Pastor’s Corner

Unexpected Endings & Beginnings

Categories: Church,Pastor's Thoughts

When Tim and I left our home in Riverton, NJ and moved into the parsonage, we had imagined returning to Riverton regularly and eventually retiring to that house. However, this congregation has been so welcoming and the parsonage renewal committee did such a fantastic job that we immediately felt very at-home here! Returning to Riverton became a burden, especially for Tim, whose library is located there because it cannot fit into the parsonage. He needs access to his large English, Latin, & German library for current & future writing and editing projects. Even though Tim was going back to Riverton more often than I, for me, getting to know a congregation keeps a new pastor busy, so I did not return until February. In addition, we learned from our CPA that the tax-advantage we thought we had in connection with the house actually no longer exists. After much reflection, we decided to put the Riverton house up for sale and did so on March 27. In addition, we plan long term to purchase a home in Long Valley when we find the right one. I have communicated this to Council at several meetings while the decision process was unfolding in order to be very transparent. One decision that Council made was to put the parsonage powder room project on permanent hold, since the driving force for it was our desire for another bathroom. I also assured Council that Tim and I would never wish to become a financial burden to the congregation. When I accepted Zion‘s call, we fully expected to live in the parsonage and not to receive a housing allowance. You should know that a housing allowance is not a legal requirement, but a recommended guideline for congregations, and it is necessary for most clergy to be able to afford a house and build equity for retirement. Tim and I are in a unique position, as his church pension may continue to function as a housing allowance for our primary residence. We have no doubt, therefore, that we will find a way to accommodate all of these concerns and do what we most desire: put down roots in this community for the foreseeable future.
Pastor Ingrid Wengert

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