For years and years, churches have expected their pastors to offer the "two for one" package with the assumption that the pastor (always male) would have a wife who could freely volunteer her services full-time at the church.
Those days have long since passed. First, two-career families nibbled away at that model. Then the entrance of women into the role of Pastor-in-Charge shot a big hole through it. Few clergy families fit that mold now, and it is probably for the best.
When my husband, The Rev. J. Keith Cupples, and I first married, the church where he served in Wichita Falls simply didn't know what to make of me. They actually had a "two for one" before us, and assumed I would fill that role. But I had taken work at a seminary in Chicago, so was gone about three weeks out of four, and when I was present, didn't do the normal pastor wife thing. Somehow, they figured out a way to embrace and love me, and I give them great credit for their adaptability.
When I was first appointed here at the Krum Church, you had a pastor with an invisible husband, as he was appointed elsewhere. In the last year, he has made his presence known by his glorious singing voice ringing from the back of the worship center, and by his generous supply of doughnuts each week. Recently, he has also been helping with Sunday School, and many have benefited from his insights and wisdom.
As most of you know, my mother has suffered a catastrophic stroke and is now living in her house 50 miles from here. She is immobilized in a hospital bed, and needs round-the-clock care until the time comes when God calls her home. We do not know how long that will be, and we seek to celebrate the process, no matter how long it takes.
My brother, sister and I are all rearranging our lives in order to honor my mother's wishes that she be given the privilege of a gentle passing in her time and in her way. This means that I will need to spend a significant amount of time with her each week, as she cannot under any circumstances be left alone, and it also takes two of us to make sure she is turned every two hours to avoid bed sores.
So the question has arisen, "How to do this, and still serve as your pastor as appointed by the Bishop of the North Texas Conference to lead in areas of Word, Sacrament, Order and Service?"
An extended conversation with my District Superintendent opened the door to this temporary solution: take advantage of the "Two for One" that Keith and I bring to you. Ultimate responsibility for church governance, direction and policies remains with me as your appointed clergy person, working side by side with the Board of Stewards. I will continue to lead the New Worship Service Launch Team, work with LOGOS ministry, keep up the writing ministry, and meet with and advise administrative committees. Keith will pick up Sunday preaching responsibilities and pastoral care concerns.
This is a hard decision for me. I love our worship and it is a weekly privilege to spend those hours steeped in the Word of God and discerning the message that God has for us there. However, Keith has excellent preaching gifts, and by his taking that responsibility, I can be assured that worship times will not be shortchanged in any way.
This is also a short-term solution. All I can do is take this one day at a time, and see what happens.
Since all this began on August 13, 2010, I have been aware that I have been surrounded and supported by your prayers and your concern. Thank you. It is my earnest prayer now that, as you continue to offer that love and support, you also continue to be the powerful light of the grace of Jesus Christ to this community and the world beyond. We have much work to do, and many to reach. Let us continue to go forward.
With great love for all of you, and a heart of thankfulness that I get to serve here,
The Rev. Dr. Christy Thomas, Pastor