On Sunday past, I decided I would worship at Lochside Church, where Spot has recently started placement. I had been there last year, when I was casing the joint for probation, but this time I would be going as 'the wife of the student.' Does make for an interesting dynamic that, especially when they have been told what Spot's Mrs is doing too!
The first service there is early, so in a fit of madness, I decided I would cycle to Lochside for the second service. It's about 10 miles away and, more fortunately, is pretty much down-hill all the way!!!
The service is the more traditional of the two morning services, though there was a certain (and quite refreshing) spontaneity to it from the minister. There was even a Stewart Townend hymn which I quite liked (I'm not a fan), though it did have the slightly cliched key change for the last verse (I mean, is church a 90s boyband trying to get a number one - key change for the last verse. Next they'll be wanting us to only stand up for the last verse. Check out any Boyzone or Westlife clip on youtube and you'll see what I mean).
I enjoyed the service, the message was on target for the scripture and context (as far as I am aware) and it all flowed nicely together. The thing that struck me, is the way I am treated because I am Spot's wife. Though I had gone to his enquiry church and first placement at least once, because they were in the town I grew up in, people (sort of) knew me. So I was Mrs Gerbil, not Spot's wife. At Lochside, it was different, though not something either of us may have to experience too often, as we will have our 'own' places to be.
I have made it clear to Spot that I won't be making a habit of turning up at Lochside. But I realise there can be an expectation from congregations that the candidate's spouse turns up regularly. I know I have the ultimate of (God willing) being on probation come July, so will have my 'own' gig. I suppose I intellectually knew that some congregations (or even individual members of congregations) can place expectations on the spouse to come to the placement church, I hadn't really experienced it. I know Spot's supervisor made sure the congregation were aware of what I am doing, and it may have been to ensure those who would have expected me to turn up, had that 'nipped in the bud', so to speak.
It does make me wonder what congregations do when the spouse has little or nothing to do with church. They may still fully suppose their husband or wife in their calling, but not in the physicality of turning up. Or, they are very involved in their own church and, until they need to, don't want to move on. Or, especially where children are involved, want to give the children a bit of continuity while the other parent is off doing 2-3 placements.
As with many things, I've no solutions, only comments and questions. Of course, this could all also apply in situations where someone was employed by a church, but I think that's a reflection for another time!