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16th in a series on long marriages
Lois Taylor said she would marry anyone but a pastor.
Growing up as a pastor’s kid, Lois saw her dad working long hours of ministry. She perceived her mother, who was always at home, as isolated and lonely. At church, people expected her mom to do particular ministries just because she was the pastor’s wife. Lois remembered her mom also believed she couldn’t have friends in the church, as that might look like favoritism.
Working as a student editor of the yearbook at Cairn University near Philadelphia in 1976, Lois met and fell in love with another yearbook editor, Gary. Two years later, they married. But as it turned out, Gary wanted to become a pastor.
Gary, who was also a pastor’s kid, had expectations for ministry very different from hers: He enjoyed church, led Sunday school for teens, and sang in the choir. He was excited to enter pastoral work and had come to Cairn to study music and Bible.
After Gary attended seminary, the couple moved to rural Pennsylvania, and Gary began pastoring a small Baptist church in a county that did not yet have a traffic light. With his Type A personality, Gary did his best pastoring a laid-back country church, even though he had come from the city. Five years later, the Taylors moved to another church, First Baptist of Morrisville, where Gary worked to overhaul the church budget and establish a team of elders.
Initially, though, Lois struggled in her role as a pastor’s wife. When congregants criticized Gary—critiquing his preaching or blaming him for declines in attendance—she felt it most deeply. She worried congregants would disapprove of her, too, or would try to force her into ministries she didn’t want to do.
She also felt, early on, that Gary did not spend enough time with the family. One day, she became upset and told him, right before he left to chair a church planting meeting, “You don’t care about me. All you care about is doing ministry.”
That day, instead of going to the meeting, Gary decided to stay home with Lois. She realized then that she was more important to him than his work.
And over time, Lois adjusted to other aspects of pastoral life. She learned not to take criticisms personally, and to her surprise, people didn’t try to force her into specific ministries. She worked in ways that fit her gifts and interests, such as teaching Sunday school and children’s Bible clubs. Lois also gained friends at church: Someone told her, “You are closer to some but friendly with everyone,” which is her goal. The biggest challenge, she says, is to invest deeply in people who later leave.
After 31 years at First Baptist of Morrisville, Gary, who also serves as an Army chaplain, says he has deep relationships with families in the church and has seen multiple generations walking with God.
Lois believes the joys of pastoral life far outweigh its challenges: “I know this is where God would have us, and He has us together.” She and Gary have been married 42 years, and she says it’s “a joy to serve with him.”