Clergy couple launch career in Alexandria, Osakis
They were joined by their 14-month-old son Mick, who is unique in being not only a pastor’s child, but the child of two pastors. His mother and father, Lexy and Jesse Carson, each begin their first clergy work in the Alexandria area.
“That’s exactly why we ended up here,” Jesse said. “It was difficult. Finding a position for one of us was really not that difficult. We would have had many, many positions to do it. Finding two positions for what we were looking for and which were not. not 100 miles apart was trickier.
Jesse, a seminary graduate in 2020, will be the pastor of Living Word Lutheran Church in Alexandria. Lexy, a seminary graduate in 2021, will be the pastor of two Lutheran churches four miles apart, Salem Lutheran and Sauk Valley Lutheran. They live in a rectory in Osakis. The Sauk River runs through their backyard, which delighted the couple, who went kayaking, fishing and enjoying exploring the outdoors.
They serve in the Lutheran congregations on mission for Christ, a denomination formed about 20 years ago by more conservative churches that left the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
They each came to the clergy from different directions. Neither had pastors in their family, and Lexy originally wanted to be a lawyer before she felt drawn to the ministry. She was so torn that she went to Australia to take the time to think about which direction to take. Conversations with the teachers helped, she said, and she opted for a career as a pastor.
At first, she said, she started her studies thinking she wanted to work with children.
“In fact, during the seminary, I realized – I always love working with young people – how much I liked having these conferences on pastoral care with people of various ages,” she said. . “It really surprised me how much I also enjoyed serving in this capacity. “
Jesse, on the other hand, knew by third year that he wanted to be a pastor.
“It was gratifying for me to work with people who were going through difficult times and to give them something to look forward to,” he said.
Lexy had decided to enter the ministry by the time she met Jesse. They had grown up 20 miles apart in South Dakota. Jesse comes from a family of teachers, and Lexy grew up bottle-feeding calves on a farm. They only met after signing up to work at a Bible camp in northeast South Dakota called NeSodak. They started dating a year later and tied the knot in 2019.
They each face unique challenges in the churches they serve. For Lexy, it’s about spreading the message of Jesus at a time when COVID made some uncomfortable going to church.
“The devil is always at work in different ways to make sure that you don’t have an ear to hear the gospel,” she said. “COVID is one example. … But Christ will always have the last word. Our job as preachers is how to get the word out to the people.
For Jesse, it’s attracting young people.
“This is one of the biggest challenges, attracting young people to the church and to Jesus,” he said. “This is probably the biggest challenge.”
As parents, they have a unique challenge, in that in the event that they both are summoned on an emergency basis, they need someone else to take care of Mick. They have created a network of people in every church who can care for him at any time.
“It has worked really well so far,” Jesse said.
Marrying someone else in the ministry has never been of great concern to them. They find that it has more advantages than disadvantages. They exchange ideas, share problems, and understand each other’s work.
Clergy couples aren’t an everyday phenomenon, but they’re not unheard of, said Sharon MacFadyen, director of operations for LCMC, who has worked for the denomination for 19 years.
She guesses that of the 1000 pastors denominations, there are about 10-15 couples. The older married couple are now retired, she said.
Often a pastor brings a spouse into his work as a “second iron,” someone who can lead children’s ministry or play the organ. MacFadyen said that’s not usually the case when both spouses are pastors, although that’s not necessarily a downside. While pastors seem to associate well with nurses, educators, musicians, or others who would seemingly play a good supporting role in a church, it can be a risky mix depending on the personalities.
“It has a lot to do with the personality of the pastor and the spouse,” she said. “For me, I think there are some really good positives for a young couple who are both members of the clergy. I think they have a unique ability to help each other overcome some of the challenges. ”
Married clergy is no different from having two teachers in the family, she said, or two doctors.
They will be able to help each other in the challenges common to pastors. Pastors, MacFadyen said, tend to be overworked and underestimated, and the public is unaware of the hours spent with people in the hospital or others in need of pastoral care.
“If you have two married clergy, they have a unique understanding of this and help each other resolve some of these things,” she said.