Ask the Matriarch: What to Tell the Search Committee — and How

Today’s riddle: What’s exciting, nerve-wracking, fraught with possibilities, and all about the questions? If you guessed “the pastoral search and call process,” you must be a pastor who has been through it. Are there subjects &/or questions that are off limits in those interviews? Read on: Dear Matriarchs, I am a finalist for a church… Read More

Ask the Matriarch: Setting Sabbatical Boundaries

The Matriarch Mailbag brought us this question about sabbatical leave. Hello, Matriarchs! I am PCUSA serving in North Carolina. I have been in my present call 9 1/2 years. I am taking my first sabbatical in May for 3 months. For those of you who have done this: What were the boundaries you set and… Read More

Ask the Matriarch: Keeping Zoom Gatherings Populated

As we approach a year of living with COVID, how do we pastors evaluate the effectiveness of remote church gatherings? How do we understand attendance numbers? This pastor wants to know how to keep parishioners participating. Dear Matriarchs,  This past week, I have been contemplating many things. One thing has been the question many have… Read More

The Pastoral is Political: When the System Pushes Back

I am delighted to yield this space today to the Rev. Casey Wait, pastor, storyteller, and painter. She currently serves as pastor of John Calvin Presbyterian Church in Annandale, Virginia. You can reach Casey on Twitter @caseyfitzgerald or by email You can see her paintings by visiting or listen to her tell stories… Read More

Ask the Matriarch: Preaching Changes from Associate to Solo Pastor

Here’s a pastoral transition with challenges galore.  How does a pastor adapt when she moves from associate pastor to solo pastor?   Dear Matriarchs ~~ Have you ever made the leap from preaching once a month (as an associate) to preaching every week? Holy cow, what an adjustment! Tell me everything you know! Seriously, what best… Read More

Pastoral is Political: “Pastor, Stay in Your Lane!”

We in the United States are less than two weeks away from nation-wide elections in the middle of an economic crash wrapped in a COVID pandemic and fried in “science sucks” with a side of a high-stakes Supreme Court nomination.  We will soon know what kind of United States of America people have voted for,… Read More

Pastoral is Political: Stewardship of the Ideal

Today is the umpteenth who-even-knows-anymore day of the Season of COVID, during the weeks of protests for racial justice, in the days following the heart-rending, history-revealing passing of the honorable John Robert Lewis, civil rights leader and U.S. Representative from Georgia. Rep. Lewis died at the age of 80 after 65 years making “good trouble”… Read More

Ask the Matriarch: What Do I Do with this Gut-Punching Truth?

This week’s question comes directly from a pastor’s big heart. Our Matriarchs support her to work through her feelings of pain and confusion, a result of seeking to care for someone who trusts her as he faces the consequences of his what he did.  Dear Matriarchs: I have a parishioner from a church I served.… Read More

Ask the Matriarch: A Church Zoom Group’s Level of Inclusion

While we are not gathering in person, are you introducing online platforms for facilitating congregational community? This week’s question reminds us that in-person dynamics can easily migrate to the new venues. Greetings, Matriarchs! In my small congregation are several women who are all good friends, which is fine. There are times, however, that they are… Read More

The Pastoral is Political: When Two or More Can’t Gather

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the… Read More