Pastors' Spouses

During the first few years of the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence (SPE) project, the focus was on pastors. As our work continued, we became more and more aware of the role that pastors’ spouses play in the realization of our goal of supporting and strengthening pastors. Generally, the pastor’s spouse is his or her main source of support and encouragement. This is no small task!

The role of a pastor’s spouse can be both rewarding and challenging. Spouses deal with challenges other congregation members don’t have, such as:

  • Finding a friend within the congregation they can safely share things with
  • Obtaining recognition that they’re individuals and not just the pastor’s wife (or husband)
  • Making it clear to congregational members that their children aren’t perfect just because one parent is a pastor
  • Communicating that they aren’t the go-between for a congregant and the pastor
  • Countering the assumption that being a pastor’s spouse automatically means they play piano, cook for visitors, teach Sunday school and have a clean or perfect home
  • Leading a normal life while living in a "fish bowl" where your entire life seems to be on display for everyone to watch

SPE has opportunities for pastors' spouses to be encouraged, supported, renewed and refreshed.

  • A conference specifically for pastors' spouses is held every other year. The next one will take place in the Fall of 2016 (location is TBD). 
  • Learning events for pastor couples are held once a year.  These are by invitation only.  Invitations are limited to the classes in the area where the learning events are to be held.

If you have questions on any of these opportunities, please contact Lis Van Harten at 877-279-9994 x2805 (toll free) or by email at