October is Clergy Appreciation Month

Aug 29, 2023

Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash

By Tracey Breashears Schultz, Bishop’s Associate for Leadership

You’ve probably heard of Boss’s Day, Nurses Day, Teacher Appreciation, and maybe even World Octopus Day, but did you know about Clergy Appreciation Month? Whether it was started by Focus on the Family or by Hallmark, I am not quite sure, but October is a month to recognize and give thanks for the clergy—the pastors and deacons—in our lives. Specifically, Sunday, October 8 is Clergy Appreciation Day this year. You may be tempted to think of the occasion as just another made-up holiday created by those who sell greeting cards, but before we dismiss it, what if we embrace its good intentions and make the most of it?

I asked my Facebook friends, many of them clergy, how they would like to be honored or blessed for the occasion, and here’s what I learned:

  • Many congregations rely on their ministers to mark occasions, make announcements, and remind the faithful about upcoming events. This is awkward when the pastor or deacon is the one being recognized. A minister should not be put in the position of explaining Clergy Appreciation Month. Can a council leader do it? Can a member of the fellowship committee? How about someone from the pastor’s call committee, regardless of how long ago they were called? Be thoughtful and intentional about involving the congregation and not creating more work for your minister.
  • “The best gift my congregation ever gave me was a little decorative jar…filled with index cards of what they appreciated about my ministry with them.”
  • “One year my congregation gave all an opportunity to write an affirmation of something about my ministry that was meaningful to them. Then, they were stuck on my [office] door. Maybe 70 post-its. I was very touched.”
  • “As a Deacon, I’d love to just be acknowledged as clergy, or have people consistently call it ‘clergy appreciation’ instead of just ‘pastor appreciation.’”
  • “Coffee shop gift cards”
  • “Taken to lunch. Donation to [my ministry setting] in my honor. Coffee is always good.”
  • “A self-care gift certificate of their choosing…”
  • Pass the plate for a love offering, and gift your minister with the funds for vacation or dinner and a movie, or whatever they like.
  • “I got a lovely card from my church council last year, along with a gift card to my favorite yarn shop…That was really nice, mostly because of the kind comments in the card…I save a lot of the cards and notes I get to help me get through the rough days. I stash them in random spots so I sometimes come across them unexpectedly.”
  • “A ‘gift certificate’ for a Vacation Sunday that doesn’t require me to find my own pulpit supply, prepare the bulletin, etc. before I go.”
  • “I am usually given a card, a plant, and a restaurant gift card.”

Ideas don’t have to be big or expensive. One congregation I served surprised me by decorating and setting out punch, cake, and cookies while I was teaching Sunday school and could not see what they were up to. When I stepped out of the classroom, there was a party in progress, and it was for me!

On another occasion, a church member set die cut leaves on a back table. On each leaf, was written I appreciate Pastor Tracey because… leaving a space for members and friends to write affirmations. I received that stack of leaves over a decade ago, and I still cherish them.

Especially now, when there are fewer clergy available than there are open calls, it’s a good time to give thanks for those who bless us!

And, if only including clergy seems to overlook other church staff, such as musicians and administrators, expand the party! We cannot say thank you enough.