Free Parking

To the uninitiated this may seem like a mundane scene but to the trained eye there are so many details that spring out.

The old church school bus pulling in… (It’s only half full has someone been slacking?)

The pastor’s parking spot reserved… (“He’s busier than you, ma’am. Sorry about you being pregnant but you’ll need to walk in from the parking lot across the way.”)

His wife gets a spot too but her car isn’t a nice sedan but a 15 passenger van… (Joanne, Jebediah, Joshua, and where is Josiah!?? Your father headed over to the church 20 minutes ago and you know we can’t be late. Where is your tie, Jephthah? And do you all have your Bibles???”)

Perhaps I’m far from the mark. Perhaps not.

98 thoughts on “Free Parking”

  1. “Pastor’s wife” is NOT a Biblical position in the church, therefore she should not be designated a parking spot. Pastor’s wife is merely her marital/familial relationship to the pastor. I have never seen a “Pastor’s Wife” spot, though I am sure some churches have them. If I were a pastor’s wife and they wanted to designate a parking spot for me I would tell them not to do so, to designate it for first time visitors, handicapped, etc.

    1. If the pastor’s wife has health issues, then perhaps it is a matter of kindness. I know of a church that had a ill pastor’s wife and she was given her own spot near the door.

      Before we jump to conclusions, why not assume that there is a good reason for it instead of assuming the worst all of the time?

      1. If she has health issues, she would not be driving the 15-passenger van.

        Duh.

        Those are used for heavy-duty hauling and aren’t the kind of ride a lady with health issues should have to deal with. The pastors’ wives I know of who drive those vans are picking up neighborhood kids!

        Yes, I can understand a person having health issues. Not just the Pastor’s wife, however. How about a spot for those with health issues — a spot or two reserved for those with a special sticker? I can even see a spot — on the periphery — for the 15-passenger van. Not a premiere spot, though.

        Rarely do these things have “innocent reasons.” Fundamentalism is chock full of good reasons to assume the worst. Things so often turn out so much worse than imagined, too! And perhaps it would do fundamentalist churches well to understand what and why people are so suspicious of their motives and actions! Maybe they should *change* so that their actions cannot be misconstrued!

        Parking places reserved for the Pastor speaks of Privilege in his little Kingdom. Somehow he sees himself above others. Why doesn’t poor elderly Mrs. Angus get her own parking spot? She walks with a cane, but is there faithfully every Sunday!

        How about Guest Parking in the coveted spots?

        There are things about our culture that speak volumes concerning our character, or lack of it. Perhaps the reserved parking wasn’t meant in a bad way. But maybe it is, anyway, no matter what the denomination. All too often we take to ourselves our comforts while denying the same to others. We make differences in how we value people.

        Is that right?

        1. It somewhat depends on where the spot is.

          I was going to respond that my childhood pastor, the one with the ego the size of the Temple Mount, didn’t have a reserved space. There were the legally required handicapped spaces, and then the rest of the row nearest the church was marked for visitors and senior citizens.

          Then I remembered the overflow lot, with the side entrance nearest the church offices right next to a very few marked spots that were hell to get in or out of unless there weren’t very many cars actively moving in the lot. I’m pretty sure those were marked.

          So he probably did have a marked space, but it was one set aside nearest an office few people ever went to and in a section of the lot no one coming in close to the start of the service or leaving close to the end of the service would have been able to deal with safely.

          The vans got parked on the far end of the overflow parking.

        2. Dear rtgmath:

          You wrote: ‘Fundamentalism is chock full of good reasons to assume the worst.’

          I reply: ROTFLMAO!

          ‘You wrote: Things so often turn out so much worse than imagined, too!’

          ROTFLMAOPIMP!

          Thanks for the belly-laugh of the day! I owe you, man!

          Christian Socialist

        3. Old people are not respected or treated particularly well in most churches in these modern times, especially old people with any knowledge or opinions. There might be some minimal regard if they are good tithers and/or have willed their assets to the church. Then they might get their name on a memorial plaque.

        4. Not every health issue precludes a person from driving.

          There are vehicles adapted for paraplegics. People on oxygen drive. People with cardiac conditions drive. People with cancer drive.

        5. Sure. But cars intended for the bus routes?

          Wheeze. Careful there kiddies! No exuberance allowed! My oxygen tank has to be handled carefully so I can breathe. Whoops! You two ragamuffins need to stop messing around before …

          Oops.

          Well. The oxygen lines are messed up. I can’t breathe but I will get you to the churchhhhh wheeze on time wheeeze gasp. Yes I know I’m on the wrong side of the road! Gasp gasp I can’t help it I can’t catch my breath.

          No officer. I’m the van driver for the kids going to wheeze. Can you wheeze them to church before you take me to the hospital? Wheeze gasp choke.

          Sure. People with disabilities drive. They drive cars in situations that are appropriate. I haven’t yet heard of a church giving those kinds of ministries to the sick.

        6. I don’t understand you, Rtg. You said, “If she has health issues, she would not be driving the 15-passenger van.”

          The sign says that spot is for her. I don’t see where it says it’s for the bus ministry. I don’t know what health problems would preclude driving that van. Could you explain why her health issues would necessarily prohibit her driving something that big? Are we even sure that she has a medical condition?

        7. Okay, okay. I didn’t start off the question with health issues. That was brought up by someone else. They objected that it might be reasonable to have a reserved spot for the pastor’s wife if she had health issues.

          If I remember correctly, my original point was that the wife seems to get the 15-passenger van while the pastor has a nicer car.

          Now 15-passenger vans are not family cars unless you have a freakin-large family. I suppose it is possible. I associate the 15-passenger van with “bus ministry.” That is my take on it. That is how I view it.

          So between lots of speculation, giggles and gaffes, we got the mess you are referencing.

          I still tend to object to “reserved parking” for the pastor, more to reserving for the wife. Still those are small issues fueling the general hubris of the Pastor’s Kingdom. There are much more important issues, of course, but SFL is a “silly blog” after all.

          Your mileage may vary (pun intended).

    2. I’m torn on this one. I see the parking issues as largely irrelevant outside of that one specific church and the congregation.

      One of my biggest issue with IFBs is their dedication to meddling in other people’s lives. The fundamentals they live by are not broad principles, but rigid rules that fit awkwardly in normal life. Ironically, they are blinded by their “love” for others and their “counsel” is laughable, at best, and emotionally harmful, at worst.

      That being said… one of my life’s principles is to not worry about things that are of no consequence. (Which I’m not sure if posting about it means that I am going against my principles or not, but, I digress.)

      If a church wants to give a Pastor a parking place – great. Let them deal with it. If they want to give him a Mercedes, great, I’m not tithing there. Or if, someone went to a church and did tithe there and asked my advice on what they should do, then I’d provide it.

      Otherwise, it is kinda funny and makes great comment reading.

  2. I believe this is presumptuous and definitely sends the wrong message. Of course there are plenty of people on the board who go for this so it still happens. My old fundy church had two. One for Pastor, the second for co-pastor (the one who really ran things). I was glad that my new church’s pastor didn’t have a sign designating his parking spot up by the front door. But then I realized he was parking in his own private carport down around the back door.

    A good solution for this would be for a few people to park close and ding his doors, but most people aren’t that vindictive and selfish. They are still trying to do God a favor by ignoring when their leader acts like he is a little closer to Jesus than they are.

    http://billfortney.com/?attachment_id=13128#!prettyPhoto/1/

    I know he’s not exactly Fundy, but SBC royalty. Same attitude though.

  3. I have seen this, and it always bothers me because of the message it sends visitors. (“Our staff has privileges; you can park on the back 40”).
    My current church expects the staff to park in the farther spots, and off-site when we have a big event. Our only reserved spots are for visitors (they have signs) and the disabled. We want to make sure new folks feel welcome.

    1. Once upon a time, when our church had outgrown its parking lot, my husband asked the leadership (us included) to park off-site so visitors would have room.

        1. Thanks.

          I’ve not had the chance to be on the internet as much as in the past, but I can’t stay away: I love both the wit and the wisdom.

      1. We had the opposite — church members asking visitors to move from the Man of gid’s unmarked space.

        Something like “Could you park somewhere else? That’s Pastor’s space.”

        1. True story: I walked into a (small) Presby church one time, and sat down in one of those obnoxious uncomfortable folding chairs. A few minutes later someone comes in and informs me that I am sitting in their seat (there were all of four people in the auditorium). I smiled, apologized, walked out, and never returned. I was looking for a church that followed Jesus.

        2. We walked into a packed church once, could find no seats but there were chairs stacked at the back. We stood there awkwardly and then helped ourselves to chairs as no-one offered to find us a seat. Someone, maybe the pastor, got up and announced with a microphone that we were in violation of fire code, could we sit somewhere else. My dear husband said loudly, no problem we will go sit in the car. We did and like you, never went back.

        3. Unmarked as to avoid public criticism?

          Fundies defend unmarked parking spaces like they defend unwritten rules.

        1. Complete with 14-person van filled with Luke, Elijah, Elizabeth, Sarah, Noah, Ethan, Nathan, Abigail, Leah, Hannah, and Lydia. It is hard getting in and out of the van when I’m six-months pregnant though; the step is kind of high.

          jk
          jk
          jk

      1. Grats, BJG, it is a Camry…specifically it is a post-2012 model (you can tell by the mirrors, which are sourced from Jiangsu Hengchang Mirror Industry Co. Ltd).

        Note to leo – The most obvious “not Honda” feature is the wheel covers which are unique to Toyota. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

        1. p.s. I will relinquish one of my hard-earned butt cushions if you can identify the white car reflected in the Camry.

        2. Reformed Fundegelical, you are either correct or unduly confident. I can just see the gold from the corner of the Chevrolet emblem, but something about the headlight still bugs me. Either way, I’m impressed.

  4. This makes me happy .. that I’m not there. Plus VBS this week and I’m also not there – woohoo!! No having to pretend like I’m having the time of my life while working/sweating my butt off

  5. We went to a church for awhile were the pastor had the front spot designated. His wife didn’t have a designated spot so she started parking in an area that was clearly marked “no parking” and blocked the sidewalk to get to the main parking lot. Because of this the people had to walk in the road to get to their cars. Nobody ever said anything, I mentioned it and was immediately shut down. She’s the pastors wife and we were to treat her with deference.

  6. In SE GA, some of the churches (not IFB) have signs that read “pastor parking” with the spot next to reading either “first lady of the church” or “prophetss parking.”

    1. Charismatic word-of-faith cult leaders have the benefit of a designated parking space. Since the pastor’s wife is usually the “co-pastor” (a bane to the Baptists) she usually gets one too. That camp is a whole other ball of wax.

  7. Obviously a liberal church. Why is the wife even allowed to drive? Staying home, cooking, cleaning, raising kids and “being there for the pastor’s needs” does not require a vehicle. I thought the Taliban, um…..I mean Fundamentalists frowned upon women having freedom of any sort?

    1. Leaving the 9 kids for her to raise & transport alone makes for a lots of free time for Pastor to “counsel” some of the young attractive ladies in the community.

  8. I don’t know, but does the King James bible have Jesus’ statement in Luke 14 about not trying to sit at the head of the table at a banquet or about how those who exalt themselves will be humbled and vice versa? Or how about James’ statement about not showing favoritism? Or what about Paul’s statement to the Philippians about doing nothing out of selfish ambition and considering the needs of others before your own?

    I realize I read from the Nearly Inspired Version so maybe these are uninspired texts that shouldn’t be preserved, so how dare I question a MOG! But I’d appreciate it if someone could show me the text that clearly states that the MOG is exempt from the following the Word of God. This is the naked leading the blind!!!

  9. My pastor lives on the premises (Catholic) so his space is by the rectory but it is in an out of the way place that does not block anyone else’s access. There is plenty of handicapped parking close to the front.

    My husband’s church ask that the worship team and leaders park away from the church and leave the best parking for everyone else.

  10. Despise. Those. Signs. Nothing like a mother with four little ones struggling into the building from 4 rows back while the little girls’ legs are FREEZING because skirts are required despite of their small body mass. Same with the new visitor signs. At our church, pastors’ parking was closer to the entrance than handicap parking though I often saw the wealthiest school families constantly using the handicap parking (hint…they were not handicapped, but their nanny loved the perk.) So thankful and glad to be out there.

  11. After many, many years of living through such shenanigans in both fundy and non-fundy churches, I am now happily retired and living directly across the street from the church where I am the organist. Now, I merely have to walk across the street and fend off the neighborhood dogs to get to church. Our Pastor seems to get the best parking spot simply because he gets to church before most everyone else.

  12. Don’t know if that picture alone warrants it, but unless the lot only has 4 rows of parking, it seems from the proximity to the treeline, that spot may be farther away from the church. Given the proximity of the bus and the church van, possibly in a staff lot?
    At my church the deacons and pastor park in the farthest row in the unpaved portion. Why would you not? Seems like common sense. At least if you’re more interested others than yourself. Hmmm.

  13. I appreciate that at our current church, the only reserved spaces are for the handicapped and the elderly. Our elders park wherever spaces are available, just as if they were like anyone else.

  14. If the parking spot is up front or in the back it shows where the fundy movement is. Up front it’s “we have to honor the mog so that god will not strike us down”. If it’s in the back or a separate lot farther out it’s “look how humble and sacrificial we are parking further away”. Either way it’s a bunch of hogwash. Why does the pastor or anybody else on staff need a parking spot at all? Other than Sunday’s the lot is mostly empty and he can park anywhere he likes and it doesn’t matter. The ONLY time it matters is when there’s a bunch of people to watch and have his ego inflated one way or another. Couldn’t he just park in the lot like a normal person on that one day?

  15. And where, pray tell, doeth the pastor’s mistress(es) park?!?!?!

    Surely the pastor provideth his concubines with all manner of flashy sports cars and not an industrial transport vehicle like he gave the haggardly wife 🙂

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