For the past few months I’ve been working on a post to churches who care for parsonages¬†(parsonagi?). I have no idea if I’ll ever publish it. I have 266 posts in draft so I’m not sure what the odds are.

But I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Do you, have you, will you ever live in a parsonage?

What’s your experience?

Does your church still provide a parsonage for the pastor? Do you have a friend or family member who lives in a parsonage?

Parsonage living. Inquiring minds want to know…

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  1. As as Methodist pastor’s daughter, I have lived in many a parsonage. Some of them have been great – others not so much. The current one my family lives in is HUGE but outdated. Now that they are moving (in June), the church is finally fixing some things. I think it is a great thing for a church to provide a home for it’s pastor and their families. Many times, the pay isn’t so great so a “free” home is great benefit.
    This being said, one of the downfalls of parsonage living is that many pieces of furniture have been donated by a saintly church member. You can’t just get rid of it. Most of the time, this furniture is ugly, very outdated, and uncomfortable. These usually reside in the formal living room of the parsonage. As a child, these rooms were not something that we went into often.
    Another issue is that if you want to change anything, you have to go through Congress (i.e. church committees) to get anything done. Huge ordeal!
    Overall, parsonage living isn’t terrible. My dad is retiring this summer after 37 years in the ministry. He and my step-mom are moving into their very first purchased home and are super excited about it.

  2. I’ve lived in parsonages for the last seven years. My husband is a Southern Baptist pastor. The first parsonage we lived in matched the hearts of some of the people we served, difficult. The home had been put together haphazardly, and had some holes that made it easy for mice and snakes to find their way in. We were told there would be fresh paint on the walls when we got there, but unfortunately, that was not the case. We bought all our fresh paint ourselves. There was plenty of light on the front side of the home because of all the windows there, and it really did feel like a fishbowl. We had train tracks at the back of the property, and our daughter would always wake up when a train came through, her heart pounding. Our washer and dryer were outside in a building that leaked. Challenging…but God delivers!

    When my husband was called to our current church almost five years ago, they were eager to have a family once again living in the parsonage they build in 1989. That pastor had requested a new home be built, but then he only lived in it less than a year. The next pastor lived in it also very briefly because his wife wanted to be in her own home. And this is a great house! It does reflect the hearts of our congregation – warm and inviting! They updated all the kitchen appliances, all the floors throughout the home, painted all the walls fresh and clean, installed a fence in our backyard, and took out redbushes that my husband is allergic to. It’s still ours to do as we wish, so we’ve painted rooms various colors, had a church member pull bushes out of the front yard, and I’ve flower gardened while my husband has a huge vegetable garden every year. It’s not perfect: we have a tiny kitchen, and three small bedrooms (we’re expecting our fifth child), but our congregation will see to our needs. We also don’t have windows on one end of the house (the end that faces the church), but that’s because when the church built the house, they wanted to provide privacy for the pastor’s family!

    As far as finances are concerned, I think it can be a wise decision for a pastor and his family to live in parsonages. We are able to save a house payment every month so that when the day comes, we can buy our own home. In the meantime, someone else handles the expenses of home ownership, like when the air conditioner needs work. As far as building equity is concerned, many pastors buy homes to rent out.

    I’m excited to see you write about parsonage decor!

  3. My husband is a pastor and we do not live in a parsonage. We are provided a housing allowance and can live wherever we like. I think I prefer it that way.

  4. My father is a Southern Baptist pastor, and we grew up in parsonages in my 90′s childhood.
    I remember church members visiting frequently because they thought of it as ‘their’ house. I also recall my mom feeling somewhat obligated to host an open-house party at Christmas, almost as an informal annual inspection under the ruse of holiday festivities.
    I remember takeout pizza because the committees took forever to negotiate the replacement of our oven when it stopped working, and deacons standing on top of my parent’s bed, trying to patch a hole in the ceiling on a very stormy night.
    I remember unkind comments when my dad didn’t cut the grass as quickly as it grew.
    I remember how elated my mother was, the first time they owned their house, because she could paint all the walls whatever color she wanted. She still has every room painted a different bold color.
    I, too, remember moving in around hand-me-down furniture from well-meaning churchgoers (some of it admittedly beautiful). I remember a garage always full of donations stored for next year’s church’s annual charity yard sale.
    I remember having to ask if we could have a dog.
    I remember my mother kneeling at the air vents pulling out toys the previous PKs had ‘deposited’ into their secret vault. I remember hearing that the church ladies had gone into the home to clean after we moved out, and that they’d been moved to tears because there was nothing to clean, nothing left but the scent of my mother’s candles and lemon pledge and their heartbreak that we were gone.
    I remember young couples knocking at the door at odd times, asking for the preacher to marry them.
    I remember others knocking to ask for help with their utility bill.
    I remember being grateful for a home to live in, and being annoyed at the intrusion, and being lost when we were in between churches. I remember warmth and happiness, and conflict and it never belonging to us.
    I can’t wait to read your post.

  5. Cat Spicer says:

    Hi there! I am currently living in an old parsonage. My hubby and I purchased it from a local church 7 years ago. We live in a rural area and with declining parish sizes, two churches combined congregations several years ago (long before I moved to the area). Each church had a parsonage but with only one pastor serving both parishes, the need for both just wasn’t there. Part of the purchase provision was that we had to move the parsonage to a different location.

    In typical small town fashion, it became the talk of the town. On moving day, residents set up their lawn chairs and watched the house slowly move across town. The event was plastered on the front page of the newspaper and when I identify myself (an outsider who married into the town) as the homeowner, I experience near celebrity status.

    The home is a typical 1940s brick 2 story with lots of lovely touches (hardwood floors throughout, glass doorknobs, arched room dividers and some more outdated things we consider our special quirks.

    The parsonage belonged to a Lutheran church and my hubby and I belong to the Catholic church in town. I feel blessed knowing how many godly people have spent time within the walls of my home and I’m sure that 50 years from now, we will still be known as the ‘church house’. We have one pizza delivery place in town and whenever they are confused as to our address, we just tell them it’s the church house. Pizza arrives piping hot every time. :)

  6. Growing up, my dad was a pastor and we lived in parsonages. That was just the way it was. Having decorating ideas would have been fabulous. It’s a lot like living in a rental in some ways. I married a military guy and lived in base housing for over 20 years – again a lot like living in a rental. There is only so much you can change. I’m finally in a home we have purchased. Now I find myself afraid of changing things because I will live in this house a long time. Funny how perspective changes. :)

  7. We’ve been in ministry for over 17 years now, and have yet to live in a parsonage. We’ve owned for the last 13 years–4 different houses! Ministry being the somewhat transient profession that it is we always buy with an eye to re-sale, and decorate with that in mind, too. So–while we don’t live in a church-owned parsonage there is a sense that this may not be home for a long time. I enjoy my house, though, and learn new things with each one.

  8. Samantha says:

    I currently live in a rectory (same as parsonage) with my husband and children. We are on church property which can be a blessing and a curse. For the most part, I find it a blessing. Our parishioners are great about giving us as much privacy as possible. They never ask to come inside although sometimes we invite them. Things are generally fixed promptly, although not always the way I would choose. I would love a new refrigerator but have been reluctant to ask. But I know that it is such a blessing to have a place for our family that is close enough that my husband can be home for most meals yet close enough should he be needed for something. Our yard is taken care of as part of the church grounds and that is a wonderful thing! We desperately need more storage, but we are dealing with that. I am just ever so thankful that before we moved in the carpet was removed, hardwood refinished, and paneling painted. That makes everything more livable. Feel free to contact me if I can help. I think it’s a great idea for a post because people who are members of churches with parsonages need to know about them as much as those of us who live in them do. They need to know ways they can bless their clergy families and not be a stumbling block to them.

  9. My husband is a bi-vocational Pastor. We live in the parsonage. The church used to have two parsonages, but have sold one off. This is the nicest house we have ever lived in. People from the church have a hard time believing that…but my husband has not made much money in years past, so we’ve always lived in run down houses-so we are grateful. The church is great about most repairs. Some things they’ve let go. The house is my husband’s pay, we make no other money from the job. As far as decorating, the home reflects more of the people we minister to than us. We have groups that meet here so things need to be a certain way and always clean-easier said than done with our family, but we are learning lessons along the way. I think that I just feel so blessed to be in a decent house that I don’t think much about what I want. Either that or we are too busy, haha:) Every once in a while I put a little personal touch in a room or two. Would love some posts directly dealing with parsonages. Thanks!

  10. Patti-Ann says:

    That is a very good question. I have absolutely no idea where the Priest lived! Still have no clue :)

  11. I grew up attending an Anglican church in Western Australia. I remember the priest and his lovely wife lived in the rectory or parsonage on the same site as the church. It was an old 1970′s style building which has not changed much since. The wife of the priest was a wonderful lady, the heart and soul of the church, and looked after her elderly father who lived with them until he died. You could visit the office which was next to the rectory at most times of the day, for help. One year the new minister decided to rent a house somewhere separate from the church, but most of the time the rectory is the home of the priest still. There is a new priest moving into the rectory this week. My mum still attends the church, and so I hear about what is going on still.

  12. Krista Ruark says:

    Our first parsonage was a cute little house that sat beside the church. The first week after we moved into it, my husband, wearing his underwear opened the bedroom door to find a teenager standing two feet in front of him, using the phone in the kitchen. The church didn’t have a phone, so our home was apparently open for anyone’s use.
    We often smelled gas in the home, and especially in the bathroom inset gas stove that we found out later was illegal. My husband crawled under the house and found that the old gas pipes had attachments that weren’t designed for the purpose of delivering gas to the stoves and were leaking in several places. My husband tore it all out on his own, we removed all the gas heaters in each room, and plugged up all the holes going into the house. The house had a heat pump that wasn’t sufficient until we discovered it only had one tape, so we had that fixed.
    After we moved in, one of the women from the church came over with plants and told me exactly where I was supposed to plant them outside.
    There were some very dear people at our first pastorate, but we found out later that the church had a reputation as a “pastor eating church.” As a previous writer said, “the parsonage reflects the heart of the people.” We found this to be true, but also saw God’s hand in our experience there as we were prepared to go to the mission field.

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