the roof and pour hot water down the vent to thaw it. This we did, every day when very cold, twice a day when extremely cold.

I assumed something must be wrong, and finally, the third year there, investigated the pipes. In the rafters of the basement, there appeared to be three vent pipes, but only two emerged through the roof. I was told by everyone that only two of the ones in the basement were actually vent pipes. After all, the third was on the wrong side of the trap to be a vent pipe.

I crawled up into the attic, and found that two of the three pipes were joined in the attic before protruding through the roof. No gurgling? Of course not. There was no trap to keep the gas out of the house. We made sure it was fixed post haste!

When my husband and I were interviewing for our first churches, one woman on the search committee of his church (who lived next door to the parsonage) kept repeating all through the interview that we could not have pets. After about the seventh time I could not restrain myself and asked "If I have children, can I keep THEM?" My daughters did far more damage than a cat ever could (like storing wet pennies under her bed on paraquet flooring).

Now, though, I miss those parsonage days. It was so much nicer handing termite extermination bills and roof repair bills over to the church instead of writing checks.

The first parsonage I lived in was previously occupied by a pastor who kept chickens in the house! What an odor when it was damp! A W-G

One other thought. If a pastor should die while living in a parsonage, the family is homeless! Where will they go? No equity built up for a down payment.

And "You know you will have to move soon, so that our new pastor can move in....

Me, I'm near retirement and just accepted a call to a situation with no parsonage. No regrets, take other peoples money to buy a house!

Maybe it's because I'm nesting (I posted that on the other page) or maybe I'm just persnickity... I resent being treated like a tenant, as in "we don't put anything expensive in the parsonage because people don't take care of it when it's not theirs." I resent being furnished in cast-offs - and folks "requesting" (read, you'll hurt Aunt Mabel's feelings deeply if you don't) you to hang certain pictures because they were "in memory" of someone. Parsonage living crosses a privacy line, but I have to admit that even now, in my 3rd appointment, my congregants have respected my space AND time.

We lived in a really neat house built in the 1930's - with pine-paneled ceilings. I miss that house, but it was *C*O*L*D* - so poorly insulated that we (I'm not exaggerating) could hold our hands up by the wall (not the window) and feel a breeze coming straight through the wall! brrrrrrrr The bathtub had NOTHING between it and the crawlspace - so forget soaking in baths in the winter. The ugly orange couch was good for napping.

We waited for THREE WEEKS to get our kitchen sink fixed because so-n-so offered to fix it and we didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Well, so-n-so didn't get a day off for two weeks, and then didn't have the part, so we had to wait another week for his next day off. The 1950's formica had holes - I mean holes - in it, and I worried about the wiring the entire four years.

The DS requested that the congregation put up a more solid rail on our current parsonage's basement stairs so my little one wouldn't fall - as if by prediction, she fell and now, 7 months later, STILL has a bump on her head. They put up the rail but nothing to hold on to (hard to describe) for when I lug my laundry up and down the steps.

The furniture (donated in memory of someone - after they couldn't sell it in a yard sale) is styled what my husband calls, "whorehouse baroque." The living room is MUCH larger than the room a family would actually live in, indicating an expectation of entertaining parishioners - except the kitchen is miniscule.

One woman told me she was glad I came to them - not because of my reputation, or my past work, not because she liked me, or thought I'd be good for the church - but because I had to live in the parsonage. In this area, that reads, "we don't want to rent it to black people."

Gee, thanks for letting me vent!


We had always been happy with the parsonage arrangement. We had made few demands on the church and maintained the house ourselves for the most part. However, after 9 years in the appointment,in September of 99, the roof of our parsonage collapsed (on top of me) during a hurricane. Only 1 church member arrived to assist with moving the 80 foot tree off the roof or covering the house for the rains which were to begin again. At Christmas, we set our family Christmas tree on the bare concrete floor and had no need to place a star on the top since the night sky that we could still see through the roof provided beautiful adornment. Three months later, we purchased our own home and have remained there despite changing appointments. We will never be sharecroppers again.

Funny-sad parsonage stories: Upstate rural New York. Nice parsonage, but husband became seriously ill with 104+ temp. Doctor said it was one of four water-borne parasites. Had well tested positive for fecal coliform. Told church board (farmers) Response "It's probably a snake fell into the well." Totally blew me off until I demanded with a rare display of anger: "You are going to install a water disinfection unit now!" Furnace story (same parsonage) About to move away, furnace was inspected after a 5 year hiatus. Result: Small hole in side of furnace because of lack of cleaning. Repairman "redlines" the furnace, declaring it inoperable. We were definitely getting carbon monoxide from it. Thank God it was after the heating season. I live in an apt. now on a housing allowance. Another parsonage I lived in had 1920s wallpaper in the upstairs bedrooms. Also, wasps, bees, millipedes, it's a wonder I'm not totally cynical!! Looking to buy a house asap. mhc in pa

In our first parsonage the water heater went out. Response from the trustees, "What did you do to break the new water heater?" Turned out it was over 20 years old. When we asked for grounded outlets, at least in the kitchen and office, they told us that none of the previous pastors had needed it (12 years ago...conceiveable that we were the first with a microwave and a computer). When it turned out that the wiring was vintage 1920's they updated what they could see without damaging any walls. The furnace, by the flukey grace of God, broke down, giving the furnace guy the opportunity to point out that it was leaking carbon monoxide (I didn't have the flu after all). It took over a week in the middle of January for them to replace the furnace. Our judicatory required radon gas testing. When ours came out high, they protested the validity of the concern and refused to do anything about it (we had a new born in the house at the time). We just kept windows open constantly until we moved out glady six months later.

We have lived in two parsonages since then that have been perfect for us and well cared for by the congregation...although, after our first experience, we would have found half-hearted care remarkable.

About four years ago, we moved into an parsonage and the pastor before us had raised Vietnam pigs in the parsonage. You couldn't believe the smell. The carpet had pid do-do on it and smell to high heaven. The church knew about the pigs and said nothing. We own a house about 65-68 miles away so we drive back and forth until we could get the place clean and carpet changes. Forget about a housing allotment we were only paid 200.00 a week!!! EAL_NC

As a student pastor, my wife and our four-month-old son moved into a very roomy, very pleasant parsonage. There was one small problem, however: The house was built on a hillside, with the basement wall exposed in back, and that wall was buckling outward. No problem, the Pastor-Parish Relations/Trustees said (small church, few people, no need to seperate these committees!),well get some guys together and fix it right up.

We moved in in August and around mid-September a group of good ol' boys got together and had a rip-snortin' time digging out around the wall with a backhoe, taking out the lumber and cinderblocks that were damaged and, having put in a good day's work, wrapped the hole with plastic sheets and said, "we'll be back to fix it soon!"

September passed to October. November. December. January. February. I don't exactly remember how many months passed by, but by early spring I got disgusted. My brother was handy with that kind of stuff and out of work, so I suggested that the church hire him to finish the job. Otherwise, I suspect that hole might still be open to this day.

My Husband became a Pastor for the first time last summer. The Church is paying him $35,000 yearly salary and we live in a parsonage rent-free. In some ways the parsonage is a blessing. We didn't have any money, so we would have had nowhere to live. But, it can also be a lot of trouble. We have lately been receiving conflicting information. Before we ever moved in, a church member told us that we should think of the house as our own. He also added that he does not keep his pets inside the house, but if we would like to do so, that was fine as long as we fixed any damages caused by us and the animal. Well, that was about a year ago. My husband and I have two dogs, and we had gone out and adopted a third from a nearby shelter. She was wonderful, 2 years old, housetrained, slept in bed with us. Perfect. Well, a church member on the housing committee called us a day after we got her and asked how many dogs we had. Then, he told us that he had said before we moved in that we were not to have animals in the house. Heartbroken, we took the dog we had just gotten back to the animal shelter. We are keeping our other two dogs no matter what, but I don't understand why this church is giving us conflicting information. Also, there's a few areas in the house where the carpet seams are coming apart. I know that the church is supposed to take care of those things, but I'm too scared to tell them about it because I'm afraid they'll say it was from us or the dogs, even though the carpet was that way before we moved in. Living in a parsonage has definitely caused a lot of stress in our lives, and I believe it will continue to do so.