The posts in this series before discussed the rural part of my life here. Today I am going to discuss the pastor's wife part of my life here.
Ram has three churches. We are blessed that all three churches work together well. The churches rotate times so that someone does not always have to be late service. These are farmers that don't complain about having the early service! During the school year we go to the country church because they have Sunday School for our ages of our Lambs. During the summer I mainly go to the church next door so I save a little on gas during the summer. In the summer I also try to go to the church that is offering Holy Communion. If the other church is having something special or a potluck I go there. Sometimes it works that I can go to church next door and Sunday School out in the country. The churches combine to have one service for Lent, Holy Week, and Advent. This is nice because I am able to attend all the churches for these services.
I do try to attend as much as possible at our churches and circuit. We often go to the church dinner (fundraisers) for the other churches in our circuit. I know this gets to be expensive with a family, but I think it is important for the area church members to see the pastor and his family. These are small towns where everyone knows everyone and is probably related to them too. The Lambs love the extra attention and usually get seconds and/or second desserts at these. Of course we go to and try to help at the fundraisers for our own churches (as much as possible when Ram is the pastor with other services at the same time and I have 3 young boys by myself). When Ram does a circuit rotation for Lent, we go along. We have to hear the same sermon many times, but we get out to the other churches in the circuit. The Lambs shake hands at the door with Ram after services. We have attended almost all of the installations of the pastors that have been installed since we got here (which is all of the pastors in our circuit except for one). When a new pastor comes to our circuit, I try to take them a bag of groceries (mainly TP, paper towels, soap, etc. because we live so far from Walmart) and homemade bread and jam. We try to attend circuit pastor gatherings. Our circuit tries to hold them once in the summer and once during Epiphany. With the Lambs, I do not attend Ladies Aid each month, but we do try to go when they have something special and to their Christmas parties. (Yes, there are three churches so there are three Ladies Aids).
I was talking to a pastor's wife that had lived in her circuit for several years (longer than we've been here) and she still had not met all of the other pastor's wives in that circuit. She often attended circuit events with her children, but the other pastor's wives did not. We are the only pastor's family in our circuit that has children younger than high school age. Most of the pastors in this circuit have no children or no children at home any more. There is only one other pastor's wife in this circuit that does not work and she is extremely busy with activities at her church. Sometimes it is difficult for me to have a conversation with the other pastor's wives because I have so little in common with them. But I know their names and who they are and have a few chances each year to talk to them.
Ram has done about 45 funerals here in the last almost 8 years. I do not attend the funerals with the Lambs mainly because the churches are so small. I try to always offer to bring a cake or something even if is not my turn to serve. I try to take the Lambs to the funeral dinner, towards the end of the dinner. Then I know that the family has been served just in case they would run short on food. I also know that everyone will have more time to visit-both the family and our church members if we don't arrive right after the funeral. There have been times that I got to the dinner that they were almost out of food so I told the Lambs we were just visiting, not eating. Other times they have plenty so the Lambs have an extra piece of cake. After we eat and visit then I often have the Lambs help clean up-carry dishes to the kitchen etc. After they clean up a little then Ram will often take them home and I'll stay and help with dishes. It has only been recently that our Lambs were old enough to do this. I got out of doing dishes for about the first 5 years of living here because the Lambs were just too young for me to help.
When one of the churches is serving food either potluck or serving after Advent or Lent services etc., I try to bring something or at least offer to bring something. I know this is not required, but I feel that this is something that I am able to do with the young Lambs. There are many things at church that I am unable to do with young Lambs. I know that this could get expensive to always bring something. I buy cake mixes when they are on sale and plan for this though.
The first couple of years we were here we tried to have an Epiphany open house party for our members. Some that came said they had never been inside the parsonage while a pastor was living in it. The first year we had great attendance. The second year the weather wasn't good and only a few came. Because of weather and our young Lambs we did not have a party after that. I would like to plan a get together where all our members were invited some time in the summer when we wouldn't have to worry about the weather-maybe a Christmas in July party. I've thought of this but never done it.
I try to send cards to our church members. I recently had the Lambs make Valentines for most of our members (shut ins too) for one of our churches of our tri-parish. I hope to do a different church next year. It took them a long time to make that many Valentines. It took me a long time to get all 3 organized in envelopes for everyone. The members loved to receive homemade Valentines. They loved to be thought of and remembered at Valentine's Day. When I know when their birthday is, I try to send a card or have the Lambs make cards some times. I try to send get well cards and sympathy cards too. Sometimes Ram delivers these, sometimes we take them to church, and sometimes I mail them. I don't get the cards sent every time, but I try. I feel this is also something that the Lambs and I can do while they are young. We have such small churches that most of the members are adopted grandparents to our boys. The majority of our church members are age 65 and over. I don't have a lot in common with them because I am so much younger and I came from a big city and I haven't lived here for my whole life. They are all very nice and I enjoy the times that I do have to talk to them when I'm not interrupted by Lambs.
I know that if you live rural there may be many factors that you can not do what I listed here in your circuit and your church/es. Your circuit may be too far away. Your children may be too little. You may not be able to add one more thing to your already busy schedule. You may do different things at your church/es than I do. I hope that by listing this I don't make you feel guilty for not doing some of the things we do. I did want to post about this though. I like to get ideas from other pastor's wives of what I can do while I have young Lambs and I live rural. Some of the things I do I know I could never do if we were at a larger church or in a bigger city. I do want to encourage you to try to be involved in your churches and circuit.
What do you do at your rural churches?
Check back tomorrow for some more about being a rural pastor's wife.