I am a part-time associate pastor at a mid-sized church. I'm currently 11 weeks pregnant, and hope to schedule a meeting with the senior pastor, the congregation president, and the chair of the personnel committee to tell them about my pregnancy after my first ultrasound, which is coming up in about 10 days. I mentioned to all of them earlier this year, in confidence, that my husband and I were hoping to have a baby, so I don't think the news is going to come as a complete surprise; in fact, I know the personnel chair has even been giving some thought to maternity leave arrangements.
My question is, how is the news of an associate pastor's pregnancy usually announced to the rest of the congregation? Is this something that gets announced on Sunday morning, or does the news spread more organically? If I were a solo pastor I could see sending out a letter to the congregation, letting them know how my maternity leave would be handled, but I'm not sure that is necessary in my case (especially since most of my duties relate to education programming and my leave will fall over the less-active summer months).
Ruth, who blogs at Sunday's Coming, writes:
It’s hard to know what’s ‘usual’ isn’t it – but maybe it helps to hear how it might work – how it has worked for someone else. First of all let me make it clear I am a ‘splurger’ - of course there are times when I can be sensible, measured, and can keep confidences, but when it comes to my ‘stuff’ - especially if it’s good news, I would rather blurt it out to the whole world and have done with it.
I had been in my first church just 3 months when I found out I was pregnant, but since I had made it clear to them that this was my hope... I just couldn’t wait to share the good news. They were great – my daughter was looked for and longed for by the whole congregation, and then goo-ed over and chuckled under the chin by a whole host of new grandmas and grandads: it never occurred to me to do anything other than share with the whole congregation what was happening – when she was due, how I was feeling (especially when I felt sick in early stages, or suffered from short-term memory loss which once made me forget we’d changed the time of the service...), when my maternity leave would start & finish, etc, etc.
I was really fortunate – they were a wonderful group of people and I never had a moment’s hesitation in wanting to share this wonderful event with them. I think this meant they never resented time I spent with my daughter, or changes of plan if she was ill, or the requests I made for baby-sitters.
My advice would be to tell them all as much as you feel comfortable sharing – in a ‘proper’ announcement, so they all know they’re meant to know, and share in it. I hope you are blessed with joy as we were: even now some folk remember the prayers I led at the Christmas service with my baby asleep in my arms...what words could I use to better reveal love incarnate? God bless you.
RevHoney, who sometimes blogs at Somewhere South of Somewhere, offers:
When I was pregnant and in a similar team setting as yours, we found that publishing the good news in the monthly newsletter was the best way for us. I was most comfortable waiting until into the 2nd trimester to make the announcement, and when we had reached that point, I simply shared the news in my monthly column. I didn’t go into detail about maternity leave, but left that for the Personnel team to share with the congregation through the newsletter as the blessed date drew near.
Wishing you health and joy+What about others of you? How have you handled this kind of announcement? In my setting, where my husband and I pastor together, we announced at the end of a worship service one Sunday; that felt appropriate, and it was very happily received. No matter how happy congregants may be about the news of the pregnancy, there may still be anxiety about how duties may be handled while you're on leave. Because of this, I think it's important that those arrangements be communicated clearly to the congregation. I think RevHoney is right on with letting the Personnel team (or Pastor Relations Committee, or whatever body oversees issues like maternity leave) communicate with the congregation about leave arrangements.
What have others of you done, or what thoughts do you have?
As always, questions for the matriarchs can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org