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Living in the Parsonage
by Rev. Frank Schaefer

 

 

Where the pastor lives can be one of the most sensitive issues in the parish. Whether called parsonage, rectory, or manse, historically most churches provided a living space for their pastors.

Over the past few decades this has been changing.   It is becoming more common and accepted for a minister to live in their own home.

As with everything there are pros and cons for each living situation. Here are a few:

Pro Parsonage:

  • In case of uncertain or short pastoral appointments, one is spared the hassle of purchasing and selling a home.

  • It takes at least five years to amortize a home.  In other words,   after five years the value of a home will have increased enough to get back the amount you spent in terms of home cost, realtor and financing expenses.  One could perceivable make losses.

  • Less worrisome living--no electric, maintenance, or fuel bills to worry about (also: often a housing allowance that is granted instead of the free parsonage does not cover all of the housing expenses).

Pro Home Owning:

  • More Privacy--especially as compared to living in a parsonage that is near or attached to the church building (many pastor's in these situations feel bothered by frequent, unannounced visits and requests to unlock the church, etc.)

  • Less points of tension with the congregation (the condition of the manse is often a point of contention

  • Higher quality of living--remodeling and modifying one's own home is much easier than getting the board to approve a change (often parsonages are kept in neutral color and design themes like "parsonage" beige carpets, walls, and drapes.

  • Home owners build equity.  Typically after 30 years, an mortgaged home is paid off which means more security, and better living comfort in retirement.

  • There may be certain tax advantages to owning a home.


 

 

Real Life Funny Parsonage Stories
by Pastors and their Families

We used to live in a manse that was integrated into the church building (not just attached, but integrated). My daughter had a corn snake, "Glider," at the time and one day found the terrarium open and Glider gone. We didn't quite know how to share with the congregation that there was a snake on the loose, but eventually it became known and, understandably, some people got very upset (I was wondering why the worship attendance suddenly dropped). Anyhow, looking back this seems rather humerous to us.

I think the issue of pets could also be a pro-housing allowance argument, as some churches have a no-pet policy for their manses....FYS


My husband had just graduated from seminary and we had no savings built up with which to purchase a home. One of the churches in the two-church parish to which he was called owned a parsonage which had been rented for almost thirty years. Because of long-standing issues, the parish really wanted us to live in the town which is halfway between their two towns but, after desperately seeking a decent house or apartment to rent, we begged them to let us consider moving into the parsonage.

After they heard tales about some of the HORRID places we'd looked at as possibilities to rent, (and hearing us promise that we would not make the church which owned the house the "favored child") the parish agreed to let us live in the parsonage and served an eviction notice to the people who had been renting it for all those years.

Ooooooh...the list of problems with this situation is almost endless so I'll just list a few points: 1. The colors of the paint. The living room walls were (I kid you not!) army fatigue green...the hallway was about the color of Gulden's brown mustard...one bedroom was sort of a brownish-red (the only way to get a mental image is if you think of the color of dried blood)...the list could go on. And it was all painted on top of wallpaper so it was not possible to just repaint. Wallpaper would have had to be removed first. 2. The house was built in about 1910. Some electrical work had been done sometime in the late '60s but no one knew which outlets were wired to fuses in the attic and which were wired to the circuit breakers in the basement. When they brought in a professional electrician to rewire the whole entire house, even he was astounded that the whole wood-frame structure had not gone up in flames before then. 3. The church council kept assuring me that I would get to choose things like colors of paint for walls, flooring for the kitchen and bathroom, etc. I wanted white walls throughout and asked that neutral colors be used when they redid the countertops and floors. My husband and I explicitly said there were certain colors which were unacceptable to us. The committee of women who ended up choosing colors completely ignored us and chose all the colors we said we didn't like! The list of problems could go on...but is not worth expanding. In the end, after they began the work of renovating and updating the house, (which led to many battles within the congregation) the church finally decided that they simply could not afford the expense of all the required work. They ended up putting the house on the market....still with those horrid colors on the walls, holes left from the electrical work, etc.

And we rent a parsonage which belongs to a church from a completely different denomination in a neighboring town.


I was a preacher's kid and grew up in parsonages. When I was young, my mother would say, not entirely jokingly, "Don't bleed on the carpet! It's not our carpet!!"

For a few years we owned our own home. My mother would say, not entirely jokingly, "Don't bleed on the carpet! It's our carpet!!"

What's a kid to do??!! :-)


We once lived in a parsonage that was about 12 years old when we moved in. The predecessor was the first pastor to live there, and had been there for 11 years. The first winter, we started to smell sewer gas in the bathroom, but didn't know what to do about it. We never heard the gurgling that is supposed to accompany a frozen vent, but, nonetheless, the vent was frozen. A sewer man from the congregation showed us that we needed to climb the roof and pour hot water down the vent to thaw it. This we did, every day when very cold, twice a day when extremely cold.

I assumed something must be wrong, and finally, the third year there, investigated the pipes. In the rafters of the basement, there appeared to be three vent pipes, but only two emerged through the roof. I was told by everyone that only two of the ones in the basement were actually vent pipes. After all, the third was on the wrong side of the trap to be a vent pipe.

I crawled up into the attic, and found that two of the three pipes were joined in the attic before protruding through the roof. No gurgling? Of course not. There was no trap to keep the gas out of the house. We made sure it was fixed post haste!


When my husband and I were interviewing for our first churches, one woman on the search committee of his church (who lived next door to the parsonage) kept repeating all through the interview that we could not have pets. After about the seventh time I could not restrain myself and asked "If I have children, can I keep THEM?" My daughters did far more damage than a cat ever could (like storing wet pennies under her bed on paraquet flooring).

Now, though, I miss those parsonage days. It was so much nicer handing termite extermination bills and roof repair bills over to the church instead of writing checks.


The first parsonage I lived in was previously occupied by a pastor who kept chickens in the house! What an odor when it was damp! A W-G


At my first congregation my family and I were pleased to move into the practically new parsonage that the congregation had built only three years earlier. OOh they were proud of that house and they kept a real close eye on how we treated it and were never shy about pointing out our habitation faults. But the real interesting part of this story is that the house was built, literally, by the congregation. It would have been wonderful if the congregation was made up of expert craftsmen but it was really made up of a bunch of Tim "The Toolman" Taylors who were also extremely frugal and independent minded dairy farmers. It was amazing the contraptions they fashioned out of used equipment to build the house. The pump was the noisiest, oddest looking behemoth that someone had taken out of their milking barn. It needed repair every 2 to 10 days (I became an expert even though born and raised a city boy). The windows had come from some place where there are no bugs and no hot summers. I deduced this since they only opened a crack letting in no breezes and still let in all manner of bug even though tightly closed. The wood was home milled by a member (we were in timber country in northern Minnesota) but he neglected to season the wood so everything was warping, cracking and bleeding sap. In several places wall paper had been stretched over areas of wall which had (I'm serious) no underlying sheetrock. The merest touch would tear a hole in the wall. The support beams for the stairs on the deck were made with recycled wood from some old barn or something and were completely rotted away at the top -- 7 feet up. The only thing holding it up was a miraculous suspension of the laws of physics. I'm surprised no one was killed before I discovered it. The property committee's solution was to shove an old rake handle under one of the steps and a warning to not move too fast near the top. But it was a beautiful setting with beautiful people and I have warm memories of the years my young family lived there.

The parsonage we lived in during internship a couple of years earlier was another doozy. It was a huge old ugly house built on the foundation of the old church. When my wife and I and our two week old baby arrived with a small moving van (we had almost no furniture since we had been married only 2 years -- a beautiful little hidabed couch, a kitchen table with four chairs, a borrowed crib, a borrowed bed and mattress, one dresser, a tv and a stereo system)we arrived ready to move in. The sexton opened the door for us and everybody just about fainted from the stench that poured out of that house. It seems the previous occupant (the previous intern)had one of those mental illnesses which cause a person to live in uninhabitable filth and not realize that anything is wrong. He had 2 large dogs and 4 cats who never went outside. They merely urinated and defecated in the house. If the family took the time to remove any offending lumps they would only go so far as to shove them under the couch or throw them in the basement. The house was carpeted wall to wall in every room including the baths and kitchen with a horrid 70's shag and was wall papered in every room with a grotesque velveteen textured (read absorbant)pseudo-Napoleanic roccoco design. The few pieces of furniture in the house were destroyed not only by animal waste but by the previous occupant's emotionally troubled teenage son's penchant for smashing things. The basement (a huge, deep dungeon like cavern -- albeit carpeted) had a room that appeared to be the family's preferred place for disposing of dung. It was piled 8 inches deep. As amazing as was the condition of that place, what amazed us still was that the congregation had no idea and we were the ones to discover it the day we moved in. What should have been a 30 minute unloading of the van had become a 12 hour emergency cleanup...without permission from the council we tore out the carpet from our baby's room and our room (what we found under the carpet was disgusting but more tollerable than keeping the carpeting in that first night and we put our beautiful new little couch up on cinder blocks so it would not have to touch the carpet. Soon we discovered what cockroaches look like (that being Wisconsin we had never seen them before). It never did smell right in there. The culprit could not honestly figure out what everyone was mad about. Finally, the 13 months we lived there caused me to question my categorical denial that there is no such thing as ghosts...but that is another story. STW in MN


One other thought. If a pastor should die while living in a parsonage, the family is homeless! Where will they go? No equity built up for a down payment.

And "You know you will have to move soon, so that our new pastor can move in....

Me, I'm near retirement and just accepted a call to a situation with no parsonage. No regrets, take other peoples money to buy a house!


Maybe it's because I'm nesting (I posted that on the other page) or maybe I'm just persnickity... I resent being treated like a tenant, as in "we don't put anything expensive in the parsonage because people don't take care of it when it's not theirs." I resent being furnished in cast-offs - and folks "requesting" (read, you'll hurt Aunt Mabel's feelings deeply if you don't) you to hang certain pictures because they were "in memory" of someone. Parsonage living crosses a privacy line, but I have to admit that even now, in my 3rd appointment, my congregants have respected my space AND time.

We lived in a really neat house built in the 1930's - with pine-paneled ceilings. I miss that house, but it was *C*O*L*D* - so poorly insulated that we (I'm not exaggerating) could hold our hands up by the wall (not the window) and feel a breeze coming straight through the wall! brrrrrrrr The bathtub had NOTHING between it and the crawlspace - so forget soaking in baths in the winter. The ugly orange couch was good for napping.

We waited for THREE WEEKS to get our kitchen sink fixed because so-n-so offered to fix it and we didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Well, so-n-so didn't get a day off for two weeks, and then didn't have the part, so we had to wait another week for his next day off. The 1950's formica had holes - I mean holes - in it, and I worried about the wiring the entire four years.

The DS requested that the congregation put up a more solid rail on our current parsonage's basement stairs so my little one wouldn't fall - as if by prediction, she fell and now, 7 months later, STILL has a bump on her head. They put up the rail but nothing to hold on to (hard to describe) for when I lug my laundry up and down the steps.

The furniture (donated in memory of someone - after they couldn't sell it in a yard sale) is styled what my husband calls, "whorehouse baroque." The living room is MUCH larger than the room a family would actually live in, indicating an expectation of entertaining parishioners - except the kitchen is miniscule.

One woman told me she was glad I came to them - not because of my reputation, or my past work, not because she liked me, or thought I'd be good for the church - but because I had to live in the parsonage. In this area, that reads, "we don't want to rent it to black people."

Gee, thanks for letting me vent!

Sally


We had always been happy with the parsonage arrangement. We had made few demands on the church and maintained the house ourselves for the most part. However, after 9 years in the appointment,in September of 99, the roof of our parsonage collapsed (on top of me) during a hurricane. Only 1 church member arrived to assist with moving the 80 foot tree off the roof or covering the house for the rains which were to begin again. At Christmas, we set our family Christmas tree on the bare concrete floor and had no need to place a star on the top since the night sky that we could still see through the roof provided beautiful adornment. Three months later, we purchased our own home and have remained there despite changing appointments. We will never be sharecroppers again.


Funny-sad parsonage stories: Upstate rural New York. Nice parsonage, but husband became seriously ill with 104+ temp. Doctor said it was one of four water-borne parasites. Had well tested positive for fecal coliform. Told church board (farmers) Response "It's probably a snake fell into the well." Totally blew me off until I demanded with a rare display of anger: "You are going to install a water disinfection unit now!" Furnace story (same parsonage) About to move away, furnace was inspected after a 5 year hiatus. Result: Small hole in side of furnace because of lack of cleaning. Repairman "redlines" the furnace, declaring it inoperable. We were definitely getting carbon monoxide from it. Thank God it was after the heating season. I live in an apt. now on a housing allowance. Another parsonage I lived in had 1920s wallpaper in the upstairs bedrooms. Also, wasps, bees, millipedes, it's a wonder I'm not totally cynical!! Looking to buy a house asap. mhc in pa


In our first parsonage the water heater went out. Response from the trustees, "What did you do to break the new water heater?" Turned out it was over 20 years old. When we asked for grounded outlets, at least in the kitchen and office, they told us that none of the previous pastors had needed it (12 years ago...conceiveable that we were the first with a microwave and a computer). When it turned out that the wiring was vintage 1920's they updated what they could see without damaging any walls. The furnace, by the flukey grace of God, broke down, giving the furnace guy the opportunity to point out that it was leaking carbon monoxide (I didn't have the flu after all). It took over a week in the middle of January for them to replace the furnace. Our judicatory required radon gas testing. When ours came out high, they protested the validity of the concern and refused to do anything about it (we had a new born in the house at the time). We just kept windows open constantly until we moved out glady six months later.

We have lived in two parsonages since then that have been perfect for us and well cared for by the congregation...although, after our first experience, we would have found half-hearted care remarkable.


About four years ago, we moved into an parsonage and the pastor before us had raised Vietnam pigs in the parsonage. You couldn't believe the smell. The carpet had pid do-do on it and smell to high heaven. The church knew about the pigs and said nothing. We own a house about 65-68 miles away so we drive back and forth until we could get the place clean and carpet changes. Forget about a housing allotment we were only paid 200.00 a week!!! EAL_NC


As a student pastor, my wife and our four-month-old son moved into a very roomy, very pleasant parsonage. There was one small problem, however: The house was built on a hillside, with the basement wall exposed in back, and that wall was buckling outward. No problem, the Pastor-Parish Relations/Trustees said (small church, few people, no need to seperate these committees!),well get some guys together and fix it right up.

We moved in in August and around mid-September a group of good ol' boys got together and had a rip-snortin' time digging out around the wall with a backhoe, taking out the lumber and cinderblocks that were damaged and, having put in a good day's work, wrapped the hole with plastic sheets and said, "we'll be back to fix it soon!"

September passed to October. November. December. January. February. I don't exactly remember how many months passed by, but by early spring I got disgusted. My brother was handy with that kind of stuff and out of work, so I suggested that the church hire him to finish the job. Otherwise, I suspect that hole might still be open to this day.


Great stories! My last call was to a rural parish -- they offered to "really fix up the parsonage" before I arrived. Paint chips and carpet samples where mailed back and forth -- how exciting thought I. This was two months before my arrival. I arrive, guess what, can't stay there -- work's in progress. I opted to stay -- my dad was in the trades and I knew work gets done faster with a "client" in the house.

So, things were looking up -- sure, the wall paint had been thinned (I pretended it make the walls look like historic plasterwork); sure, the upstairs flooring, a patchwork of the old carpet that had been downstairs was funky; sure, they threw away some chips and just did what they wanted -- but given the horror stories I'd heard from other clergy, figured we were off to a good start.

Then the water heater when out. Sunday morning. Boiled water to bath, after church talked with the Trustees -- they would come look at it tomorrow, in the meantime I could bath at the neighbor's home (dtr of the head of the Trustees). I opted for my own, cold, tub.

The Trustees (all three of them) rigged up a solution to get the old water-heater going. Fine. Later that day I hear a loud "boom" -- went to see the waterheater and saw a small flame. Three the breaker, called the head Trustee, over he came. Followed by the pick ups of two more. More messing around, this time lots of electrical tape was involved. They told me not to worry, a small problem.

I hung out for a while in the garage, sure enough -- "boom" and more flames. Its afternoon by now, so I call and tell the Trustees. Tomorrow they say. I throw the breaker, head to a friends for a shower.

You know where this is going -- after a few MONTHS of this, one of the guys in the church who was an electrician came by. He wasn't one of the insiders, so told me they'd not listen to his opinion. But, he could do me a favor -- "Let's fix this thing so it can't be patched up." A little tweak here, a little tweak there -- "boom" -- my now I'd named the waterheater "Sparky" -- and throw the breakers, call the Trustees. They came, two days later (they lived a house or two away.)

Well, after much muttering it was decided old Sparky was out of service. We'd budgeted money for a new waterheater -- everyone knew about the problem -- I even had some fun and gave a weekly "Sparky" report. They called in the electrician to help with removal. He winked as they carted the old one out. It would be a few days before the new one arrived (we'd talked about getting an energy effecient one). I could just about feel the hot water!

A week passes (no hot water) and then, the brigade of pickups with a big, blue something in the back of one. An OLD, big, blue something. My heart sank. They'd found an OLDER hot water heater in someone's basement, figured they could make it work. I complained, was told to talk to Council -- it had been their decision.

Big Blue made lukewarm water. By now it was summer so kinda worked. The electrician and I contemplated another mercy killing, but didn't know how it might backfire. And, there had been many serious problems in the church so I was looking for a new call. (Wonder why they'd had 50 pastors in 100 years???) But, figured due process was worth something, so met with Council to dicuss the shift in our plans.

They told me, they could not justify spending all that money on one person -- the cost of a new hot waterheater. Now, if I were married and had kids, they could justify that!!!

I won't tell you about the 9-month roofing project (the parishoner who did it had a drinking problem and kept falling off!!!) As a friend said, "At least you got some good stories out of it." Indeed!


One of the pro points noted is: Less tension between pastor and congregation over condition of the parsonage. I'm living proof of that point right now. You have heard of the term "anal rententive." It's opposite is "anal expressive,"and thatís what I am. . Lt. Colombo is my favorite TV character. He's sloppy, drives an old beat up car and gets the job done splendidly. Today I complete my first year in this parsonage, which is lovely, if a bit on the small side. It had been vacant 4 years when we arrived a year ago. When we arrived we found the refrigerator didn't work. When we did laundry, we found the new washer hadn't been hooked up to the drain the right way. The upstairs shower door didnít close or have a lip at the bottom to kee the water inside.. The kitchen floors were dirty, but the rest of the house was vacuumed. When I met the parish committee 3 months before our move I asked them to install 3-prong, grounded outlets in the bedroom, livingroom and ktichen to accomodate our computers and appliances. When we arrived, nothing had been done. None have been converted to date. We moved in last year on Father's Day weekend. Father's Day morning my wife learned her dad had been found dead of natural causes at his home in Florida by her brother. On the way over my van broke down and I found myself driving in the slow lane at 25 MPH in rush hour traffic on the major interestate Monday, trying to get there before the movers arrived. Both things had a big impact on what we were able to do about moving in. The Chairman of our Trustees has been diagnosed as having the early stages of Alzheimerís. He forgets some things and is sometimes very short-tempered. His wife, a member of a majority of our church committees and secretary of trustees views my office and this parsonage are part of her personal domain. She is not presentely attending Sunday worship until her concerns are addressed (read: the parsonage and the office are in immaculate condition). She has never spoken to me about her concerns, preferring instead to go over my head to my superior. I have not been to visit her and do not presently plan to. My office is immaculate, now. The parsonage is not, but our parsonage guidelines say the parsonage is considered the private home of the pastor and the pastorís family and their privacy is to be respected at all times. This clashes with the parsonage-as-a-fishbowl norm that some of my parishioners have and used to be prevalent everywhere. If I had my own house right now nothing would be said about its condition. And it would be a lot easier to get the outlets fixed, a new door for the shower etc. etc.


Before moving to my new parish, my wife and I visited and inspected the parsonage with the Trustees. We knew we were in for trouble when the head of the committee told us, "No one has seen the inside of the parsonage since the pastor moved in six years ago."

The house, needless to say, was a pit- dirty, sheets of ice on the inside of the bedroom windows, cold air blowing in from where the windows didn't seal, holes in the living room wall from the pastors son's little game called 'Indoor Golf' and mice. We were assured that everything would be fixed and the pastor promised to move out a week early to give the Trustees time to work.

When we moved in, we learned that the pastor had only left the night before and had refused to let the Trustees in to do anything. He left behind all of his belongings, books, and food. The holes were still there, the ice was still there and no one did a thing. My wife burst into tears right in front of the head of SPRC and the Trustees. I packed my family off to a motel (which the congregation refused to pay for) and got to work.

A crew of women arrived the next day at 6AM to work. While helping with the painting, one woman said, "Pastor, you know what this house needs?" Without thinking, I said, "A torch?" Wrong thing to say. Everyone had heard the comment and it whipped through the congregation on the gossip line.

After about two months of intense work, an endless parade of 6AM work crews, my wife and I preparing daily lunches for everyone who showed up (it was quite an event and hard to manage on our salary), we thought we had the problem licked. As we settled in for the night, I turned to my wife and said, "You know, I think we are over the worst of it now," Just then, a bat flew through the room.

Buy a house.....


I thought my story is "so sad,it's funny" but after scrolling down, some of you have tolerated nearly criminal treatment from manse committees. My heart bleeds for you --but not on the carpet <g> ! Our beautifully maintained manse (built in 1899) had a large garage, formally a small barn for the minister's horse. One of the congregation members continually phoned to ask us if they could store camping equipment, Christmas decorations, old junk, etc. in our garage since we didn't need all that space anyway. I was appalled at his request -- a landlord would never ask to store his junk in a tenet's house -- and always said NO!. Rev. Helen in Ontario, Canada


Compared to many of your stories, these are minor annoyances, but they were heart-wrenching at the time.

The pastor who served this appointment previous to me was a part-time interim who owned his home in a nearby town. The Trustees decided to rent the church owned parsonage for the 9 months and use the income to fix up the house for the next pastor. They rented to a family who was building a house in town and stipulated in the lease that they had to vacate by 7-1 (the standard first day for new appointments in the area).

You've probably guessed by this point that the family's house was not ready for occupancy and they refused to move, despite the terms of the lease. Although the congregation was willing to pay for alternative housing, because of our pets which we would not board for an indeterminate amount of time, another solution was offered. My wife and I (with our dog and cat) moved in with the Staff-Parish Chair and her husband, who was the Lay Leader of the congregation. Let's just say that we probably got to know one another better than any pastor and parishioners should! (and they're still active members and strong supporters!)

Although they were gracious hosts, and we will always appreciate their hospitality, it was one of the most difficult times of my ministry and our marriage. The church ultimately had to take the "squatters" to court and have the judge sternly order them to vacate, but the process took 5 weeks. Thankfully, since then, the members grant me privacy, perhaps to a fault, and are constantly upgrading and repairing the house.

But, my wife wants to know if we'll ever have a "normal move?" At my first appointment the congregation decided to paint the interior for us (it needed it: lots of faded dark 70's colors), but couldn't do it until after we moved in. So, almost every night for the first 4+ weeks several members of the congregation came over to paint. Sometimes I would paint with them. But, my wife and I had only been married for 6 weeks and this seemed like an invasion! After the initial month, they were great, too.

Live in a parsonage or own our home? Until housing allowances are more substantial, and I'm not moving every 4-5 years, I'll opt for the parsonage. But, ask me again, after our next move!


We are so fortunate that we had parsonage to live in during our ministry. Since we did not build an equity to buy a home after our retirement, we are finding very difficult to buy a home now. We live at our daughter's home and praying that the good Lord who watched over us in the past will provide a small home for us during this time of our retirement.


My Husband became a Pastor for the first time last summer. The Church is paying him $35,000 yearly salary and we live in a parsonage rent-free. In some ways the parsonage is a blessing. We didn't have any money, so we would have had nowhere to live. But, it can also be a lot of trouble. We have lately been receiving conflicting information. Before we ever moved in, a church member told us that we should think of the house as our own. He also added that he does not keep his pets inside the house, but if we would like to do so, that was fine as long as we fixed any damages caused by us and the animal. Well, that was about a year ago. My husband and I have two dogs, and we had gone out and adopted a third from a nearby shelter. She was wonderful, 2 years old, housetrained, slept in bed with us. Perfect. Well, a church member on the housing committee called us a day after we got her and asked how many dogs we had. Then, he told us that he had said before we moved in that we were not to have animals in the house. Heartbroken, we took the dog we had just gotten back to the animal shelter. We are keeping our other two dogs no matter what, but I don't understand why this church is giving us conflicting information. Also, there's a few areas in the house where the carpet seams are coming apart. I know that the church is supposed to take care of those things, but I'm too scared to tell them about it because I'm afraid they'll say it was from us or the dogs, even though the carpet was that way before we moved in. Living in a parsonage has definitely caused a lot of stress in our lives, and I believe it will continue to do so.


we moved into a manse east of Oshawa,a family of rats lived in the basement,I filled the hole with cement.Woke up one morning,our dog had one cornered in the kitchen,I finished it off with a baseball bat,once open a kitchen drawer to find a Big one,he led us on a merry chase.Later found manse was built over former garbage dump


These stories really rang true. I was a preacher's kid and a preacher's wife.

When I was in highschool my dad served a church in a small Oklahoma town. Six of us lived in a 4 room house. After we moved on they would tell future ministers if the Halstead's could live there anyone can.

One day a church leader walked in unannounced on a Sunday morning while my mother was standing in the kitchen in her slip ironing her dress.

My mother blew up a stove and a hotwater heater in that house.

My parents have a house and after a several parsonages my husband and I have one too but I know that we lived better as missionaries in the bush in Kenya than in some of the parsonages because no parishoners were looking over our shoulder.

We bought our own house last year making payments with my salary and didn't ask for a dime extra from the church but they asked my husband to leave because we bought our own home. After all how inconsiderate of us to move so far away from the church. We moved to the opposite end of our small town of 7000 people. Thanks for this column I needed to read these stories.


My Husband and I have been going through a small-town church parsonage nightmare. When my husband was called to his first church, we went with excitement. The church after all had a parsonage, so there would be no house payment. When we arrived to move into the house, everything looked okay, as we would expect an older house to look. But, within weeks, several things began to happen. Apparently there were cracks in the walls in several rooms of the house. The church's solution? No spackle, just paint over it. Also, there were several areas where there were holes in the walls. Solution? Paint over it. All the cracks and holes started to open up again over time. Also, there is a TERRIBLE roach problem. I'm talking HUGE roaches. Also, the brown carpet throughout was rather stained, and the seams were coming apart. Two members of the housing committee came over, looked at it, decided that the glue had dissolved, and said they would be back to tell us what they would do. Well, over a year later, still no word. This past winter, we were without heat for over a week. Apparently it was of no concern to the church. Also, in early spring, our sewage began to back up. Many showers were taken while standing in a 6-inch deep pool of dirty water. Oh, and the WATER! All of the water in the house is non-drinkable. It has an obscene amount of rust in it. When you first turn on the faucet, orange/brown water comes out and there is a strong odor. Our parsonage has about a full acre of land with plenty of grass. My husband, the Pastor, is made by the church to mow it himself. This was a very deceptive move on their part, as they had professionals mow it the first couple months we were there. One night, the chairman of deacons met with my husband for what he said was an emergency meeting. The 45 minute long meeting was all about the yard. The Deacon Chairman said that if my husband could not mow the lawn specifically the way that the church wanted it mowed, he would be fired. But back to the parsonage. Before moving in, a member of the housing committee met with us and told us that he did not have pets in his home, but we were welcome to have pets in ours. About a week later, my husband and I adopted a puppy. Six months later, we adopted another. Both dogs were very well trained and rarely had any "accidents" in the house. A year after getting the dogs, at my Husband's yearly evaluation by the church, the same member from the housing committee lied to all of the deacons and pulpit committee members and told them that we were told not to have animals in the house. When my husband stated that that was not true, the man juped up, pointed a finger, and said "You're a liar!" Our problems with this church have progressed so far that we are now looking for a new church to move to. They say that your first church is always the hardest...boy were they right!