How long does it take before watching the live stream of Call Night before you no longer have a very vivid flashback to your husband’s Call Night? The intense feeling of nervousness was still plenty strong tonight even though we’re 3 years out.
Parsonage horror stories are passed around during the seminary years. Most of the time you don’t hear them from someone who actually experienced it. In stead, the story usually starts with, “I know of a pastor who lived in a parsonage. . .” and then goes on to tell a terrible tale about a run-down house where every congregation member had a key and the church council would hold their meetings at 5 a.m. in the parsonage’s living room.
Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit. But many of these parsonage tales convince skittish seminary families that they never, ever want to live in a parsonage.
Thankfully, many seminary families live in homes owned by the church on vicarage. Often these families come out of vicarage having a good experience in their homes. Likewise, the majority of experienced pastor’s families have mostly positive things to say about living in parsonages.
This is the second parsonage my husband and I have lived in (well, technically the house on vicarage wasn’t a parsonage because a pastor never lived there, but it was the same idea). So far we’ve had a good experience living in a parsonage for several reasons:
1. We don’t have to worry about finding housing: Moving for vicarage or a call is generally a whirlwind. With only a couple of months to pack up and move, there is very little time to find housing. If there isn’t a parsonage, either the family has to quickly buy a house with very little knowledge of the area or they have to rent a place knowing that there is another move if they decide to buy a house. Likewise, the pastor’s family doesn’t have to worry about selling a house should he accept a different call.
2. We don’t have to pay for major renovations and repairs: Since the church owns the house, they take on the responsibility of keeping it livable. Admittedly, sometimes this can be a frustration when the pastor’s family is hoping for an immediate repair or change because it takes time to get approval from the right committees. However, when something like the septic system backing up occurs, the church will cover the cost.
Sometimes the church will even pay for an improvement that you weren’t expecting. For example, the dishwasher was a bit aged when we moved into our current parsonage. My husband and I weren’t complaining because we were thrilled to have any mechanical dishwasher after hand-washing dishes for 3 years. However, our trustee decided that the dishwasher wasn’t working well enough and had it replaced. It’s the nicest dishwasher I’ve ever had in my home.
3. We can embrace our home with, “We’ll make it work.”: This may sound like a backhanded compliment, but I promise it’s not. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to shopping–that’s probably why I hate it so much. I’m always convinced that there is a product that is a little bit better quality for a little bit better price and I MUST FIND IT!! That’s why I do things like search 20 minutes on Amazon for the perfect pair of socks for Babykins (Seriously, self, it’s just a pair of socks!). Can you imagine how I would be if I had to buy a house? Be given a house is a relief to my perfectionist tendencies. Instead of searching for the nonexistent perfect house, we can look at our home and say, “There are some great things and not-so-great things. We’ll make it work!”
Credit where credit is due: My sister-in-law, who grew up in teacherages and lived in a parsonage, introduced me to this mentality. 🙂
4. The members feel a connection to the house: Admittedly, this is a little bit harder fro me to embrace, but congregation members often like being able to care for their pastor in a tangible way. Helping with his home is an easy way for them to do this.
Of course, there are some disadvantages to living in a parsonage, but there are disadvantages to any housing situation. Overall, I would say our experiences with parsonages have been positive and I’m very thankful for the homes our congregations have provided for us.
Back in 2012, my husband and I made a list of things we hoped to have and do after he was done with seminary. Not that our happiness is tied to getting specific items and having certain experiences, it was just nice to have goals when we were living as poor students and uprooting every year. And now it’s fun to look back at our goals and see what we’ve accomplished in 3 years!
It’s a big week for both LC-MS seminaries–Vicarage Placements and Call Nights are here!
That means it’s been a year since I anxiously waited to hear where God was calling my husband. Life looks drastically different for us now than it did then. We faced so many unknowns: What sort of church would we go to? What would life be like with our unborn child? Where would we live? How far would we be from family? Would we have to buy our own home?
Now we have significantly less known unknowns (because despite our best laid plans, we never fully know what life holds in store for us). Babykins made her grand entrance 7 months ago. We are slowly settling into our life in a small town and looking forward to having more than a year to adjust. Best of all, we never again have to go through the drama that is known as Call Night–a.k.a. The night you receive life-altering news during a church service in front of a couple hundred people.
Instead, I’ll watch this year’s service online and excitedly/nervously wait to hear where God is calling dear friends. Prayers for peace for all of you awaiting placements and calls!
Click here for more information about watching Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne’s Vicarage Placement and Call services.
Click here for more information about watching Concordia Seminary St. Louis’s Vicarage Placement and Call services.
About a year and a half ago, I wrote our wish-list of things we would like to have/do after my husband was done with seminary. Since my husband is now done with seminary and we are waiting to load up the trailer to start our new life soon, I started thinking about this list. Much to my surprise, we’ve already crossed some of our post-seminary aspirations off our list.
At the beginning of this school year, I realized that I really shouldn’t put off thinking about getting my husband an ordination stole. So one day in September, I set out to plan how to make sure my husband had a decent red stole for his ordination. I immediately became confused and overwhelmed.
For the past 3 years, I heard wives talk about making their husband’s ordination stole for a gift. This plan wouldn’t work for me because I don’t know how to sew (nor did I think learning to sew with my husband’s ordination stole was a good idea). My next thought was to see about getting a nice custom made stole. However, those options proved to be quite pricey. My third thought was to ask my mom to make one. I tried to find a good sewing pattern for a stole, but I can’t recognize a good pattern from a bad one because, well, I don’t know how to sew. I never got around to asking my mom about making a stole.
Months passed and soon it was April. One night, I had a “Holy-crap-you’re-getting-a-call-and-we-have-so-much-to-do” fit and I finally admitted to my husband that I had no idea how to get an ordination stole for him. My husband, being the rational person that he is, explained to me that he never expected me to make him a stole. He then asked if I wanted him to figure out the stole. I told him, “Yes.”
So, my husband set out to find himself an ordination stole.
Thankfully, one of my husband’s classmates had assumed that he would need to buy his own stoles for his first call (something that had never occurred to me) and had already searched for inexpensive stoles. He pointed my husband to this website: http://catholicliturgicals.com/stoles.php.
The site was the perfect solution to my husband’s stole issue. Even though the site is designed for Catholics, some of the stoles were basic enough seem Lutheran. Even better, the stoles were inexpensive. And it turned out that the church that called my husband didn’t have stoles, so he needed to buy a set anyway. Consequently, he was able to purchase a very basic set for less than $100. Are the stoles the fanciest things you’ll ever see? No. Will the work well for a new pastor just starting his first call? Absolutely yes!
Of course, now I need to think of a new gift for his ordination. . .
Where have pastors you know gotten stoles? If you are a pastor’s wife, what did you get your husband for his ordination?
The last few weeks have been busy for my husband and me–hence the lack of posts. There have been 4th-year banquets, lots of scurrying to prepare for our new lives in Iowa, and a seemingly futile attempt to continue our normal duties of our present lives. All of this makes it a bit hard to focus.
At any rate, there are several countdowns running for us:
3 days until graduation
5ish weeks until we move
6ish weeks until my husband is ordained/installed
19ish weeks until Baby arrives
Of course, all these countdowns lead to many checklists:
Checklists for the graduation party
Checklists for packing and moving
Checklists for what we need to discuss with the congregation
Checklists for baby preparations
Then all those checklists lead to concerns and worries, like:
Oh crap, we’re having a party on Saturday! How will we get everything ready?!
How do you move with cats?
How do you move when you’re 26 weeks pregnant?
What will this new church be like?
What if the people don’t like my husband? What if the people don’t like me? What if I don’t like them?
How do you find a new doctor when your current insurance expires at the end of June and you’re not sure what your new insurance covers?
How are we supposed to take care of a baby when we can’t even put up a Pack ‘n Play?
On the bright side, my nausea has fully subsided, so I can eat chocolate and drink coffee to make myself feel better. And if you tell me I shouldn’t eat and drink those things because I’m pregnant, I’ll come and eat you. So there.
April 30 was Call Night (sorry it’s taken me so long to update–life has been a little busy since that night). After months of anticipation and prayer, found out that my husband has been called to a church in northern Iowa.
All this Hawkeye can say to that is . . . WHOOHOO! Really, returning to Iowa has been my dream throughout the seminary years.
Anyway, my husband and I have fielded many questions over the last few days about his call, so I thought I would answer the most common ones here:
1. What is the church like? The church is on the smaller size of average with 250 baptized members and about 90 people worshiping weekly. We’ve been told that the congregation uses the liturgies from Lutheran Service Book (yay!).
2. What is the town like? The town population is just over 1600 people, so small (although not as small as some towns that our friends are moving to). However, a bigger city–well, Iowa big–is about 15 miles away. Stores like Target, Kohl’s, and Hy-Vee (the regional grocery store) are about 20 minutes away. The town itself has a school, post office, library, and the local grocery store.
Oh, yes, there are about 5 other churches in town. I’m not sure what the bar situation is like
3. What type of housing do you have? Parsonage, yay! I don’t know much about the house itself, other than it has 2 bedrooms with a potential 3rd bedroom in the basement and is about .5 miles from the church.
4. How close are you to family? We are 1.5 hours from my father-in-law and 2.5 hours from my parents, siblings, and one of my sisters-in-law and her husband. For those of you wondering, we are pleased to be close to family. We also have many friends within that radius as well.
5. When will you move? Not immediately. I’m currently still working and my husband won’t actually graduate for another 2 weeks (yes, he does actually have to finish his classes). Likewise, the current pastor won’t retire until the end of June. Consequently, we’re tentatively thinking of moving at the end of June and having my husband’s ordination/installation sometime in the first couple of weeks in July.
6. What will you do after you move? Well, I’m retiring from my nanny career to become a stay-at-home mom. Granted, I’ll have a few months to kill before Baby arrives, but right now I’m looking forward to some downtime. Work has kept me fairly buys this year, so I have a bunch of little projects that I’ve put aside until I had more time. One of those projects is learning how to birth a baby–rumor has it that stork doesn’t actually give you a baby. o.O I’ve also recently started writing some articles for a website, so I would like to continue with that work even after Baby comes.
There’s no hiding from it now. . .
With only 6 days remaining until Call Night, it’s impossible to put it to the back of my mind. Sunday is what I’m declaring the “Call Vigil”. It’s the day that the placement director will make the dreaded phone calls to the candidates who won’t have a call on Wednesday night.*
After we get through Sunday, we’ll know for sure that my husband will have a call. But where that call will be. . . we’ll find out sometime after 7 p.m. Wednesday night.
*Rumor has it that there are more calls than candidates this year–a good sign for a happy Call Night. Still, it’s hard to keep the “What ifs” at bay.
Tomorrow is a big day. It’s the day we flip the calendar over to the same month that Call Night is on! That means we get to spend four weeks staring at my large reminder written on April 30. In all honesty, I’m more freaking out about taxes right now than Call Night. I really dropped the ball on them this year. *hangs head in shame*
Anyway, as the big night approaches, my husband and I are starting to get more and more questions about his call. This makes sense because most people wouldn’t know much about the call process in seminary unless they have gone through seminary themselves. Consequently, I’ve compiled a list of FAQs about call. Please keep in mind that while I try to accurately answer the questions, I am not a call process guru. I’m just answering the questions with the information I have. Sometimes there are situations that lead to the call process being different for other men.
1. How does your husband find a call?
My husband and any other seminarian generally don’t find calls for themselves. They don’t create a resume and send it out to churches, they don’t give a list of churches they would like to work at to the seminary. Candidates go through a process that started way back in September. They fill out a call application (with their wife if they have one) and they submit their SET form (a form that asks them to answer a bunch of different questions about how they view aspects of the ministry). Likewise, candidates and their wife/fiancee (again, if they have one) will go to a call interview where they discuss in great detail the information on the call application with the placement director. Also, candidates will undergo a Theological Interview (TI) to make sure no one slips through spewing blatant heresies. After all that is completed, then the wait begins.
On the other side of the call–the congregation waiting for a pastor–they submit a request for a call candidate to the seminary. This happens over the course of many, many months. The placement directors at both seminaries will work on slotting their candidates with churches requesting a candidate. Eventually there are meetings with the placement directors and District Presidents (DPs) to place all the candidates with a congregation. Ideally, at the end of these meetings everyone is happy and there will be much rejoicing. Yay.
2. When do you find out where you are going?
Someone’s cruel sense of drama has prevailed over the years so that the wonderful tradition of Call Night remains. Rather than telling candidates in private before the service (and I’m not even talking about weeks in advance, I get why they can’t do that), the candidates and their families find out at the exact same moment that rest of the world finds out: During the service.
That means I get to sit through the full service (which always seems to have the world’s longest sermon), wait for my husband’s name to be announced, and then process how I feel about going to Small Town, Nebraska besides hundreds of strangers. I can’t wait.
3. What if there aren’t enough calls for all the candidates?
This is a scary one. Back in 2010, a sizable chunk of the class didn’t have calls on Call Night. It was a difficult evening. The good news was that the majority of candidates received calls before the summer ended. Still, waiting for a call after Call Night is a hard limbo to be in.
This year we’ve been told that there are enough calls to go around. That doesn’t mean that every candidate will receive a call. Sometimes students have extenuating circumstances that requires a specific set of criteria for their calling congregation. If there isn’t a church that meets their needs, they’ll have to wait. However, because my husband and I don’t have any extenuating circumstances, I’m trying to stay optimistic that there is a call for my husband.
4. Are there any interviews with congregations?
Yes, congregations calling and associate/assistant pastor are allowed to interview candidates. The idea behind this is that the congregation would like to know if the candidate would be a good fit with the senior pastor.
Of course, then there is this crazy rule called the Rule of Mulligan where one congregation from each district that is calling a sole pastor can interview candidates. Don’t ask me why they made this rule.
5. When will your husband start his call?
Not right away, that’s for sure. He still has to graduate! Likewise, because it takes some time for the seminary to compile the last quarter’s grades and officially give out the diploma, candidates are strongly encouraged to wait until mid-June before getting ordained and installed. How awkward would it be for everyone if a pastor was told 3 weeks after his installation that he was 3 credits shy of actually graduating.
Most candidates are ordained and installed between mid-June and late July.
6. Do you have any say in where you go?
A little bit. We are able to list our preferences of location, church size, etc. on the call application. The placement director keeps those in mind during his slotting. However, preferences do not make reality.
7. How long will you stay at your first call?
Forever and ever. At least that’s how we are supposed to look at it.
The LC-MS doesn’t have a length of call like some denominations do. We aren’t told that in 6-7 years we’ll move to another church. Consequently, we could be at our first call for 3 years, we could stay there a lifetime. Regardless of what God’s plans for the future are, we are supposed to have the attitude that we’ll stay with that church our entire life. It’s not fair to a congregation to view them as a stepping stone.
8. What sort of housing will you have?
We won’t know until Call Night. Some churches have a parsonage, others don’t. If there isn’t a parsonage, the church will give us a housing allowance and we will have to find our own housing. This means either renting or buying a house. My husband and I said on our call application that we were fine with a parsonage or finding our own housing, that means it really could go either way.
9. What is your role in all this?
Really, I don’t have to do much. I helped fill out the call application and I went to the call interview. Other than that, I just have to make sure I don’t do anything too outrageous that pisses someone off. Okay, let’s face it, I probably have pissed someone off because I have a blog. Or because I said “piss” on my blog. Okay, I have to make sure that I don’t do anything too outrageous that pisses the wrong people off. I think I’ve managed to do that so far. Yay, me!
Do you have any more questions about the call process? Or have you gone through the call processes yourself and found people asking you other questions consistently?