Better Together

Post Author: Jenn Moland-Kovash

But as I moved through school and into my first call, and he settled in first one parish and then another,
we began to see how our gifts for ministry could work together – how we could complement each other instead of compete. Our own personal styles developed and emerged, and perhaps most importantly we began to add a new dimension to our relationship: we began to respect one another as a pastor.

We didn’t start out working together, and the situation that led to us doing so was not typical (if there
is such a thing in ministry). This congregation we serve is my first call. I’ve been here three years. He started this past January. I handle areas of finance and outreach; he oversees education and worship. We share the preaching schedule equitably but unpredictably. We still take vacations together. Sometimes we talk about a meeting or something that happened when we’re at home. Sometimes we talk about what we’ll have for dinner when we’re in the office. We’re co-pastors in title, call, salary and (hopefully) most people’s minds.

This collegial and cooperative ministry, in the ten or so months that we’ve been doing it, works well for us. I have come to value the way that we are able to develop ideas, naturally relying on one another’s gifts (not every day, of course). But it also has its drawbacks. We’ve always shared ideas and processed things with one another about our respective congregations – but now there’s just one congregation between us. Talking about an idea during a commercial break now feels much more like work. While I like being able to say to someone, “That’s not my area of responsibility,” it doesn’t take the stress or the responsibility out of the family.

Are there days when the laughter and creativity that happens in the office gets lost on our respective drives home? Absolutely. We work hard to have a date and not talk about work. We struggle to balance a schedule of evening meetings and bedtime for our son. Each of us sometimes says to the other, “Go, have dinner with a friend!” Our urging is as much for our own desire of time alone as it is for the self-care of the other.

In these three years that I’ve been a pastor I’ve worked with a colleague who was my senior in age and style, alone for a few months, with a woman who worked as a part-time interim, and now with my husband as co-pastor. Each of these situations certainly had ups and downs. I think it’s too early to say that this current arrangement is my favorite, but (most days) when we’re asked how it’s going, we both exclaim that we’re having a blast working in ministry together.

Jenn Moland-Kovash is ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

Image by: Tim Mossholder
Used with permission
7 replies
  1. Alex
    Alex says:

    I also served as a co-pastor with my husband for a couple of years. The congregation was not an easy one, but we did quite well together. This is a great reflection! Thanks.

  2. Erica
    Erica says:

    My husband isn’t even a pastor, but we often get: “You two work well together. He should go to seminary.”
    I openly pray that this will never happen because I don’t think I can survive another round of seminary!
    Great reflection!

  3. cardelia
    cardelia says:

    I met my hubbie in his last year, my first year of seminary. From the get go we thought we would work well together. October 1st was the end of the first year as co-pastors in a small suburban church. There have been times that it was wonderful, and times that it stunk! We are still learning to balance work, home, and our daughter. Thank you Jenn for sharing your story. It’s nice to hear that we are not alone!

  4. Jenn M-K
    Jenn M-K says:

    Thanks for sharing your stories, too — it’s a journey, for sure! I’d love to know what works (or doesn’t) for others in similiar situations.

  5. Heather Culuris
    Heather Culuris says:

    Amen to your thoughts!
    My husband and I went from each having 2 churches of our own in a first call, totalling 4 between us, now to sharing the duties at 2 yoked churches.
    We share the same joys of having areas of focus and balancing each other well… And the same challenges of who has bedtime, who goes to the meeting. We predictably rotate by week who is at each congregation… And rotate by turn funerals and weddings. Often we ponder, Is this one yours or mine?
    I love how we work together and the added benefit is now we each attend one council meeting a month rather than 2!

  6. Carolyn
    Carolyn says:

    My husband is also clergy. This time around he’s the chaplain at a college and I’m the associate at the Disciples church in town. Most of the time, we at least get to worship in the same place, but not next to each other. We still have trouble working out meetings because I can’t ask our college age babysitters to work when I have a meeting that conflicts with his campus ministry groups.


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