October is Clergy Appreciation Month. While this celebration may have passed by along with International Buy a Priest a Beer Day on September 9th, it should be something we celebrate this year.
We should find every reason possible to celebrate each other this year — but especially for clergy who are working so hard in the thousand new roles they’ve picked up in this pandemic. Laura Stephens-Reed beautifully articulates the need for an extra bit of love with the coming wave of pastoral departures.
Here is a short list of wonderful ways to celebrate your clergy.
- Take a nod from International Buy a Priest a Beer Day and offer your pastor their favorite beverage. It need not be alcoholic. Consider fair trade coffee, tea, cocoa or apple cider from a local farm to porch deliver to your pastor with a homemade card.
- Recruit the youth group or even young children to make cards expressing their love of their pastor. Or perhaps you draw the circle even wider and make it a whole community art project of gratitude for your pastor.
- Make the liturgy truly the work of the people for one or two Sundays. Though your pastor has likely planned ahead, ask them when a group of church members might collaborate to create, edit and post the worship service to give your pastor a week to better attend to the other tasks on their to do list apart from video editing.
- Handwrite a thank you note to your pastor and put in the mail. In that note, reflect on one thing that your pastor did that offered you grace — whether it was something said in a recent sermon, a small act of kindness, a stance that they took for justice or a moment of pastoral care that made all of the difference in the world.
- Consider hiring a talented professional to manage the video editing for online worship. If this is possible in your church budget, it would be a terrific investment in your pastor’s creativity.
- Send a gift certificate in the mail from your pastor’s favorite local restaurant, especially if take-out is an option at that establishment. Your pastor will so appreciate one night where they don’t have to think about meal planning.
- If you found that last Sunday’s sermon really hit home for you, send your pastor an email to share what particularly struck you. Reflect on how your pastor’s words helped you at this particular moment in the pandemic and how much you appreciate the time that it takes your pastor to find those words.
- Deliver homemade bread, cookies or brownies to your pastor’s porch.
- If you are especially grateful for the work your pastor is doing to show that black lives matter, put your money where your mouth is and make a contribution in their honor. Even if you choose to make this gift anonymous, send a note to say how grateful you are for your pastor’s prophetic work. (I promise you that they are not thanked enough for this.)
- Like so many, pastors either lost or postponed vacations and sabbaticals in the midst of this pandemic. Work with your congregation’s Personnel Committee to grant your pastor the gift of extra time to retreat. Perhaps the congregation is even able to extend the gift of paying for a few nights at a lovely local AirBnb or retreat center. (Your denomination might have a local church camp or retreat house that offers a discounted rate to clergy for just this reason.)
It doesn’t need to be a huge celebration. It only needs to be genuine.
Your pastor is doing an amazing job, after all. It’ll encourage them to hear your gratitude.