The Clergy Spouse


 By Erin Hicks, Special to The Circuit Rider

Erin Hicks and her mother, Lisa 
Thirty-eight years ago, my mother Lisa was a nursing student at Emory in Atlanta when she was assigned a maternity patient named Nancy Creel. Nancy was the wife of a Candler Seminary student and at Emory they had their first child. Soon after, Nancy and her husband Larry moved to Mississippi to start serving.
Five years later, my mother sent Nancy a letter telling her that she was marrying a Methodist minister and moving to Mississippi. Now, 38 years later, the two are best friends and have an amazing group of clergy spouses whom they can rely on. 
Clergy spouses are special. First, they're willing to marry a pastor. Secondly, if that pastor is an elder, they enter into a marriage not ever knowing where they may be living in a year. This moving around can make it hard to build and foster friendships.
Growing up the daughter of a preacher, I have been able to see all that my father does. I have also seen all that my mother has done.
The work of clergy spouses often goes unnoticed. Some church members might view them as free volunteers who should always be willing to do whatever is asked of them with a smile on their face. But clergy spouses are more than just free volunteers.
For the pastor, their spouse is a refuge and much needed support system. These two have to rebuild their communities with each move.
So why does a clergy spouse continue to do and continue to move?
Personally, I think it has to do with more than just love for that spouse. I believe it also has to do with a love for God and a willingness to serve God at wherever church their spouse is serving at the moment.
For the new clergy spouses out there, I encourage you to do as my mother has done over the years, and find fellow clergy spouses to learn from and support you. They know what you are going through and they will be a support system for you.
Some questions for churches to consider:
  • When was the last time the spouse was thanked for what they do and contribute to the life of the church?
  • How can we better support our clergy spouse?
  • How can we support our pastor's marriage in a way that isn't prying?

Mississippi Conference Clergy Spouse Retreat 


The Mississippi Conference Clergy Spouse Retreat will be held in Pearl at the Holiday Inn at Trustmark, October 11-12, 2013. The cost is $100 per person (double occupancy). This includes

Rev. Drs. Joey and Connie Shelton 

room, dinner on Friday night, and breakfast on Saturday morning. Rates are based on a double occupancy in the hotel with a roommate with conference registration. You may request a specific roommate or ask to be paired with one by the organizers. Single room rate, for those joined by a spouse or someone not registered with conference, is $150. Registration will be from 3:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. on Friday, with dinner beginning at 6:00 p.m.


Guest speakers for the retreat will be the Rev. Drs. Joey and Connie Shelton. Joey is the senior pastor of Galloway UMC in Jackson. Connie is the director of Connectional Ministries for the Mississippi Conference. The retreat will end around lunch time on Saturday.


More information about registration is on the clergy spouse's websiteSend registration and payment to Debbie Criddle, P. O. Box 147, Amory, MS 38821. You may contact her by phone at 662-601-3510, or by e-mail at

Registration deadline is September 25. There are some scholarships available for first-time attendees or retirees. You may contact Criddle for details.