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Parsonage Rent
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Jacob Bolson
Posted 12/17/2023 18:24 (#10528919 - in reply to #10512823)
Subject: RE: Parsonage Rent

General thoughts about selling parsonages, acknowledging that every situation is different:

I grew up in rural Winneshiek County but Hardin County is now home (Iowa). Back in Winneshiek County it seemed that at one time, every rural church had a parsonage tied to it, including the Lutheran church that I grew up attending. That church, as well as another rural Lutheran church that my mom grew up in, have both taken advantage of the strong real estate market to sell their parsonages. Personally, I think selling parsonages is a poor idea in rural areas; here's why. I have not thought through an opinion of parsonages in town. So with that context....

1. Think with the long-term in mind, not the short term. I used to be on the mailing list for the church I grew up attending and the discussion about selling the parsonage originated from the pastor wanting to live in town, not in the country. I always thought that was a bit of a slam towards the church membership (largely rural) and then ironically, not too long after the parsonage was sold, the pastor left.

2. Can a pastor afford to purchase a home with the salary that your church is providing? If not, and the personage is sold, then what? Unless we have a housing collapse worse than 2008, it now takes an entirely new caliber of income to be able to purchase a home.

3. Housing, especially in rural areas, is now a recruiting tool. Maybe someday I will understand why it is deemed "cool" to bulldoze farmsteads so that ground is more farmable instead of finding pathways to get people to live there, but the reality is there is a fundamental shortage of housing in rural areas and if your church has a parsonage, use it to recruit a pastor!

4. Parsonages used to be a place of social gatherings but that seems to have faded away. Why? I do not know. The church that I attend where I now live has never had a parsonage since so it's a mute point, but the church I grew up in had multiple events at the parsonage during the year and that is now all gone. Want an engaged and active congregation? Give them something to engage and be active in.
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