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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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There was always a cake

The changing role of the pastor's spouse

Fifty years ago hiring a pastor was pretty much a package deal—the wife and kids were included. And the house they occupied—usually the parsonage next door—became an extension of the church.

The pastor’s wife kept the home “company ready” and was able to stretch the evening meal to include everyone from the down-and-out to distinguished visitors.

Of the parsonage years with her parents and siblings, Lynn Krog, a member of Faith Lutheran Church, Seattle, said: “I loved it that there were always people in and out of our house. There was always a cake so there was something to offer. And a pot of coffee was ready.”

Besides being hospitable and taking care of the house and children while her husband was out making calls or at meetings, the pastor’s wife was expected to attend church activities, teach Sunday school or vacation Bible school, join the circles and altar guild, direct a choir and bring hot dishes whenever needed.

“In former times many congregations had a virtual associate pastor without the extra cost,” said Ralph D. Stilwell, pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, Gilbert, S.C., and one of several to respond to The Lutheran’s reader call about the changing role of the pastor’s spouse.

Many wives willingly accepted this role.


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April issue

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Faith traditions

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