Pastor Appreciation: Pandemic-proof ways to say 'Thank you'

Sedge Garden United Methodist Church members parade in front of the Rev. Justin Lowe's home to show their appreciation. Photo courtesy of Sedge Garden United Methodist Church.
Sedge Garden United Methodist Church members parade in front of the Rev. Justin Lowe's home to show their appreciation. Photo courtesy of Sedge Garden United Methodist Church.

Pastor Appreciation Sunday, celebrated annually on the second Sunday in October, is a good time for United Methodists to thank clergy for the work they do year-round.

In the age of the Covid-19 pandemic, showing gratitude may need to look differently than past years. Fellowship lunches and hugs are out, gift cards and car parades are in.

Here are ideas for how to say "thank you" that ensure everyone stays safe.

Party on wheels

Parades have gained in popularity in recent months, as we decorate our vehicles and make signs to drive past the homes of the honorees.

Members at Sedge Garden United Methodist Church chose a cookout-themed parade to show appreciation to their pastor, the Rev. Justin Lowe. During the surprise event, the members drove by and dropped off gifts.

“He pretty much got everything except for the grill,” shares Angie McCann, a church member who helped spearhead the effort.

 “Our pastor has a lot of energy and he’s really there for us. We wanted to do something in return for him,” McCann explained, adding that she coordinated with the church administrator to make sure the pastor and his family would be at home on parade day.

“We met at the church and then drove next door to the parsonage. We were blowing our horns, we had posters,” she says. “To be able to do this and see the excitement and the love for our pastor was exciting for everybody.”

R&R

As a church, plan and contribute for a getaway for your pastor and family. Consider a nearby location where your pastor can get some rest and relaxation, as well as spend quality time with the family. Check for hotels, vacation rentals or park facilities that follow strict safety guidelines.

Take it outside

You already know that pastors are busy. Ask your pastor for a list of outside chores and then gather a small group to help. Perhaps your church can sign up to mow the pastor’s yard each week or a few members can weed gardens and rake leaves.  

Say nice things

Perhaps the simplest way to show gratitude to your church’s clergy is to share compliments. This may mean speaking highly of them to others or saying “thank you” to them in person, text, phone call or sending a card. Everyone enjoys hearing kind words. Extend this courtesy to your pastor’s family.

Keep your pastor on your prayer list

Prayer is huge. Pray for your pastor each day, keeping in mind the particular need or challenge your pastor may be facing. If Tuesday is sermon writing day, pray that God will guide and direct your pastor’s words. On Sundays, pray for God to use your pastor to share words that connect with others.

For additional suggestions on how to best pray for your pastoral staff, visit “15 ways to pray for your pastor.”

Say it with food

United Methodists are good at feeding others. In the age of Covid, preparing and sharing meals may be best replaced with gift cards. Ask where your pastor and family enjoy eating out, then offer gift cards to their favorite restaurants.

There is no shortage of ways to express gratitude to our pastors. For more ideas, check “(More than) 10 ways to appreciate your pastor.”

*Crystal Caviness works for UMC.org at United Methodist Communications. Contact her by email or at 615-742-5138.

This story was published on September 30, 2020.