This week we hear from a pastor doing good work on her personal life and trying to do it right with the congregation, too:
A concerned fiancée and pastor
Our matriarchs are concerned for you as much as for what you tell your congregation. Read on.
Dear Smart Fiancee and Pastor,
I applaud your wisdom in knowing that you need to take the time to work on issues before you get married. Not everyone is willing to do that for fear of the consequences and the chatter that will inevitably happen.
My inclination at this point would be to write a letter to the congregation which would be sent by regular mail. I would thank them for their previous support. Tell them that the two of you have decided to postpone your wedding at this time. Ask for their prayers and remind them that this is a deeply personal issue and you know that they will respect your privacy at this time. (You might tell them if you are receiving pastoral care and counsel, but even that detail is simply none of their business. However it might lessen their fussing over you.)
If someone asks questions, stick with the same strategy: thank them for caring, ask for prayers and shut it down. You don't owe them any more explanation than that. You deserve to have the space you need around this issue.
God's blessings on these coming weeks and months.
Heidi aka RevHRod
Dear Concerned F and P,
First, how wise of you to hold off until you feel more certain. You have my prayers as you navigate this shoreline and decide whether to land or not.
Where the congregation is concerned, keep it simple. "We are postponing the wedding. I will let you know when there is more calendar information to share. I will/will not (whichever suits you best) be taking the time off in October." Yes, they will likely ruminate on this news. Some may even discuss it. Be prepared to smile sweetly when a prying question is asked and say something like, "I will let you know when there is anything more to share."
Meanwhile, look for the support you need outside your pastoral charge. Be sure you have friends or mentors or family members you trust who will listen for the truth of the situation rather than reflexively campaigning for a wedding or a break-up.
That's more than you asked for; I hope things become clearer for you.
Martha at Reflectionary
We have several questions lined up to be answered, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't send yours. Just email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.