Last Sunday, my wife Jane preached as sole nominee for the vacant charge of Campsie Parish Church. Thanks to the generosity and kindness of my lovely colleagues in the Ministry Team of St Cuthbert’s (and at their insistence!) I was able to be there.
It was a heart-warming, lovely, affirming and entirely joyous occasion as Jane was voted for unanimously by what seem to be a welcoming, community based and thoroughly delightful congregation.
And there was I… the husband of the minister; the ‘had to be introduced to be known’; the ‘came along too’ person!
Not that I was for one moment complaining. I know that this is the role that Jane has fulfilled (and with considerable grace) since my ordination in 1981. And we had agreed that the time was now long past when roles should be reversed.
I was glad to be there, pleased to share in the joy and delighted to be photographed with Jane as her husband (and that despite the protest of some who may have implied that this may have been demeaning to Jane?!?!) I cannot see that, given that she was the main woman, I was the happy supporter; a loving partner is not a bad thing, is it?
But for me the interesting thing is the complete reversal of roles. For so long Jane has been the ‘Minister’s wife’ (I hated that tag, the implication of it and the expectation that went with it, and was delighted that Jane did not fulfil these expectations). Not surprisingly (but possibly, tellingly!) there are no such expectations of Ministerial husbands (and it will be interesting to learn how same sex partners are being treated in this respect).
But all this said, and all that considered, for me the interesting thing is observing how things have so completely turned around during the course of my (almost) 40 years of Minister.
When I was ordained, Jane had no thought of ordination and no sense of a call to Ministry. I was the Minister, she was my wife.
On Sunday past, she was the Minister and I was her husband.
I loved it… and yet there was still a sense of slight dislocation. Who was I/am I really?
Well, I know in a fundamental and ontological sense…
…but – in Ministry terms – that is for another post!