Living in the Parsonage
by Rev. Frank Schaefer
the pastor lives can be one of the most sensitive issues in the
parish. Whether called parsonage, rectory, or manse, historically most
churches provided a living space for their pastors.
Over the past few
decades this has been changing. It is becoming more common and
accepted for a minister to live in their own home.
As with everything
there are pros and cons for each living situation. Here are a few:
It takes at
least five years to amortize a home. In other words,
after five years the value of a home will have increased enough to get
back the amount you spent in terms of home cost, realtor and financing
expenses. One could perceivable make losses.
living--no electric, maintenance, or fuel bills to worry about (also:
often a housing allowance that is granted instead of the free parsonage
does not cover all of the housing expenses).
Privacy--especially as compared to living in a parsonage that is near or
attached to the church building (many pastor's in these situations feel
bothered by frequent, unannounced visits and requests to unlock the
Less points of
tension with the congregation (the condition of the manse is often a point
of living--remodeling and modifying one's own home is much easier than
getting the board to approve a change (often parsonages are kept in
neutral color and design themes like "parsonage" beige carpets, walls, and
build equity. Typically after 30 years, an mortgaged home is paid
off which means more security, and better living comfort in retirement.
There may be
certain tax advantages to owning a home.
Real Life Funny
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 humorous to
I think the issue of pets could also be a
pro-housing allowance argument, as some churches have a no-pet policy for their
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.... [read